Albert Castiglia review…May 4th, 2016…

ALBERT CASTIGLIA

BIG DOG

RUF RECORDS 1233

LET THE BIG DOG EAT–DON’T LET THEM FOOL YOU–GET YOUR ASS IN THE VAN–DROWNING AT THE BOTTOM–LET’S MAKE LOVE IN THE MORNING–WHAT I LIKE ABOUT MIAMI–EASY DISTANCE–WHERE DID I GO WRONG–WHERE THE DEVIL MAKES HIS DEALS–WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING–SOMEHOW

New York-born and Miami-raised bluesman Albert Castiglia got his first big break playing guitar in Junior Wells’ band in the Nineties.  He honed his craft alongside the master, and has five albums of his own on his resume’.  On his latest set for Ruf Records, “Big Dog,” Albert makes the record he’s always wanted to make.  It’s raw, powerful, punch-in-the-soul blues, and follows Albert’s credo of his live shows of going all in on the bandstand  every night.

This one is full of roadhouse boogie shuffles, both original songs and covers, and a few unique cuts that show a more poignant side of Albert.  But, the boogie woogie rolls all over this one, starting off with the title cut, as Albert comes out with six strings blazing to “Let The Big Dog Eat!”  Fellows, be wary of women with agendas, those who’ll “love you all night long, then do you wrong,” “Don’t Let Them Fool You.”  Mike Zito, also the set’s producer, is on second guitar here, and makes it a wall-to-wall scorcher.

Albert gets down to some serious slow blues on the sad story of a lover who turns to alcohol for solace, “Drowning At The Bottom,” written by Luther Allison and James Solberg.  Another killer slow blues features harp from Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone and piano from Lewis Stephens over Albert’s slashing lead lines and stop-time vocals on “Where Did I Go Wrong.”  He closes the set with a socially-conscious cut co-written by Cyril Neville.  “Somehow”  asks society to take a long look in the mirror when it comes to the plight of the poor and homeless, looking for us all to “spread a little more love seeds.”

We had two favorites, too, both at opposite ends of the Crossroads.  First up is Albert’s ode to the road, the Elmore James-inspired slidin’ boogie of “Get Your Ass In The Van,” because playing the blues “ain’t no American Idol.”  And, a downright spooky tale co-written by Graham Wood Drout is the story of ole Bloodshot Red, who “sings the blues on Tuesdays in a bar in Mobile,” after goin’ down to that place “Where The Devil Makes His Deals!”

“Big Dog” is perhaps Albert Castiglia’s best, most well-rounded set thus far.  He and Zito and the other musicians involved got in that proverbial “zone” and have turned out one sho’ nuff sweet set of contemporary blues!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

John Mayall review…May 3, 2016…

JOHN MAYALL’S BLUESBREAKERS

LIVE IN 1967–VOLUME 2

FORTY BELOW RECORDS  FBR 013

TEARS IN MY EYES–YOUR FUNERAL AND MY TRIAL–SO MANY ROADS–BYE BYE BIRD–PLEASE DON’T TELL–SWEET LITTLE ANGEL–TALK TO YOUR DAUGHTER–BAD BOY–STORMY MONDAY–GREENY–RIDIN’ ON THE L & N–CHICAGO LINE–DOUBLE TROUBLE

‘Bout a year ago, John Mayall put out a set of yet-unheard performances from a Bluesbreakers lineup that featured Peter Green on guitar, John McVie on bass, and Mick Fleetwood on drums a few months before they’d write a chapter in blues and rock history by forming Fleetwood Mac.  But, in 1967, a resourceful fan, Tom Huissen, smuggled a one-reel tape recorder (we would love to know how he managed!) into various London clubs such as Kleek’s Klook, Bromley, and others, and recorded these blues titans right from the bandstand.  Almost fifty years further on up the road, he shared these tapes with John Mayall, and, thru the tireless efforts of John and Forty Below Records’ Eric Corne,  “Live In 1967–Volume One”  was released.

Now, from those same raw recordings, comes the second and final volume of vintage Bluesbreakers.  “Live In 1967–Volume 2” features thirteen more tracks of some of the world’s finest bluesmen in intimate club settings, just lettin’ loose and lettin’ the blues flow freely.  On this set, we thought many of the cuts, even tho the tapes were fifty years old, were surprisingly pristine and vibrant.  These versions also give Peter Green a chance to stretch out and jam, showing a glimpse of the powerhouse he was about to become.

Leading off is a Mayall original, a slow-blues done in the vein of Ray Charles, “Tears In My Eyes,” followed by a couple of tributes to Sonny Boy Williamson II (Rice Miller).  We learned from John at his March  City Winery show that he was a huge fan of Sonny Boy, and struts his harp chops on “Your Funeral And My Trial, ” and the instrumental, “Bye Bye Bird.”

Another artist John enjoyed was J. B. Lenoir, represented here by a boisterous version of “Mama, Talk To Your Daughter,” featuring some gritty, Chicago-blues-styled licks from Peter.

We had three favorites, too.  A song John played at the City Winery, “Chicago Line,” is presented herein as an instrumental, with a blistering bass solo from McVie.  “Ridin’ On The L & N” is a flat-out houserocker, and this version of “Stormy Monday” has vocals from a frequent guest of John on the stage, Ronnie Jones.

Blues fans can rejoice once more.  John stated to us in March that the cuts presented on these two sets pretty much summed up the Bluesbreakers repertoire from the mid-Sixties, and “Live In 1967–Volume 2” brings it all full-circle!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Otis Clay single review…May 2, 2016…

OTIS CLAY

MISSISSIPPI POOR BOY (SINGLE)

CATFOOD RECORDS

In 2014, Otis Clay and Johnny Rawls got together and recorded “Soul Brothers” for Catfood Records, and it was very well-received by fans and bloggers alike.  During those sessions, Otis laid down a raw vocals-only track of “Mississippi Poor Boy,” intended to be released on a future solo album.  Sadly, Otis Clay passed on January 8, 2016, at the age of 73, leaving this as his last recorded legacy.

Catfood executive Bob Trenchard, on bass, Johnny McGhee on guitar, and  Johnny Rawls and Janelle Thompson on backing vocals, went into the studio and took this raw recording and turned it into a gospel-fired soul classic.  The song fits in perfectly with Otis’ background as a gospel singer, and the backing musicians bring this one into vivid focus.  It might as well be Otis’ autobiography, as his deep baritone rings with resonance as he sings of  growing up poor, but realizes, as he looks over his life, that “The Lord’s been good to me.”

“Mississippi Poor Boy” is a fitting tribute to the man who first gave us “Trying To Live My Life Without You,” and who was equally at home with a gospel song as he was singing deep Southern soul.  Otis, we’ll miss you, friend.   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Jared Hard review…May 1, 2016….

JARED HARD

10000 HYDROGEN BOMBS

RIGHT WHERE YOU’RE AT–BROTHER–WAIT FOR THE SUN–SINGLE MOUNTAIN FIDDLE–MUSIC MAN–10000 HYDROGEN BOMBS

Jared Hard picked up his first guitar about age eight, and began writing his own material by eleven, drawing from the rich musical heritage of his Oklahoma home.  Several years ago, he made the career move here to Music City, and fit right in with the guitarist-singer-composer community, sitting in frequently on stage at the Bluebird Cafe and other venues.

Jared has teamed up with fellow Okie composer Jason Hargrove, who’s also moved here, and, along with producer Jeff Anderson, Jared has released his debut EP, “10000 Hydrogen Bombs,” six cuts written by himself or in collaboration with Jason, Jeff, and Karleen Watt.

Jared, on vocals and guitar, takes a poignant look at the rigors of everyday life, love, and facing our own mortality, and this material will really grab your attention.  Leading off is the tale of finding love in the most unusual places, mostly “Right Where You’re At,” which chronicles the tale of a couple who meet on the Greyhound from Memphis to Birmingham.  The wages of war come due in a poignant look at “my Brother, who’s “not different, he’s just changed,” since returning home from battle.  A tune about life on the road and being in “Wichita, down from Tulsa tonite” is “Music Man,” while the set closes with the title cut, Jared’s recollection of what it’s like to REALLY fall in love–like “10000 Hydrogen Bombs all exploding at once!”

Our favorite was a song dealing with one’s mortality.  Jared begs his survivors for  “no fanfare, no parade,” and a “Single Mountain Fiddle” with perhaps a snippet of “Mama’s favorite, Sweet Hour Of Prayer.”  Fiddle from Kenzie Wetz is the perfect complement on this cut.

Jared Hard writes songs for all of us, with the daily trials and tribulations of life as a backdrop.  “10000 Hydrogen Bombs” is an excellent debut from an up-and-coming talent!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Sugar Blue review..April 29, 2016…

SUGAR BLUE

VOYAGE

MC RECORDS  0079

ON MY WAY (SARAH’S SONG)–ONE–SUGAR BLUE BOOGIE–NEW YORK CITY–12 STEPS–LOVE IS EVERYWHERE–MERCEDES BLUES–SUNSHINE–CYBER BLUES–MARY ANN–LIFE ON THE RUN–TIME

If you are familiar with this Blog at all, you know that Sugar Blue—born James Whiting and raised in Harlem–blows that killer harp riff that rocks the Rolling Stones’ “Miss You,” and also appears on “Emotional Rescue” and “Tattoo You.”  We really love his blues and jazz works, and he’s just released his latest set for MC Records, “Voyage.”  It’s his first set in some five years, with eleven originals written either solely or in part by Sugar.

He’s got serious harp chops, and his influences run thru all the blues greats, but, for us, what makes him so unique is his ability to incorporate the jazz styles of the likes of Lester Young, Dexter Gordon, and Brother Ray in his music.  That breezy, jazzy feel sets the tone on the leadoff  “On My Way (Sarah’s Song),” with its powerful message of love and learning that “life is a journey, not a race,” and is meant to be savored.  His passion for the lovely Ilaria Lantieri, who adds bass on several cuts, and their young son continues that trend with “Love Is Everywhere,” with Rico McFarland’s guitar riding sort of a modified reggae beat.  The subject of spiritual rebirth is the theme of the gospel-infused “12 Steps to the future.”

Blue pays tribute to his homeland with a spirited acoustic, country-blues entitled “New York City,’ where he recounts clubs such as The Bottom Line, and meeting Victoria Spivey, Muddy, and Memphis Slim, who “gave me the chance to play in France,” and, subsequently, team up with the Stones.

We had several favorites.  Blue takes a good-natured stab at being an “analog man in a digital age,” his harp blasting all over the fun of “Cyber Blues.”  “Sugar Blue Boogie” is a jaw-breaking, mile-a-minute, how-the-heck-does-he-DO-that instrumental, while sax great Eddie Shaw guests on a cool stop-time tune about a love affair that “Benz” and finally breaks, “Mercedes Blues.”

Blue’s socially-conscious side shows up in the form of “Life On The Run.”  With the help of Maya Azucena and Sonix The Mad Scientist, they duet on the sad state of the world today, where vigilante justice seems to be the norm, while real justice is denied.

Sugar Blue is an artist with a lot to say, and a lot to be thankful for.  His most powerful communication tool is thru his music, and his latest is a mighty sweet blues “Voyage,” indeed!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Tweed Funk review…April 28, 2016…

TWEED FUNK

COME TOGETHER

TWEED TONE RECORDS

LIGHT UP THE NIGHT–DON’T GIVE UP–MUSE–SWEET MUSIC–COME TOGETHER–EMBRACE–WHO IS THIS–LOVE AIN’T EASY–BULLET–SOUL ROCKIN’

The six-piece blues and soul revue known as Tweed Funk hail from Wisconsin, and are one of the bands that have a true grasp of what honest R & B is meant to sound like.  Their lead singer, Smokey Holman, so impressed Curtis Mayfield that Curtis signed Smokey and his group, Love’s Children, to the Curtom label back in the mid-Seventies.  Smokey’s still got that soul-man energy and vitality, and brings it all to the table on their latest set, “Come Together.”  This one is ten prime cuts of vintage soul-blues from a group that’s sho’ nuff got it all together!

Aside from Smokey on vocals, we have the venerable veteran, JD Optekar, on guitar, Eric Madanic on bass and keys, Dave Schoepke on drums, and the horn section of Andrew Spadafora on sax, and Rommful Of Blues alum Doug Woolverton on trumpet.  They get right down to the gittin’ down with the opening funk of “Light Up The Night,” which features backing vocals from Chrissy Dzioba and Sara Moilanen.  JD’s sweet guitar lines play over Smokey’s affirmation of the power of “Sweet Music,” “that filled this hole in my soul.”  “Embrace” is a beautiful love song that, with the horns doin’ their thing, give this one a Sixties, Solomon Burke feel.  The set closes on another “Soul Rockin” note, this one a definite dance floor strutter.

Our favorite sums up what this group is all about.  Eric’s organ over Smokey’s church-y, testifyin’ vocal urges us all, “Don’t Give Up on your dreams–walk with purpose to your destiny.”

This set from Tweed Funk contains perhaps their strongest material thus far.  Add in  musicianship of the highest order and a dynamite soul man fronting the band, and everything is bound to “Come Together!”   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

The Mighty Mojo Prophets review…April 25, 2016…

THE MIGHTY MOJO PROPHETS

RECORD STORE

MOJO KING MUSIC

CRAZY LOVE–RECORD STORE–DEVIL AT YOUR DOOR–THINGS DON’T CHANGE–STRONG TOGETHER–WORKIN MAN–WEST COAST GIRL–CHERRY RED–GOOD GIRL TRAIN–SPIDER AND THE FLY–BRING IT ON HOME–WONDERING–ALL THUMBS

We’ve all got stories about the good times that could always be had down at your friendly neighborhood “Record Store!”—hey, we worked in one after school back in the day!  That’s the name of the latest set of original, primal, West Coast jump-blues and boogie from one of our favorite bands, The Mighty Mojo Prophets.

They consist of Tom “Big Son” Eliff on vocals, Mitch Dow on guitars, Dave Deforest on bass, Tom Richmond on all the harps, Mike Malone on keys, and Al Ricci on skins.  These thirteen tunes are more of what this band has been puttin’ down since they were nominated for a BMA in 2012 following their self-titled Rip Cat Records debut, and this set is their tightest and strongest to date.

Leadin’ off is a dyno-mite little boogie shuffle about that funny feeling you get when you know she ain’t doin’ you right–you get out that “Night Train wine and a fifth of JD, too,” to beat that “Crazy Love.”  Mitch cranks up the wah-wah action on the loping beat of the title cut, where Lamar Duarte’s store changed many a young life forever.  Tom takes a stroll on the big ol’ chromatic over Tom’s ode to those we can all identify with, the “Workin’ Man, workin’ for your next payday!”

There are plenty of good gals to go around, too!  There’s that swingin’ “West Coast Girl” who’s always waiting when you get home.  There’s the one that got away at first, but is coming home on that funky “Good Girl Train.”  Then, there’s the one we all wish we had—the one who can “turn the day into night,” and “turns me Cherry Red!”  The set closes with a blistering boogie-fied instrumental, “All Thumbs,” featuring sweet guitar-and-chromatic interplay between Mitch and Tom.

Our favorite had a topical, socially-conscious message behind it.  No matter what, you can’t watch TV or read the paper without knowing that “Things Don’t Change, no matter where you turn!”

We never had Big William Clarke or Snooky Pryor at the Sound Shop where we worked, but “Lamar’s Record Store” and The Mighty Mojo Prophets, thru their most excellent blues sound, sho’ nuff have some stories to tell!    Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.