September Sunday Night with Susan Angeletti…September 23, 2018…..

SUSAN ANGELETTI

BITTERSWEET

INTO THE FLAME–BITTERSWEET–FEEL LOVE TONIGHT–PIECE OF MY HEART–OTHER SIDE OF THE RIVER–LOVE DOCTOR–FEELS LIKE RAIN–GO TO HELL–DON’T WANT YOUR LOVE–NOWHERE TO RUN–YOU’RE MY BABY–LOVE IS A DANGEROUS THING

For our third installment of September Sunday Nights with Susan Angeletti, we offer her “Bittersweet” CD.  This set has a lot of good things working in its favor before you even put it in your device.   Many readers of this humble forum may be familiar with drummer/composer/producer Tom Hambridge, as he has gained quite a measure of notoriety thru his recent work with Buddy Guy.  He’s also worked with Susan Tedeschi, and was right at home working as producer for the equally-soulful and big-voiced Ms. Angeletti on this set.

“Bittersweet” is, indeed, just that.  Our heroine penned the originals, and many songs deal with love, the pain of loss, and coping in the aftermath.  Leading off, Susan ponders, amid the pieces of a broken relationship, “did we stare too long Into The Flame?”  Pat Buchanan’s guitar fuels the title cut, as, once again, our girl tries to get along with a lover, but, gets only that “1000-yard stare.”  She closes the set with an ode to just forgetting, drinkin’ your problems away with the funky, late-nite strut of “sometimes, Love Is A Dangerous Thing.”

We had three favorites, too.  The vocal comparisons between Susan and Janis Joplin have always been apparent, and Susan gives a compelling read of the iconic “Piece Of My Heart.”  Our other two favorites totes rocked the joint!  One of her best roadhouse rockers is a punch in the gut to a cheatin’ lover with a cool call-and-response lyric perfect for singing along, “treat me right” or “Go To Hell.”  It’s full of Berry-licious guitar licks, as our girl leaves nothin’ on the table on this one.  Speaking of licks, Susan gets in some good ones on the sly-and-sexy “Love Doctor, never went to doctor school,” but “I’ll fix you up as good as new!”

With “Bittersweet,” Susan Angeletti shows a somewhat softer, more vulnerable side to go along with her bluesy, rocker chick side.  It makes for a great listen, and is good for what ails you.  Oh, Susan—isn’t it time for my medicine now?   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

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Rachelle Coba review…September 22, 2018…

RACHELLE COBA

BLINK

AMERICAN SHOWPLACE MUSIC  ASM 7411

HIGH AND DRY–DANCE THESE BLUES AWAY–GOOD OLE HEARTBREAK–NO DEALS–RIVER OF BLOOD–BLINK–BAD REPUTATION–YOU STOLE MY HEART–SHUFFLE YA–MAYBE–BLAME IT ON THE BLUES

We were first introduced to the immensely-talented Rachelle Coba a few years ago thru her producer, keyboard whiz John Ginty.  Her 2014 release, “Mother Blues,” established her as a force in contemporary blues, and its follow-up is here.  “Blink” finds Rachelle offering up eleven originals and co-writes that covers a wide range of her musical influences, from blues to soul to funk, with even a touch of the Delta added in.  In addition to Rachelle on vocals and guitar, John Ginty is co-producer, along with Ben Elliott, and John is on all things keys.  Together, they make a powerful statement on this record.

That funk hits the fan on the opening cut, when a lover leaves our girl “High And Dry,” with John’s piano preachin’ fire and brimstone, and Rachelle’s guitar smokin’ the solo!  That segues’ into a slowed-down look at our heroine as she’s “lookin’ to ease my mind” with a girls’ night out to “Dance These Blues Away!”  She refuses to let evil get her in a bind and spits on the ground down at the Crossroads, defiantly stating “I ain’t making No Deals!”

That Crossroads theme makes a slight return of sorts, with at tune co-written by Rachelle and Liz Mandeville.  It’s the story of the corruption that went along with the building of the levees along the Mississippi River, leading to memories of nothing but “greed and sin” in a “River Of Blood,” serving as one of our favorites.

Rachelle closes the set on a really soulful note.  Two lovers constantly at odds, and where she always loses, has her ready to just “Blame It On The Blues.”  Our other favorite showed that same soulful side on a cut that sounds as if it could have been a long-lost gem from Barbara Lewis or Dusty Springfield.  It has a cool Sixties’ vibe, helped immensely by vintage piano from John, as Rachelle welcomes “Good Ole Heartbreak, here we go again!”

Rachelle Coba has a beautiful, supple voice that lends itself well to varied kinds of material.  She puts it all together for everyone to enjoy  with “Blink!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

Anthony Geraci review…September 21, 2018…..

ANTHONY GERACI

WHY DID YOU HAVE TO GO

SHINING STONE RECORDS  SSCD 005

WHY DID YOU HAVE TO GO–DON’T THE GRASS LOOK GREENER–FLY ON THE WALL–ANGELINA, ANGELINA–LONG WAY HOME–TWO STEPS AWAY FROM THE BLUES–TIME’S RUNNING OUT–BAPTIZED IN THE RIVER YAZOO–TOO MANY BAD DECISIONS–WHAT ABOUT ME–HAND YOU YOUR WALKING SHOES–MY LAST GOOD-BYE–A MINOR, AFFAIR

Anthony Geraci travels the world over as one of the finest keyboard men of our generation.  Keeping notes during all his excursions gives him song ideas, and his storyteller’s soul brings them to life on record.  His latest set, the follow-up to 2016’s “Fifty Shades Of Blues,” is “Why Did You Have To Go,” for Shining Stone Records.  This thirteen-cut, all-original blues and jazz fest features a virtual Who’s Who of just about everyone Anthony has played with over the last 40 years.  As arranger, he tried to match the backing musicians with how he thought they would stack up on a particular song, and the results are dazzling!  And, the set leads the league in Sugars, too, as both Sugar Ray Norcia and Sugaray Rayford add vocals, along with Michelle “Evil Gal” Wilson, Dennis Brennan, Willie J. Laws, and Brian Templeton.

Sugar Ray Norcia opens the set with the title cut, playing out over a Fats Domino-ish, Fifties-inspired arrangement, as our hero’s cheatin’ lover comes to the ultimate tragic end.  Monster Mike Welch is the featured guitarist here also.  Evil Gal Wilson turns in a couple of fine torch songs, too.  Mike is again on guitar on the “3 AM” vibe of “Two Steps Away From The Blues,” and, a bit later, pairs up with Brian Templeton on a strong duet, where our two lovers face a difficult task in reconciling, “What About Me?”

Sugaray Rayford offers up a tantalizing slow blues with “Angelina, Angelina, left me at the courthouse door,” then lightens the mood considerably over Anthony’s Mardi Gras piano and Doug Woolverton’s trumpet solo, with  “Long Way Home.”  The set closes on a swingin’ note, as Anthony shows his affinity for jazz with a cool instrumental, “A Minor, Affair.”  (Take a guess what key it’s written in!)

We had two favorites, too, both with Willie J. Laws on vocals.  First up, everybody has a rockin’ good time with “Fly On The Wall,” featuring cool tremolo-ish twangin’ guitar from David “Kid” Ramos.  On perhaps the set’s most powerful cut, Willie’s vocal and Anthony’s piano is all you hear, on the gripping, Delta-infused story of being “Baptized In The River Yazoo.”

Anthony Geraci touches on virtually another fifty shades of blues with the eclectic “Why Did You Have To Go.”  There is plenty of varied styles, with excellent material and musicianship to please fans of all kinds of blues!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Crystal Shawanda review…September 20, 2018…

CRYSTAL SHAWANDA

VOODOO WOMAN

IDLA TRUE NORTH RECORDS FNCD 5979

WANG DANG DOODLE/SMOKESTACK LIGHTNING–BALL AND CHAIN-VOODOO WOMAN–HOUND DOG–I’D RATHER GO BLIND–TROUBLE–MISTY BLUE–CRY OUT FOR MORE–I’LL ALWAYS LOVE YOU–BLUETRAIN (SLIGHT RETURN)/SMOKESTACK LIGHTNING REVISITED

Crystal Shawanda was raised on the Wimwemikong reserve on an island in Ontario, Canada.  Her parents taught her to sing and play guitar, but no one can teach the power of her vocals.  The obvious comparisons to Joplin, Beth Hart, Dana Fuchs, Susan Angeletti, and others with similar “big voices” have already been made known, but we urge you to hear for yourself with her release of “Voodoo Woman.”  Herein, we are treated to ten cuts of her immense vocal abilities on some of the most iconic songs in the entire blues canon.

Crystal actually started out as a country artist, signed by Joe Galante to RCA.  She landed a Top 20 country hit, and was even the subject of a CMT reality show, “Crystal: Living The Dream.”  But, our heroine always has had a blueswoman’s soul, and these cuts bear that out.  That gravelly vocal delivery fits these cuts perfectly.  Leading off, Dewayne Strobel is on guitar, and Stephen Hanner is on harp, as we “really th’ow a mess” with the legendary “Wang Dang Doodle,” segueing’ into “Smokestack Lightning!”  She stands tall on lovely, soulful renditions of “I’d Rather Go Blind,” and again on one of our favorites, Dorothy Moore’s “Misty Blue,” from 1976, turning that “flicker into a flame.”

She offers up some formidable co-written originals, too.  Check out the rapid-fire, roadhouse rock of that lover who’s “hard to handle, but easy to hold,” “Trouble.”  Slow blues is the theme on a tune where our heroine is “missin’ your kissin,’ entitled “Cry Out For More.”  One of her other originals closed the set, and served as our other favorite.  Over a haunting acoustic slide and pounding percussion, Crystal recounts the tale of that “Johnson down at the Crossroads, with that Hellhound on his tail,” entitled “Bluetrain (Slight Return),” and, it, too, gives way to “Smokestack Lightning Revisited,” as the song climaxes.

That tremendous vocal power from Crystal Shawanda defines her stirring performances of classics and originals on “Voodoo Woman.”  Us members of the blues community are the real winners here, as she has found her true calling!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Hadden Sayers review…September 19, 2018….

HADDEN SAYERS

DOPAMINE MACHINE

BLUESISART.COM

UNSATISFIED–I FEEL LOVE–HIT THE ROAD–BLOOD RED COUPE DEVILLE–WAITING WANTING (FEAT. RUTHIE FOSTER)–GOOD GOOD GIRL–LEARNING TO DISAPPEAR-PEPPERMINT PATTY–DOPAMINE MACHINE–GRAVITY–BACKBREAKER

ACOUSTIC DOPAMINE features the eleven above-mentioned cuts presented in an all-acoustic manner.

The latest set from Texas bluesman Hadden Sayers (whom Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top says is “pretty much my hero!) is a unique and ambitious project, indeed. “Dopamine Machine” is eleven cuts of hard-edged blues-rock with only a few quiet moments tossed in, while “Acoustic Dopamine” is a separate disc, showcasing the same eleven cuts done in an all-acoustic mode. Our review will cover both discs simultaneously, covering the highlights and similarities over both.

The “Dopamine Machine” disc features a full band, and has the venerable Johnny Neel on organ.  It begins with a long-term love affair on the rocks, as, now, “baby’s Unsatisfied.”  This one is full of head-on, grungy riffs, while  in its unplugged counterpart, our hero’s feelings are more out in the open.  Hadden uses echo-effect vocals on the punk-rock feverishness of “Peppermint Patty,” that lover who ALWAYS says “yeah, yeah, yeah,” but, she too becomes more tangible and accessible in the acoustic version.  That same kind of unselfish lover we’d all like to encounter is the “Dopamine Machine” herself, and, in either version, she’s always “all or nothin, never in between.”

That brings us to our favorite on both sets.  The pitfalls of being a long-distance “diesel rig” driver are spelled out through “Hit The Road,” where you learn to “”keep your hands on the wheel and keep an eye on your load,” literally and figuratively!  Acoustically, this plays out as the trucker anthem that it is, with plenty of Dave Dudley spit and swagger.

With Hadden Sayers’ “Dopamine Machine” and “Acoustic Dopamine,” our old-timer and story-tellin’ rhymer has crafted a set that is sure to please his long-time fans and create a legion of new ones!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

Colin James review…September 17, 2018….

COLIN JAMES

MILES TO GO

STONY PLAIN RECORDS/TRUE NORTH RECORDS  TND 701

ONE MORE MILE–STILL A FOOL–DIG MYSELF A HOLE–I WILL REMAIN–40 LIGHT YEARS–OOH BABY HOLD ME–BLACK NIGHT–SOUL OF A MAN–SEE THAT MY GRAVE IS KEPT CLEAN–I NEED YOUR LOVE SO BAD–TEARS CAME ROLLING DOWN–ONE MORE MILE (ACOUSTIC)

When Canadian bluesman Colin James recorded “Blue Highways” in 2016, he always intended for it to be in two parts.  Thus, its highly-anticipated follow-up is now upon us.  Nine covers and two very sweet originals comprise “Miles To Go,” and it is every bit as strong as its predecessor.  Using a red Gibson Es-335, (just like the one he had to sell as a teen to pay his rent!), the songs virtually flowed out of him.

Many of the cover songs herein are familiar to fans.  With Colin James, tho, he wanted  each one to be different in some way from the original versions to make them unique and entertaining to everyone.  Check out his take on Muddy’s “Still A Fool,” and those laconic “two trains runnin.”  Colin’s guitar, as the song climaxes, takes on a Muddy-meets-the-Voodoo-Chile vibe, with Steve Marriner on the mournful harp.  He updates Big Boy Crudup’s “Dig Myself A Hole” from its Cold War origins with lyrics for today’s audiences, with a cool horn section over his wailin’ slide work.

It’s a tough task, but Colin makes his originals sound vintage, too.  He’s into a potential lover, but she’s just not reciprocating–she’s  “40 Light Years Away, livin’ in a one-horse town.”  And, the minor-key classic “I Will Remain” has him professing to a loved one that he will “help you carry on, when all seems lost.”  Colin’s guitar work echoes B. B. King, and serves as one of our favorites.

We had two other favorites, too.  With Jesse O’Brien’s churchified piano over Colin’s slow-blues groove, this version of Little Willie John’s “Need Your Love So Bad” ranks as one of the best covers ever of this classic.  (Yeah, it’s as good as the ABB’s, too!)  The set closes with our other favorite.  Now, Colin began this album with a horn-and-harp-fueled romp of Muddy’s (by way of Cotton’s) “One More Mile,” and that’s another damn good cut, but he outdoes himself on the closing cut, a Delta-fied acoustic read of this same song, made mo’ better by the appearance of the mighty Sojourners gospel group on backing vocals!

Colin James accomplished what he set out to do with “Miles To Go,” by creating originals with the wisdom of a bluesman’s soul, and putting his own stamp on some of the most endearing songs in all of blues.  Hey Colin–why not shoot for the Hat Trick?  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

September Sunday Nights with Susan Angeletti…September 16, 2018….

SUSAN ANGELETTI

WISDOM

ROCK ME RIGHT–HYPNOTIZED–EYE TO EYE–KNOCK ON MY DOOR–WISDOM–MYRTLE BEACH–GOT TO HAVE YOU BABY

Welcome to Week 2 of our September Sunday Nights with Susan Angeletti.  We begin tonight’s segment with a bit of background.  Growing up in western Massachusetts in a large Italian family, Susan was always surrounded by music of all kinds.  She is an accomplished pianist and trumpet player in her own right, but her vocals are what we love to hear!  A combination of the bluesy Bonnie Raitt and Janis Joplin mixed with Aretha’s soul, that voice carries the day on the seven cuts that comprise “Wisdom.”  It is an excellent blend of blues-rock with a few cuts grooving over to the Southern-rock side of things.

Leading off is Susan’s red-hot take on a song associated with Susan Tedeschi, both of whom share similar vocal traits.  So, if “you haven’t been rocked in a long, long time,” please allow Ms. Angeletti to “Rock Me Right!”  This one is fueled by guitar from long-time friend Bruce Korona.  A love affair that has seen some twenty years of good and bad seemingly takes a turn for the ugly in the poignant subject of “Eye To Eye,” while the title cut has our heroine seeking words of “Wisdom” along Life’s journey with a new lover.

Susan has some fun with a couple of killer rock tunes, too.  Altho “love can make you crazy and drive you mad,” sometimes it’s ok just to  “Knock On My Door,” and see what happens!   She closes the set with a stone shot of roadhouse boogie, “Got To Have You Baby,” with Bruce blastin’ away on guitar!

Our favorite was composed by Susan as she sat on a balcony overlooking the ocean on “Myrtle Beach.”  This one was originally meant to let folks “put the F back in Fun,” and also shows her utmost regard for Aretha and Otis, but now, amid the chaos from Hurricane Florence, it offers a ray of hope to soon restore that devastated region to its glory.

With “Wisdom,” Susan Angeletti mixes her three loves–blues, rock, and soul–and tosses in a bit of a Southern-rock vibe as well.  Next week, we will delve deeper into Susan’s catalog with “Bittersweet.”   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.