Mark May review…May 27, 2016…

MARK MAY BAND

AND THE SOUL SATYR HORNS

BLUES HEAVEN

CONNOR RAY MUSIC   CRM-1601

BOOM BOOM–MONEY–SHE’S A KEEPER–BLUES HEAVEN–PUT DOWN THAT POISON–LEAVING HOUSTON–BOOMERANG–I’M HER FOOL–GULF COAST WOMAN–ALL I EVER DO–GARDEN OF TRUTH–KIND OF GIRL–ALMOST LIKE A SUICIDE

Columbus, Ohio-based guitarist Mark May got interested in playing guitar from his older brother, and when he heard B. B.’s “Live In Cook County Jail” at age eleven, he was hooked on the blues.  Perhaps some of his most formidable years were spent around the turn of the century playing with Dickey Betts and Great Southern.  He’s just released his sixth album, “Blues Heaven,” for Connor Ray Music.  It’s thirteen cuts that explore Mark’s celebrations of good times and the realization that life’s journey does include stones in your passway.  It also encompasses several shades of blues, too.  And, the Soul Satyr Horns add just the right touch of spice to an already heady brew.

A stone-cold shot of funk kicks off the festivities, talkin’ ’bout those girls we all know–“Boom Boom” refers to “those hips” that speak volumes without saying a word!  It has a strong, struttin’ Albert Collins vibe throughout.  “Money” uses a Chicago-styled, stop-time, minor-key groove to convey why it’s sho’ nuff “the root of all evil,” and another cool tune about life’s ups and downs and  reaping what you sow is “Boomerang.”

We really enjoyed his uptempo, party anthems, tho.  “She’s A Keeper”  features slide guitar from Kentucky Headhunter Greg Martin, while Hadden Sayers adds lead guitar on “All I Ever Do is sing the blues!”  And, rhythm guitar man Dave Absalom takes lead vocal on a cut about more of those “questionable women”–“she’s a Kind Girl–the kind that’ll give you the blues!”

Our favorite was the title cut.  A slow-blues piece with smooth sax from Eric Demmer, Mark ponders the eternal question of what it’ll be like “if I ever get to Blues Heaven–will I see all my old friends?”

Mark May’s playing and singing are as sharp as ever, and this batch of material in “Blues Heaven”  adds to his growing legacy as a composer!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

Paul Reddick review…May 26, 2016…

PAUL REDDICK

RIDE THE ONE

STONY PLAIN RECORDS  SPCD 1388

SHADOWS–CELEBRATE–MOURNING DOVE–GOTTA FIND A…–IT GOES WITH YOU–WATERSMOOTH–DIAMONDS–LIVING IN ANOTHER WORLD–I TRIED TO TELL YOU–LOVE AND NEVER KNOW–MOON AND STAR

Paul Reddick has been on our radar since his days with The Sidemen back in the Nineties.  Always one to emphasize the song first, this versatile singer/writer/harpman is affectionately known as the “Unofficial Poet Laureate of the Blues in Canada,” and his latest album is entitled “Ride The One,” referencing the deep, passionate grooves contained herein.  Another fellow countryman also influenced by Reddick is Monkeyjunk frontman Steve Marriner,  who adds guitar and keys throughout.

Paul Reddick uses the time-honored blues traditions of love, loss, and salvation as recurring themes throughout the set, as well as how readily adaptable the themes are in regard to a rock-music background.  The gritty tale of how “Shadows overtook me, I saw the lights go down,” leads off, giving way to the rolling riff that drives “Celebrate your voice, celebrate and rejoice!”  Derek Downham is on talk-box guitar on the raucous romp that is “It Goes With You,” while an ode to a potential lover is the rapid-rhyme pattern of “Watersmooth–you’re so fine, I’ll see you somewhere down the line!”  The set closes on a pure country-blues note–just Paul’s vocal and harp on “Moon And Star,” channeling Sonny Boy Williamson.

Our favorite leaned decidedly to Paul’s rockin’ side.  “I’m Livin’ In Another World, where there ain’t no misery, and I never ever dream of you” brims with the good times that come with the realization of redemption after a period of struggle.

Paul Reddick has always had a keen eye for the histories and myths of the blues and how to put them into words.  He also sponsors the Cobalt Prize, urging folks to write blues songs, to ensure the future of Canadian blues.  “Ride The One” has all the elements of a well-written and well-played set!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Jordan Patterson Band review…May 26, 2016…

THE JORDAN PATTERSON BAND

THE BACK ON TRACK RECORDING PROJECT

FLAMINGCHEESE RECORDS

FAVOURITE BOY–CAN WE FALL IN LOVE AGAIN–SHE’S COOL–YOU’RE MY GIRL–LIVING WITHOUT YOUR LOVE–PLAY MY SONG (REVISITED)–IF YOU’D HELP ME PLEASE (REVISITED)–DO YOU BELIEVE–HEARTBREAKER (REVISITED)–DON’T TAKE ME DOWN (REVISITED)

Way back in 1996, Ontario-born harp-blaster Jordan Patterson recorded his debut album, “Give Me A Chance,” down in Jackson, MS, after mentoring with guitarist Bobby Parker and Bobby Rush.  That led to extensive touring, and a spot on U. P. Wilson’s JSP album, “Whirlwind.”  Just as quickly, Jordan decided to pack it all in and go back home to be a concert promoter.

Nearly fifteen years later, a friend urged him to prove his earlier successes were no flash in the pan.  Jordan began playing live shows in 2014, and he has now released his aptly-titled follow-up, “The Back On Track Recording Project,” ten cuts that show where his musical tastes lie—from straight-blues to funk to good ole rock and roll throughout.

The youngest of nine children, one of his sisters gave him a harp, and he made the most of it.  A strong player with the blues-rock leanings of Peter Harper plus the funk he learned from Bobby Rush, Jordan opens the set with a fiery biographical tune, using his “new toy” to grow up and “be your momma’s Favourite Boy!” “Living Without Your Love makes life a long, long road,” has a rocked-up, Lenny Kravitz or even Prince feel, while he closes the set with harp blasting away on “Don’t Take Me Down–Revisited,” as he cuts a lover off at the knees who “plays me for a fool.”

We had two favorites, too.  More sweet harp fuels the fire of “my baby, who looks extra-sweet,” entitled “She’s Cool–she’s wild, outta sight!”  And, in a nod to Jordan’s strong blues-rock passions, there’s “Can We Fall In Love Again and find that good, kind love,” with a Chris Robinson-Black Crowes vibe goin’ on.

Jordan Patterson proves with “The Back On Track Recording Project,” that he didn’t miss a stroke in a nearly two-decade absence from the contemporary scene. Here’s hoping his next project is MUCH sooner!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

KALO review…May 24, 2016….

KALO

DEAR JOHN

SELF-RELEASED

DEAR JOHN–TREAT ME BAD–MARCH TO THE LIGHT–MARIE–HEARTBREAK–OH FATHER–DOWN DOWN DOWN–BLUE CHEVY–LOOKING FOR ME–ONCE I HAD A HEART–GOODBYE–LIKE IT OR NOT (COVER)–TENDER LOVE–CAN’T SLEEP AT NIGHT

As a youngster, Israeli-born Bat-Or Kalo got a Hendrix cassette(!) and an electric guitar, and that, as us old folks say, was all she wrote.  After high school and a two-year hitch in the Israeli Defense Forces, she came to Oklahoma City U. to study music.  There, she met up with bassist Mack McKinney, and, altho it took a while, both ended up back together around 2012 in Mississippi, as Kalo wanted to see first-hand where the blues originated.

Her debut album, released in the fall of 2013, is titled “Dear John,” and there are fourteen mostly original cuts full of the passion and verve to which she has dedicated herself along this blues journey.  For this set, Kalo and McKinney use Erin Nelson as the predominate drummer, and some guest musicians we’ll get to in a bit.  The band bills itself as KALO, and parlayed a semi-finalist run in the 2016 IBC’s into a free campaign from Blind Raccoon’s uber-publicist, Betsie Brown.

Kalo is a powerful young player brimming with chops and the attitude to succeed.  As a bonus, growing up in Israel and then studying the blues literally down at the Crossroads gives her a unique perspective on just exactly what happened when that ol’ deal went down.

She starts off in a strong Hill-Country vibe, her guitar wailing and drums pounding out “Dear John, please don’t leave me tonight,” while pleading in the next cut for a lover to “Treat Me Bad.”  Another paramour becomes her “drug” of choice, but, inevitably is good for nothing except more “Heartbreak,” as her guitar lines bespeak her pain in this one.  Fiddle and banjo from John Knudson add to the country-blues of Kalo’s dobro in “Looking For Me,” and she closes on an acoustic note, trying to get past a departed lover, but “there’s a voice in my head, and I Can’t Sleep At Night.’

We had two favorites, too.  She defiantly fires off deep dobro runs thru the field-holler style blues of “March To The Light,” as “I don’t  give a damn if I go to Hell.”  And, as sure as Sunday morning follows Saturday night, she asks for cleansing repentance in “Oh Father, will you save a wretch like me?”

Turns out that Bat-Or Kalo is quite a student of the blues.  She’s got that eternal give-and-take with good vs. evil down pat, and “Dear John” is a mighty fine debut!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Mighty Orq review…May 23, 2016…

MIGHTY ORQ

LOVE IN A HURRICANE

CONNOR RAY MUSIC  CRM 1602

SWEET IN BETWEEN–FALLING DOWN–PACK IT UP–SAY IT WITH SILENCE–LOVE IN A HURRICANE–THE POSSUM SONG–CARRY ME HOME–YOU’RE IN LOVE (THAT’S ALRIGHT)–BIG BOAT–LET ME HAVE MY FUN–DEATH LETTER BLUES–CANNON BALL

Born Josh Davidson and raised in Houston, he was given the nickname “Mighty Orq” by fellow Texas bluesman Tony Vega.  Mighty, he is, indeed–he’s been on the scene for ’bout thirteen years, with six albums and an instructional DVD for slide guitar under his belt, and made it all the way to the finals of the 2016 IBC’s in Memphis.

Hot on the heels of that finish, he has just released “Love In A Hurricane,” showcasing both his maturity as a composer as well as his passion for blues, roots, and gospel.  His regular band is along for the ride, including Jimmy Rose on drums and mandolin, Terry Dry on bass, and Barry Seelen on keys and squeeze box.  He blasts outta the Delta night with his slide blazing, searching for “my Sweet In Between.”  He pays tribute to another great Texas bluesman, Freddie King, with the struttin’ “Pack It Up,” as his ex gets the heave-ho and is told “I’m gonna put you right outta my life!”  The title cut is a nice slice of Americana that traces the lives of a couple who fall in love as youngsters and weather all of life’s storms, “Love In A Hurricane.”  The sadder end of that spectrum is the poignant tale of unwise choices made and their lethal consequences, “Falling Down.”  Barry’s B-3 work is exemplary here, giving this one a strong blues-rock edge.

The set closes with another unique pair of tunes.  An eerie guitar thread adds to the feel of Orq’s take on Son House’s tale of “Judgement Day” and a deceased lover “layin’ n that coolin’ board,” “Death Letter Blues.”  To close the set outright, Orq uses a Weissenborn guitar for the quietly-pastoral instrumental, “Cannon Ball.”

We had two favorites, too.  His “Saturday night” leanings show up on the roadhouse boogie ’bout a good woman who’ll always “Let Me Have My Fun,” punctuated by Barry’s piano.  Moving into “Sunday morning,” there’s the Biblically-themed, surprisingly-funky message to be spread that “hope floats,” so “get on the Big Boat to get to the other side!”

It’s easy to see why Mighty Orq fared so well in the IBC’s.  He’s got versatile, original material, guitar and vocal chops second to none, and now,  a fine set, “Love In A Hurricane,” to back it up!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Big Jon Atkinson and Bob Corritore review…May 21, 2016…

BIG JON ATKINSON AND BOB CORRITORE

HOUSE PARTY AT BIG JON’S

DELTA GROOVE MUSIC  DGPCD  172

GOIN’ BACK TO TENNESSEE–HERE COMES MY BABY–IT WASN’T EASY–SHE’S MY CRAZY LITTLE BABY–AT THE MEETING–MOJO HAND–MOJO IN MY BREAD–MAD ABOUT IT–EMPTY BEDROOM–I’M GONNA MISS YOU LIKE THE DEVIL–YOU WANT ME TO TRUST YOU–MISSISSIPPI PLOW–EL CENTRO–I’M A KING BEE–SOMEBODY DONE CHANGED THE LOCK ON MY DOOR–MY FEELINGS WON’T BE HURT

Big Jon Atkinson is another of those young powerhouse West Coast blues guitarists who know what this music is all about, as he spent some time mentoring with Kim Wilson.  It’s no surprise that the name of Jon’s home-based studio in San Diego is Big Tone, because he sho’ nuff coaxes a huge tone outta that guitar.  His latest set for Delta Groove teams him with harp icon Bob Corritore as well as several of the best blues singers from Chicago to Cali, making “House Party At Big Jon’s” play out like one of those old-school Blues Caravans where everybody adds to the fun.  To add to the vibe of this cool mix of covers and originals, Jon laid down all the tracks on vintage equipment.  Also, we have Danny Michel on second guitar, Troy Sandow on bass, and a trio of drummers–Malachi Johnson, Brian Fahey, and Marty Dodson.

The set kicks off with Jon telling a lover “we didn’t do the things we should, and I’m Goin’ Back To Tennessee.”  Bob blows the reeds outta his big ol’ chromatic on his original, “Here Comes My Baby, with the butterscotch skin!”  Alabama Mike rocks the house lookin’ for that “Mojo Hand,” and comes back a bit later for a scorchin’ slow-blueser, “Somebody Done Changed The Lock On My Door.”  Big Jon and Willie Buck rock out on a couple of Slim Harpo’s Excello hits—Big Jon on lead vocal on the “sorry that you’re gone” song, “I’m Gonna Miss You Like The Devil,” while Willie Buck busts out that stinger on “I’m A King Bee, I can buzz all night long!”  Tomcat Courtney’s original is the story of a woman so mean, :she put Mojo In My Cornbread and turnip greens!”  Jon’s sparse guitar leads put a decidedly-Delta stamp on this one.

We had two favorites, too.  We’ve always liked Lightnin’ Slim’s “She’s My Crazy Little Baby,” and Big Jon and Bob let everybody know “the whole state knows she’s fine!”  And, Dave Riley absolutely takes us all to Blues Church with a powerful, heartfelt read of “seeing my momma in Heaven one day,” “At The Meeting.”

Ever lay in bed at night as a youngster with your transistor radio tuned in to WLAC?  As you listen to “House Party At Big Jon’s,”  you’ll swear the Hossman is about to tell you what a huge talent Big Jon Atkinson really is, and, without saying a word, Bob Corritore’s harp is his perfect foil!!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

Eric Bibb review…May 20, 2016…

ERIC BIBB

AND NORTH COUNTRY FAR

AND DANNY THOMPSON

THE HAPPIEST MAN IN THE WORLD

STONY PLAIN RECORDS CD  SPCD  1390

THE HAPPIEST MAN IN THE WORLD–TOOLIN’ DOWN THE ROAD–I’LL FARM FOR YOU–TOSSIN’ AND TURNIN’–CREOLE CAFE–BORN TO BE YOUR MAN–PRISON OF TIME–KING SIZE BED–ON THE PORCH–1912 SKIING DISASTER–TELL OL’ BILL–WISH I COULD HOLD YOU NOW–BLUEBERRY BOY (INST.)–YOU REALLY GOT ME W/KING SIZE BED (INST.)

For his latest Stony Plain album, world-renowned troubadour Eric Bibb has teamed up with an all-acoustic band billed as North Country Far—the Finnish Haavisto brothers–Janne on drums, and Olli on dobro and pedal steel.  Add in Petri Hakala on mandola and mandolin, and this became a formidable outfit, indeed.  However, it was missing one piece.  The final member for this project became famed upright bassist Danny Thompson, and this core created  Eric’s “The Happiest Man In The World.”  The fourteen cuts feature Eric on vocals, six-string banjo and guitars, and he and the fellows turn in a sweet set of country-blues, perfect for a picnic or just hangin’ out.

Eric looks at love and maturing gracefully over the course of these tunes.  He leads off with the title cut, an ode to his lover and how she makes him feel.  Everyone takes a solo, and Eric rides that vein, literally, in the next cut, as “there’s few things I adore more than Toolin’ Down The Road with my good gal at the wheel!”  Petri’s mandolin is a perfect complement within the context of this one, too.  Eric’s banjo riff rides all the way thru the poignant tale of two lovers growing old gracefully, as they sit predominantly in silence, “On The Porch.”  Olli’s pedal steel fits in nicely alongside the banjo.  The set closes with a strong, stripped-down take on Ray Davies’ and The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me,” and features a hidden track at the end of the vocal—an instrumental version of “King Size Bed.”

We had two favorites, too.  A love affair that begins with missing a day of work turns into a lifetime for a couple who “bought a place in the country,” where, “down at the Creole Cafe, she serves the gumbo, and I serve the blues!”  And, just as sure as “Babe Ruth was born to swing that bat, and Dr. King was born to do what’s right, I Was Born To Be Your Man!”

Eric Bibb continues to be one of the most versatile and eclectic players on the contemporary scene today.  Joining forces with North Country Far and Danny Thompson makes “The Happiest Man In The World” a fine addition to any fan’s collection!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

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