Dalannah and Owen review…August 27, 2015…

DALANNAH AND OWEN

BEEN AROUND A WHILE

QUEST RECORDS   QST–009

BEEN AROUND A WHILE–EARLY IN THE MORNING–THAT AIN’T IT–BLUES, MOTHER OF SIN–ALREADY GONE–QUEEN BEE–INNER CITY BLUES–HEAVEN’S RIGHT HERE–COME ON IN MY KITCHEN–WHY I SING THE BLUES–WALKIN’ BLUES

Canadian blues duo Dalannah Gail Bowen and Owen Veber have taken a decidedly “outside the box” approach to the blues for their first release together.  Dalannah handles all the vocals, and Owen is on bass, and that’s all folks–yep, this duo uses only Dalannah’s voice and Owen’s bass lines to convey an unusually-powerful message in “Been Around A While” on Quest Records.

They’ve got some fine credentials, too.  Dalannah has sung gospel, jazz, and blues for nearly fifty years, and brings all her influences to the table on this set.  Her philanthropic side is evident in her charitable volunteer work for the poor in Vancouver’s downtown east side.  Owen is a classically-trained bassist, and his fluid lines ride crystal-clear over these eleven cuts, as they mix their own material with clever, topical covers.

They kick off with Dalannah’s celebration of life song, noting that “I’ve Been Around A While,” but, “all that living can be good for you!”  She handles the Billy Eckstine chestnut, “Blues, Mother Of Sin”  with ease, giving us a literal three-minute blues history lesson!  “Already Gone” is a cool original that has Dalannah givin’ a cheatin’ lover his walkin’ papers, while the story of one who is looking for something that they’ve already found is the theme of the jazzy “Heaven’s Right Here.”

We had two favorites, too.  Owen rides that ummistakable bass line of “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)” over Dalannah’s ominous, brooding vocal that makes this song as relevant as it was forty years ago when Marvin Gaye first cut it.  And, the set closes with that marching bass line that leaves no doubt that Dalannah “woke up this morning, lookin’ ’round for my shoes,” Son House’s “Walkin’ Blues.”

Dalannah Bowen and Owen Veber have taken a really unique approach to the blues on this set.  Only a couple of seasoned veterans with unlimited musical chops could pull it off, so, if you are looking for something completely different, check out “Been Around A While.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Jimmy Burns review…August 25, 2015…

JIMMY BURNS

IT AIN’T RIGHT

DELMARK RECORDS  DE 841

BIG MONEY PROBLEM–WILL I EVER FIND SOMEBODY–SNAGGLETOOTH MULE–LONG AS YOU’RE MINE–HARD HEARTED WOMAN–MY HEART IS HANGIN’ HEAVY–CRAZY CRAZY CRAZY–A STRING TO YOUR HEART–ROCK AWHILE—STAND BY ME—SURROUNDED–I KNOW YOU HEAR ME CALLIN’–IT AIN’T RIGHT–MESSIN’ WITH THE KID–WADE IN THE WATER

Venerable Chicago bluesman Jimmy Burns made his Delmark debut back in 1996 with “Leavin’ Here Walkin,” and triumphantly returns to the spotlight with his fifth set for Delmark, “It Ain’t Right.”  Over the course of these fifteen tracks, Jimmy lays down some fine authentic Chicago blues, as well as several cuts in the soul-blues vein that allows his smooth, stylish vocal delivery to shine.  Producer Dick Shurman took full advantage of Jimmy’s immense talents, making this another set of blues the way they oughta be played.

Billy Flynn wrote the leadoff cut, a driving shuffle about living in today’s world, where everybody has “Big Money Problems.”  Billy Branch’s piano man, Ariyo Ariyoshi adds tasty keys, too.  Jimmy plays the lover trying to stay ahead of the game by going to see his “hoodoo man,” in the minor-key, West-Side-flavored “Snaggletooth Mule.”

Jimmy’s right at home on the soulful cuts, too.  The horn section drives the story of true love, “As Long As You’re Mine,” while “Crazy Crazy Crazy” and “Stand By Me” recall vintage Fifties’ doo-wop.  Jimmy blows some low down harp on “A String To Your Heart,” and Roosevelt Purifoy gets down on some organ along with Ariyo on piano on “I Know You Hear Me Calling.”

The set closes with three true classics, done in different-than-usual ways.  Little Walter’s “It Ain’t Right” has fluid guitar lines as a substitute for the harp.  “Messin’ With The Kid” is presented by Jimmy as a slowed-down sho’ nuff funk fest.  And, he takes us all to church with the traditional gospel of “Wade In The Water.”

We had two favorites, too.  Goree Carter’s “Rock Awhile” has Jimmy playing some fine roadhouse, stop-time guitar boogie over Ariyo’s piano.  And, the other Billy Flynn original is a powerful soul-blues cut entitled “Will I Ever Find Somebody?”  The horn section sweetens things up, and Jimmy’s vocal has a Sam Cooke feel, as he takes this one to a testifyin’ climax.

Jimmy Burns stays true to his blues roots with this outstanding collection.  Enjoy “It Ain’t Right” from this down-home blues master!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

 

Chris James and Patrick Rynn review…August 24, 2015…

CHRIS JAMES AND PATRICK RYNN

TROUBLE DON’T LAST

VIZZTONE  VTCP 001

SHAMELESS–LILLY MAE–LONESOME WHISTLE BLUES–GOING DOWN TO THE OCEAN–TROUBLE DON’T LAST–DON’T DRIVE ME AWAY–STEADY GOIN’ ON–A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME–HARD TO KEEP A DOLLAR–ROLL TUMBLE AND SLIP

We’ve been fans of Chris James and Patrick Rynn for nearly twenty years, when they were backing Sam Lay.  They’ve always been purveyors of that classic combo sound that was prevalent in the years immediately following WWII when amplified blues became standard.  Such is the case with their latest album for Vizztone, “Trouble Don’t Last.”

They are paired with some fantastic backing musicians, too.  Along with Chris on guitar and vocals and Patrick on bass, we have June Core on drums, and both Rob Stone and Aki Kumar on harp.  “Lilly Mae” has a good country-blues feel, and was originally done by Detroiter Calvin Frazier, hence the lyrical nod to Hastings Street.  June keeps the beat stompin’ throughout, too.  The title cut is a band original that recalls vintage Muddy, as that loping beat rides over the ominous lyrics, “I gave her a home but she mortgaged my soul.”  The set closes on a similar note with a tune from Sunnyland Slim, “Roll Tumble And Slip,” featuring both Rob and Aki on dual harp!

The fellows do write some fine topical contemporary blues.  The story of a man who’s down on his luck thanks to poor choices at the track and a DUI from the high sheriff realizes he made some mistakes, but it all “Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time!”  And, everybody’s “paycheck is gettin’ smaller” and it is sho’ nuff “Hard To Keep A Dollar” nowadays!

We had two favorites, too—one original and one cool cover.  The set begins with Chris’ fine lead work on a brooding ode about people we all know, who are “Shameless,” and whose “best friend is a dollar!”  And, Chris pays tribute to Freddie King with the jazzy swing of “Lonesome Whistle Blues,” with a great vocal arrangement.

With each successive album, Chris James and Patrick Rynn just keep gettin’ better.  They had a great backing band on “Trouble Don’t Last,” and this set shows why they are among the best players of real-deal, down-home blues on the scene today!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Smoky Greenwell review…August 22, 2015…

SMOKY GREENWELL

NEW ORLEANS BLUES JAM

LIVE AT THE OLD U. S. MINT PERFORMING ARTS CENTER

GREENWELL RECORDS  GWR-102

SMOKE ALARM–MY OWN BLUES CLUB–PETER GUNN–POWER OF NOW–JODIE–I EARNED THE RIGHT TO SING THE BLUES–BETWEEN IRAQ AND A HARD PLACE–NEED A FRIEND–LOVES GONE–LEROY’S SHUFFLE–BACK TO THE BOOGIE

The name Smoky Greenwell is synonymous with good-time blues in New Orleans.  He’s been a member of War, as well as Blues Co-Op, with Warren Haynes.  He recently got together with some of his good friends down at the Old U. S. Mint Performing Arts Center to release his tenth CD, (and companion DVD), “New Orleans Blues Jam”.

Smoky’s been singing, blowin’ sax and harp, and writing some of the coolest songs around since the Seventies.  This set takes a good look at some of his most popular material, done up nicely in this intimate setting.  He starts the party with one of three fine instrumentals, a rockin’ harp romp entitled “Smoke Alarm.” and closes on a similar note, with that “endless chooglin” of “Back To The Boogie,” done up John Lee Hooker style.  And, Smoky simply blows the hell outta some “Peter Gunn” on the tenor sax!

He’s been a club owner in the Big Easy, too, and that part of his life is documented in the bittersweet slow-blues of “My Own Blues Club.”  Sadly, when Katrina rolled thru ten years ago, “we sold the club at a loss, and now when I play there, the new owner is my boss!”  The jazzy swing of “Power Of Now” reminds us all to stop living in the past and seize the day, and warns his lover to stay away from “Jodie” while he’s out on the road!  Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes adds a cool touch of zydeco with his vocals and accordion work on the minor-key “Loves Gone” and the dance floor-burner that is “Leroy’s Shuffle!”

Our favorite was easy.  A tongue-in-cheek look at a war “that’s based on lies” has New Orleans, U. S. A., squarely “Between Iraq And A Hard Place!”

Even tho it is roughly six months ’til Mardi Gras, there’s no harm in gettin’ an early start, is there?  Grab a copy of Smoky Greenwell’s “New Orleans Blues Jam” and commence to laissez les bon temps roulet!  Yeah you right!!  Sheryl and Don Crow.

 

Danielle Nicole review…August 21, 2015..

DANIELLE NICOLE

WOLF DEN

CONCORD MUSIC GROUP  CRE  36460-02

WOLF DEN–HOW YOU GONNA DO ME LIKE THAT–TAKE IT ALL–YOU ONLY NEED ME WHEN YOU’RE DOWN–JUST GIVE ME TONIGHT–EASIN’ INTO THE NIGHT–DIDN’T DO YOU NO GOOD–WAITING FOR YOUR LOVE–I FEEL LIKE BREAKING UP SOMEBODY’S HOME–IT AIN’T YOU–IN MY DREAMS–FADE AWAY

Hot on the heels of her self-titled  EP from back in March, Blues Award-winning bassist and vocalist Danielle Nicole has just released her debut full-length set for Concord Records, “Wolf Den.”  For this set, Danielle ventured down to New Orleans, where she worked with Grammy-winning producer Anders Osborne.  The result is a brilliant blend of straight blues, funk, soul, and a touch of gospel.

That grit and funk of New Orleans runs deep thru the grooves on these twelve cuts, too.  The title cut leads off, with that mythical “Wolf Den,” a place where “the lady in red” says “you look like you could use a friend.”  This one is set over a swampy, percussion-and-organ-heavy groove.  A couple of songs from her EP re-emerge here, in all their defiant, spit-in-your-eye passion—“You Only Need Me When You’re Down,” and “Didn’t Do You No Good,” both featuring stomp-down percussion from drummer Stanton Moore, best-known for his work with Galactic.

Danielle shows a softer, more vulnerable side, also.  “Take It all” and “Waiting For Your Love” are excellent ballads, the latter featuring Luther Dickinson on guitar.

As tough as it was, we picked three as favorites.  Dickinson returns on guitar as Danielle plays the homewrecker on the prowl to the hilt on the ultra-funky “Feel Like Breaking Up somebody’s Home.”  She takes the opposite approach on the torch-y tale of unrequited love, knowing that her paramour’s “heart belongs to another,” but begs “Just Give Me Tonight” as a memory.  And, the sweet soul vibe of “How You Gonna Do Me Like That” recalls vintage Stax, and, more specifically, The Staples Singers, as the groove breaks into a “testifyin,” gospel-inflected climax.

We knew Danielle Nicole was somethin’ special when she worked with her brothers in Trampled Under Foot.  With “Wolf Den,” she has begun what looks to be a highly-successful career in contemporary blues!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Bob Malone review…August 18, 2015…

BOB MALONE

MOJO DELUXE

DELTA MOON RECORDS  DMR  008

CERTAIN DISTANCE–TOXIC LOVE–HARD TIMES–I’M NOT FINE–PARIS–LOOKING FOR THE BLUES–RAGE AND CIGARETTES–SHE MOVES ME–DON’T THREATEN ME (WITH A GOOD TIME)–WATCHING OVER ME–CHINESE ALGEBRA–CAN’T GET THERE FROM HERE

Los Angeles-based keyboard whiz, composer, and vocalist Bob Malone has carved out a nice career for himself, both thru his solo works as well as his session work with others, most notably with John Fogerty’s band since 2011.  His latest album is his eighth solo work and is entitled “Mojo Deluxe,” and is twelve cuts of predominantly his own originals with some cool covers.

Aside from being a killer keyboard man, Bob is a clever songwriter, penning songs about life, love, and things to which Everyman can  relate.  There are several cuts that could be construed as semi-autobiographical, including the leadoff “Certain Distance,” where, as a natural introvert, Bob sings of keepin’ that distance “from the whole human race!”  Bob DeMarco is on guitar, with Stan Behrens on the harp.  Another good one is a stinging ode to those who are always asking “How are you feeling?” even tho they don’t really care, and Bob tells ’em straight up that “I’m Not Fine–thanks for asking!”

Bob gives an authentic read on Brother Ray’s “Hard Times,” on upright acoustic piano as well as B-3.  He has a lot of fun on a myriad of instruments, including a funky riff on a clavinet on the rockin’ “Don’t Threaten Me (With A Good Time!)”  “Chinese Algebra” is just that–a tricky, fiff-heavy instrumental, while Bob takes a look at where he’s been as well as where he’s going on the poignant cuts “Watching Over Me,” and the set-closing “Can’t Get There From Here.”

We had two favorites, too.  Bob connects on a roundhouse jab at an ex-lover who’s made a lifetime of “bad decisions,” laced with “whiskey and regrets, Rage and Cigarettes.”  Perhaps the set’s most unique cut is “Paris.”  Bob’s look at the City Of Lights is bittersweet, as, when one is not in love, it’s “just another city without you.”

Bob Malone has crafted a fine set of keys-based blues and roots music with “Mojo Deluxe.”  This one is sure to please a vast array of fans!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Jay Gordon and Blues Venom review…August 17, 2015…

JAY GORDON AND BLUES VENOM

WOODCHOPPER’S BALL

SHUTTLE MUSIC  SHU  14115

THE STINGER–HOBO HILTON–CHAINSAW BOOGIE–STRANGER BLUES–VOODOO WOMAN–TRAVELIN RIVERSIDE BLUES–PAIN–MESSAGE TO COLLINS–DRIPPIN BLUES–PURE GRAIN ALCOHOL–BLUES VENOM–ORIGINAL SIN

For those unfamiliar with Jay Gordon, he is a West-Coast, certified bad mofo blues guitar player.  Endorsed by Gretsch, he coaxes enough energy outta that “big black guitar” to power most Third World countries!!  Seriously, tho, Jay has opened for the likes of Albert Collins and Johnny Winter, and has played Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival.  Add to that his Grammy nomination, and his pedigree is in place.

“Woodchopper’s Ball” is his latest set, twelve cuts of originals mixed with cool covers that just let the man wail on the strings.  He starts off the party, exhorting “Let’s go to work,” then rips into “The Stinger.”  Bassist Sharon Butcher handles the vocals on Koko’s “Voodoo Woman,” while Jay sends out an icy-cold blast of blues on the instrumental, “Message To Collins.”

If you dig slow, deep, passionate, crash-and-burn blues, then this album is one you cannot miss.  Jay turns in several fine slow-riders, including some killer slide work on “Pain,” while the autobiographical “Blues Venom” features fine B-3 work from Rich Wenzel, and a cool harp break from Mario Ramirez, the real-life brother of the late Richie Valens.  The set closes with a bang and nine minutes of blues bliss where we learn the “Original Sin” of a bluesman!

This set has its share of lighter moments, too, and those served as our favorites.  A little shot of Elmore James comes thru in the roadhouse rock of “Chainsaw Boogie,” played on a guitar made from a real chainsaw!  The “Hobo Hilton” is a tongue-in-cheek slow-burner about living in L. A. literally in the shadow of the Capitol Records building, but the fame and fortune that goes with it might as well be a million miles away.  And, the set’s most unique cut is Jay’s take on “Travelin’ Riverside Blues,”  done unplugged and acoustic, just the way ole Robert Johnson intended, on his way down to the Crossroads.

Jay Gordon can hold his own with any guitar slinger on the planet, and he lets all his fire and fury fly from his fingers on “Woodchoppeer’s Ball.”  Simply put, the man can rock some blues!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

 

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