Monocle Band review…October 18, 2017….

MONOCLE BAND

THE CLEARING

MEDICINE–NOT IF I HAVE MY WAY–SOLACE–ALL THIS DARK–ON THE BANKS OF THE STREAM–WATER SONG–LORA LEE–CLEAR MUD–SAD-EYED GIRL–THE CLEARING

The Boulder, Colorado-based Monocle Band features the golden voice of Monica Marie and songwriter/guitarist Bill Huston, a man with a keen way around a lyric.  Their second full-length album is set for an October 20, 2017, release, and is entitled “The Clearing.”  This set differs from their 2013 debut, as it has more electric guitar and piano, while staying true to the band’s roots in folk, bluegrass, and even pre-WWII blues.

For the most part, the pair alternate the lead vocal throughout the set on each song, but, when they do sing together, their voices mesh quite well.  Their characters have the same ups, downs, flaws, and little victories as do we all.  Our heroine’s introduction to love leads off the set, where Dusty Rider’s banjo adds the spice to “Medicine,” as our lovers “move the wind with hips and soul.”  Monica tackles dealing with depression in “Solace” and “Clear Mud,” where she yearns for “a brighter day” as redemption.  It also features producer John McVey on electric guitar.  Bill looks at our own mortality and the loss of a child in the poignant “All This Dark,” while the pair duets on a story of unrequited love, courtesy of “Lora Lee,”

Our favorite was Bill’s good ole “murder ballad.”  A bank robbery goes as wrong as wrong can be, and our hero “still may hang,” but “Not If I Have My Way.”  This one features Sam Parks on mandolin.

A set full of eye-opening characters over clever folk/bluegrass arrangements drives “The Clearing” from Monocle Band.  Monica Marie and Bill Huston bring a varied, fresh sound to these ten originals that is bound to please their long-time fans, while bringing new ones,  including us, into the fold!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

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Duke Robillard review…October 16, 2017….

DUKE ROBILLARD

DUKE AND HIS DAMES OF RHYTHM

M. C. RECORDS  MC–0083

FROM MONDAY ON–GOT THE SOUTH IN MY SOUL–PLEASE DON’T TALK ABOUT ME WHEN I’M GONE–SQUEEZE ME–WALKING STICK–BLUES IN MY HEART–LOTUS BLOSSOM–MY HEART BELONGS TO DADDY–WHAT’S THE REASON (I’M NOT PLEASIN’ YOU)–ME, MYSELF, AND I–EASY LIVING–WAS THAT THE HUMAN THING TO DO–IF I COULD BE WITH YOU (ONE HOUR TONIGHT)–READY FOR THE RIVER–CALL OF THE FREAKS

For his latest project, Duke Robillard wanted to cross another item off his bucket list.  Mark Carpentieri of M. C. Records had long wanted to record Duke, and they hatched a plan to team Duke with his long-time rhythm section, a full horn section, and six of the classiest female singers in all of contemporary blues.  They would all perform vintage Tin Pan Alley-era songs from the 20’s and 30’s, so,  “Duke And The Dames Of Rhythm” fires up Duke’s passion for this music, and gives the listener a unique perspective on this world-renowned musician.

At a robust fifteen cuts, there are highlights aplenty.  Sunny Crownover and the Duke lead things off with a spirited duet on Bing Crosby’s “From Monday On,” with the arrangement and clarinet by Billy Novick, also Duke’s go-to licorice stick man.  Sunny returns a bit later for the sultry-and-sexy story of a girl who knows where her sugar comes from, “My Heart Belongs To Daddy.” Madeleine Peyroux keeps that sultry vibe cookin’, begging for her “daddy” to “Squeeze Me, and squeeze me again!”  Maria Muldaur, herself no stranger to this music, lends her one-of-a-kind voice to the honey drippin’ “Got The South In My Soul,” and the playful “Was That The Human Thing To Do?”  Elizabeth McGovern has a swingin’ good time with “Me, Myself, And I,” featuring the only electric guitar appearance, from Andy Stein, while Catherine Russell lays down a torchy read of “Blues In My Heart,” with a horn of plenty from Jon Erik Kellso.  Kelley Hunt offered up our personal favorite, “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone.”  Duke’s subdued guitar is Kelley’s perfect foil for the opening verses, before giving way to the full band at mid-song.

With “Duke And His Dames Of Rhythm,” one can be sure of two things.  First, there is top notch musicianship from all involved, and then there is the eclectic mix of songs bound to bring joy to his legion of fans!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

Albert Castiglia review…October 14, 2017….

ALBERT CASTIGLIA

UP ALL NIGHT

RUF RECORDS  CD 1249

HOODOO ON ME–I BEEN UP ALL NIGHT–THREE LEGGED DOG–95 SOUTH–KNOCKED DOWN LOADED–QUIT YOUR BITCHING–WOMAN DON’T LIE–UNHAPPY HOUSE OF BLUES–DELILAH–CHASE HER AROUND THE HOUSE–YOU GOT ME TO THAT PLACE

Over the course of his storied career, South Florida-based bluesman Albert Castiglia has hoodooed on stage with the ol’ Hoodoo Man himself, Junior Wells, gone waaay past those “Bad Year Blues,” and, on his last album, told all of us to “Get Yer @$$ In The Van” for the next gig!  A perennial road dog, he’s back with what will likely prove to be his strongest album to date.  Yup–“Up All Night” has got everything his fans love best about him–blistering solos, that soul-man’s vocal delivery, tunes about life on the road, relationships, both good and bad, with everything aided and abetted by that keen sense of humor.

Want some pure Sixties’ psychedelia?  Then, get yer wah-wah’s out for the title cut, where Albert, in trouble with a lover, sings, “I Been Up All Night, rollin’ joints as big ’round as my thumb!”  “Knocked Down Loaded” will take many of us back to our youth, when we all believed we were ten feet tall and bulletproof, especially when “Jack, black,” and “wine spo-de-o-de” gets involved!  Albert closes the set on a quieter, acoustic note, a cool ode to that special lover who “Got Me To That Place where I want to be!”

Not all the girls herein are on the up and up, tho.  Check out the pure evil of the leadoff lady who “Put The Hoodoo On Me,” and the constant fussing and fighting has him ready to blow an “Unhappy House Of Blues.”  Written by Cyril Neville, Albert relates to the “graveyard love” therein, and it also features harp from Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone.

We had two favorites, too.  Sonny Landreth adds his signature slide licks to the roadhouse boogie of  “95 South,” tracing Albert’s road trip from “DC to SoFlo” and trying to outrun a hurricane!  And, when you’ve been on the road for “a month and 14 days,” when you get home, you want to grab your lover and “Chase Her Around The House,” where the only real choice is whether it’s “the bedroom or the kitchen floor.”

Albert Castiglia has done it again with “Up All Night.”  He left everything the same from his last album, as this one also was laid down at Dockside Studios with the honorable Mike Zito producing.  The only changes were the band members, this time with Jimmy Pritchard on bass, and Brian Menendez on drums.  Everybody played their collective butts off, too.  Mama Esther, you gotta be proud of your son Albert and this stellar set of contemporary blues!  Love to all…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

61 Ghosts review…October 13, 2017….

61 GHOSTS

….TO THE EDGE

BLUZPIK MEDIA GROUP

HEARTBEAT–NO ONE AT YOUR DOOR–WORLD GONE CRAZY–IF TEARS WERE DIRT–SHOW ME YOUR SCARS–PASSION TIPPED ARROW

Joe Mazzari has been playing his grunge-worthy brand of rock and roll since he got his start on the Boston rock scene during the  Eighties.  He’s played CBGB’s, The Peppermint Lounge, and, even the Cavern Club in Liverpool.  Dixie Deadwood made her mark as the  drummer for Bud Welch for several years.  These two powerhouse talents have just released their crackling debut EP under the name 61 Ghosts, entitled, “….To The Edge.”  They utilize the bass guitar stylings of J. D. Sipe over the course of the six strong originals that show why their skills make the whole of this set greater than the sum of its parts.

Joe has one of those gravelly, raw vocal deliveries—think Springsteen after a half-pint of cold Clarksdale ‘shine—and you get the picture.  The band’s sound overall is deep, primal, and hittin’ on all 8 thanks to the rock-solid rhythm section.

The groove starts with the pounding drive of “Heartbeat,” which, literally, jumps outta the speakers and grabs you.  Our hero comes to grips with love gone sour in the mile-a-minute “No One At Your Door, for you don’t need me any more.”  Next up is the song that served as our favorite, altho it has a dark, macabre feel.  The man in “World Gone Crazy” has seen his share of stuff down at the Crossroads, and he’s about to “do things I’ll live to regret.”  Dixie’s percussion and Joe’s guitar lines paint a Doomsday picture of a man who “sees the world thru a wine bottle haze.”

For all the in-yer-face bombast of the first two-thirds of the set, it closes on a rather quiet note.  “Show Me Your Scars,”  for “they’re not your flaws,” is an acoustic reminder that no one is perfect, and it’s ok to “let down your guard.”  The final cut, another acoustic affair, has Joe asking a lover, “has my Passion Tipped Arrow been removed from your chest?”

61 Ghosts brings the music of the Delta into focus as the forebearer, if you will, of rock and roll.  Joe’s guitar and vocals over Dixie’s deft rhythm propulsion is bound to take the listener “….To The Edge.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

The Original Blues Brothers Band review…October 12, 2017….

STEVE CROPPER, LOU MARINI AND

THE ORIGINAL BLUES BROTHERS BAND

THE LAST SHADE OF BLUE BEFORE BLACK

SEVERN RECORDS  CD  0071

BABY WHAT YOU WANT ME TO DO–CHERRY STREET–ON A SATURDAY NIGHT–ITCH AND SCRATCH–DON’T GO NO FURTHER–YOU LEFT THE WATER RUNNING–DON’T FORGET ABOUT JAMES BROWN–SEX MACHINE–YOUR FEET’S TOO BIG–21ST CENTURY BABY–BLUES IN MY FEET–QUALIFIED–I GOT MY MOJO WORKING–THE LAST SHADE OF BLUE BEFORE BLACK

What began as a musical sketch on “Saturday Night Live” way back in 1978, when Aykroyd and Belushi brought Joliet Jake and Elwood Blues to life as the mythical “Blues Brothers,” has become a world-wide franchise that has spawned two feature films, merchandising of all kinds, and tours by the surviving band members all over the globe.  That’s the cool thing about “The Last Shade Of Blue Before Black,” on Severn Records, as many of these literal “soul survivors,”  keep on rockin’, billed as The Original Blues Brothers Band.

Of the fourteen cuts on this lively set, several are new songs written for this project, while the rest you’ll likely know by heart.  There are so many special guests, it’s almost like the last half-hour of “Blues Brothers 2000.”  Just about everybody is here—Steve “The Colonel” Cropper, “Shiv” Shaffer, Bones Malone, Blue Lou Marini, and a host of others, with a rotating cast of vocalists including Tommy “Pipes” McDonnell, Bobby Harden, and Rob Paparozzi, with special guests Dr. John, Eddie Floyd, and Joe Louis Walker.

Highlights abound. Bobby, Tommy, and Rob kick out the jams with “Baby What You Want Me To Do,” with piano from Randy Cloud.  Eddie Floyd rocks the joint with a tune he and The Colonel wrote back in the day, “me and my baby, and a glass of wine, On A Saturday Night!”  Joe Louis Walker steps up with one of our favorites, “Don’t Go No Further,” with Rob on the big ol’ chromatic harp and another of the originals on guitar, Matt “Guitar” Murphy!”  And, “The Shiv” Shaffer hits it and quits it on the scratchy-funk goodness of “Sex Machine,”

The fellows did not forget New Orleans, either.  Rob is on vocal on the playful “Your Feet’s Too Big,” and The Nite Tripper himself, Dr. John, appears on vocal and piano on a cool tale about the “haves and the have-nots,” “I’m Qualified.”  The set closes with Lou Marini on sax and vocals on the title cut, as he plays the cheatin’ lover who suffers the consequences, and now feels just like “The Last Shade Of Blue Before Black.”

Just as the 1978 skit intended, The Original Blues Brothers Band is all about having fun.  The good times roll on with “The Last Shade Of Blue Before Black!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Rob Lutes review…October 11, 2017….

ROB LUTES

WALK IN THE DARK

LUCKY BEAR RECORDS   MMMG 9550

A LITTLE ROOM–THERE’S NO WAY TO TELL YOU THAT TONIGHT–PUMPING LOVE–I AM THE BLUES–WHISTLING PAST THE GRAVEYARD–WALK IN THE DARK–SPENCE–ROCKY MOUNTAIN TIME–BIGGER–RABBIT–HARDEST THING OF ALL–BELIEVE IN SOMETHING–BETTER PAST

Rob Lutes is a brilliant, soulful Canadian singer-songwriter whose material resides at, one might say, another mythical Crossroads–this one where the blues intersects with folk, Americana, and the music of the greats such as Dylan and Rod McKuen.  An acclaimed finger-style picker with a burnished vocal delivery, he has just released his seventh album,  this one entitled “Walk In The Dark.”  On this set, Rob is on vocals and acoustic guitars, with another noted Canadian player, Rob McDonald, on electric, acoustic, and Resophonic guitars.

Throughout, he looks at love and life, and its highs and lows, through the eyes and ears of a traveling troubadour.  He also pays tribute to some of his heroes along the way, too.  Opening the set is the story of a man in recovery, who was “only starting to find A Little Room,” with “too many things I’d like to erase.”  His tribute to James Cotton is “There’s No Way To Tell You That Tonight,” and features harp from Guy Belanger, while an ode to Bahamian folk artist Joseph Spence is the lightning-fast instrumental, “Spence.”

We had two favorites, too.  Guy”s harp and Bob Staggs’ keys work adds to the sprightly ambience of the Hot Club guitar licks of “Believe In Something,” while he pays a fine tribute to one of the most endearing writers of our generation, John Prine, with the waltz groove of “Rocky Mountain Time,” where  “it’s only the thirsty who hunger to roam.”

Rob Lutes continues to show why he is one of the most compelling storytellers on the blues-roots scene.  His philosophical forays are out now for the world to enjoy, for, “after all, isn’t life really just a Walk In The Dark?”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Blues With Horns, Vol. 1 review…October 8, 2017….

CHRIS DANIELS AND THE KINGS

WITH FREDDI GOWDY

BLUES WITH HORNS, VOL. 1

MOON VOYAGE RECORDS

SWEET MEMPHIS–FRIED FOOD/HARD LIQUOR–GET UP OFF THE FUNK–SOOTHE ME BABY–WOULDN’T TREAT A DOG (THE WAY YOU TREATED ME)–BABY’S IN LOVE WITH THE RADIO–CAN’T EVEN DO WRONG RIGHT–YOU CAN STAY BUT THAT NOISE MUST GO–THEM CHANGES–RAIN CHECK

Chris Daniels And The Kings, along with Freddi Gowdy, are sho’ nuff on a mission to keep the horn-driven, soul-blues of the Sixties and Seventies alive, and introduce it to a whole new group of fans while sharing it with long-time fans such as us.  Chris and Freddi, both cancer survivors, have been together since ’bout 2009, and Chris And The Kings have 15 albums under their belt, this the second with Freddi.

Want some down-home blues?  Then, order up a slab of ribs from Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous, kick back, and dig the groove of “Sweet Memphis,” with Chris’ vocal ably backed by slide from Sonny Landreth.  Next up is a place many have been to–the neighborhood juke joint–or is it a bucket of blood?  Either way, you can get anything you want, especially, “Fried Food, Hard Liquor, and them down-home blues!”  The party rolls on as Freddi goes into full-on Godfather mode, with “Get Up Off The Funk,” with some cool work from the horny horn section!

That real mother for you, ol’ Johnny Guitar Watson, is featured thru two of his well-known cuts.  First up is a tune about a certain girl who won’t do nothin’, love-wise, as “Baby’s In Love With The Radio.”  And, a tough landlord berates our hero, telling him, “You Can Stay But That Noise Must Go!”  They get into a swingin’, New Orleans-style groove for Elvin Bishop’s tale of hard-luck Maurice, who “Can’t Even Do Wrong Right!”

We had two favorites, too.  We’ve always loved Sam Cooke’s music, and Chris and Freddi nail a song of his popularized by Sam Moore and Dave Prater, “Soothe Me with your kindness,” with a sweet sax break from Jim Waddell.  Chris closes the set with a light-hearted yet poignant look at mortality as told to him by his mother.  “Rain Check” urges us all to “dance every chance I get before I have to go!”

Trust us, if you will.  There’s nothing quite like the music of our youth that was laid down by the likes of Koko  Taylor, Johnnie Taylor, JB, Pickett, and many other legends who brought the horns along for the ride.  Chris Daniels, The Kings, and Freddi Gowdy have got it goin’ on with “Blues With Horns, Vol. 1!”  We say, most definitely, “More, please!!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.