Tas Cru review…December 3, 2016…

TAS CRU

SIMMERED AND STEWED

VIZZTONE  VTCT-1603

DAT MAYBE–GRIZZLE ‘N BONE–FEEL I’M FALLING–TIME AND TIME–ROAD TO MY OBSESSION–BISCUIT–COVER MY LOVE–WOMAN WON’T YOU LOVE ME–JUST LET IT HAPPEN–TIRED OF BLUESMEN CRYIN’–HIGHER AND HIGHER

The clever and unique way Tas Cru has with a lyric is well-known and enjoyed by fans all over the globe.  His last album, “You Keep The Money,” from 2015, stayed at or near the top of all the major charts for virtually the entire year.  His latest is entitled “Simmered And Stewed,” on the Vizztone/Crustee Tees label.  The success of his previous album led to this one, in a roundabout way.  Tas has always envisioned some of the songs from his prior albums with different arrangements, backing vocals, and, in some cases, a total re-tooling.  The eleven songs on this album are a return for Tas to a more acoustic sound, with Tas on all guitars, including Resonator and cigar box guitars, and backed by a brilliant host of players that make this one delicious blues stew!

Leading off is a rousing tune that finds Tas telling a lover, “don’t gimme Dat Maybe when your heart says no!”  A heavy dose of honky-tonk piano from Chip Lamson and harp from Dick Earl Ericksen adds to the tale of a lover down on his luck, going from “biscuits and gravy” to “Grizzle “N Bone!”  Tas strikes a mellow chord with the poignant story of a long-departed lover who comes to him only in his dreams, “Time And Time,” and closes the set with a heartfelt read of Jackie Wilson’s  “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher.”  He documents his life as a bluesman as he travels the “Road To My Obsession,” vowing to “play them blues, anytime, and most anywhere!”

We had two favorites.  “Feel I’m Falling” rises up out of the Hill Country mists, with Tas calling out to the Lord to pull him from a “life of misery.”  It’s  a slide-heavy plea for redemption, sho’ nuff.  And, “Tired Of Bluesmen Cryin” takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the various cliches’ that permeate this wonderful genre,’ including “breaking up a happy home” and “just ’cause my woman is gone!”

Tas Cru has had the idea idea for re-working these songs for “Simmered And Stewed” in the back of his  mind for quite some time.  And, just like a great food dish, taking the time to do ’em up right makes it all worthwhile!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Levee Town review…December 2, 2016…

LEVEE TOWN

TAKIN’ AND GIVIN’

LT 016006

TAKIN’ AND GIVIN’–HIGH FLYIN’ MAMA–KANSAS CITY WOMEN–MR. JAMESON–WALKIN’ DOWN THE ROAD–YOU’RE SO HIP–I’M A DAMN GOOD TIME–CHARLIE BROWN–I’M GONE–SUNDAY AFTERNOON–LETTER TO MY BABY–DO-SI-DO–EVERY DAY AND EVERY NIGHT–EL GRAPE

Levee Town is based out of Kansas City, and are the house band at the iconic Knucklehead’s Saloon.  Touring strong over the last fourteen years,  “Takin’ And Givin” is their twelfth album, and it’s a sho’ nuff hi-energy set throughout!

The usual suspects are all over this one.  Brandon Hudspeth is on guitar and vocals, Jacque Garrett is on vocals, bass, harp, and slide guitar, Adam Hagerman is on drums,  and special guests include Annie Walser on piano, Chris Hazelton on B-3, Jimmie Meade on harp, and Jaisson Taylor on vocals on two cuts.

The set starts with the twang of the title cut,  a story of a one-sided love affair, where “you do all the Takin’, and I do all the Givin!”  A tribute to their time spent at Knucklehead’s is the gentle lope of “Kansas City Women, workin’ both sides of the line!”  The Jimmy Reed groove is just plain irresistible!  They go off on a Texas tangent with a shot of the good ole “endless boogie” that drives “You’re So Hip,” while “I’m Gone” has the feel of Sun-splashed rockabilly with a touch of gospel.

Jump-blues lovers will dig the the frenetic pace of “Letter To My Baby” and a humorous song about one of the band’s favorite libations–nothin’ like a shot of “Mr. Jameson” to conjure up a good time!  And, that “High Flyin’ Mama” is a stone slab of funk, as she’s the girl who “keeps the liquor store open–single-handed!”  The guitar part is reminiscent of vintage Albert Collins, and gives way to a killer extended  organ solo from Chris.

Our favorite featured a vocal from Jaisson Taylor.  Everybody gets in a slow-blues groove for Jaisson, who is testifyin’ to all of us that “I like  my blues slow on Sunday,” entitled “Sunday Afternoon,” and featuring hot harp licks from Jimmie Meade.

Levee Town prided themselves with this album to have something that all fans would enjoy, and they’ve succeeded in spades!  Enjoy the versatility of one of our favorite bands with “Takin’ And Givin!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Bravo Max review…December 1, 2016…

BRAVO MAX

BULLFIHTER BLUES

PRELUDE TO CLEAN SLATE–CLEAN SLATE–SALT STONES–RAISE A TOAST–BULLFIGHTER BLUES–LAY LOW–BEE AND THE BOXER–LET IT GO–BLACK SUGAR–GOLDEN GLOVES–MI-5’S ALIVE–NO MEMORY–SHAKE LOOSE PARANOIA–SHINE A LIGHT–SEIZURE GIRL

For Dallas-based Bravo Max–frontman and bassist Johnny Beauford, Garrett Padgett, and Jonathan Jackson–their latest album, “Bullfighter Blues” offers up a radical departure from their past works. On this set of fifteen originals, the band pays a collective nod to several styles, genres’, and eras, and visit several of the bands they were listening to at the time these tracks were laid down over six days in the spring of 2015, namely groups such as The Kinks, Black Sabbath, Tame Impala and Kurt Vile, to name just a few.  That quirky vibrance is one of the cool things about this set.

Check out the opening cut, a 90-second instrumental entitled “Prelude To Clean Slate,” that sounds as if Ennio Morricone met Marshall Tucker on the way to the Allmans house.  It segues’ into “Clean Slate,” a tale of a man looking to “start over” in a relationship.  It utilizes a unique horn section over wah-wah guitars, and those odd arrangements are all over this set.

The title cut, “Bullfighter Blues,” might remind long-time Middle Tennesseeans of our own Webb Wilder, with the twangy guitars over the brash vocals, as well as the dark humor of the set-closing “Seizure Girl.”  Our favorites, tho, leaned more toward the British Invasion guys.  The guitars in “Lay Low” start out quietly enough before giving way to a full-on aural assault by song’s end.  And, the roadhouse rock of “Bee And  The Boxer” owes a nod to both Chuck Berry and The Replacements.

To properly appreciate Bravo Max and “Bullfighter Blues,” one needs only to turn it up loud, sit back, smoke a Camel, and raise a toast to one of the Big D’s best bands!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

 

 

 

Moreland And Arbuckle review…

MORELAND AND ARBUCKLE

PROMISED LAND OR BUST

ALLIGATOR RECORDS

TAKE ME WITH YOU WHEN YOU GO–MEAN AND EVIL–HANNAH–WHEN THE LIGHTS ARE BURNING LOW–WOMAN DOWN IN ARKANSAS–MOUNT COMFORT–LONG DID I HIDE IT–WACO AVENUE–I’M A KING BEE–LONG WAY HOME–WHY’D SHE HAVE TO GO AND LET ME DOWN

Guitarist Aaron Moreland, harpman/vocalist Dustin  Arbuckle, and drummer Kendall Newby are the members of roots/blues band Moreland and Arbuckle, based in Kansas.  This power trio bring a fiery, raw urgency to their blues,  with an edge borne from Aaron’s punk music background, and Dustin’s love for blues-rock.  Their latest Alligator release is called “Promised Land Or Bust,” fusing elements of Delta and Hill-country blues with a contemporary bite.  Adding to the edgy feel of this record is the production stamp of Matt Bayles, who has worked with metal bands such as Mastodon and The Sword.

The band wastes no time in getting down to bidness with the title cut, in the form of “Take Me With You When You Go,” detailing a modern-day Moses” looking for  a God that I can trust,” and the signpost up ahead reads, “Promised Land Or Bust.”  “Long Way Home” brims with powerful slide guitar as Dustin sings of a “little slice of Heaven that’ll drag you down to Hell.”  “Hannah” is dark and brooding, a “love story” of sorts, who, “when she gets high, she gets mean,” and now “sleeps twelve feet under the old olive tree.”

We had two favorites, too.  The loping, harp-driven sway of “Woman Down In Arkansas” is pure joy, while the set closes on a “lonesome” note, as it seems all of Dustin’s love interests always manage  to disappoint, the tale of careless love entitled “Why’d She Have To Go And Let Me Down.”

Moreland And Arbuckle have matured into one of the most exciting trios in contemporary blues.  Strong material and dazzling instrumentation make “Promised Land Or Bust” a mighty fine listen!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Mississippi Heat review…November 28, 2016…

MISSISSIPPI HEAT

CAB DRIVING MAN

DELMARK RECORDS  DE-848        CUPID BOUND–CAB DRIVING MAN–THAT LATE NIGHT STUFF–FLOWERS ON MY TOMBSTONE–ICY BLUE–THE LAST GO ROUND–LIFE IS TOO SHORT–DON’T MESS UP A GOOD THING–ROSALIE–LUCK OF THE DRAW–MAMA KAILA–MUSIC IS MY LIFE–LONELY EYES–SMOOTH OPERATOR–CAN’T GET ME NO TRACTION–HEY PIPO!

One of Chicago’s tightest and most versatile bands has to be Mississippi Heat, led by powerhouse harp man Pierre Lacocque (pronounced la-COKE).  He writes songs that mirror the things he has seen over his last twenty-five years as a bandleader, and “Cab Driving Man” marks the band’s twelfth album and sixth for Delmark.  Pierre got the harp bug after seeing Big Walter Horton at the University Of Chicago back in 1969, forever changing his musical life.  Alongside Pierre for this sweet sixteen cuts of prime blues is  topnotch vocalist Inetta Visor, Michael Dotson on guitar and vocals, Brian Quinn on bass, and Terence Williams on drums, with a few exceptional special guests.

The title cut has a jazzy, Cotton Club-blues feel, and is a nod to the iconic Cab Calloway.  Inetta’s vocals get the point across, as her “Cab Driving Man rides all the time!”  Sax Gordon’s horn parts also mesh perfectly with Pierre’s harp.  Michael has the lead vocal on one of his originals, the good-time party blues of a man who lives for Friday nights and “That Late Night Stuff,” well-done over a cha-cha beat.

There are some hot-button issues addressed by Pierre herein, too.  Domestic abuse is the underlying theme of the deep Delta-inspired blues of “Flowers On My Tombstone.”  “Icy Blue” details what can happen if one partner in a relationship has a chance to pull up stakes to better themselves.  The guitar from Giles Corey fairly blisters on this one, too.  And, family discord is addressed thru the actions of “Mama Kaila.”

Corey and Inetta get down to duet bidness with a peppy read of “Don’t Mess Up A Good Thing,” done up in the spirit of the Fontella Bass-Bobby McClure original.  Dave Specter lays down some lowdown guitar licks over Inetta’s proclamation that she got “an honest man” thru the “Luck Of The Draw!”  And, the set closes with Pierre blowin’ long and strong on the swingin’ instrumental, “Hey Pipo!”

Pierre Lacocque himself states in the album’s liner notes that “everything I do has a story,” and the versatility of the material in “Cab Driving Man” surely attests to this fact.  He and Mississippi Heat continue to thrive in the tough Chicago blues community, bringin’ a swingin’ groove to everything they do!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

The Jimmys review…November 27, 2016..

THE JIMMYS

LIVE FROM TRANSYLVANIA

AT THE  SIGHISOARA BLUES FESTIVAL

BROWN COW PRODUCTIONS   BCP 004

The Jimmys are a high-octane blues band from Wisconsin that employ a full horn section and come at you like vintage Motown, and, for us, more in the vein of Louis Jordan at his rowdiest.  Jimmy Voegeli is the leader, on keys and vocals, with Perry Weber on vocals and guitar,  John Wartenweiler on bass, Mauro Magellan on drums, Darren Sterud on trombone, and Pete Ross on sax.   These guys went deep in the heart of Romania to the Sighisoara Blues Festival on March 28, 2015, to record a killer live show, aptly-titled “Live From Transylvania.”  Six band originals and four covers make up the ten cuts, and everybody had a helluva good time laying this one down!

These guys have won multiple Wisconsin Music Awards, and sure know how to work a crowd.  They lead off with an introductory instrumental, “Jacqui Juice,” and everyone takes a solo, with Perry  getting in some fine B. B.-inspired licks.  “Love Will Find A Way” is a Fifties-ish rocker driven by Jimmy’s piano and the horns, and the band hits a Stax groove on Sir Mack Rice’s “Cold Women With Warm Hearts.”  Perry turns Freddie King’s “Lonesome Whistle Blues” into a smoldering, seven-minute slow-blues burner over Jimmy’s vocals, and they close the proceedings with another perennial favorite, a rousing “Ophelia.”

We had two favorites, too.  “You Can’t Hurt Me Anymore” was written by an old friend of Pete’s, Jim Liban, and its pace is decidedly frenetic and the guitar work is, well, “Berry-licious!”  And, another band original rocks just as hard, set over a rhum-boid boogie beat, “I Gotta Lose That Woman before I lose my mind!”

The Jimmys dedicated this set to Candye Kane.  She played one night earlier, and put on a monster show, even tho her body was ravaged by the cancer to which she would sadly succumb on May 6, 2016.  The fellows were captivated by her spirit, and “Live From Transylvania” remembers her joyful contributions to blues music and her fans all over the world.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

 

John Weeks Band review…November 26, 2016…

JOHN WEEKS BAND

DARK ANGEL

THE HOLE–THE BLUES JUST GOT MORE BLUE–CLOSER TO HOME–HOW CAN YOU LOVE ME–DEVIL IN MY HOUSE–IMPOSSIBLE–WHAT DOES IT TAKE–SIDE NUMBER–THE ONE–DARK ANGEL

John Weeks was born in France, and got his start playing guitar and singing in clubs in Paris.  Keyboard man Danny Haynes is a veteran of the Austin scene who spent some time in Australia.  Vocalist Stacey Turpenoff is a dynamite singer from St. Louis, and Stephen Whitfield, from Ohio, is on bass, and New Yorker Robert Fiorino is on the drums.  This eclectic and well-traveled unit is the John Weeks Band, now based out of Denver.  Their latest set is “Datk Angel,” and several of the ten originals herein were played live by the band during the selection process for the Colorado Blues Society, which has propelled them to Memphis and the IBC’s in a scant few months.

These cuts are pretty much an equal split of duets between John and Stacey, or with each of them taking the lead vocal.   And, the subject matter predominantly deals with the fragility and ups and downs of male-female relationships, which makes for some quite interesting music for us fans.

The set starts in a most bizarre fashion, as Stacey’s vocals spin the deadly tale of putting her abusive spouse’s body in the back seat of her car, destined for “The Hole with your name on it, way down South in Mexico!”  John’s snarling guitar and Danny’s organ take on a definite voodoo chile vibe in this one!  Tracey’s torchy vocal is strong and sultry on a powerful story of a good lover “leaving much too soon,” as “The Blues Just Got More Blue.”  John and Tracey strike a swampy, Excello-fied groove on “Devil In My House,” and hit on a mellow, Buckingham-Nicks vibe on the acoustic tale of two forlorn lovers, “Impossible.”  The jumpin’ blues of “Side Number” is John’s humorous look at what happens when Lover #1 meets up with Lover # 2!

The set closed with our favorite.  Tracey’s heartfelt, poignant vocals reach down and grab your soul in “Dark Angel,” a tune that allows listeners to make their own interpretation of the subject matter.

Strong musicianship and deep original material are just what the IBC judges look for.  As such, we wish the John Weeks Band and “Dark Angel” the best of luck come January!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.