Scott Ellison review…May 21, 2015…

SCOTT ELLISON

ELEVATOR MAN

RED PARLOR RECORDS  RDP 1502

HOLLER FOR HELP–ARLENE–BEHIND THAT SMILE–FISH STICKS AND JELLY–ELEVATOR MAN–JESUS LOVES ME (BABY WHY DON’T YOU)–SCHOOL GIRL–PUT YOU DOWN–HIT IT GET IT AND GO–WEAR OUT YOUR WELCOME–I THOUGHT I’D BE GONE–MY LITTLE SHEBA–SHE’S ON MY TRAIL

Scott Ellison has been on our blues radar for some time.  Hailing from Tulsa, OK, this in-demand guitarist, composer, and vocalist has been playing since the Seventies.  He’s had several highly-acclaimed albums, (check out “Ice Storm” from 2008!), and his latest is “Elevator Man,” thirteen cuts of soulful blues that show off Scott’s incredible guitar chops and his lyrics with a touch of humor.

One of those rare  guitarists who plays exactly what the song calls for, Scott fires the first salvo with the slide-driven leadoff cut, a “message song” of sorts, about the evils of excesses that results in a “Holler For Help.”  His voice takes on a Wolf-like quality in “Arlene,” featuring harp from Jimmy Markham, while Scott’s acoustic dobro makes the Delta-fied “Fish Sticks And Jelly” sound like a good meal!

“School Girl” has a second-line feel, and “Put You Down” would be right at home at any Hill Country juke joint.  There are a couple of sweet slow-blues, too.  “Wear Out Your Welcome” is the tale of a “sometimes lover,” and “trouble Behind That Smile” features backing vocals from Marcy Levy, she of Eric Clapton’s “Lay Down Sally” fame.  The set closes with another juke joint romper, which finds Scott trying to escape a literal female hellhound, “She’s On My Trail.”  It follows a cool blues-meets-rockabilly groove, and leaves you wanting more.

Favorites?  Sho’ nuff, brothers and sisters.  Want more good rockin’ blues?  Then just “Hit It, Get It, And Go!”  The “Elevator Man” is a stone-cold shot of funk that deals with Scott’s “ups and downs” in the love department!  And, a downright icy-sounding shuffle is “Jesus Loves Me (Baby Why Don’t You), and was featured in the 2013 movie “Homefront,” with Winona Ryder and James Franco.

A member of the Oklahoma Blues Hall Of Fame, Scott Ellison has scored big with “Elevator Man!”  This is one of his strongest album to date, and we give it two big thumbs up!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Willy Porter review…May 20, 2015…

WILLY PORTER

HUMAN KINDNESS

WEASEL RECORDS  WSL 1401

FREEDOM–CHIPPEWA BOOTS–ELOUISE–HUMAN KINDNESS–CONSTELLATION–WALKING WITH THE MAN–A LOVE LIKE THIS–THIS TRAIN–MY BIRD CAN SING–TRY TO FORGET–ROSES IN THE RAIN

Wisconsin-based Willy Porter is a largely self-taught musician who’s also a fantastic writer  whose style and lyrics show an innate maturity that connects well with listeners.  His tenth CD is a concept album entitled “Human Kindness,” with the underlying theme that the milk of human kindness continues to flow and flow freely.

He starts off with a heartland rocker, the anti-slavery message of “Freedom.”  An ode to a lover, the breezy “Elouise,” shows why she’s “evidence the best things are free,” while “A Love Like This,” with duet vocals from Carmen Nickerson, recalls the halcyon days of Stax and Motown with this soulful, horn-rich arrangement.

“Walking With The Man” might be the bluesiest cut herein, with its dark, brooding groove where we are reminded that there’s always someone watching over us.  “This Train” is Willy’s “People Get Ready,” of sorts,  because “this train is bound for glory,  and this train is rolling  fast.”  The set closes with the sweet love story, “Roses In The Rain,” with fiddle from Randy Sabien.

We had two favorites, too.  The simple things, such as a “broken remote,” and a pair of “all broken-in Chippewa Boots” are the things missed most as his lover leaves.  And, Martin Barre, of the Jethro Tull band, adds guitar on “Try To Forget,” when, in a relationship, sometimes it is best to focus on things that can be changed as opposed to those that cannot.

Willy Porter is also a well-known philanthropist, working with domestic abuse shelters in Wisconsin, as well as the Kids 4 Peace International, where Middle Eastern and American youth are brought together to promote future peace.  His positive messages in “Human Kindness” will appeal to a wide-ranging fan base!  You can catch him live at the Bluebird Cafe on June 4, 2015, at 9 PM also, in a solo setting.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Delta Moon review…May 19, 2015…

DELTA MOON

LOW DOWN

JUMPING JACK RECORDS 12015

WRONG SIDE OF TOWN–AFTERGLOW–NOTHING YOU CAN TELL A FOOL–MEAN STREAK–LOW DOWN–DOWN IN THE FLOOD–OPEN ALL NIGHT–SPARK IN THE DARK–HARD TIME KILLING FLOOR BLUES–MAYFLY–JELLY ROLL–JACKY RAY

The twin guitar attack of Tom Gray and Mark Johnson, one half of Delta Moon, continue to be one of the most impressive tandems on the contemporary scene today.  Winners of the 2003 IBC, they have recorded and toured almost nonstop since that time.  Their tenth album is entitled “Low Down,” and is more of the slide-driven blues they are known for.  Tom Gray is on guitar, keys, harp, and vocals.  Mark Johnson is on guitar, Franher Joseph is on bass, and Marlon Patton is on drums.

They don’t waste any time gettin’ down, with their dual frets rompin’ and stompin’ on the leadoff “Wrong Side Of Town.” where “some will kill you for a dollar, others will love you for a song.”  The title cut is a Tom Waits cover about a woman compared to a “crooked sheriff n a real straight town,” “my baby’s Low Down.”  This one follows a cool, cha-cha-ish groove with the twin guitars rockin’ throughout.  Dylan’s “Down In The Flood” has a Hill-Country feel, thanks to stomping percussion, and “Open All Night” is a juke joint jewel, with Tom on harp, and great call-and-response from the guitars.

We had two favorites, too—one original and one cover.  The fellows capture the spirit of Muddy on “Nothing You Can Tell a Fool.”  and, Skip James’ “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues” is embellished by haunting acoustic dobro mixed with electric slide guitar to convey the somber message of this classic.

Delta Moon features excellent musicianship and over-the-top songwriting with clever, insightful lyrics.  Go ‘head on and get “Low Down’ with Delta Moon today!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Amanda Fish Band review…May 18, 2015…

AMANDA FISH BAND

DOWN IN THE DIRT

FISH FOOD/VIZZTONE  VT-FF-01

I’MMA MAKE YOU LOVE ME–PLAYER BLUES–WAIT–GUESS I’LL LAY DOWN–PRISONER OF YOUR TOUCH–BOOTS ON THE GROUND–I DON’T NEED IT–HARD WALKIN’ BLUES–LADY OF THE NIGHT–BREAKING ME DOWN–WATCH IT ALL BURN–DOWN IN THE DIRT

There must be something in the water over in Kansas City, what with the excellent young blues talent coming out of there.  The latest is Amanda Fish, a tremendous vocalist, composer, and guitarist.  She is the sister of Samantha Fish, long a staple in Thomas Ruf’s “Girls With Guitars” tours.  The Amanda Fish Band has just released “Down In The Dirt,” twelve original cuts penned by Amanda or co-penned with Sean McDonnell.  This is a highly-personal concept album, most of the cuts dealing with love, loss, dysfunction, and, ultimately, redemption.

Joining Amanda on this album are Sean McDonnell on guitar and vocals, Cole Dillingham on bass and vocals, and Kristopher Schnebelen (he of the recently-disbanded Trampled Under Foot) on drums.  The fun starts with Amanda’s sassy, struttin’, declarative vocal on “I’mma Make You Love Me,” with Brody Buster on harp.  A look at love thru the eyes of “the other woman” is “Player Blues,” while a snarling guitar riff drives “Wait.”  Sean and Amanda do a fine country-blues duet about two lovers who are separated and find themselves at odds with their feelings, “Guess I’ll Lay Down and try not to dream about you.”  This one has blues fiddle from Jacob Hiser, and barrellhouse piano from Liam Goodrick.

Amanda can see the writing on the wall when a lover no longer wants her around, so she is more than happy to oblige and put her “Boots On The Ground.”   More great guitar keeps this one solid in the pocket.  “Hard Walkin’ Blues” is another tale of love gone waaay wrong, and has a decidedly-Delta feel thanks to killer slide guitar and its stomping beat.

We had two favorites, too.  The band hits a jazzy, samba groove on another duet between Amanda and Sean, the tale of two lovers who realize they are both in deep, and a”Prisoner Of Your Touch.”  And, Amanda pulls no punches in “Lady Of The Night.”  She’ll be “your best friend or your enemy, too,” as long as “you’re paying for it!”

Amanda Fish has a brilliant vocal style that easily conveys a wide range of emotions, and the material in “Down In The Dirt” shows a maturity well-beyond her youth.  This is a great coming-out party for Amanda and the band!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society

The Texas Horns review…May 17, 2015…

THE TEXAS HORNS

BLUES GOTTA HOLDA ME

VIZZTONE VT-TH-01

SOUL STROLL–GO ON FOOL–YOU’RE DRIVING ME CRAZY–KICK ME AGAIN–COLD BLOODED LOVER–LOST MIND–SING SING SING (MAKE A BETTER WORLD)–RIPPIN AND TRIPPIN–BLUES GOTTA HOLDA ME–PEOPLE GET READY–CALDONIA–HOME COOKIN–SPANKY’S TWIST

The Texas Horns are Mark “Kaz” Kazanoff on tenor sax and harp, John Mills on baritone sax, and Al Gomez on trumpet.  They have been playing festivals and backing many blues legends on countless recording sessions for the last fifteen years.  They always wanted to put out their own album, and now it’s a reality.  Vizztone Records is proud to present The Texas Horns with “Blues Gotta Holda Me,” thirteen cuts of swingin’ band originals and covers that let these fellows do what they do best–put the fun back in the blues in the vein of Louis Jordan and Wynonie Harris, when the horns were the boss.

Some of the best players on the planet are special guests, too.  Marcia Ball on piano and vocal turns in a fine read of “Go On Fool,” while Kaz blows harp as W. C. Clark sings about a “Cold Blooded Lover that ain’t got no soul.”

As one would expect with talents of this caliber, this set is full of funky instrumentals.  Leading off is the swingin’ Kaz original, “Soul Stroll,” with guest guitar from Anson Funderburgh, while “People Get Ready” uses the power of the horns to capture the spirit of Curtis Mayfield’s original.  The set closes with another original, “Spanky’s Twist,” and everyone takes a solo.

We had several favorites, too.  Kaz takes lead vocal on the title cut, a jumpin’ dance floor romp that features piano from Johnny Nicholas as Kaz bemoans “livin’ like a hobo and lost all my mojo since The Blues Gotta Holda Me.”  Nick Connolly takes the vocal and piano as the horns give a Mardi Gras feel to Earl King’s call for unity, “Sing Sing Sing (Make A Better World).  And, no album of this stature would be complete without a visit from “Caldonia,” with Kaz on vocal.

An album like “Blues Gotta Holda Me” from The Texas Horns is just what the blues doctor ordered.  It’s a good-time set that’s sure to have widespread appeal!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Peter Novelli review…May 16, 2015…

PETER NOVELLI

ST. AMANT SESSIONS

CHALET MUSIC  CH–1501

LOUISIANA SUNRISE–BOUDIN–JE NE SAIS QUOI–SPIRIT PASSING BY–BOURBON STREET BLUE–WOMAN IN MY DREAMS–STORY IN YOUR MIND–SHREVEPORT STOMP–THINKIN’ OR DRINKIN’–I-10 BOOGIE–ZYDECO RIDE

New Orleans-based guitarist, composer, and singer Peter Novelli has played with so many greats that one couldn’t name them all, but Dr. John, Chubby Carrier, and Sonny Landreth are a few.  Peter got together with a few of his buddies down in St. Amant, Louisiana, and “The St. Amant Sessions,” his third CD, is the result.  He’s crafted eleven originals that incorporate a funky blues sound with the unique gumbo of swamp and zydeco, and makes it all come out sounding just as cool as can be!

Peter wrote the leadoff cut, “Louisiana Sunrise,” with a nod to Sonny Landreth.  It’s a song about life on the road, and ol’ Sonny turns in some mighty fine slide work, and so does Kevin McKendree on keys.  “Je Ne Sais Quoi” is a tale of a lover that’s hard to explain, with her, “hundred pairs of shoes and a million different moods,” while “Bourbon Street Blue” is an ode to the ever-evolving street musician scene in New Orleans, and to those that have spent their lives busking for tips and little else, other than satisfaction.  The spooky, pounding percussion of “Spirit Passing By” is written about his grandfather, buried in the Lower Ninth Ward—“they buried my body, but they’ll never get my soul.”  Peter’s fiery fretwork adds to the spiritual ambience of this one.

The set has several juiced-up instrumentals, too, all done up Louisiana style.  There’s the jazzy “Boudin,” the rolling “Shreveport Stomp,” and the Elmore James-ish “I-10 Boogie,” that gives way to the set-closing jam between Chubby Carrier and drummer Brian Brignac, “Zydeco Ride.”

We had two favorites, too.  A run-in with “Mr. Policeman” on the way to a gig is the humorous theme of “was I Thinkin’ Or Drinkin,” or vice versa?  And, one of the more somber pieces on the set is the sad tale of a long-distance love affair that sours after one lover’s penchant for making things a lot worse than they actually are, by making up a “Story In Your Mind.”

Peter Novelli mixes the sounds of Louisiana with clever, insightful, and fun lyrics to create a good gumbo with the “St Amant Sessions.”  Bring it on home, and let the good times roll!  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow.

Deb Ryder review….May 15, 2015…

DEB RYDER

LET IT RAIN

BEJEB RECORDS  BEJ 109

THAT’S JUST HOW IT IS–CAN’T GO BACK AGAIN–YOU WON’T BE TRUE–GUILTY AS SIN–CRY ANOTHER TEAR–HOLD YOUR LAMP HIGH–MONEY MONSOON–KISS AND DREAM–LET IT RAIN–MA MISERE–ROUND AND AROUND

For her second album, “Let It Rain,” on the Bejeb label, Deb Ryder has surrounded her powerful voice with an A-list of players and an insightful set of blues originals that run from Chicago thru the Delta and on down to New Orleans.  She’s been exposed to all types of music throughout her life, and she’s really at ease with this varied material.

Leading off is Deb’s message to her lover that “you can run but you can’t hide, and That’s Just How It Is.”  Eli Fletcher is on guitar, and Mike Finnigan adds the B-3.  Deb gets downright sanctified on the gospel-inflected shout-out to a cheatin’ ex, saying “it’ll be a cold day in Hell before I Cry Another Tear over you!”  She calls out a few more two-timers, on the horn-driven jump blues of “You Won’t Be True,” and a dark, brooding look at “the other woman,” “Guilty As Sin.”  This one has fine harp from Kim Wilson.  “Money Monsoon” is something we could all use, and it jumps, jives, and wails all over the place, while Deb shows her “torchy” side, over Mike’s piano and Lon Price’s sax, on the wistful “Kiss And Dream.”

The set closes with our favorites.  With Albert Lee on guitar and David Fraser on accordion, Deb swings some second-line sass on another tale of “puttin’ you out of my misery,” aptly-titled “Ma Misere.”  Johnny Lee Schell’s acoustic guitar and Kim Wilson’s countrified harp take us all down to the Delta as Deb sings of life being too short to go “Round And Around” over trivial matters.

Deb Ryder has turned in quite an eclectic set of tunes on “Let It Rain.”  She continues to mature as a performer and composer, and blues fans everywhere are the winners!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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