James day and the Fish Fry review…May 3, 2015…

JAMES DAY AND THE FISH FRY

SOUTHLAND

NEON BLUE/VIZZTONE  VTJD 2561

CHAIN OF PAIN–NEXT NEW THING–MUSCADINE WINE–TIME AND MONEY–NAT’CHEL MAN–FISH FRY JUMP–COUNTRY WOMAN–ONE STEP DES CHAMEUX–DON’T BRUISE THE MELONS–WEATHER BLUES–ZYDECO BOOGALOO–FESTIVAL TIME–MONEY SMARTS AND CHARMS–SOUTHLAND

As did many of us, James Day grew up in the South–affectionately dubbed the “sweet homeland of the blues” by the late Phil Earhart, our good friend who fronted the Jefferson Street Bluesmen for many years.  James specifically grew up in Biloxi, and spent some time in New Orleans.  As such, he absorbed everything musical that the region had to offer–not only blues, but R & B, Stax/Hi soul, zydeco, and gospel.  For his latest set, “Southland,” he combines all his influences onto these fourteen cuts of high-octane grooves guaranteed to get you movin!

James is on vocal, harp, slide and baritone guitar, and is joined by some very special guests throughout.  Check out James’ workout on the big ole chromatic harp, the “goodbye one-horse town” shuffle, “Next New Thing.”  “Time And Money” has James on baritone guitar, with harp from the inimitable Mark Hummel.  Ron Baldwin’s boogie piano kicks off the rollicking “Fish Fry Jump,” again with James workin’ that chromatic.  He touches on the traditional Zydeco music of the region with “One Step des Charmeux,” featuring Bill Nixon on fiddle and Ron Baldwin on accordion, while the horn section fires up a chugging slab of boogie, “Don’t Bruise The Melons,” the story of Red Brazel, a Greenville, FL, melon farmer.  “Money Smarts And Charms” has James using mojos, black cat bones and ole John the Conqueroo to put a spell on a lover, set over a scorching rockabilly beat.  The set closes with the title cut, a laid-back anthem to the region that runs on “country time,” with harp from Mark Hummel.

We had two favorites, too.  The first is a unique gris-gris of jug band music of the 1920’s, “Nat’Chel Man,”  with clarinet from Wally Bechtold, Grappelli-like fiddle from Bill Nixon, and eight-stringin’ from the master, Rich del Grosso.  And, a haunting ode to Camille, Katrina, and other infamous storms of the region is “Weather Blues,” with more mandolin from Rich, harp from Mark Hummel, and James on the cigar-box slide guitar.

James Day and the Fish Fry are the epitome’ of a good time.  Put on “Southland” and –laissez les bon temps roulet!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Cash Box Kings review…May 2, 2015…

CASH BOX KINGS

HOLDING COURT

BLIND PIG CD  BPCD 5165

I AIN’T GONNA BE NO MONKEY MAN–DOWNLOAD BLUES–GOTTA MOVE OUT TO THE SUBURBS–CASH BOX BOOGIE–HOBO BLUES–BABY WITHOUT YOU–JUJU–EVERYBODY’S FISHIN–OUT ON THE ROAD–SUGAR PEA–MISS YOU MISS ANNE–I’M A REAL LOVER–QUARTER TO BLUE

We always look forward to anything new by the Cash Box Kings, and “Holding Court” is another fine set of predominantly Chicago-styled blues from one of our favorites on the Blind Pig roster.

Joe Nosek is on harp and vocals, Oscar Wilson is on vocals, Joel Paterson and Billy Flynn are on guitars, Mark Haines and Beedy Eyes Smith are on drums, Beau Sample and Brad Ber are on bass, and Barrelhouse Chuck is on keys.  These guys are well-versed in the traditions of the Chess, Sun, and Vee-Jay sounds, and have a helluva good time puttin’ it down.

Oscar starts the party with the rockin’ shuffle, Smokey Smothers’ “I Ain’t Gonna Be No Monkey Man,” with Joe blowin’ right on time.  They capture the spirit of the droning boogie of John Lee Hooker with “Hobo Blues,” while Joe takes lead vocals on the jump-blues of “Baby Without You” and the second-line swing of “Juju,” both his own originals.  Oscar channels his inner Jimmy Rogers on the classic “Out On The Road,” and takes us down to the swamp with the sounds of “I’m A Real Lover.”

We had two favorites, too.  The fellows jump all over Willie Love’s “Everybody’s Fishin,” with Oscar’s vocal rockin’ the good-time vibe.  And, “Download Blues” bemoans the sad state of Internet piracy, where “nobody’s buyin’ music–they just steal it instead,” and “MP3’s are killin’ me!”

The Cash Box Kings always maintain a fresh, contemporary sound while staying true to the vintage sounds that they are all about.  They are “Holding Court” with a sho’ nuff fine new album!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Charlie Parr review…April 30, 2015…

CHARLIE PARR

STUMPJUMPER

RED HOUSE RECORDS RHR CD 283

EVIL COMPANION–EMPTY OUT YOUR POCKETS–FALCON–REMEMBER ME IF I FORGET–ON MARRYING A WOMAN WITH AN UNCONTROLLABLE TEMPER–OVER THE RED CEDAR–RESURRECTION–STUMPJUMPER–TEMPERANCE RIVER BLUES–FRANK MILLER BLUES–DELIA

For Charlie Parr’s previous albums, he’s used warehouses, garages, and pretty much anywhere he feels comfortable.  For his Red House Records debut, he drove to Hillsborough, NC, to the Down Yonder Farm for “Stumpjumper,” ten originals and one cover that prove why he’s touted as one of the premier pickers, singers, and writers on the scene today.  This is also Charlie’s first set with a full band behind him.

Listening to Charlie, one can hear influences of Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Son House, and Charley Patton, among others.  His flatpicking is exemplary–an excellent example of this is in the opener, “Evil Companion,” a unique look at love and how it can sadly go wrong sometimes.  “Falcon” is a tribute to John Tanner, kidnapped in Canada some 150 years ago and assimilated into the Ojibwa Nation.  For its serious subject matter, the song has a highly-infectious groove.  “Remember Me If I Forget” is a dobro and banjo ode to his aunt Mid.  “Over The Red Cedar” is another fine shot of Charlie’s pickin’ in a song that looks at the process of aging.

The title cut describes the time and place in which Charlie came of age, full of “stumpjumpers, cross-tie walkers, and the grown-up children of the working class.”  “Frank Miller Blues” is a solid country-blues dealing with Frank’s visit from Death, and his refusal to go!  The set closes with the chilling tale of a murdered “Delia,” done in by “Kenny, the rounder.”

Our favorites both had Biblical overtones.  Charlie’s tale of Lazarus, “Resurrection,” is, at its roots, very bluesy, with Charlie’s dobro just as haunting as wife Emily’s backing vocals.  And, the banjo-heavy “Empty Out Your Pockets” is a cautionary tale to be at the ready, brother, ’cause “when Jesus comes, he’s gonna burn the whole town down!”

Charlie Parr’s musicianship and thought-provoking lyrics make “Stumpjumper” a unique take on American roots music!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Anthony Gomes review…April 27, 2015…

ANTHONY GOMES

ELECTRIC FIELD HOLLER

UP 2 ZERO ENTERTAINMENT

TURN IT UP–BACK DOOR SCRATCHIN–WHISKEY TRAIN–BLUESCHILD–NOWHERE IS HOME–LOSING GAME–THE BLUES AIN’T THE BLUES NO MORE–JUNK IN THE TRUNK–LOVE CRAZY–RED HANDED BLUES–DELTA RAGA–LISTEN TO THE UNIVERSE

The last time we saw Anthony Gomes was during Blues Awards week a few years ago.  We always catch Barbara Blue down at Silky Sullivan’s during that week, and on that night, Anthony dropped in unannounced and played a hot surprise set.  He’s just released his latest set of blistering blues-rock, “Electric Field Holler,” that not only showcases his guitar and vocal chops, but brings out a great storyteller’s side of his talents.

Born in Toronto, he picked up the guitar as a teen, immersing himself in the sounds of Clapton, Buddy, and B. B.  He sums it all up quite succintly in the autobiographical “Blueschild,” where he describes his love for the blues—“I heard it in the cradle, I’ll take it to the grave”  The plight of the 1.5 million homeless children in the USA is touched upon by the poignant tale of “where can you run to when Nowhere Is Home.”  He tries to dull the pain of a lost love by “going halfway down the label” and ridin’ hard on that “Whiskey Train.”  This one, a sweet slow-blues, is full of excellent flourishes from Anthony.

There are some less-serious cuts, too.  The “more cowbell” of the leadoff “Turn It Up” has Anthony telling us he has “Mississippi thunder in my soul,” and is “comin’ to rock your town!”  “Junk In The Trunk” is an ode to those booty-licious hip-shakin’ mamas found on dance floors everywhere, and “Red Handed Blues” has a couple of cool plot twists as a man tells his fiance’ he and his buds are going fishing, but hit the strip club instead!

For all of Anthony’s electric mojo, one acoustic-themed cut stood tall for us.  It’s an intriguing story borne of the Delta, and, altho the Crossroads are still there, “the Devil don’t live there no more,” because “The Blues Ain’t The Blues No More.”  It’s a reflection of changing times, as “we ain’t got no tomorrow and we ain’t got yesterday!”

Anthony Gomes is a fine student and scholar of blues history, and truly has “a blues soul in a rock and roll heart.”  “Electric Field Holler” is a sho’ nuff cure for what ails you!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

The Guitar Heroes review…April 26, 2015…

GUITAR HEROES

MAKING HISTORY

STONY PLAIN RECORDS   SPCD 1381

THAT’S ALL RIGHT–SUSIE Q–SLEEP WALK–LEAVE MY WOMAN ALONE–YOU’RE THE ONE–COMIN’ HOME BABY–FLIP FLOP AND FLY–ONLY THE YOUNG–POLK SALAD ANNIE–BAD APPLE–COUNTRY BOY

The blues has been on a hot streak lately, given the number of outstanding releases over the last few weeks.  They include the Arlen Roth “Slide Guitat Summit,” Tad Robinson’s “Day Into Night,” and a live set of previously-unheard tracks from John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.  Add to that list one of the most-anticipated releases of the year, “Guitar Heroes: Making History” from Stony Plain.  Recorded live at the Vancouver Island MusicFest on July 12, 2013, this set features the legendary guitar talents of Albert Lee, James Burton, Amos Garrett, and David Wilcox performing some of the most-recognizable songs of the rock era.

The reverence these players have for each other is the reason this whole set is such a fun listen.  There were no egos—just four guys getting together to jam, altho these four arguably changed the course of rock and roll guitar forever thru their recorded legacy.

Albert Lee’s backing band serves the same purpose herein, including Jon Greathouse on keys and vocals, Will MacGregor on bass, and Jason Harrison Smith on drums.  Every cut is a gem, embellished by the brilliant solos traded back and forth by these men.  Leading off, Albert Lee has the vocal on “That’s All Right,” and everyone gets a solo.  Albert also takes lead vocal on a cover of Ray Charles’ “Leave My Woman Alone,” and closes the set with his own “Country Boy,” filled with one flourish after another.

Jon Greathouse has the vocal, but it’s that killer riff that drives “Susie Q,” played by James Burton just the way he did on the Dale Hawkins original.  James also has a fine solo on “Comin’ Home Baby,” an instrumental that took us back to the days of listening to just about any Elvis Presley live recording from the early Seventies, where, as that song played in the background, he’d introduce the band members, including “James Burton on guitar.”

One of the most unique vocalists on the set is Canada’s “best-kept secret,” David Wilcox.  His big voice sets the tone for “You’re The One,” “Flip Flop and Fly,” and his own “One Bad Apple.”  Amos Garrett has perhaps the most electrifying performance on the album.  His solo take on Santo and Johnny’s “Sleep Walk” begins as did the original, then takes off into new territory by its climax, thanks to Amos’ groundbreaking string-bending techniques.

Meant to be just a souvenir for the band, it soon became something special that everyone believed HAD to released to the music-loving public.  And so it is—“Guitar Heroes: Making History” is four legends at their best!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Breezy Rodio review…April 25, 2015…

BREEZY RODIO

SO CLOSE TO IT

WINDCHILL RECORDS 1001

WHEN MY HEART BEATS LIKE A HAMMER–SO CLOSE TO IT–JUST ABOUT TO LOSE YOUR CLOWN–WALKING WITH MY BABY (SHE SO FINE)–SNEAKING AROUND–TIME TO COME BACK HOME–TOO LAZY–MARY–THE DAY I MET YOU–I CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF YOU–PLEASE ACCEPT MY LOVE–I WIN SOME MORE–ONE BROKEN HEART FOR SALE–HOW MUCH CAN A POOR MAN TAKE–EVIL HEARTED WOMAN (BONUS TRACK)

Breezy Rodio is a powerhouse guitarist, vocalist, and writer.  He started out playing in New York, but realized that the real-deal blues was in Chicago.  Thus, he moved to the Windy City a few years ago, and has never looked back. Aside from some of his own projects, (including a few reggae albums), he’s worked with Chicago legend Linsey “Hoochie Man” Alexander on his last few Delmark albums.  Breezy’s latest solo set is entitled “So Close To It,” and it is full of classic Chicago blues, both of his own creation as well as some choice covers.  There are some mighty fine special guests, too.  Billy Branch adds harp to the loping stride of “Walking With My Baby,” and name-checks Halstead, among others, for a perfect place for a stroll with that perfect girl.  Breezy is a huge fan of B. B. King also, and his expressive guitar lends itself well to a horn-drenched “Sneakin Around,” “Please Accept My Love,” (with church-ified organ from Chris Foreman), and the leadoff cut, another showcase for his dazzling fretwork, “When My Heart Beats Like A Hammer.”  The whole band cooks on a Latin-tinged take on Brother Ray’s “You’re Just About To Lose Your Clown,” and Breezy captures the soul and spirit of T-Bone Walker in “Too Lazy.” “Mary” has that stinging Albert King feel, while the deep slow blues of “The Day I Met You” features vocals from Joe Barr and Carl Weathersby.  We loved the stop-time punch of Breezy’s tale of having “women everywhere,” but “I Can’t Get Enough Of You.”  He closes the set with a live “Evil Hearted Woman,” a slow-burner perfect for “last call.”

For favorites, we chose one unusual cut and one traditional cut,  Breezy and B-3 master Chris Foreman, along with the horn section, make Presley’s “One Broken Heart For Sale” a cocktail-lounge party anthem, and Lurrie Bell’s deep guitar lines takes us right down to the alley on the original, “I Win Some More.”

Breezy Rodio is an extremely talented, versatile young man, as evidenced by his forays into other genres’ and working well with other players.  He gets down to some serious Chicago blues with “So Close To It!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

Moondog Medicine Show review…April 24, 2015…

MOONDOG MEDICINE SHOW

LET IT GO

HOT STUFF–SHE WEARS TROUBLE (LIKE A CROWN)–LET IT GO–DESIRE–HOW I LOVE YA–SEVEN DAY FOOL–TIRER LE BLUES–MAMA–IT’S ALL GOOD–THE DAY AFTER YESTERDAY

The Moondog Medicine Show members hail from Western Maryland, but their musical souls run from Chicago to Memphis and on down deep into the Delta.  All these influences are prevalent on “Let It Go,” ten cuts that showcase the big voice of Lana Spence and the excellent musicianship of Joel Newman on guitar, Keith Sylvester on bass, and Daniel Tait on drums, with guests Jeremy Leber on keys, Tom Crawford on sax, and Eddie Galvin on harp.

This one jumps right out at you from track one, as Lana lends that powerhouse vocal to the Memphis Minnie shouter, the slyly-sexy “Hot Stuff,” with Tom Crawford’s sax on fire throughout.  The title cut is a stomper straight outta North Mississippi with Joel’s slide blazing the trail  “How I Love Ya” is a gospel-inflected story of love and redemption, while Lana’s tribute to mothers everywhere reminds us that “what some men can do is truly amazing, but  nobody is as strong as my Mama!”  “It’s All Good” is a clever look at what draws us to our lovers, because Lana knows exactly “who’s pitchin’ and who’s catchin!”  Joel rides his acoustic slide all over this one, too.

We had two favorites.  Joel’s “surf guitar” punches up Lana’s vocal tale about a woman so in love that she’ll be a “Seven Day Fool.”  And, the wah-wahs are workin’ overtime on the story of a sho’ nuff “man hater,” a bad mojo mama that has a potion she calls “make my day,” the voodoo-licious “She Wears Trouble (Like A Crown)”

This is another of those fine sets that we wish could’ve been longer.  Everyone in the Moondog Medicine Show had a great time making “Let It Go,” and their enthusiasm is indeed infectious!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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