Archive for October, 2011

Sista Monica Parker review 10-29-11

SISTA MONICA PARKER

LIVING IN THE DANGER ZONE

MO MUSCLE RECORDS  MMRE 9663

 

HUG ME LIKE YOU LOVE ME–LIVING IN THE DANGER ZONE–TEARS–NO SHAME IN MY GAME–FIERCE FORCE OF NATURE–LET ME MOAN–WORN OUT YOUR WELCOME–UNSTOPPABLE–YOU CAN’T GO BACK–THE FORECAST CALLS FOR PAIN–SENDING YOU ON YOUR WAY–ONCE LOVED TWICE BITTEN–JUST KEEP LIVING–GLORY HALLELUJAH

 

Sista Monica Parker has been dubbed “the Lioness of the blues,” and rightfully so.  With a bold, brassy voice that is equal parts Aretha and Koko, on her latest album, entitled “Living In The Danger Zone,”  she lets loose on fourteen predominantly-original cuts that run between solid contemporary blues and good, old-school R & B.  And, she’s backed by a powerhouse band of soul men that lets the listener know that this one is “the real deal.”

 

Sista starts the stomp with an original, hi-octane dance floor groove, “Hug Me Like You Love Me,” written after a meeting with B. B. King a while back.  The title cut finds Monica playing a two-way game of love, ending up “Living In The Danger Zone.”  Her breathy vocal and harp from Andy Just ride a sweet groove on “Let Me Moan,” where Monica, in need of  “a gentle touch,” decides “if you ain’t comin’ home, just leave me alone.”    She also gives a soulful read on Robert Cray’s tale of love headin’ south, “The Forecast Calls For Pain.”

 

We had three favorites, too.  Monica gets down to some serious slow blues in “Tears,” as she aches for a lover, then turns the tables on a no-good dirty dog that has definitely “Worn Out Your Welcome,” perhaps the most danceable cut on the album.  And, the set closes as Monica shows her gospel roots with a sweet, powerful duet with Kelley Hunt on piano on “Glory Hallelujah!”

 

Sista Monica Parker has upped the ante in contemporary soul-blues with the release of “Living In The Danger Zone.”  She gives it all she’s got, and, with her powerful voice leading the way, this is one that you don”t want to miss!!!   Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

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Paxton Norris review…10-23-1

PAXTON NORRIS

SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE

INDEPENDENT  PN 2011

SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE–LIVING TIGHT–BABY-GIRL–HEAR SAY–GOING TO PENSACOLA–LOVE LIGHT–THESE FUNKING BLUES–THAT WOMAN’S TROUBLE–MY CREDIT DIDN’T GO THROUGH–YOU’RE MY GIRL–IT’S ALRIGHT–HARD LUCK CASE–WHAT YOU TALKING ABOUT WILLIS

 

 

Now based in Indy, Paxton Norris cut his teeth in the blues clubs in Michigan in the Nineties, playing 250 nights a year to a predominantly blue-collar GM crowd.  He is a dazzling guitarist with a soulful vocal delivery who cites not only bluesmen such as the three Kings and SRV as influences, but rockers like Seger as well.  You can hear a lot of his heroes in his guitar-driven debut, “Something’s Gotta Give,” which is thirteen cuts of solid blues and blues-rock for the working man.  The majority of the cuts were penned by Paxton and Josh Ford, and deal with issues that everyone can relate to, such as good love gone bad, plain hard luck, and the sorry state of the economy.  Through it all, Paxton’s guitar leads the charge.

 

The funk hits the fan on the leadoff title cut, where we find Paxton “workin’ eighty hours a week and still can’t afford to eat!”  This one has a stinging, Albert Collins feel to it, and the fellows all lay down a sweet groove behind it.

 

When love turns sour, Paxton finds out the hard way that nothing’s the same without that auburn-haired “Baby Girl.”  Working all day and playing all nite takes its toll, too, and the result is that “These Funking Blues is killing me!”  This one features a cool extended solo at the bridge.  And, the set closes with a real hoot of an instrumental entitled “What You Talkin’ About, Willis?”, and is interspersed with snippets of Gary Coleman repeating this iconic line.

 

We had two favorites, too.  A ZZ Top groove rides the roadhouse rock of  “Goin’ To Pensacola” as a welcome respite from the constant travels of a bluesman.  And, a funky backbeat eases the pain of the hard-times tale of “My Credit Didn’t Go Through.”

 

Paxton Norris has paid some serious dues working the clubs in the upper Midwest during this tough economy.  But, he is a solid performer who makes fans forget about their troubles for a while, and “Something’s Gotta Give” is a sweet listen!   Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

Sugar Ray Norcia review…10-21-11

SUGAR RAY NORCIA AND THE BLUETONES

EVENING

SEVERN RECORDS 0052

I’M HAVING A BALL–HARD TO GET ALONG WITH–YOU KNOW MY LOVE–DEAR JOHN–I LIKE WHAT YOU GOT–TOO MANY RULES AND REGULATIONS–DANCING BEAR (LITTLE INDIAN BOY)–EVENING–I CAME DOWN WITH THE BLUES–(THAT’S NOT YET) ONE OF MY BLUES–I’M CERTAIN THAT I’M HURTING–XO

 

Sugar Ray Norcia was born in Connecticut, and gained inspiration from his father, who had an operatic voice and a penchant for playing the harp.  Ray absorbed plenty during his formative years, and started his first incarnation of the Bluetones in 1979, with Ronnie Earl on guitar.  Since that time, he’s been a member of Roomful Of Blues, and backed legends such as Big Joe Turner, Pinetop, and Big Walter.  With his fifth CD for Severn, “Evening,” Ray makes a triumphant return to his roots.  With twelve cuts that range in styles from jumpin’ floor-burners to sweet, slow, and sassy swingers, Ray uses his two most powerful weapons–his dynamite voice and that fat-toned harp–to get a good-time message across to listeners.

 

This set also brings guitarist “Monster” Mike Welch back into the fold, joining Neil Gouvin on drums, Mudcat Ward on bass, and Anthony Geraci on keys, to make this a powerhouse set of pure, Chicago-style combo blues.

 

Ray’s vocals can be compared to the great blues shouters of yesteryear, such as Louis Jordan, Louis Prima, and Wynonie Harris.  Check out the leadoff rocker, “I’m Having A Ball” and “I Like What You Got” for great examples of this.  The title cut is a deep, slow blues, heavy on the harp and piano, that tells the tale of  “every Evening reminds me that you’re gone.”  An interesting flute intro opens the loping stride of “Dancing Bear (Little Indian Boy),” while Ray closes the set with a sweet, “After Hours-ish” instrumental, “XO.”

 

We had two favorites, too.  “Dear John” has a cool Jimmy Reed-type swing, and “Too Many Rules And Regulations” finds Ray in spoken-word mode over a muted backbeat, pontificating the perils of such evils as swine flu, drinking, and cheeseburgers, to name a few!

 

Sugar Ray Norcia is still going strong into his fifth decade of bringing the best in blues to his fans.  “Evening” is of his strongest sets to date, and we give it two big thumbs up!!   Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

Hans Thessink Review

HANS THESSINK

JEDERMANN REMIXED

THE SOUNDTRACK

BLUE GROOVE BG 1920

WAY DOWN IN THE HOLE–THE MAN COMES AROUND–NO EXPECTATIONS–I’M A MAN–THE BEAST IN ME–SATAN, YOUR KINGDOM MUST COME DOWN–CUCKOO–READY FOR THE RIDE–MOTHER’S ADVICE–I GOT A WOMAN–YOU GONNA NEED SOMEBODY ON YOUR BOND–THE ANGEL OF DEATH–MOTHER EARTH–CALL ME–OH SINNER MAN–PEOPLE GET READY–SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL–GAMES PEOPLE PLAY

 

 

Hans Thessink (pronounced TAY- sink) is known worldwide as a master of the guitar.  He has entertained audiences for more than forty years, releasing some 25 albums and an instructional DVD.  He received a blues award nomination for his 2009 collaboration with Terry Evans, entitled “Visions.”

 

Hans was asked to supply the music to an Austrian play, “Jedermann,” which is an adaption of the English morality play, “Everyman.”  In this play, God, man and the devil as well as other abstract beings are personified, and the sound track is geared towards man’s constant struggle with good vs. evil.  Throughout, Hans’ acoustic and slide guitar as well as his somber, lower-register vocals, ring true.  To add to the overall experience, the songs are sparsely arranged.

 

The set kicks off with Hans’ advice to follow Jesus and keep the devil “Way Down In The Hole,” and features Hans with some excellent mandolin work.  The Stones’ “No Expectations” is presented here as a slow blues with a sweet slide solo at the bridge, while Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” features a gospel-inflected backing chorus and B-3 to augment Hans’ vocals.

 

We had three favorites.  One of Hans’ originals was the tale of the “Cuckoo” which, “when they get to howlin'” is a sure sign of trouble ahead.  The backing vocals add authenticity to the story that shows “no matter how rich you are, you got to go back to “Mother Earth.”  And, more mandolin accentuates Hans’ take on ole Hank’s “The Angel of Death.”

 

Hans Thessink has taken his vocal skills and his skills on the guitar and channeled them into a collection of songs that are interwoven through their subject matters and fit the soundtrack of  “Jedermann” perfectly.  This one gets better with repeated listenings,  and is highly recommended!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society

 

Sandy Carroll review 10-17-11

JUST AS I AM

SANDY CARROLL

CATFOOD RECORDS CFR-011

BLESSED BE–HELP MOTHER NATURE–HEARTFIXIN’ MAN–WAITING FOR THE STORM–ROMEO AND JULIET–RUNNIN OUT OF GRACE–SLOW KISSES–MESSIN’ WITH ME–BABY’S COMIN’ HOME-JUST AS I AM

 

Singer, songwriter and pianist Sandy Carroll hails from Stantonville, TN, in McNairy County, and has been a regular performer on Beale Street since 1983.  In fact, she received a “note” on Beale in front of the Hard Rock Cafe in 2008, literally cementing her prowess as a performer who has helped keep the blues and the Beale Street sound alive and thriving.

 

Her latest album for Catfood Records is entitled “Just As I Am,” produced by her husband, Jim Gaines, and was recorded in her hometown at the Bessie Blue Studios.  Sandy had a hand in writing all ten cuts, and they range from ballads, blues, and uplifting songs that are guaranteed to brighten your spirits and lighten your load!

 

She’s backed by some of the finest session cats Memphis has to offer, including Steve Potts on drums, Dave Smith on bass, Rick Steff on keys, Evan Leake on guitar, and backing vocals from Reba Russell and Danielle “Pie” Hill.  The set kicks off with “Blessed Be,” a song of giving thanks, and realizing that, no matter how tough times may be, everyone has something to be thankful for.  Reba and Pie supply some fine backing vocals, too.  “Romeo And Juliet” has a sweet Fifties vibe and is the tale of young love augmented by Rick Steff’s accordion.  “Waiting For The Storm” is a minor-key slow blues that spins the tale of a relationship that is headed down a rocky path, and allows everyone a chance to solo.

 

We had three favorites, too.  Sandy takes a tongue-in-cheek look at getting older thru “Help Mother Nature,” and uses a New Orleans-styled groove to ponder the question as to whether or not to “nip, tuck or Botox!”  “Heartfixin’ Man” is a rockin’ story of a woman who needs no “doctors or hospital plans,” but needs only a good man to cure her ills.  And, the somber, set-closing title cut was a collaboration between Sandy, James Solberg, and Luther Allison for Luther’s “Reckless” CD, and Sandy’s own “Memphis Rain” CD.  It is a song of true love and is presented herein with only vocals, piano, guitar, and accordion to showcase its powerful statement.

 

Sandy Carroll has paid her dues in the clubs up and down Beale and by writing songs for others.  With “Just As I Am,” she’s ready to take her career to the next level!!   Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

Dani Wilde review 10-17-11

DANI WILDE

SHINE

RUF RECORDS 1163

SHINE–SOME KINDA CRAZY–MISS YOU–HOW DO YOU DO IT–RED BLOODED WOMAN–DON’T GIVE UP ON ME–I DON’T EVEN CARE–ABANDONED CHILD–BORN TO LOVE HIM–WHERE BLUE BEGINS–BIG BROWN EYES

 

British blueswoman Dani Wilde burst on the scene in 2008 with her Ruf debut, “Heal My Blues,”  and her performances in Ruf Records’ “Blues Caravan” tour.  Currently, she’s a part of Ruf’s “Girls With Guitars” tour, includng Cassie Taylor and Samantha Fish.  And, she has just released her sophomore set for Ruf, “Shine,” and, as the title implies, she indeed shines on these nine originals and two covers.  All the time that Dani has invested in her recent tours and her work in-studio has given her a maturity well beyond her youth, and it shows not only in her playing, but in her songwriting, too.

 

Dani also possesses a uniquely-sultry voice that contemporary listeners may compare to Joss Stone.  She kicks off the set with cool acoustic guitar and harp from little brother Will “Harmonica” Wilde on the title cut, a tale of love and its various temptations.  Dani plays the woman lookin’ for love and just how to get it in two red-hot exercises in Chicago blues, “Some Kinda Crazy” and “Red-Blooded Woman,” with a sweet solo  from Will’s harp on the latter.  She also plays the “one alone at the gas station” when love has gone awry on “Don’t Give Up On Me.”

 

We had three favorites, too.  Brother Will adds the unmistakable riff that defines Dani’s take on “Miss You,” and makes it irresistible.  She channels her inner Aretha on the soulful “How Do You Do It,” which deals with a woman torn between a husband and a lover.  And,  a brilliant minor-key tale of the plight of children of the world growing up with no parents is the poignant “Abandoned Child.”

 

With “Shine,” Dani Wilde has shown that she is a force to be reckoned with in the current blues scene.  Give this one a listen and….ENJOY!!    Until next time…Don and Sheryl Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

 

 

 

 

First post…

Hope everyone will enjoy this blues blog, as we’ll review blues and roots CD’s sent to us.