Archive for November, 2011

Chick willis review 11-28-11

CHICK WILLIS

LET THE BLUES SPEAK FOR ITSELF

BENEVOLENT BLUES BEN 10

INTRO (LET ME PLAY MY BLUES)–SHORT HAIRED WOMAN–PICTURE ON THE WALL–JUST A BAD DREAM–ON YOUR WAY FISHING–CRUSH ON MY NEXT DOOR NEGHBOR–MY FANNIE MAE–DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU GOT–WE’RE GOING TO BOOGIE–WORRIED ABOUT YOU–MONEY IS THE NAME OF THE GAME–SINCE I FELL FOR YOU–LET ME PLAY MY BLUES

Southern bluesman Chick Willis will forever be known as the “Stoop Down Man,” after hs monster hit, “Stoop Down, Baby,”  from several years back.  Willis is a gritty, down-home blues specialist, and a consummate showman.  On his latest release, “Let The Blues Speak For Itself,” we find him at his raucous, rollicking best.  And, as a special treat, labelmate Travis “Moonchild” Haddix guests on a couple of cuts.

Chick lays down a mean,   hook-laden groove that everyone can dance to, and he infuses his brand of slightly-irreverent humor into the mix.  Check out “Picture On The Wall,” where his lover leaves him with just her “black drawers and a picture on the wall” to remember her by.  Chick expounds the virtues of some good-lovin’ women in “Short Haired Woman” and “My Fannie Mae,” the latter featuring tasty harp from Louisiana Dan Pino.  Chick even gets in a touch of crooning, doing a suave, soulful read on Lenny Welch’s “Since I Fell For You.”

We had three favorites, too.  The sorry state of today’s economy is touched upon in “Money Is The Name Of The Game.”  Steve Cranford’s boogie piano drives the tale of Chick and Travis headin’ over to Chicago’s South Side to do a little “angling,’ in “On Your Way Fishing.”  And, that Chick Willis humor shows up in another duet with Travis on “Crush On My Next Door Neighbor,’ with a surprise ending where the  “she” turns out to be a “he!”

Chick Willis is a master of lettin’ the good times roll, and “Let The Blues Speak For Itself” is a set that’s guaranteed to cure what ails you!   Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

Boy Wells review 11-27-11

BOY WELLS

BLUE SKIES CALLING

MARCEL MARSUPIAL PUBLISHING  MMP15

MR COLUZZI–WORLD WEARY AND BLUE–BRING IT BACK–MARCEL MARSUPIAL–BLUE SKIES CALLING–LOVE IN VAIN–BROKE DOWN–MON ANGEL–TOVA–DEVIL’S BACKBONE BLUES–TIN WINTER–TRAVELLER

 

Boy Wells, whose real name is Mark Schultz,  grew up in the southern Maryland area that was also the home to Danny Gatton.  Wells took up guitar after hearing Duane Allman on “In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed,” and he and Gatton soon became friends.  Gatton taught Wells not only on the guitar, but gave him valuable advice early on in his musical career.  On his debut, “Blue Skies Calling,” Wells handles all the guitar, vocals, and writing details.  These twelve originals travel all over the musical landscape, as Wells ventures into Southern boogie, blues, jazz, and even some bluegrass.

 

A ringing slide and harp from Jimi Lee are the trademarks of the Southern-fried “World Weary And Blue,” while the title cut uses violin from Richie Simpkins over Wells’ soulful vocals in the story of a man who’s “had my fill of all this urban sprawlin,” and is built around a decidedly Allman-ish arrangement.  There are several outstanding instrumentals, too.  Funky guitar lines and a hot horn section in “Mr. Coluzzi” might make you think you are standing at the front door of 926 E. McLemore down in Memphis, while “Tova,” “Tin Winter,” and the set-closing “Traveller” all use banjo and fiddle intertwined with Wells’ guitar, and all of ’em would be right at home on the Loveless stage any Wednesday night for the “Music City Roots” series.

 

Our favorites were easy choices, too.  The brooding, dark arrangement of “Love In Vain” conjures up the ghosts of Mike Hammer and Peteer Gunn in the film-noir-ish tale of a dancer who “missed her curtain call,” and you “won’t find her name in lights, but try the nearest wall.”  And, there is some CD-ROM footage included of an hour-long guitar lesson between Wells and Danny Gatton in Danny’s living room,  which is priceless.

 

“Blue Skies Calling” is one of the most interesting albums we’ve had the pleasure to hear in quite some time.  Boy wells has incredible guitar skills, and his eclectic choice of tunes and genres’ makes this one a well-done and well-crafted set, indeed!!   Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow.

 

 

Sean Costello review 11/25/11

SEAN COSTELLO

AT HIS BEST—LIVE

LANDSLIDE RECORDS   LD CD 1040

SAN-HO-ZAY–BLUES SHADOWS–T-BONE BOOGIE–ALL YOUR LOVE–I GET A FEELING–CHECK IT OUT–CAN I CHANGE MY MIND?–YOU’RE KILLING MY LOVE–RECONSIDER BABY–DOING MY OWN THING–THE HUCKLEBUCK–MOTOR HEAD BABY–HOLD ON THIS TIME–THE BATTLE IS OVER BUT THE WAR GOES ON–PEACE OF MIND–LUCILLE

 

Many pundits declare that the best way blues should be heard is in a live setting.  If so, then Sean Costello certainly has a case for one of the most incendiary talents ever.  His fans can attest to the power he put into all his shows, giving them the consummate performance every time out.  Also, his time on this earth was woefully short, taken from us one day shy of his 29th birthday in April, 2008.  As a fitting tribute, Landslide Records has just released “At His Best–Live,” featuring seventeen smokin’ cuts recorded at various venues from 2000-2007 in both the U.S. and Europe, taking an intimate snapshot of a young man on top of the blues world.

 

From the opening bounce of “San-Ho-Zay” to the last frenetic lines of “Lucille”, these cuts show why Sean Costello was such a dynamite performer.  Aside from the stellar guitar chops, he had an earthy vocal delivery that made the audience feel his blues as he was pounding them out.  And, he was versed not only in blues, but, rock, soul, and jazz as well, and we get a little tast of them all on this set.  “Peace Of Mind” and “Can I Change My Mind” conjure up vintage soul, while “T-Bone Boogie” and “The Hucklebuck” swings from the first note.  Sean’s affinity for classic blues shows in blistering takes of “All Your Love,” “Reconsider Baby,” and “Blue Shadows.”

 

We had two favorites, too.  His vocal delivery is spot on in “Doing My Own Thing,” while his guitar pyrotechnics take center stage in Johnny Guitar Watson’s “Motor Head Baby.”

 

Sean Costello left a void in the blues world that will be impossible to fill.  Those who were not fortunate to see him perform live can enjoy his classic moments with “At His Best–Live.”

 

Until next time… Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

 

 

 

Andy Poxon review 11-21-11

THE ANDY POXON BAND

RED ROOTS

ELLER SOUL RECORDS  ER20101

HOTTEST THING IN TOWN–NO LOVE–QUITTERS NEVER LOSE–I WANT YOU SO BAD–I NEED MY GIRL–I’LL SING THE BLUES–STOP–WHEN–RAINING IN–RUN OF BAD LUCK–I HATE BEING ALONE–IS THERE ANYTHING I CAN DO–C’MON PRETTY BABY

 

The word “phenom” is bandied about quite a bit in the music world, but if anyone deserves that title, Maryland native Andy Poxon fits the bill.  His latest release, entitled “Red Roots,” (matching his flaming red locks), consists of thirteen tracks that touch on rock, blues, funk,  and a bit of jazz, and all are original tunes.  Oh, and by the way, Andy is all of SIXTEEN years old!!

 

He’s got everything you can imagine–guitar chops, a bluesy vocal delivery that many will compare to Jonny Lang, and a writing maturity that is waaaaay beyond his years.  Check out the plaintive, heartfelt vocal on the slow-blues of “I Want You So Bad,”  which segues’ nicely into “I Need My Girl,’ with just a smidgen of reggae in the backbeat.  “I’ll Sing The Blues” and “Stop” deal with the pain of lost love, and the latter features the poignant lyric “I lost my heart one piece at a time.”  At the other end of the relationship spectrum, “When” deals with regrets and ‘what might have been,” while the rockin’  “I Hate Being Alone”  finds Andy begging an old flame for a second chance.

 

Favorites?  Of  course!  “Quitters Never Lose” has a cool, early-Eagles vibe.  And, before they called it rock and roll, they called it rockabilly, and Andy begins and ends this set with two sweet Fifties-inspired burners, “Hottest Thing In Town” and “C’mon Pretty Baby,’ the latter featuring a very unusual reverb-like guitar tone.

 

Somebody famous once said “Oh, to be young again,’ and that fits Andy Poxon perfectly.  This is an unbelievable set from a teenager who’s got the whole world of contemporary blues ahead of him, just waiting to be conquered.  Do like we did and enjoy the hell out of “Red Roots!”   Until next time…..Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

Amy Hart review 11-20-11

AMY HART

CONGRATULATIONS

PAINTED ROCK RECORDS   PRR 2011

CONGRATULATIONS–GET READY–PUT ME BACK–EVEN COUNTRY GETS THE BLUES–GET THE GIRLS DANCING–WHEN LOVE COMES TO CALL–RICH ASS DADDY–BE THAT WAY–RIBCAGE–I’VE GOT A FRIEND

 

Amy Hart grew up in Chicago and was immersed the rich blues heritage of that town.  She has a sweet-and-sassy way with a story, and has opened for Koko, Cotton, and Jr. Wells.  Her latest set was recorded right here in Music City, and is entitled “Congratulations”  and is ten tracks that pair her with some of the finest session cats anywhere, including Bob Britt, Wayne Killius, and Mike Rojas, to name a few.

 

These ten originals showcase her writing chops and that sweet vocal delivery that goes from breathy to brazen in one note.  The leadoff title cut is a good example of her boldness, tellin’ a no-good, unemployed, bottom-of-the-barrel-of-luck lover, “Congratulations, you’ve got the blues!”  A woman who’s reached the end of her rope seeks help to “Put Me Back together right this time,” and features some funky guitar work.  And, cool slide and B-3 back Amy in her recipe for “a guaranteed good night,’  “Get The Girls Dancing.”

 

We had two favorites, too.  Brush-stroked drums, muted piano and the hard-luck lyrics of a broken-down truck at 3 AM, right after love has gone straight to hell,  is the theme of the torchy “Even Country Gets The Blues.”  And, broke-ass punks need not apply as Amy needs “a big fat rich-ass daddy takin’ care of me,” because “money can’t buy love, but it’ll sho’ nuff buy the groceries!”

 

Amy Hart’s looks at life and love with a touch of attitude may remind some listeners of Lucinda Williams, and “Congratulations” is a well-crafted and very well-performed set!!   Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

 

Kay Kay and the Rays review…

THE BEST OF KAY KAY AND THE RAYS

 

CATFOOD RECORDS  CFR 013

 

LONE STAR JUSTICE–NO MAMA’S BOYS–HEY BIG BOY–JUNK BLUES–DON’T HAVE TO TELL ME–ENRON FIELD–CROSSFIRE–STOP THE KILLING–BIG BAD GIRL–LORD SAVE ME FROM L. A.–HOLD ON TO WHAT YOU GOT–CHEATER–LOVE ME BABY–TEXAS JUSTICE-BILLY’S STORY–THERE’LL COME A TIME

 

Texas-bssed keyboardist Abner Burnett and bassist Bob Trenchard brought a talented gospel singer named Kay Kay Greenwade on board in their blues band in 1997, and, thus, Kay Kay and the Rays were born.  They recorded three albums from 1999 to 2003, and those serve as the backdrop for their latest release, a career retrospective, fifteen-track, “Best Of Kay Kay and the Rays.”

 

As she sings in “Big Bad Girl,” she’s “six-feet-one with three-inch heels,” and Kay Kay is just that–a bold, brassy, and sassy singer that brought out the best of the band’s fusion of funk, soul, gospel, and blues.

 

This band not only had a penchant for bringin’ the heat to the dance floor, they also had a knack for songs with socially-tempered lyrics that dealt with anything they believed to be an injustice, and they pulled no punches, with several of their songs subsequently banned from airplay in Texas.  Check out “Lone Star Justice” and “Texas Justice–Billy’s Story,’ where we learn that Texas spends more money building jails than schools, and, “Lone Star Justice is the best money can buy.”  “Stop The Killing” is an antiwar plea, while “Lord, Save Me From L. A.” bemoans that city’s artificiality.  And, “Enron Field” takes a hard look at the crooked politicians and businessmen involved in that infamous white-collar scandal.

 

There’s plenty of swingin’, soul-drenched blues, here, too.  “No Mama’s Boys’ and “Cheater” both deal with lovers and their infidelities, and the sweet duet between Johnny Rawls and Kay Kay on “Hold On To What You Got” recalls vintage Jerry Butler and Betty Everett.

 

Recent health concerns with Kay Kay have rendered a reunion unlikely, but their three releases showcased them as a socially-conscious band that could smoke the dance floor as well.  Enjoy “The Best Of Kay Kay and The Rays” today!

 

Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society

Lisa Mills review 11-13-11

LISA MILLS

TEMPERED IN FIRE

BURNSIDE DISTRIBUTION

TENNESSEE TEARS–KEEP ON SMILING–BLUE GUITARS OF TEXAS–I’LL NEVER FALL IN LOVE AGAIN–TEMPERED IN FIRE–WHY DO I STILL LOVE YOU–MY HAPPY SONG–THESE ARMS OF MINE–COUNTRYSIDE OF LIFE–SOMEONE VERY CLOSE

 

 

Altho she was born in south Mississippi and now lives in Mobile Bay, AL, outstanding vocalist Lisa Mills has some strong musical ties across the pond in the UK.  Her overseas festival appearances have given her the opportunity to play with some of Britain’s best, who return the favor on her latest release, “Tempered In Fire.”  These ten cuts find her mixing in originals with songs associated with southern rockers and soul men, as well as her friends from England.  Joining Lisa are Ian Jennings on double bass, Eric Heigle on drums, and Andy Fairweather Low on guitar (remember “Spider Jiving” from 1973?)

 

 

Lisa’s strong voice has fantastic range and she reaches out and grabs you with it, using it to spin tales of life, love, loneliness, and redemption.  Brush-stroked drums and understated guitar lines fuel the torchy title cut, with its lyrics of “3 AM and I’m sitting alone in a bar, wondering where you are.”  “Why Do I Still Love you?” has elements of Lisa’s upbringing in gospel music, as her inability to let go of a no-good lover builds to a “testifyin’ climax.  The set closes with a classic tale of a true lover that becomes the victim of a vicious ‘he said, she said” pack of lies from “Someone Very Close.’

 

We had two favorites, too.  Lisa’s fed up with cheatin’ lovers, and vows “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” with a clever rhumba beat.  And, Lisa smokes the Hall brothers’  immortal “Keep On Smiling,”  presented herein with a cool, Stax-goes-reggae arrangement.

 

With her unique vocal ability to make one feel the good times and bad times in every song, Lisa Mills may elicit comparisons to Lucinda Williams or Delbert.  With “Tempered In Fire,” she has the chops to achieve breakout success!  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.