Archive for April, 2012

All Jams On Deck review….04-27-12…

ALL JAMS ON DECK

A FILM BY ROBERT MUGGE

 

If you have ever been on any of the Legendary Rhythm And Blues Cruise excursions, then you know all about the late-night jams after the main shows are finished.  Roger Naber, CEO of the cruise line that books these trips, has collaborated with celebrated musical documentarian Robert Mugge to create “All Jams On Deck,” which takes an intimate look at not only some of the best blues players on the planet, but the behind-the-scenes activity that goes on to pull off the whole experience without it morphing into total chaos.

 

The documentary, filmed during the October 2010 cruise to the Mexican Riviera, is roughly half performance footage and half discussions among the players regarding techniques and jam ettiquette.  Check out John Nemeth taking the Mickey Thomas vocal part along with Elvin Bishop’s guitar on “Fooled Around and Fell In Love.”  There’s a harmonica “workshop” of sorts with Kim Wilson and War’s Lee Oskar, and a demonstration of blues piano variations, courtesy of Commander Cody and Rev. Billy C. Wirtz.

 

Highlights for us included Tommy Castro’s “A Good Fool Is Hard To Find,” and a brilliant “Johnny’s Jam,” featuring Johnny Winter and Elvin Bishop on guitar, and Edgar Winter on keys.  The whole film is a great experience, and it’s all about having a good time!

 

This is Robert Mugge’s second DVD release of 2012, ( along with his “Big Shoes”  film of Ted Drozdowski’s Scissormen), and it is nominated for the Best Blues DVD  award, to be given on May 10, 2012, at the Blues Awards ceremony in Memphis.

 

“All Jams On Deck” is a film that all blues fans should see.  And, that has become quite easy to do, as the cruise line is offering this DVD for free, with only a nominal $5.95 shipping fee.  If you are unable to attend a Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise, then this film is absolutely the next best thing to being there!   Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow.

Sauce Boss review…04-26-12

SAUCE BOSS

LIVE AT THE GREEN PARROT

BURNING DISK  BD 008

KILLER TONE–SMUGGLER’S COVE–GUMBO RECIPE–LONESOME RIDER–CHICKEN IN THE GUMBO–WHAT WAS I THINKING–OUT IN THE NIGHT–I CAN’T SIT DOWN–LUCKY CHARM–LET THE BIG DOG EAT–THE GOOG–PACO’S GARDEN–CATHEAD BISCUIT GOSPEL

 

Bill Wharton is much better known as the “Sauce Boss,” and he has made quite a career for himself not only as a fabulous bluesman, but as a chef noted for his Cajun cuisine.  A Sauce Boss show is not complete until you’ve been served a big bowl of gumbo, made during the show!  And, after thirteen albums and some 180, 000 bowls of gumbo, the Sauce Boss has recorded a live set.  “Live At The Green Parrot,” down in Key West, presents Bill at his best, with thirteen cuts in front of a hungry and appreciative crowd!

 

The Sauce Boss is a killer guitarist and vocalist, and writes songs we can all relate to.  That’s why his shows are so popular.  Here, he is backed by John Hart on second guitar, Jassen Wilber on bass, and Justin Headley on drums.  Check out his wicked slide work on “Lonesome Rider,” an ode to Harley riders everywhere.  Wasted romance brings Bill to ask the question, “What Was I Thinking,” while the set closes with the “blessing” for the gumbo, “Cathead Biscuit Gospel.”

 

We had three favorites, too.  The funky, slide-heavy, “Let The Big Dog Eat” has been a staple of Sauce Boss shows for three decades.  The leadoff cut is Bill’s “autobiography” of sorts—even tho he might have “bad credit and overdrawn loans,” it’s all good, ’cause he’s got “Killer Tone!”  And,  an ode to today’s inability to hide from “Big Brother” reminds us that you can’t get away  from Google, because “The Goog is out to getcha!”  It also features a spaced-out, hi-tech solo from Bill at the bridge.

 

Sauce Boss Bill Wharton is a performer who literally brings everything including the kitchen sink to one of his shows.  As for “Live At The Green Parrot,” let us all “Praise the Lord and pass the gumbo!!”   Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

Brad Vickers review 04-25-12….

BRAD VICKERS AND HIS VESTAPOLITANS

DALLAS BLUES  1912-2012

CD SINGLE

In March, 1912, the first published sheet music of any blues song (or with “blues” in the title)was Hart Ward’s composition of “Dallas Blues.”  The lyrics were added in 1918 by Lloyd Garrett, completing this song, also the first publication of a song done in a true blues fashion.  To celebrate the centennial of this historic publication, Brad Vickers And His Vestapolitans have recorded their version of “Dallas Blues” as a downloadable CD single, with all proceeds going to the Blues Foundation’s H. A. R. T. Fund.  This is the Handy Artist’s Relief Trust, to fund aid to blues musicians and their families with health concerns and to help them financially.

 

Brad Vickers is no stranger to the blues spotlight, having worked with Pinetop, Jimmy Rogers, and Hubert Sumlin, just to name a few.  He and this band have three critically-acclaimed CD’s of their own, and they perform this tune in the true, vintage, early-20th Century style in which it was published.  Charles Burnham and Margey Peters are on fiddle, Brad is on guitar and vocals, Jim Davis on clarinet, Matt Cowan on sax, Michael Bram on mandolin, Dave Gross on slapback bass, and Bill Rankin on drums.

 

This cut has a cool-old-time feel with call-and-response vocals and instrumentation, befitting this song’s place in blues history.  Add to that the fact that money raised from downloads will help the musicians that have helped keep the blues alive as a viable genre’, and this is a can’t-miss opportunity for a slice of history!  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society

The Strata-Tones review 04-23-12…

THE STRATA-TONES

DRESSED UP TO FESS UP

KEEP ON COOKIN’–BEBOP BABY–DID YOU EVER–LOVERS LOST AND FOUND–RAGGEDY ANNIE–THIS OLD HOUSE–TOGETHER FOR SOME TIME–TREAT YOUR WOMAN RIGHT–T W F S–BALL AND CHAIN (LIVE)

 

The Strata-Tones are another of the prolific number of blues bands in California, playing out of the Santa Barbara and San Luuis Obispo area.  They are fronted by Valerie Johnson on lead vocals, a dynamite singer with tremendous pipes and energy.  On their latest set, “Dressed Up To Fess Up”‘ they swing thru ten cuts, eight of which are band originals.

 

Backing Valerie are Bruce Kupnik on guitar, Kevin McCracken on harp, Ken Burton on keys, Will Anderson on bass, and Rick Pittman on drums.  The jumpin’ horn section was arranged and composed by Terry Lawless.

 

This set is full of that West Coast swing and jump blues sound, and this crew really knows what it’s all about!   The party starts with Val’s smokin’ read on a B. J. Thomas cover, “Keep On Cookin,” which tells us the best way to keep a man is to “keep that grease poppin’ in the pan!”  She flips it back to the fellows, reminding them exactly how to “Treat Your Woman Right!”  This one features a mighty funky backbeat, perfect for the dance floor!  There is excellent harp and piano work on the New Orleans-flavored tale of street-wise “Raggedy Annie,” a little girl who’ll do most anything you want!  On a more soulful note, Val tells us that “there’s plenty of broken hearts down at “The Lovers Lost And Found.”  And, there’s an ice-cold instrumental, done up Albert Collins-style, “T. W. F. S.”

 

We had two favorites, too.  Val paints a slyly-sexy portrait of fine, foxy females everywhere with the rockin’ “Bebop Baby!”  And, the sheer power of her voice is clearly evident in the electrifying set-closer,  Val’s tribute to Janis Joplin, a live version of “Ball And Chain.”

 

The Strata-Tones have taken traditional blues and given it a contemporary twist.  With a powerhouse vocalist and an irresistible backbeat that can’t be denied, enjoy “Dressed Up To Fess Up” tonight, and be sure to bring your dancin’ shoes!   Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

Peter Karp and Sue Foley review…04-18-12

BEYOND THE CROSSROADS

PETER KARP  SUE FOLEY

BLIND PIG RECORDS   BPCD 5146

WE’RE GONNA MAKE IT–ANALYZE’N BLUES–BEYOND THE CROSSROADS–FINE LOVE–AT THE SAME TIME–TAKE YOUR TIME–MORE THAN I BARGAINED FOR–BLOWIN–RESISTANCE–CHANCE OF RAIN–PLANK SPANK–YOU’VE GOT A PROBLEM

 

In 2010, Peter Karp and Sue Foley were each going thru a difficult period in their lives.  Both are incredible musicians and writers, and, they developed a physical relationship as wel during this timel.  Their private letters and e-mails evolved into the songs that comprised their debut, “He Said, She Said,’ which was very well-received by fans and reviewers everywhere.

 

Their latest release, “Beyond The Crossroads,” is a natural continuation of the first set, only this one is full of songs of hope, positivity, and renewal.  There are twelve originals, all composed either wholly or in part by Sue and Peter.  And, these songs are crafted with the underlying theme of bringing the good times back, with a trumph over tragedy.

 

They both realize that times have been tough, but they vow “We’re Gonna Make It,”  in the soulful, horn-filled leadoff cut.  Peter’s jazzy piano over Sue’s acoustic guitar lead the way in the tale that reminds us that, no matter how good things might be going, there’s always that underlying “Chance Of Rain.”  Both singers warn us of “tellin’ the truth, but living a lie” in “At The Same Time.’  This one has the Swingadelic Horn section backing, and it has the feel of a New Orleans dirge straight from Rampart Street!  And, both dazzling guitarists strut their collective stuff in the fiery instrumental,  “Plank Spank.”

 

We had two favorites, too.  Peter and Sue are two players who believe that love is just a game for fools until they fall hard for each other, each one getting “More Than I Bargained For.”  And, Peteer’s killer left hand drives the boogie piano on the rockin’ set-closer, “You’ve Got A Problem,” which features Sue on a sweet solo at the bridge.

 

Peter Karp and Sue Foley have turned “Beyond The Crossroads” into a celebration of their growing relationship, living it thru their songs and instrumentation, and blues fans are reaping the benefits!  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

Gary Prmich review 04-18-12…

GARY PRIMICH

JUST A LITTLE BIT MORE

WITH OMAR DYKES

OLD PAL RECORDS  CD 101

 

DISC 1–SATELLITE ROCK–SWEET FINE ANGEL–CARESS ME BABY–BOOGIE WOOGIE BABY–BAD DOG–MIDNIGHT RAMBLIN MAN–MONEY HABIT–SEPTEMBER SONG–HOUSE ROCKIN’ PARTY–HOO DOO BALL–CARAVAN–SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS

DISC 2–DANGEROUS MAN–PUT THE HAMMER DOWN–MR FREEZE–JENNY BROWN–ONE ROOM COUNTRY SHACK–MAIL ORDER MOJO–PRAY FOR A CLOUDY DAY–KEEP ON TALKING–NEVER KNOW WHEN A WOMAN–DOWN IN MISSISSIPPI–INDIANA

 

The blues world lost yet another one of the most soulful harp players and singers in the genre’ with the September 23, 2007, passing of Gary Primich.  Born in Chicago and raised in Indiana, he bought a cheap harp as a youth and practiced incessantly, hustling tips down on Maxwell Street, and sneaking into clubs to listen to his heroes play.

 

As he matured, he believed that the Chicago scene was moving away from the traditional, harp-influenced sound that he loved, so he packed up and left for Austin, TX.  He was soon voted that town’s best harpman for several consecutive years.  He released four CD’s of his own works, as well as several appearing as a sideman with good friend Omar Dykes.  It is from those collective sets plus a few unreleased tracks that comprise “Just A Little Bit More.”  There are twenty-three cuts on two CD’s, which show Gary’s versatility as a leader and as a sideman.

 

He could blow the blues with the best of ’em, but he also absorbed a wealth of knowledge of jazz from listening to the likes of Lester Young and Gene Ammons.  These jazz inflections can be heard on his scalding instrumental work on standards such as “Caravan,” “September Song,” and “Back Home Again In Indiana.”

 

Gary was also a great friend of yet another recently-passed blues icon, Jerry McCain.  You can hear a lot of Jerry’s blues influence in tunes such as “Satellite Rock,” “Never Know When A Woman,” and the Chicago-blues of “Keep On Talking.”

 

Gary’s relationshiip with Omar and the Howlers, tho, was special, and their recorded works together show them as true kindred spirits in the blues.  These cuts serve as some of Gary’s best as a sideman.  Check out the gentle lope of “Caress Me Baby,”  the reckless, stop-time rock of “Dangerous Man,” and, our favorite, an all-acoustic affair with only Omar’s vocal and guitar with Gary on harp, “Down In Mississippi.”

 

Gary Primich may not have been a “household name,” but one thing he did have was a lot of soul.  And, he had a burning desire to learn all he could from every source possible and give it a sound that was all his own.   Let’s enjoy Gary’s music “Just A Little Bit More.”   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Pinetop Perkins review 04-18-12

PINETOP PERKINS

HEAVEN

BLIND PIG RECORDS   BPCD 5145

44 BLUES–4 O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING–SITTIN’ ON TOP OF THE WORLD–JUST KEEP ON DRINKIN’–SINCE I FELL FOR YOU–PINETOP’S BOOGIE WOOGIE–IDA B–SWEET HOME CHICAGO–PINETOP’S BLUES–WILLOW WEEP FOR ME

 

 

Joe Willie “Pinetop” Perkins left us much too soon on March 21, 2011, just four months shy of his 98th birthday.  During his storied career, he has been a brilliant sideman for Muddy Waters, a leader on his own, and a Grammy winner in February, 2011, for his collaboration with Willie Smith, “Joined At The Hip.”  Sadly, less than a year later, both these legends were gone.

 

Blind Pig Records has just released a collection of Pinetop’s tunes recorede on November 24, 1986, at Chelsea Studios in New York, at a sprightly 73 years of age!!  Entitled “Heaven,”  it bookends his first full-length release as a bandleader, “After Hours,” also on Blind Pig, from 1988.

 

Most of these twelve cuts feature Pinetop alone at the piano and on vocals.  There are a few full-band cuts which we’ll touch on in a bit.  Check out Pinetop’s jazzy take on an instrumental version of “Willow Weep For Me,” and the loping stride of “Relaxin,”  Otis Clay overdubbed a vocal on September 15, 2011, on the torchy “Since I Fell For You,” and Tony O and Mike Markowitz add guitar and harp, respectively, on the Chicago blues of “Ida B.”

 

We had two favorites, too.  No Pinetop album would be complete without a version of his signature “Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie,”  originally cut in Memphis for Sam Phillips in the early Fifties, when he and guitarist Robert Nighthawk were barnstorming the South.  And, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith added the vocal to “Sittin’ On Top Of The World” on July 5, 2011, which would sadly serve as his last piece of recorded work, just prior to his untimely passing.

 

The blues world lost a great one with Pinetop’s passing, but blues heaven is all the richer.  With “Heaven,” the final chapter in his endearing legacy has been solidified.  Rest In Peace, ‘Top.  We’ll miss you.   Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.