Archive for October, 2012

Mitch Woods review October 29, 2012…

MITCH WOODS

BLUES BEYOND BORDERS–LIVE IN ISTANBUL

CLUB 88/VIZZTONE

INTRO–SOLID GOLD CADILLAC–DOWN BOY DOWN–MOJO MAMBO–BOOGIE WOOGIE BAR-B-Q–I GOT A NEW CAR–WHAT CAN I DO–QUEEN BEE–CRAWFISHIN’–LONG, LEAN AND LANKY–THIRD DEGREE–ROCKET 88–IN THE NIGHT/LAMBAYA PUF DE–HOUSE OF BLUE LIGHTS

DVD EXTRAS–THE JOURNEY–EXPLORING–THE CULTURE–ADVENTURES ON THE ROAD AND ON THE BUS/THE BAND–TURKISH INDEPENDENCE DAY IZMIR–THE POZITIF CREW–SLIDESHOW

 

Boogie woogie piano man Mitch Woods took his band, The Rocket 88’s, to Istanbul, Turkey, in October, 2010, as a part of the Efes Blues Festival.  In so doing, they played twenty-six shows in twenty cities over a five-week period.  The Vizztone label was there to document the whole thing, and they have just released a CD/DVD combo entitled “Blues Beyond Borders–Live In Istanbul,” that shows how the power of the blues can bring nations and cultures together under a common theme.

 

Mitch makes a great ambassador to the blues, too.  His booming voice and larger-than-life demeanor, as well as his “radiatin’ on the 88’s” keeps the appreciative crowd on their feet throughout.  It also doesn’t hurt to have a helluva backing band, either.  Saxman Amadee Castenell is a sight to behold. Cornell Williams is on bass, Adam Gabriel is on guitar, and Larry Vann mans the skins.  They rock, roll, and cajole thru a baker’s dozen of a combination of West Coast swing and jump blues, Chicago blues, and New Orleans second-line stompers that are guaranteed to have you on your feet and dancin’!!

 

If there was a language barrier, you couldn’t tell it from the enthusiasm of the crowd.  Check out Amadee’s sax solo and Adam’s guitar break on “Boogie Woogie Bar-B-Q.”  The West Coast jump sound is represented by the Louis Jordan-styled “Down Boy Down,” and Mitch uses his piano skills to tell a few “car stories,” too, the leadoff “Solid Gold Cadillac,” and a cool, stop-time tale of “buyin’ new,” “I Got A New Car,” even tho it’s “900 a month with three years to pay!!”  Bass man Cornell Williams gets in a raucous vocal on the slow-burn of “Third Degree,”  while that N’Awlins vibe is all over “Mojo Mambo” and “Crawfishin,” which features some cool audience participation!  Our favorites included the swingin’ “original rock and roll song,’ “Rocket 88,” and the set-closing tale of “fryers, broilers, and Detroit BBQ ribs,” “The House Of Blue Lights!”  This one has a brilliant piano solo from Mitch to bring things to a close.

 

DVD choices  include the full-length concert, as well as humorous asides from Mitch and the band as they ride a bus from town to town.  There’s also a look at Turkish Independence Day, and it all  culminates with a slideshow of candid shots taken by the fellows as they traveled across Turkey.

 

This set is a fine snapshot of how the blues can unite people of vastly different socioeconomic and cultural divides.  And, the cuts on “Blues Beyond Borders–Live In Istanbul” are a pure, unabashed joy to listen to!  Thanks for a great show, Mitch!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

 

 

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Tas Cru review October 28, 2012…

TAS CRU

TIRED OF BLUESMEN CRYIN’

CRUSTEE TEES RECORDS #0112

TIRED OF BLUESMEN CRYIN’–CHANGIN’ MY WAYS–ONE MORE TIME–ROAD TO MY OBSESSION–TRY, OH I TRY!–THAT LOVIN’ THANG–EVERY WORD YOU SAY–SURE DO (WANT TO FOOL AROUND)–STORYTIME–HEAL MY MISERY–DARK SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN

 

Tas Cru has given fans a smorgasbord of blues albums with culinary titles, from “Biscuit” in 2006, thru “Jus Desserts” in 2010.  For now, at least temporarily, he’s put down his knife and fork, but not his signature verbal flair and razor-sharp wit.  Often referred to as the “master of the triple entendre’,” Tas has a way with a hook that few bluesmen on the scene today can match.  And, he also prides himself as a blues educator, and an interview with a young student led to the title cut of his latest album (and its common themes included therein), “Tired Of Bluesmen Cryin.”  It seems that this young fan preferred the more celebratory side of the blues rather than the “my baby left me” side, and Tas used that to his advantage to create these eleven sweet originals that teach a lesson in life through his sly ways with a lyric.

 

The set kicks off with that clever title cut, and is infused with some deep slide and harp from Tas along with Tony Perrino’s tasty B-3 work.  Life on the road as a bluesman is presented as a stone-cold shot of funk, “Road To My Obsession.”  It’s followed by another look at man’s battle with temptation, “Try Oh I Try!,” set to a rolling New Orleans rhythm pattern.  The set closes with the most poignant cut on the album,  “Dark Side Of The Mountain.”  It is a somber look at military suicides, and is also a tribute to the soldiers and families of the U. S. Army’s 10TH Mountain Division.

 

We had a few favorites, too.  Remember Albert Collins  classic “Conversation With Collins?”  Well, a lover who’s stayed out waaay past her curfew has Tas ready for trouble, in the acoustic “Storytime.”  The roadhouse rock of “That Lovin’ Thang” is dedicated to “that one sure thing we can’t live without,” while “Every Word You Say” is Tas at his wittiest.  His woman thinks he’s not listening to her, but “it only just looks that way!”

 

Tas Cru has crafted a fine set that is short on “cryin’ and long on using the power of the music to get you thru your tough times.  “Tired Of Bluesmen Cryin” is full of the very things that make fans fall in love with the blues in the first place, and gets two big thumbs up from us!  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow.

Claude Hay review October 26 2012….

CLAUDE HAY

I LOVE HATE YOU

128 RECORDS  IROO 11

I LOVE HATE YOU–GOOD TIMES–STONE FACE–BEST DAYS–WHERE HAVE YOU GONE–CLOSE–NARROW MIND–BLUES TRAIN–DON’T BRING ME DOWN–COME TOGETHER–HOUND–TURN IT UP

 

In the grand tradition of Sun recording artist Joe Hill Louis, Australian native Claude Hay has taken the premise of a “one-man band” into the 21 ST Century on his new album, entitled “I Love Hate You,” on 128 Records.  There are eleven solid originals and one slick cover, and, on this set, Claude’s third overall, he ventures more onto the blues-rock side of things, with heavy doses of his guitars punctuating these cuts.

Also furthering his do-it-yourself cause, Claude has built all his own equipment, including a double-necked guitar made from a kitchen counter, affectionately named “Betty,” and a cigar-box guitar named “Stella.”  And, his knowledge of modern loop technology gives him a full “band” sound, without the band.

The thumpin’ leadoff title cut is Claude’s clever ode to things he loves, hates, and loves to hate!  “Good Times” uses a rare appearance from another musician, drummer Jon Howell, to spin the tale of things happenin’ at the Grand Junction Hotel!  Howell drums again, and Ryan Van Gennip adds bass to the set-closing funk bomb, aptly-titled “Turn It Up!”  And, Me-Lee Hay can be heard on cello on the album’s nod to Eighties’  “power ballads,” entitled “Close.”

Everything else is just Claude, tho.  Check out his story of what could’ve been a disastrous bus trip, called “Hound,” which, just like the stuff from ol’ Joe Hill Louis, was recorded at Sun Records.  And, our favorite was Claude’s slide-heavy remix of “Come Together.”  He strips it down even more than on the original, and takes it straight down deep into the Delta!

Claude Hay has successfully blended his blues traditions with his love of the “big guitar” sound of Eighties rock.  Get ready for a sweet ride on this “Blues Train” with “I Love Hate You!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

 

 

David Maxwell review October 20 2012…

DAVID MAXWELL

BLUES IN OTHER COLORS

SHINING STONE RECORDS SSCD 0002

MOVIN’ ON–BLUE DREAM—INTERLUDE A–BIG SKY–CRYIN’ THE BLUES–HEART OF DARKNESS–INTERLUDE B–HARRY’S RAGA (RAGA NAT BHARLAV)–CHILLIN’ IN CASA–ROLLIN’ ON–JUST THE BLUES–LAST CRY/SIGH

 

David Maxwell is a Grammy and multiple Blues Award-winning pianist, his most recent award coming in Memphis in 2012 for his “Conversations In Blue”  CD, which paired him with Otis Spann.  David has always been a piano player who transcends the traditional blues format, and that improvisational ability is the centerpiece for his latest release for Shining Stone Records.  It is the all-instrumental “Blues In Other Colors,” and is twelve of David’s original compositions which mix the blues with World and New Age music, fusing the traditional sounds of the blues with music and instrumentation from Africa, Japan, Turkey, India, and the Near and Middle East.  Joining David on this excursion are Harry Manx, a gifted Canadian guitarist who is featured on the mohan veena, a hybrid guitar/sitar.  One of David’s long-time  blues guitar collaborators, Troy Gonyea, appears, as does African percussion master Jerry Leake.  Together, they bring the power of this music to life, taking the blues on a literal trip “around the world!”

 

The set starts with “Movin’ On,” which is a strong vehicle for Harry’s mohan veena skills, and Jerry’s percussive techniques.  “Chillin’ In Casa” has a flamenco feel, and features Moroccan oud player Boujmaa Razgui.

 

David’s feel for straight blues does show up on a couple of cuts.  “Just The Blues” teams David’s piano with Troy’s guitar for an exercise in slow blues, while “Heart Of Darkness” borrows the stop-time rhythm pattern common in many blues songs, starting off with piano, giving way to a Turkish ney solo from Fred Stubbs, before Jery Leake’s percussion closes things out.

 

David Maxwell and this brilliant corps of World musicians have put a new spin on the blues with “Blues In Other Colors.”  This one further solidifies David’s diversity and reputation as one of the finest blues pianists on the scene today.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Omar And The Howlers review October 17, 2012…

OMAR AND THE HOWLERS

FEATURING GARY PRIMICH

TOO MUCH IS NOT ENOUGH

BGM 1202

TOO MUCH–GOTTA LET YOU GO–HONEST I DO–I AIN’T GOT YOU–HIGH AND LONESOME–GOING TO NEW YORK–ROLL IN RHUMBA–TAKE OUT SOME INSURANCE–I’M GONNA MOVE TO THE OUTSKIRTS OF TOWN–I’M GONNA RUIN YOU–SHAME SHAME SHAME–YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO

 

In the liner notes for Omar and the Howlers’ latest album, there is a clever disclaimer from Omar, who lets us all know that, where tributes to Jimmy Reed are concerned, “Too Much Is Not Enough.”  And, we wholeheartedly agree!  Most fans are familiar with the highly-acclaimed “On The Jimmy Reed Highway” from a few years back, but this latest batch of twelve cuts fulfills Omar’s vision of having a Howlers  tribute album for Jimmy Reed that also sadly, includes the last recordings of harpman and good friend Gary Primich, and this set serves as a fitting farewell to this great musical genius.

 

“Too Much Is Not Enough” is every bit as good as the “Jimmy Reed Highway” set.  The songs that aren’t Jimmy’s originals are done in that loping, inimitable style, and Omar’s gravelly, Howlin-Wolf-ish delivery breathes life into all of ’em.  These songs are so well done that we halfway expected the voice of the immortal Hossman Allen to bust in at any time “from deep in the heart of Dixie” to sell some baby chicks, as these songs are reminiscent of Allen’s playlists from the glory days of WLAC, and of our youth.

 

Aside from Omar and Gary on this set, also featured are Derek O’Brien on guitar as wll as rising star Gary Clark, Jr., on harp and slide on a few cuts.  Every song is a classic, and Omar is in full stride on the vocals.  Gary adds the call-and-response harp to the leadoff “Too Much,” and blows some mean upper-register notes on “Going To New York” and “Honest I Do.”  Gary Clark, Jr., is a pleasant addition, on slide on “You Don’t Have To Go,” and “I Gotta Let you Go,” and on harp on “I Ain’t Got You” and the rather-obscure “I’m Gonna Ruin You.”  Favorites were impossible to pick, because everything is gold, but we loved the slow-drag of “High And Lonesome” and Omar’s good-timey plea to his lover to “Take Out Some Insurance on me baby!”

 

These cuts are raw, primal, and powerful, just the way Jimmy would’ve wanted.  And the talents of the musicians herein allow this great music to stand on its own merits.  Thanks, Omar, for sharing this one with all your fans, and for remembering Gary Primich so fondly.  Truly, “Too Much Is Not Enough.”   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Al Basile review October 14 2012….

AL BASILE

AT HOME NEXT DOOR

SWEETSPOT RECORDS 9222

DISC 1–GO BACK HOME TO THE BLUES–I GOT TO LOVE AND BE LOVED–PICKED TO CLICK–TERMITES IN MY BASEMENT–DADDY GOT A PROBLEM–JUST A HEARTACHE–I REALLY MISS YOU–NOT THE WRONG WOMAN–BAD INTENTIONS–ANNIE GET YOUR THING ON–TOO SLOW–HOUSEKEY BLUES–GIVE IT LIKE YOU GET IT–80 BELLS

 

DISC 2–TOO MUCH LIKE FATE–KEEP THAT HEART–STONY GROUND–ONLY JODIE KNOWS–A MYSTERY TO ME–SHE WAS SAYIN’ GIDDYUP (I WAS SAYIN’ WHOA!)–IT IS WHAT IT IS–A LITTLE TOO FAR–TRYIN’ TO IMPRESS THE GIRL–MISS DISSATISFIED–MY PHONE’S GOT A MIND OF ITS OWN–THE STREAK–THE CLOSER

Al Basile is the quintessential “triple threat,” but not in the way most people might think.  Sure, he’s a fantastic writer, singer, and cornet player, going back to the original incarnation of Roomful Of Blues with Duke Robillard  in the Seventies.  He’s also a published poet, and, up until a few years ago, a teacher/coach at a prominent independent school in Rhode Island.  And, on top of that, he has just released his ninth CD produced by Duke, “At Home Next Door,” on Al’s own SweetSpot Records label.  It’s a double dose of his incredible versatility as a writer and performer.

The first CD finds Al “At Home With The Blues,” and is a career-spanning fourteen tracks that go back to his founding of SweetSpot Records in 1998.  On these cuts, you’ll find a veritable “Roomful reunion,” as Duke adds guitar throughout, with horns and harp from most of the original Roomful alumni.  The leadoff cut, “Go Back Home To The Blues,” is a swingin’ affair that reminds us that sometimes the blues is really a man’s best friend.  Al channels his inner Muddy Waters on a couple of Chicago-styled numbers, “I Got To Love And Be Loved,” and “Termites In My Basement,” with harp from Jerry Portnoy and Sugar Ray Norcia, respectively.  This disc closes with one of thee most powerful tunes on any Al Basile record, “80 Bells.”  A somber look at our own mortality, it consists of only Al’s vocal and Duke’s “tolling bell” acoustic guitar in the background.

Disc Two finds Al “Next Door To The Blues,” as the harps give way to the horn section, and this set takes a decidedly-soulful turn.  Th songs deal with love and relationships, and the accompanying pitfalls.  Why a longtime lover up and leaves is still “A Mystery To Me,” done up as a tender, Stax-style ballad.  Everyone knows someone like “Miss Dissatisfied,” wher “no man could ever please her.”  The horn arrangements in   “A Little Too Far,” and “Keep That Heart”are nods to vintage Motown, and served as our favorites.

Al Basile has taken his penchant for a good story and a good poem and combined it with some of his best friends and their incredible musicianship to create “At Home Next Door.”  Al’s vocals are impressive, and Duke seemingly has a solo for every occasion.  This is perhaps Al Basile’s best work to date!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunny Crownover review October 10, 2012…

SUNNY CROWNOVER

RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW

SHINING STONE RECORDS  SSCD 0001

OH YES I WILL–ONE WOMAN MAN–LOVE ME RIGHT–RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW–ROLL ME DADDY–COOK IN YOUR KITCHEN–WARNED–I MIGHT JUST CHANGE MY MIND–HI-HEELS AND HOME COOKIN–TRUST YOUR LOVER–CAN’T LET GO

 

On her previous albums with Duke Robillard, Sunny Crownover adjusted her vocal style to fit the vintage pop and jazz sounds that the material called for.  For her debut solo effort, she has returned to her blues-based R &B  roots with a dynamic and powerful “statement” album entitled “Right Here, Right Now.”  Duke is again a presence on this one, as producer and guitarist, and he heads up the world-class band that backs Sunny on these eleven cuts.

 

In picking the songs for this project, Duke sought advice from his many musician friends in the various social networks.  Several of them are from New England-based writers, as well as some very clever collaborations with Nashville’s own Gary Nicholson.  The leadoff cut finds Sunny in Stax-era Carla Thomas mode in “Oh Yes I Will,” as a strong, independent woman who doesn’t want to be told “what I can or can’t do,” then she segues’ into another “tough chick” cut, where she’s looking for respect from a “One Woman Man.”  She rocks the house on “Cook In My Kitchen,” featuring piano from Bruce Bears, and “Love Me Right,” with harp from Sugar Ray Norcia.  Duke’s swampy guitar and more harp from Sugar Ray over Sunny’s sultry vocal gives “Roll Me Daddy” an Excello vibe, while the horn section gets a workout on the Al Basile-penned “I Just Might Change My Mind.”

 

Our favorite was easy.  One of the Gary Nicholson tunes is a slyly-naughty look at the proper ways to please a man, entitled “Hi-Heels And Home Cookin.”  With barrelhouse piano and clarinet, it’s done up in a Dixieland or ragtime style, and Sunny’s perfect touch-of-sass vocals adds to its authenticity.

 

Sunny Crownover has scored a big hit with this one.  She spent some of her formative years in the flourishing blues scene in Austin, TX, and she revisits those times in her vocal stylings on “Right Here, Right Now,” and gets two big thumbs up from us!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.