Archive for September, 2013

Cyril Neville review…September 28, 2013…

CYRIL NEVILLE

MAGIC HONEY

RUF RECORDS  1192

MAGIC HONEY–SWAMP FUNK–SOMETHING’S GOT A HOLD ON ME–ANOTHER MAN–STILL GOING DOWN TODAY–YOU CAN RUN BUT YOU CAN’T HIDE–INVISIBLE–BLUES IS THE TRUTH–RUNNING WATER–WORKING MAN–MONEY AND OIL–SLOW MOTION

Cyril Neville is one of the legendary Neville Brothers, a name synonymous with great music.  They are so revered, that they are lovingly referred to as New Orleans’ “First Family Of Funk.”  Cyril is also a member of the Royal Southern Brotherhood, which teams his awesome percussion skills and soulful vocals with guitarists Devon Allman and Mike Zito.  Now, Cyril has just released his solo Ruf Records debut, teaming with  producer David Z for “Magic Honey,” twelve cuts that travel all over the musical landscape and bring the listener touches of blues, soul, funk, and even a bit of reggae, guaranteed to please blues fans everywhere.

Joining Cyril are his core band of Cranston Clements on guitar, Willie Green on drums, Carl Dufrene on bass, and Norman Caesar on keys.  There are some fantastic special guests also, that make this one a sweet listening experience.

The funk hits the fan on the leadoff title cut, where Cyril’s lover “makes Magic Honey night and day.”  Next up is a cool little ditty that traces the origins of jazz, rock and roll, and even disco straight thru the “Swamp Funk.”  This one is special, indeed, as piano and organ are provided by icons Allen Toussaint and Dr. John, respectively.  Walter Trout adds guitar to “Running Water,” a tale of not being able to stop the inevitable, where “everything you do is gonna come back on you.”  Mike Zito is on wah-wah guitar in the scorching bit of blues-rock that is “Working Man,” where Cyril’s “got no time for living, ’cause I’m working all the time.”  The set closes with a breezy ode to romance, “Slow Motion,” set over a reggae beat, further exploring Cyril’s versatility.

Cyril also has his finger on the pulse of the state of the world today, and those efforts proved to be our standouts.  Societal differences that existed in the past are “Still Going Down Today,” while, “in this world, without money, love, soul, friends and courage, You Can Run But You Can’t Hide.”  “Invisible” brings to light the plight of the homeless, where those less fortunate are, more often than not, totally overlooked.  And, in perhaps the set’s most topical moment, Mike Zito is on slide guitar in a scorching shot at the powers that be, where “when it all comes down to it, it’s all about Money And Oil.”

Cyril Neville wanted to make an album that would appeal to as wide a fan base as possible.  Just like a good gumbo that’s cooked to perfection, “Magic Honey” exceeds these expectations!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Monkeyjunk review…September 26, 2013…

MONKEYJUNK

ALL FREQUENCIES

STONY PLAIN CD   SPCD 1366

YOU MAKE A MESS–RIGHT FROM WRONG–WHY ARE PEOPLE LIKE THAT?–JE NAH SAY KWAH–SIRENS IN THE NIGHT–YEARNIN FOR YESTERDAY–ONCE HAD WINGS–WHAT I GOT TO GIVE–SAY WHAT!–SWANK

 

Canadian blues trio Monkeyjunk–Steve Marriner on vocals, harp, keys, and baritone guitar, Tony D on lead guitar, and Matt Sobb on drums—took their name from a chance remark by Son House, who once proclaimed, “I’m talkin’ about the blues–I ain’t talkin’ about monkey junk!”  They are multiple Juno Award winners north of the border, and won the Blues Award in 2010 for Best New Artist Debut.

For their third album, “All Frequencies,” on the Stony Plain label, the fellows push the envelope by experimenting with a more original sound with varying influences throughout the nine originals and one cover, always staying true to their blues roots.

Also of note is the vintage equipment on which this set was recorded, and the band’s lack of a full-time bassist.  Steve uses a custom-made baritone guitar instead, and that, along with the analog equipment, gives this album a full, rich sound.

Check out the opening barrage of guitar salvos on “You Make A Mess of me,” featuring a cool wah-wah solo from Tony D sandwiched between Steve’s lyrics of a lover who has him “at your command, like open sesame.’  “Je Nah Say Kwah” butchers the French language, but is still a trippy, soul-blues tale of a mystical lover found after a shipwreck, and finds Steve blowin’ some Stevie Wonder-inspired harp herein.

The fellows take some different looks at love on this set, too.  Steve realizes all too late that he was “wrong wrong wrong and she’s gone gone gone” in the blues-rock of “Yearnin For Yesterday,” while Tony D breaks out the slide in the Delta stylings of “What I Got To Give.”

We had three favorites, too.  The band’s look at our own mortality, “Once Had Wings,” has overtones of Appalachian folk, while a stripped-down, swampy, echo-laden arrangement changes the scope of the original on a sweet cover of Bobby Charles’ “Why Are People Like That?”  And, just imagine if Hendrix had jammed with Booker T. and the MG’s and you’ll get the gist of the set-closing instrumental, seven minutes of pure organ, guitar, and percussive bliss, “Swank.”

With each album, Monkeyjunk continue not only to improve, but to boldly send their brand of blues to new and astounding heights.  They are indeed hittin’ on “All Frequencies” with this one!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Shawn Holt review…September 25, 2013….

SHAWN HOLT AND THE TEARDROPS

DADDY TOLD ME

BLIND PIG RECORDS  BPCD  5156

FANNIE MAE–DADDY TOLD ME–HOLD YOU AGAIN–DOWN IN VIRGINIA–BUDDY BUDDY FRIEND–GET YOUR BUSINESS STRAIGHT–MEAN LITTLE WOMAN–BEFORE YOU ACCUSE ME–LOVE GOT ME WALKIN–LITTLE BY LITTLE–PLEASE DON’T DOG ME–YOU DONE ME WRONG

The blues world mourned the passing of Magic Slim on February 21, 2013, after a career that spanned some forty-plus years, over half of them affiliated with the fine folks at Blind Pig.  Slim’s son, Shawn Holt, now takes the reins as leader of The Teardrops, and he has just released “Daddy Told Me,” also on Blind Pig.  He contributes five originals to these twelve cuts, the remainder of which are songs that many may remember as staples of his father’s vast repertoire.

joining Shawn on this set are Teardrops Levi William on guitar, Chris Biedron on bass, and Brian Jones on drums.  Shawn can sho’ nuff pitch a boogie just like his daddy did, and you can hear that rompin’ and stompin’ beat in cuts such as “Get Your Business Straight,” “Love Got Me Walkin,” and the set-closer, “You Done Me Wrong.”  The latter two are Shawn originals that would make Pops proud, and probably exclaim, “And You KNOW THAT, man!”

Shawn can bring the slow heat, too.  Check out his smoldering version of “Please Don’t Dog Me,” and his own poignant tale of  life without the one you love, “Hold You Again.”

We had two favorites, too—one cover and one original.  John Primer takes the lead vocal in a sweet tribute to Slim with “Before You Accuse Me.”  And, our other favorite shows why Shawn is such an incredible player in his own right.  His father’s playing was raw, powerful, edgy, and, some might say, primal.  Shawn still has that fire and passion, but he draws from several contemporary styles in his playing, and on the loping shuffle, “Mean Little Woman,” he shows a lot of T-Bone Walker-styled flair.

Magic Slim knew how the blues was supposed to sound, and, perhaps much more importantly, how they were supposed to make you feel.  Shawn Holt has that deep affirmation as well, and, with “Daddy Told Me,” the torch has been successfully passed from father to son.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow

 

Nick Moss Kickstarter program….

Blues fans, if you ever wanted to get in in the ground floor with someone’s new CD, go over to NicKMoss.com or his Facebook page at nickmossmusic to find out how you can donate directly to Nick’s KickStarter fund to be a part of   “Time Ain’t Free.”  It is streaming live on the KickStarter website, and the explanation of the  program is there, too.  This will be another great set of blues-rock from Nick, and we look forward to its release!

 

Don Crow

Nashville Blues Society

Roosevelt Sykes review…September 24, 2013…

ROOSEVELT SYKES

THE ORIGINAL HONEYDRIPPER

BLIND PIG RECORDS  BPCD  5155

COW COW BLUES–DRIVIN WHEEL–HONEYSUCKLE ROSE–ST. JAMES INFIRMARY–I LIKE WHAT YOU DID–WHAT’D I SAY–I’M A NUT–RUNNING THE BOOGIE–TOO SMART TOO SOON–VIPER SONG–DON’T TALK ME TO DEATH–EARLY MORNING BLUES–PLEASE DON’T TALK ABOUT ME WHEN I’M GONE–DIRTY MOTHER FOR YOU

For those fans who may not be aware, Blind Pig Records was not always located in San francisco, CA.  Back in the mid-Seventies when vinyl was still king, Blind Pig opened for business in Ann Arbor, MI.  Those of us who are fortunate to have some of that vintage vinyl in our collections know that this label was always synonymous with great blues.  And, there is a Blind Pig Cafe that is still a viable venue today, and it was there on April 19 and 20, 1977, that Roosevelt Sykes recorded “The Original Honeydripper,”  live in front of a raucous crowd.

The set was originally released on LP back then, and has now been re–mastered for CD.  Some of the excessve crowd noise is cleaned up, and two tracks have been added.  Just the man, his voice, and his piano, Sykes really put on a show for these fans, ripping thru not only his own material, but songs made popular by others as well.

A contemporary of players such as Fats Waller, Jelly Roll Morton, and Cow Cow Davenport, Sykes recorded for Okeh back in 1929, at age 23, and his compositions such as “Drivin Wheel” and “44 Blues” are vital parts of today’s blues canon.

“Drivin Wheel,” “Don’t Talk Me To Death,” and “Running The Boogie” show the crowd the one thing we’ve always been impressed with—Sykes’ mighty left hand, which drives that boogie beat for all it’s worth.  He gives a nod to jazz standards with “Honeysuckle Rose” and “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone,” and turns in a fine read of “What’d I Say.”

We had two favorites, too.  One of the remastered cuts is a minor-key “St. James Infirmary,” no doubt learned by Sykes during an extended stay in New Orleans.  And, the set closes to rowdy applause after another of Sykes’ originals.  He proudly proclaimed “it was recorded in 1934, and some folks may find it dirty.”  He then launches into the double-entendre’-filled “Dirty Mother For You,” much to the crowd’s delight.

Kudos to the staff at Blind Pig for bringing “The Original Honeydripper” to CD.  Roosevelt Sykes’ contributions to the world of blues piano are huge indeed, and this set captures him at his best–in an intimate sxetting entertaining a great crowd.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Smokin’ Joe Kubek and Bnois King review…September 22, 2013…

SMOKIN JOE KUBEK AND BNOIS KING

ROAD DOG’S LIFE

DELTA GROOVE RECORDS   DGPCD 162

BIG MONEY SONNY–COME ON IN–NOBODY BUT YOU–ROAD DOG’S LIFE–K9 BLUES–THAT LOOK ON YOUR FACE–FACE TO FACE–DON’T BOTHER ME–I AIN’T GREASIN–TALKIN’ BOUT BAD LUCK–PLAY WITH FIRE–THAT DON’T WORK NO MORE

With Smokin’ Joe Kubek and Bnois King, you know up front what to expect—excellent guitar from two different-styled players that blend seamlessly and feed off each other.  Joe spent some time with Freddie King, and his lead lines are as “smokin” as they come.  With Bnois, he has a more jazz-infused, T-Bone Walker style, and his vocals are always topical and straight to the heart.  It’s been a successful formula for fourteen albums, and, for their fifteenth, “Road Dog’s Life,” for Delta Groove, they celebrate life as traveling bluesmen for the better part of the last twenty-five years.

There are ten band originals and two covers herein, and, like most Delta Groove releases, there’s always a choice group of backing musicians along for the ride.  Many of the cuts undoubtedly are snapshots of people and things they have seen as they travel the world, and it’s our good fortune that they share this great music with us.

Take the leadoff shuffle, “Big Money Sonny,” for example.  He’s a character with a “car trunk full of money” and a penchant for gambling.  A woman who “can’t be corraled” is invited to “Come On In, and stay until you want to go,” as Bnois knows she’ll never be his.  “That Look On Your Face”  has Joe playing some fiery rhumba licks, then some deep, fuzz-toned blues-rock in the somber George Harrison ode to a lost lover, “Don’t Bother Me.”

There’s also some good ole Texas roadhouse boogie, too.  The fellows’ tale of life as a bachelor, “I Ain’t Greasin,” fills the bill, and features Kim Wilson on harp and vocals.  Kim and Randy Chortkoff also join Bnois on a cool three-way “duet” in the loping boogie of  “Nobody But You,” where Joe and Bnois both swap some red-hot licks.

We had two favorites, too.  Bnois’ woman calls him out over his “wandering eyes,”  in “K9 Blues,” with more harp from Mr. Wilson.  And, Bnois refuses to do the cell phone/text/tweets parade, saying the only way he’ll meet someone is “one-on-one, Face To Face.”  The guitar from both players really blisters on this tale of a man staying true to his old-school ways!

As the lyrics say in the title cut, even tho they’ve lived a “Road Dog’s Life,”  ‘we wouldn’t have it any other way!”  We’ve had the pleasure of listening to Smokin’ Joe Kubek and Bnois King almost since they started, and this is one of their best sets ever!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow

Sugaray Rayford review….September 20, 2013…

SUGARAY RAYFORD

DANGEROUS

DELTA GROOVE  DGPCD 161

COUNTRY BOY–STUCK FOR A BUCK–I’M DANGEROUS–TWO TIMES SUGAR–WHEN IT RAINS IT POURS–PRETTY FINE MAMA–DEPRESSION BLUES–GOIN BACK TO TEXAS–I MIGHT DO SOMETHIN CRAZY–IN THE DARK–SURRENDERED–NEED A LITTLE MORE TIME–KEEP HER AT HOME–PREACHING BLUES

In just a few short years, Sugaray Rayford has carved himself quite a niche’ in contemporary blues.  The big-voiced singer has already appeared on the Mannish Boys’ “Double Dynamite” CD, as well as a release under his own name.  His latest, for the Delta Groove label, is “Dangerous,” and over the course of these fourteen tracks, this one shows just how versatile the big man from Texas really is.

This set branches out with several variations on the blues theme, and Sugaray, whose background was in the church where he sang as a young man, handles every song with equal aplomb.  There are some mighty fine backing players along for the ride, to which we’ll aluude later.

The set kicks off with the Chicago-style blues of “Country Boy,” featuring the other most famous Sugar Ray, (who’s not a boxer, anyways!), Norcia, on harp on this cool shuffle.  Mr. Norcia wrote a duet for the two of ’em,  and they both get a chance to strut their stuff on “Two Times Sugar,” with Monster Mike Welch on guitar.  Sugaray shines on the full-band numbers such as the West-Coast -styled arrangements of Gatemouth’s “Depression Blues,” and his own original tale of “one step forward and two steps back,” “Stuck For A Buck,” this one with Gino Matteo on lead guitar.

Sugaray does not disappoint his Delta-blues fans, either.  Franck Goldwasser and Monster Mike swap licks over Randy Chortkoff’s harp as Sugaray sings the Hill-country blues of “Real Fine Mama,” and closes the set with the sanctified boogie of Son House’s “Prreaching Blues,” again with Mr. Goldwasser on slide, with Sugaray bringing the fire and fervor of his upbringing on the vocal.

With such a great array of material, favorites were hard to choose, but we settled on two.  The gentle, walkin-blues lope of “Goin’ Back To Texas” has Sugaray describing his homecoming, by way of West Memphis and California, with Kim Wilson on harp.  And, he lets it all hang out on the stop-time ruckus of the title cut, where he “wrestles a lion” and”makes love to a grizzly bear” to prove how “Dangerous” he really is!

No matter what the material, style, or occasion, Sugaray Rayford’s explosive voice can fill the bill.  With “Dangerous,” the big man has proved he’s here to stay  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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