Archive for November, 2013

Downchild review…November 25, 2013…

DOWNCHILD

CAN YOU HEAR THE MUSIC

LINUS ENTERTAINMENT

CAN YOU HEAR THE MUSIC–I’M ALWAYS HERE FOR YOU–I NEED A WOMAN–BLUE MOON BLUES–FASTEN YOUR SEAT BELT–THIS ROAD–MY MISSIPPI QUEEN–ONE IN A MILLION–DON’T WAIT UP FOR ME–WORN IN–SCATTERED (INST.)

For forty-four incredible years, Donnie Walsh and the Downchild Blues Band has been a viable force on the contemporary blues scene not only throughout their native Canada, but on a world-wide scale as well.  Their “let the good times roll” approach to the blues is what enticed a young fan, Dan Aykroyd, to use this band as an inspiration for “The Blues Brothers” franchise.  The current lineup has been intact for some fifteen years now, and their seventeenth and latest album, “Can You Hear The Music,” draws together eleven cuts, eight of them penned by Donnie and the remainder by lead vocalist Chuck Jackson and/or Pete Schmidt, Shane Scott, and Gary Kendall.  Donnie is excellent on guitar and harp, and most all the cuts have a good mixture of both.  Plus, his arrangements are such that he’s not afraid to mix the horns in with his harp.  The boogie-woogie jump of the title cut as well as that of “Fasten Your Seat Belt” are excellent examples of this.

Cuts such as “I’m Always Here For You,” the story of a lifelong friendship, “I Need A Woman,” and “Don’t Wait Up For Me” incorporate a decidedly-Fifties feel, while Michael Fonfara’s organ adds to the swampy, voodoo tale of the tattooed lady who turns out to be anything BUT  “My Mississippi Queen.”

Donnie gets in some sweet slide and dobro work for the blues purists, too.  “This Road” is a story of yearning for a simpler time, while “One In A Million” is a gospel-flavored love song with Donnie’s dobro in full swing over the catchy riff that drives it.

We had two favorites, too.  The set closes with a jumpin’, old-school harp blowout instrumental, “Scattered.”  And, in the grand tradition of classics such as “One More Chance” and “I Got Everything I Need (Almost),” we have “I’m Worn In–not worn out!”  This one is pure Chicago blues, epitomizing everything this band is all about!

“Can You Hear The Music?”  If you can, then you are in tune with one of the most exciting bands in all of contemporary blues.  Donnie Walsh and Downchild has stayed in touch with its core audience and kept the material fresh over the years, and this album is right on time!!  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

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Dan Bubien review…November 21, 2013…

DAN BUBIEN

EMPTY ROADS

DAN BUBIEN MUSIC  (Self-Released)

EMPTY ROADS–FIGHT CLUB–CRAZY DAYS–EXILE BLUES–TO YOUNGSTOWN–BROTHER–DIZZY EYES–IRONY–KEEP LOVE IN MIND–LOVE GAMES–SNIPER

Growing up in Aliquippa, PA, Dan Bubien embraced more than just the hardscrabble, blue-collar blues of his homeland.  He also enjoyed funk, soul, reggae, and even Motown-ish R & B to give his repertoire a well-rounded vibe.  And, he incorporates virtually all his influences over the course of the eleven cuts that comprise “Empty Roads,” Dan’s debut CD.

Altho his father was a lifelong musician, Dan did not pick up the guitar until a sports injury during his youth sent him to the sidelines.  Add to that his incredible passion for songwriting that shows him able to always get his point across while not afraid to have a bit of fun along the way.

The set kicks off with one of our favorites, a serious shot of blues-rock that’s sure to evoke memories of vintage Little Feat, the title cut, “Empty Roads.”  Dan channels his softer, soulful side with sweet R & B-fueled cuts such as “Irony,” “Keep Love In Mind,” and “Crazy Days.”  “Dizzy Eyes” rides over a Latin, horn-drenched backbeat as Dan calls out the lies and deceit of an addict, knowing that those “dizzy eyes never lie.”

There’s plenty of gritty, tough blues, tho, for the hardcore fans.  Dan’s dobro over Timmy Mabin’s piano and Chris Nacy’s harp all accentuate the slightly-naughty lyrics of the shufflin’ “Exile Blues,” while “To Youngstown” is a sweet shot of pure Delta blues.  “Love Games” is an infectious dance-floor burner punctuated by a killer slide solo, while the set closes with the country-blues story of a somewhat-misguided stalker, “Sniper.”

Hands down, tho, our other favorite was “Fight Club,” which gets up offa its collective thang and funks up everything in its path, complete with staccato sax breaks throughout from Eric DeFade.

Dan Bubien’s intentions were to cover a broad spectrum of music, and “Empty Roads” achieves this goal.  It is the Western PA Blues Society entry into the Best Self-Produced CD for the 2014 IBC’s in Memphis.  His musicianship as well as the overall eclecticism of this set bodes well for its chances within the competition!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

 

 

Ursula Ricks review…November 16, 2013…

URSULA RICKS

MY STREET

SEVERN RECORDS  CD 0061

TOBACCO ROAD–SWEET TENDERNESS–MARY JANE–MY STREET–DUE–RIGHT NOW–THE NEW TREND–MAKE ME BLUE–JUST A LITTLE BIT OF LOVE–WHAT YOU JUDGE

As a youngster, Ursula Ricks found her love of music thru the movies.  The soundtracks of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Carousel,” as well as those from Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and even Shirley Temple had a profound impact upon her.  She fell in love with the blues after hearing her mother sing in the famly’s Baltimore home, and has been singing up and down the East Coast for some twenty years.  Severn Records has just released her debut, “My Street,” featuring eight originals and two covers, and, as one listens, one can hear a gritty edge in her vocal and writing style.  The backing crew, the Severn house band, cuts a decidedly-soulful strut in playing behind Ursula, and a few cuts feature intricate horn and string arrangements.

Ursula writes with a deep passion for topical subjects and the problems plaguing today’s society.  The title cut is a prime example.  Altho her ancestral home saw the growth of four generations, the continuing drug deals, cuttings, and shootings make her feel that it’s time to “get away from My Street.”  It seems as if corruption and apathy are “The New Trend” in today’s world, and Ursula closes the set with an important lesson for us all, “What You Judge will judge you,” and has excellent guitar from Johnny Moeller.

She can turn the heat up on a love song, too.  The horns and strings punch up the ode to a memorable affair in “Sweet Tenderness,” then, with “Make Me Blue,” she finds it hard to say goodbye.

We had two favorites, too.  A brooding, Curtis Mayfield-inspired piece has Ursula using the power of the blues to achieve her “Due.”  And, the set-opener is a stone-cold slab of swampy funk, as she sings of “the chitlin’ circuit workin’my heart, and Tobacco Road callin’ me.”  The groove is amped up considerably via Johnny Moeller’s guitar and killer harp from Kim Wilson.

Altho she has had no formal training, Ursula Ricks has a voice you will not forget after you hear her.  Add in some cool, steet-savvy lyrics and “My Street” serves as an excellent debut!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

 

 

Lou Pride review…November 13, 2013….

LOU PRIDE

AIN’T NO MORE LOVE IN THIS HOUSE

SEVERN RECORDS  0060

AIN’T NO MORE LOVE IN THIS HOUSE–I DIDN’T TAKE YOUR WOMAN–TAKE IT SLOW–NEVER–SHE BOOM BOOM ME–WE CAN DO WHAT WE WANT–LOVE COME GOT ME–KEY TO THE WORLD–I GOTTA MOVE ON UP–DADDY DON’T YOU WALK SO FAST–HOLDING BACK THE YEARS

Altho perhaps not as well-known nor commercially successful as some of his contemporaries, Lou Pride still had a powerful, soulful voice that commanded your attention.  He passed away much too soon in June, 2012, not long after finishing these eleven tracks that comprise his final work, “Ain’t No More Love In This House,” for Severn Records.  There are four originals and seven distinctive covers from various genres’ that Lou puts his indelible stamp upon.   He’s backed by the Severn “house band,” the core of which consists of Johnny Moeller on guitar, Earl Wilson on rhythm guitar, Benjie Porecki on keys, Steve Gomes on bass, Robb Stupka on drums, and Mark Merella on percussion.  The horn section adds that authenticity, and gives this whole set a pure Stax/Hi Records vibe.

No one can make you feel the pain of loss through a break-up quite like Lou Pride, as evidenced by the anguish in his voice on the poignant title cut, and again on the heartstring-tugging chestnut, “Daddy, Don’t You Walk So Fast,” one of Lou’s personal favorites.

Lou can set the mood for a little quiet time “behind closed doors,” too.  Cuts such as “We Can Do What We Want,” “Key To The World,” and “Take It Slow” all showcase his smooth, seductive phrasing style that has a certain “way” with the ladies.  The instrumentation is sophisticated, too, and Lou’s falsettos are pitch-perfect.

We had three favorites, too.  Lou gives a funky, gender-reversed read of an Ann Peebles classic, telling “the other man” that “I Didn’t Take Your Woman–you gave her to me” after years of mistreating her.  He gets down-and-dirty on one of his originals, the tale of a “Mississippi woman” with a serious mojo and a mean ya-ya, “She Boom Boom Me.”  He closes the set with the message of missed opportunities and what might have been in the Mick Hucknall-penned “Holding Back The Years.”

With the passing of George Lou Pride, the line of true “soul men” grows ever shorter.  Many thanks to David Earl of Severn Records for bringing “Ain’t No More Love In This House” to fruition, further strengthening Lou’s mighty legacy.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

 

 

 

 

Deb Ryder review…November 11, 2013…

DEB RYDER

MIGHT JUST GET LUCKY

BEJEB MUSIC

GET A GRIP–BLUE COLLAR BLUES–REALLY GONE–MIGHT JUST GET LUCKY–COME ON HOME TO ME–CE SOIR CE SOIR–BAD BAD DREAM–THE ANGELS CRIED–LOVE STEALIN LIAR–THESE HANDS

Deb Ryder was born in Peoria, IL, and was immersed in the sounds of the Chicago blues scene thru her father, a renowned local Windy City vocalist.  The family soon moved westward to Los Angeles, and that’s where Deb’s love for the blues began to flourish.  Her neighbor was Bob Hite of Canned Heat, and her dad’s Topanga Corral club offered her the chance to mentor under the likes of Etta James and Big Joe Turner, whose jazz and jump blues styles can be heard in Deb’s delivery and her writing.

Such is the case with “Might Just Get Lucky,” ten originals that tackle not only straight blues, but jazz, gospel, and a bit of N’ Awlins, too.  Deb’s bold, brassy vocals can easily win over even the most jaded fans, and her let-it-all-hang-out approach is one of the main things we enjoyed about this set.

The good times get to rollin’ with Deb calling out a lazy, no-good lover, telling him “I’m better off alone, so Get A Grip, get real, or get gone!”  This one has great guitar work from Eli Fletcher and harp from Larry David.  Old-school jump blues in the vein of Wynonie Harris epitomizes “Blue Collar Blues,” as everybody’s ready for Friday nite, this one with guitar from the legendary Albert Lee.

Albert again adds guitar on the zydeco flavors of “Ce Soir Ce Soir,” finding Deb in the mood for a little release after a long day’s work.  Another shot of New Orleans, albeit in a more somber setting, is the minor-key “The Angels Cried,” the sad story of a man who passed much too soon from an alcohol overdose, and the effect his passing had on others.  The set closes powerfully, with the gospel fervor of “These Hands,” as Deb’s vocal rides over James McVay’s dobro and Brad Swanson’s drums.

We had two favorites, too, both in the classic blues vein.  Dave Dills on guitar and Greg Hilfman on organ keep the pot cookin’ over Deb’s vocal as she catches another low-down dog in the act, a true “two-timin’, double-dealin’ Love Stealin Liar!”  And, when she can’t find her lover and realizes he’s paid off his grocery bill AND his bar tab, this time he’s “Really Gone.”   This one is classic Chicago blues, with Eli again on guitar and Stan Behrens on harp.

This CD is the SoCal Blues Society entry in the IBC’s for 2014 Best Self-Produced CD, and with Deb’s immense talents, it won’t be a matter of luck were she to win!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

ERIC BIBB

JERICHO ROAD

STONY PLAIN CD  SPCD  1370

DRINKIN’ GOURD–FREEDOM TRAIN–LET THE MOTHERS STEP UP–HAVE A HEART–THE RIGHT THING–DEATH ROW BLUES–CAN’T PLEASE EVERYONE–THE LORD’S WORK–WITH MY MAKER I AM ONE–THEY KNOW–SHE GOT MINE–GOOD LIKE YOU–ONE DAY AT A TIME (PLUS BONUS TRACKS, NOW and NANIBALI)

“Jericho Road,” the title of Eric Bibb’s fourth album for Stony Plain, is a Biblical reference to the road between Jerusalem and Jericho where the Good Samaritan stopped to aid a fallen traveler of a despised race whom others had scorned.  The songs herein, predominantly originals, encompass the many diverse influences that define Eric’s music, and include blues, gospel, world music, and soul.

Eric also uses theses songs to touch on several topical as well as historical subjects.  The struggles of slaves during Civil War times are documented in “Drinkin’ Gourd,” where they are encouraged to follow the Big Dipper and the North Star along the Underground Railroad to escape their oppression.  “Freedom Train” embodies the ideology of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, presented in this song as “the mighty engineer” of that vehicle.  “The Right Thing” compares the decay of society’s youth to a “foreign country in our own back yard,” while “You Can’t Please Everybody” follows a funky backbeat over Eric’s slide and Chuck Anthony’s wah-wah lines.  The softly-somber “They Know” tells us that every living creature knows a change in the world is coming, and coming soon.  The set closes with a trilogy of sorts.  “One Day At A Time” and the two bonus tracks, “Now” and “Nanibali” all offer hope for a better future.  The latter is sung in native tongue by a West African griot, Solo Cissokho, to promote world peace.

Three cuts stood out to us.  Linda Tillery and Tammi Brown add the female voices over Eric’s plea for “all brothers to put your weapons down and Let The Mothers Step Up.”  Two cuts explore Eric’s passion for the sounds of the Delta.  On “Death Row Blues,” Eric warns that, be you rich or poor, “when your time has come, you got to go.”  And, “after all is said and done, With My Maker I Am One” was our favorite, with exquisite resophonic and dobro interplay between Eric and Olli Haavisto.

The underlying theme of this album was to follow the example set by the Good Samaritan as well as Dr. King and save yourself by saving others.  The material in “Jericho Road” further reflects Eric Bibb’s global influences and solidifies him as one of the premier storytellers in contemporary blues!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow

 

 

Sheba review….November 1, 2013…

SHEBA

THE MISSISSIPPI QUEEN

BUTTER ON MY ROLLS

INDEPENDENT RELEASE

DANCE JUMP AND SHOUT–REAL GOOD WOMAN–BIG MAN–CAN’T HELP LOVIN’ MY MAN–OH SO GOOD–POURIN’ RAIN–BLUES OF MY SOUL–BUTTER ON MY ROLLS–TELL ME WHY–DON’T SAY GOODBYE–HEY GIRLFRIEND–MS GOOD-N-PLENTY–GOOD GOOD LOVIN

The great Koko Taylor once sang that “we gonna pitch a ball, down to the Union Hall” on the immortal “Wang Dang Doodle.”  On her latest release, Sheba (born Mary Booker) revisits those great juke joint and house rent party days on “Butter For My Rolls,” thirteen originals that’ll have you polishing up your dancing shoes, for sure.  Her backing band is tighter than a rib tip, too, and consists of Warren Thompson on guitar, Chuck Juntzman on slide guitar, Michael Gauthier on keys, and George Perrry on bass, drums, and horns.

Sheba has a huge voice that is tailor-made for singing the blues.  She honed her vocal abilities as a youngster, bringing water to the field hands in her native Sunflower, MS, and in the church.  She alludes to these childhood memories in her autobiography, “Blues Of My Soul,” sung over Chuck’s acoustic slide leads.

Over the rest of the set, Sheba is at her houserockin’ best, layin’ down an irresistible groove.  She implores everybody to “Dance Jump And Shout” in the opener, where we’re “gonna lock the doors and can’t nobody get out!”  “Oh So Good” has Sheba tellin’ everyone how her lover treats her while Chuck lays down some serious electric slide lines.  “Hey Girlfriend” finds Sheba calling out a competitor for her man’s affections, and features a downright freaky extended keyboard solo from Michael.

Sheba is easy on the ears with a ballad, too.  She tells the world that “I Can’t Help Lovin’ My Man,” then implores him to stay in the heart-rending “Don’t Say Goodbye.”

And, oh yeah, Sheba can bump and grind with the best of ’em, too.  “Real Good Woman” has her lookin’ for that one good man who’s not a cheatin’ dog.  The best is saved for last,  with the ever-so-naughty “Good Good Lovin.”

Sheba is in a really good place now, happy to be singing the blues.  So “tell everybody you know, there’ll be sawdust on the floor” as we party all nite long with “Butter On My Rolls!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.