Archive for December, 2013

Debbie Bond and the TruDats review…December 30, 2013…

DEBBIE BOND AND THE TRUDATS

THAT THING CALLED LOVE

BLUES ROOT PRODUCTIONS  BRP 1301

YOU’RE THE KIND OF TROUBLE–STEADY ROLLING MAN–FEED MY SOUL–I LIKE IT LIKE THAT–STILL MISSING YOU–TARRAGONA BLUES–FALLING–THAT THING CALLED LOVE–TARRAGONA BLUES (EXTENDED MIX)

In April, 2013,  Debbie Bond and the TruDats were finishing up a road trip just up I-65 from their home base of Alabama, after appearing here for the Nashville Blues And Jazz Awards.  Their last stop was an appearance on Radio Free Nashville’s Mando Blues Show.  And, what began as a live taping on WRFN high in the hills of West Nashville, just a hoot ‘n’ a holler from the Loveless Cafe, turned into their latest album.

Debbie broke into the soulful groove of “You’re The Kind Of Trouble I could get into,” and engineer Rob McClain just let the tapes (and the good times) keep rollin.’  “That Thing Called Love” is the result–unrehearsed, done “in the moment” in one take with the band hittin’ an unbelieveable groove.

Debbie’s got that beautiful, lilting voice that is perfect for the chosen material. She’s playfully cajoling while extolling the virtues of her “Steady Rolling Man,” with Crescent City-fied piano from Debbie’s partner in love, Rick Asherson, and sax from Tom Pallardy, and again in the call-and-response of “I Like It Like That.”  Then, she turns poignantly pensive in the story of  a love she just can’t quite get over, “Still Missing You,” as she lays down a sweet guitar solo at the bridge over Tom’s subtle sax.

Debbie also has a deep affinity for Spanish rhythms, in particular the Tarragona region.  As such, the bossa nova beat of “Tarragona Blues,” with its references to Spain and Alabama, and “the long way to go,” between the two regions is presented in two versions.  The latter features an extended percussive intro, and, in listening to both versions, one finds the distance between the regions may be excessive in miles, but relatively short, musically speaking.

The title cut was our favorite.  The rest of the band lays down a rolling-thunder groove and is the perfect foil for Deb’s Telecaster fills and testifyin’ vocals that spin the tale of the power of “That Thing Called Love.”

This recording was the culmination of a magical weekend for Debbie Bond and the TruDats.  Rare is the occasion when a band hits its stride the way this group came together for this album.  “That Thing Called Love” represents not only the first official release from the OmegaLab Studios, but, with the excellence of the musicians involved, it is Debbie’s strongest set to date!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Advertisements

Brandon Santini review…December 28, 2013…

BRANDON SANTINI

THIS TIME ANOTHER YEAR

SWING SUIT RECORDS   OLM-004

GOT GOOD LOVIN–THIS TIME ANOTHER YEAR–WHAT YOU DOING TO ME–LATE IN THE EVENING–DIG ME A GRAVE–BYE BYE BIRD–THINGS YOU PUTTING DOWN–BEEN SO BLUE–COIN OPERATED WOMAN–HELP ME WITH THE BLUES–RAISE YOUR WINDOW–FISH IS BITIN

Brandon Santini was born in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, but relocated to Memphis in 2003, after forming his band, Delta Highway.  They represented Memphis in the 2006 IBC’s, and were nominated for a BMA in 2009.

The young harpblaster is back with hs second album, “This Time Another Year,” on the Swing Suit label.  Ten originals and two covers show the depth of Brandon’s talents on both chromatic and diatonic harps.  And, his backing crew is a set of genuine blues all-stars, too.  Jeff Jensen is on guitar, Bill Ruffino is on bass, James Cunningham is on drums, and Chris Stephenson is on B-3.  The mighty Victor Wainwright holds down the 88’s, and guests on a couple of cuts.

The title cut is a booming blast of harp-driven blues, playing out as Brandon’s biography of sorts, and is a killer collabo co-written by Brandon and Charlie Musselwhite.  A wishy-washy lover is the subject of “Things You Puttin’ Down,” featuring fine organ from Chris.

Brandon has a fine appreciation for the country-blues in the vein of Rice Miller.  Check out the sweet swing of “Bye Bye Bird,” “Been So Blue,’ and the set-closing acoustic band original, “Fish Is Bitin.”

We had two favorites, too.  Another shufflin’ boogie dealing with a high-maintenance girlfriend is the raucous, slide-driven “Coin Operated Woman.”  and, Victor Wainwright adds piano and duet vocals to the swaying, walkin’-blues lope of “What You Doing To Me,” detailing a trip to New Orleans via Highway 61 to “lay down our heavy load.”

It is easy to see why this has been nominated for a Blues Award, given the immense talents of Brandon Santini and the other cast of players, and the overall strength of the material .  He’s come a long way from his days of busking down on Beale, and here’s wishing him the best of luck come next May!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

 

Scott Ellison single review…December 27, 2013…

SCOTT ELLISON

JESUS LOVES ME (BABY WHY DON’T YOU)

B/W ELEVATOR MAN

JSE RECORDS

Scott Ellison has been on quite a roll of late.  The Tulsa native, who played in Gatemouth Brown’s band, is a recent inductee into the Oklahoma Blues Hall Of Fame, and has songs all over the TV, in such series as “Justified,” “Saving Grace,’ and “Smash,” and in major motion pictures such as “Feast Of Love” and “The Amateurs.”

His current single is featured in the movie “Homefront,” and is entitled “Jesus Loves Me (Baby Why Don’t You).  it’s a high-octane, slide-driven slab of blues-rock that has Scott begging his lover for forgiveness, checking off everyone who loves him—except for her!

The flipside is “Elevator Man,” and is set over a funky, grinding rhythm pattern as Scott touts his love skills, bragging that ‘no one can do what I can.”   Of special note is the background vocalist on this one—it is Marcy Levy, who came into prominence thru her work with Eric Clapton in the mid-Seventies, in the “Slowhand” and “Backless” era.

Scott Ellison’s forthcoming album, “Hit It, Get It, and Go,” is scheduled for a February release.  If it’s as hot as this single, blues fans are in for a sho’ nuff’ wild ride!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Charlie Musselwhite review…December 24, 2013…

CHARLIE MUSSELWHITE

JUKE JOINT CHAPEL

HENRIETTA RECORDS

BAD BOY–ROLL YOUR MONEYMAKER–AS THE CROW FLIES–GONE TOO LONG–IT AIN’T RIGHT–STRANGE LAND–BLUES OVERTOOK ME–RIVER HIP MAMA–BLUES WHY DO YOU WORRY ME–FEEL IT IN YOUR HEART–I’M GOING HOME–CHRISTO REDENTOR

Charlie Musselwhite is one of the most respected and revered bluesmen on the planet, and he is one of the last living links to a time when guys like Muddy, Junior, both Walters, and Carey Bell, among a host of others, prowled the clubs wherever good blues were played.  His collabo with Ben Harper from this past spring, “Get Up!,” has earned them both a Grammy nomination, and Charlie is back with a full-band album of his own.  It is entitled “Juke Joint Chapel,” and is a live recording from that historic venue at the Shack Up Inn down on Highway 49, in the heart of Clarksdale, MS.

Joining Charlie on this set are Matt Stubbs on guitar, Mike Phillips on bass, and June Core on drums.  The set is fairly evenly-split between Charlie’s originals and some well-chosen covers.  The party starts with the driving shuffle of “Bad Boy,” employing an extensive intro, which Charlie uses to his advantage throughout the set.  “Blues Overtook Me when I was a little child,” plays out as Charlie’s autobiography of sorts, while the chugging boogie of “River Hip Mama” is done in tribute to his good friend, John Lee Hooker.

Several years ago, Charlie spent some time down in South America, and found a way to fuse the blues of Chicago and the Delta with the European and Latin sounds.  (For a classic example of this, do yourself a favor and check out his 1999 recording, “Continental Drifter.”)  The result is the samba vibe of “Feel It n Your Heart,” and the set-closing instrumental, “Cristo Redentor,” translated as “Christ The Redeemer,” and inspired by the statue of Jesus that watches over the harbor in Rio de Janeiro.

We had three favorites, too.  Charlie’s harp work is downright other-worldly on a nine-minute romp of Little Walter’s “It Ain’t Right,” propelled by Matt Stubbs’ guitar work.  Speaking of Matt, he turns in some fine solo work on the stop-time, round-the-clock ribaldry that is Shakey Jake Harris’ “Roll Your Moneymaker!”  And, another cut that employs a Latin feel is one that has strong Memphis roots, Prince Conley’s “I’m Going Home.”

Charlie Musselwhite has won numerous awards and accolades over his 20-something album career, and shows no signs of slowing down.  “Juke Joint Chapel” is a live recording that is as good as it gets, from an artist who prides himself in playing the blues from his heart!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

John and Sylvia Embry review…December 21, 2013…

JOHN AND SYLVIA EMBRY

TROUBLES

DELMARK   DE-832

WONDER WHY–TROUBLES–LIE TO ME–I’M HURTIN’–I FOUND A LOVE/RAINBOW–GOING TO NEW YORK–MUSTANG SALLY–GONNA FIND MY BABY–EARLY TIMES BLUES–RAZOR SHARP (INST.)–KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF HER–BLUES THIS MORNING–AFTER WORK (INST.)–WORRY, WORRY–62ND ST. LUAU–I LOVE THE WOMAN–JOHNNY’S BOUNCE (INST.)

The good folks at Delmark continue to bring the best in blues to fans world-wide, and they have done it again with another long-lost, rare reissue recording.  Johnny “Guitar” Embry was a prime example of a Chicago blues guitarist who flew under the radar, playing mainly in the clubs on the South and West Side.  He played ’em raw, hard, down, and dirty, a far cry from his gospel upbringing.  His wife, “Queen” Sylvia Embry, also had a gospel background, but was initially known as a bassist for the Lefty Dizz band.

However, John and Sylvia did record an album for Razor Records on January 19, 1979, where Sylvia’s vocals were put prominently on display (at the urging of Bob Koester) alongside Johnny’s fiery fretwork.  The result has been reissued as “Troubles,” encompassng the original LP plus five live cuts, and Johnny’s 45 RPM, recorded the day before the LP.

“Troubles” is a hard-core Chicago blues masterpiece, from a couple who knew their audience, and knew exactly what they wanted, and just how to give it to ’em.  Aside from Sylvia on bass and vocals and John on guitar, several prominent sidemen are present.  Woody Williams is drummer on several cuts, and he serves a Sylvia’s duet partner on a few.  Iceman Robinson adds rhythm guitar, and chips in with a killer lead vocal and guitar on one of the album’s highlights, a six-minute slow-burnin’ “Worry, Worry.”

john and Sylvia were well-versed in not only playing blues, but also popular tunes of the day that they knew the crowd would enjoy.  Check out Sylvia and Woody Williams “testifyin’ to each other on “I Found A Love/Rainbow,” rockin’ the joint on “Mustang Sally,’ and pulling out al the stops for a rousing take of “Going To New York.’

Johnny’s playing is over the top, too, especially on cuts such as “Lie To Me,” “Early Times Blues,” and the rare vocal side of his 45 RPM, “I Love The Woman.”

John and Sylvia Embry represent another of the Windy City’s vast array of talent that, sadly, went sorely under-recorded.  But, “Troubles” brings them long-overdue recognition, and, with recent releases from Delmark celebrating sixty years of blues, the Magic Sam live from Milwaukee’s Avant Garde, and this one from John and Sylvia, they have completed one heckuva trifecta!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow…Nashville Blues Society…

Sarah Jane Nelson review…December 18, 2013…

SARAH JANE NELSON

WILD WOMEN DON’T GET THE BLUES

SELF-RELEASED

WILD WOMEN DON’T GET THE BLUES–NOBODY KNOWS YOU WHEN YOU ARE DOWN AND OUT–I PUT A SPELL ON YOU–ST. LOUIS BLUES–SWEET HOME CHICAGO–STORMY MONDAY–BABY WHAT YOU WANT ME TO DO–NATURE BOY–STORMY BLUES–LONG AS I GOT YOU–HOUND DOG–SSUMMERTIME–TROUBLE IN MIND

One of the most pleasant recent additions to the burgeoning blues jam scene in Nashville has been the arrival of Sarah Jane Nelson.  Sarah was born in Little Rock, AR, and raised down in Monroe, LA.  Her first exposure to blues of any kind was the Robert Johnson box set in a local record store.  She was enamored by the way Johnson used only his expressive voice and snaky guitar lines to create the 29 songs that would form the basis for the entire blues canon.  Taking her cue from Johnson and other Delta players, her rich, resonant, supple tones breathe life into everything she sings.  Her most recent blues CD is entitled “Wild Women Don’t Get The Blues,” and was recorded “live” at Freeman Sound in Ashland, OR, on May 5, 2011.  Along with Sarah on vocals, she is backed by Hawkeye Herman on guitar, Big Irv Lubliner on harp, and brushed percussion from Tom Freeman.

While in OR, Sarah honed her passion for the blues by playing shows at outdoor Shakespeare festivals.  This CD features twelve covers and one original, and gives the listener that feeling that it was recorded right on your front porch.

Sarah puts a lot of feeling in these cuts, and this material fits her perfectly.  She gets downright playful on the title cut, and gives an authentic, wistful read of “I Put A Spell On You,” (minus all the vocal theatrics of Jay Hawkins’ original!).  “Sweet Home Chicago” and “Baby What ou Want Me To Do” swing unabashedly, the latter done as a duet with Hawkeye.  Sarah also has background in Broadway and cabaret-style singing, and her renditions of “Summertime” and “Nature Boy” attest to this.

Our favorite was an easy choice.  Sarah’s original “Long As I Got You” finds her putting love first and foremost over materialistic possessions, and is done in the style of the pre-WWII blues singers she holds dear.

Sarah Jane Nelson is a refreshing addition to the growing number of outstanding singers in our society.  She’s graced the stage at the Hard Rock Cafe for the Christmas party, and with a set as strong as “Wild Women Don’t Get The Blues,” here’s hoping that we’ll be hearing much more from her in the future!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

Sa

 

Magic Sam Live review…December 16, 2013….

MAGIC SAM

LIVE AT THE AVANT GARDE

DELMARK RECORDS  DE 833

SAN-HO-ZAY—DON’T WANT NO WOMAN–I NEED YOU SO BAD–FEELIN’ GOOD–IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT BABY–YOU BELONG TO ME–BAD LUCK BLUES–COME ON IN THIS HOUSE–HOOCHIE COOCHIE MAN–STILL A FOOL–THAT’S ALL I NEED–ALL YOUR LOVE (I MISS LOVING)–THAT’S ALL RIGHT–LOOKIN’ GOOD–EVERYNIGHT EVERYDAY–HULLY GULLY TWIST

Magic Sam Maghett passed away much too soon on December 1, 1969,  at only the age of thirty-two.  He left only a handful of recordings to preserve his legacy, and, fortunately for blues fans everywhere, a new set has been unearthed to add to his library.  Delmark Records has just released “Live At The Avant Garde,” recorded in Milwaukee, WI, at the Avant Garde Coffee House, on June 22, 1968.  He has Big Mojo Elem on bass, and Bob Richey on drums.

This set captures Sam at his gritty, raw, best—in front of a small but highly-appreciative crowd, and he gives them exactly what they came for—authentic Chicago blues with just a touch of soul.  He kicks things off with the rousing “San-Ho-Zay,” and keeps the blues rockin’ with the freight-train boogie of Junior Parker’s “Feelin’ Good,” and again later in the set with his own “Lookin’ Good.”

As the show progressess, Sam’s blues get deeper and more intense, and those cuts served as our favorites, and are songs that were not normally associated with Sam’s repertoire.  In succession, he hits his stride with his own “Bad Luck Blues,” then breaks into a sweet version of Junior Wells’ “Come On In This House.”  He then tackles two Muddy classics, “Hoochie Coochie Man,” and the intense, stinging, “Still A Fool.”  Toward the end of the set, he brings out another original, the upbeat, Sam Cooke-ish, soul romp of “That’s All I Need,” before closing with a B. B. King instrumental, “Hully Gully Twist.’

Magic Sam was undeniably the king of the West Side sound, with his earthy vocals and Delta-meets-Chicago guitar licks.  With “Live At The Avant Garde,” fans have another reason to rejoice at the amazing talents of a bluesman who gave us all he had for the short time he was with us.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.