Archive for December, 2013

Delmark Records…Sixty Years Of Blues review…December 14, 2013…

VARIOUS ARTISTS

DELMARK RECORDS

SIXTY YEARS OF BLUES

DE  917

WHEN THEY PLAYED THE REAL BLUES–STUDEBAKER JOHN AND THE MAXWELL STREET KINGS  ROCK ME BABY–JUNIOR WELLS  RAFFLE TICKET–LINSEY ALEXANDER  I DON’T WANT NO WOMAN–MAGIC SAM  FIFTY FIFTY–QUINTUS MCCORMICK  JUST KEEP ON LOVIN’ HER–LITTLE WALTER TRIO  OH, MADEMOISELLE–GILES COREY’S STONED SOUL  BIG WORLD–EDDIE C. CAMPBELL  44 BLUES–BIG JOE WILLIAMS  BLUES TRAIN–SHARON LEWIS AND TEXAS FIRE  SHE’S A GOOD ‘UN–LURRIE BELL  LET’S LIVE IT UP–MISSISSIPPI HEAT  KEY TO THE HIGHWAY–DETROIT JR.  TEND TO YOUR BUSINESS–TAIL DRAGGER  STOP THAT THING–SLEEPY JOHN ESTES  JOHN THE CONQUER ROOT–TORONZO CANNON

When he founded Delmark Records back in 1953, it’s probably a safe bet that Bob Koester had no idea that he’d be responsible for bringing to music fans all over the world some of the most powerful and vital artists and albums in the history of contemporary blues.

There is such a plethora of great material to choose from, it was likely a difficult choice to pick one CD’s worth, but the fine folks at Delmark have done just that, with the sixteen cuts that comprise “Delmark–Sixty Years Of Blues.”  On this set, there is something for every blues fan, and it covers the scope of this flourishing label, with cuts from the early years, up thru the label’s current roster.

Want some great harp?  Look no further than Lurrie Bell on “She’s A Good ‘Un,” Pierre Lacocque with Mississippi Heat on “Let’s Live It Up,” and Billy Branch backing Tail Dragger on “Tend To Your Business.”  Guitar fans will love Eddie C. Campbell’s humorous “Big World,” as well as the swamp-funk guitar of newcomer Giles Corey’s Stoned Soul with “Oh, Mademoiselle.”  Toronzo Cannon closes the set with the fuzz-toned, Hendrixian voodoo of “John The Conquer Root.”

The unreleased tracks (of which we wish there had been more) served as our favorites.  Junior Wells’ “Rock Me Baby” is new to CD from the “Southside Blues Jam” sessions.  A tape from a private collector yielded Big Joe Williams’ powerful delivery on “44 Blues,” while the Little Walter Trio has Muddy himself on guitar on “Keep On Lovin’Her.”  Detroit Jr’s piano and vocal are strong on “Key To The Highway,” and, perhaps the most intriguing of the unreleased  cuts is from a forthcoming Sleepy John Estes’ “Live In Japan” album, and has John on guitar and Hammie Nixon on harp and jug (!) on a rousing “Stop That Thing!”

As Delmark turns sixty, it remains one of the most viable labels in contemporary blues.  Mr. Koester, we tip our collective hats to you, and wish you many more successful years!  Until next time…..Sheryl and Don Crow.

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The Claudettes review…December 11, 2013…

THE CLAUDETTES

INFERNAL PIANO PLOT…HATCHED!

YELLOW DOG RECORDS   YDR 2065

STUMBLIN’ HOME SATISFIED–BIG SUCKER PUNCH–HAMMER AND TICKLE–TIDE POOL–DEEP SOUL FOR HIGH SOCIETY–NEW ORLEANS YARD SALE (NEW 11-BAR BLUES)–INFERNAL PIANO PLOT…HATCHED!–SERENADING THE CLEAN-UP CREW–TREMBLIN’ BLUES–MOTORHOME–LAND OF PRECISELY THREE DANCES–CHIN-UP TANGO–DO YOU SEE IT TOO?

Groups such as The White Stripes and The Black Keys tackle a bluesy sound with minimalist guitar-bass-drum arrangements, taking a “less is more” approach.  With The Claudettes, they take it one step further.  Consisting of only Johnny Iguana on piano and Michael Caskey on drums, these two powerful players have created a buzz-worthy amalgam of pumpin’ piano rock mixed with blues, jazz, funk, soul, and just about everything but the kitchen sink over the course of thirteen instrumental gems.  The album is entitled “Infernal Piano Plot…Hatched!,” and breaks every rule in the book for traditional blues piano.

The Claudettes were hired as the house band for Claudette’s bar in Oglesby, IL, by the owner herself.  She put them on salary, and word of their “wall of sound” began to spread.  They played to regularly packed houses, and, even after Claudette lost her lease in 2011, she took the fellows “on the road,” working out deals with other venues everywhere from St. Louis to Kalamazoo.

Johnny and Michael developed their sound after listening to seminal recordings of Otis Span n and S. P. Leary.  That’s where the comparisons stop, tho, as you’ll hear  evidence of Mose Allison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles, Fats Domino, Vince Guaraldi, and probably more if you think hard enough!

The party starts with the loping blues of “Stumblin’ Home Satisfied.”  In “Hammer And Tickle,” one can hear the Guaraldi themes, as well as the nods to Brother Ray in “Deep Soul For High Society.”  “New Orleans Yard Sale,” has a sweet Crescent City feel, by way of Professor Longhair, while Little Brother Montgomery’s “Tremblin’ Blues” comes off as something out of a vaudeville-era production.

There are as many ways to interpret the music on “Infernal Piano Plot…Hatched” as there are listeners who’ll discuss it.  One thing that can’t be denied, tho, is the tremendous energy that The Claudettes bring to these grooves.  This will be the most unusual blues album you’ll hear this year, and it may be the one you go back to enjoy again and agaimn!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

Nicole Hart and Anni Piper review…December 7, 2013…

NICOLE HART AND ANNI PIPER

SPLIT SECOND

BLUES LEAF RECORDS  BL 9850

CAN’T LET YOU GO–CLAP YOUR HANDS–AIN’T NOBODY WATCHIN’–DREAM BABY–YOU CAN’T MAKE SOMEBODY LOVE YOU–WHY SHOULD I FEEL SO BAD?–BAD SIDE BABY–WHAT WILL LATER ON BE LIKE?–ONE GOOD MAN–WALK RIGHT BACK–TWELVE BAR BLUES–LISTEN TO THE RAIN FALL

Nicole Hart, from Florida, and Anni Piper, from waaay Down Under in Australia, were paired together by Blues Leaf Records label boss Joe Morabia, because he felt a chemistry between them and their harmonies.  He packed everyone up to Showplace Studios in Dover, New Jersey, and the result is “Split Second, a true labor of love from talented players who really enjoy bringing their sound to music fans everywhere.

Joining the ladies on this set are Ron Rauso and Juke Joint Jonny on guitars, Sandy Mack on harp, John Ginty on keys, and Sam Cain on drums.  Versatile Anni adds bass along with her vocals.

This is a playful, fun album, and everyone is having a good time, and that vibe translates in the music.  They kick things off with “Can’t Let You Go,” set over a rockin’ rhumba beat.  The frenetic pace of “Clap Your Hands” sounds right out of the old “Shindig!” TV show, while the ladies make some sweer harmony in a couple of other Fifties-themed tunes, “Walk Right Back,” and “Dream Baby.”

There’s plenty of blues to go around, too.  John Ginty’s organ spices up the Sugar Ray Norcia cut, “Why Should I Feel So Bad?”, while Sandy Mack’s harp augments the ladies’ vocals on the Chicago blues of “Bad Side Baby.”  The set closes with the somber, reverb-drenched tale of lost love, “Listen To The Rain Fall.”

We had two favorites, too.  “One Good Man” is presented as a deep, slow-burning blueser, and “Ain’t Nobody Watchin” is beyond words.  It is one of Anni’s original songs, and is a sexually-charged tale of a lover with an admitted “dark side,” and the vocals are as sultry as they are erotic.

Check out the album cover–in their vintage Chevy, scarves and shades, they are a musical version of Thelma and Louise.  And, “Split Second” takes the listener right over that cliff and lands them smack dab in the middle of a blues lover’s paradise!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow  Nashville Blues Society.

Jumpin’ Jack Strobel review…December 4, 2013….

JUMPIN’ JACK STROBEL

TIMES HAVE CHANGED

BLUES LEAF RECORDS  BL 9851

MOTHER EARTH–THINGS HAVE CHANGED–VALLEY OF TEARS–GET ON THE RIGHT TRACK BABY–I DON’T WANT TO KNOW–NEW ORLEANS BLUES–FEELS LIKE RAIN–BAD BAD WHISKEY–YOU MEAN EVERYTHING TO ME–DON’T THINK TWICE–UP THE LINE

For his latest album for Blues Leaf Records, “Things Have Changed,” Jumpin’ Jack Strobel has taken eleven varied and eclectic cuts from some of the blues genre’s most accomplished composers (as well as two Dylan tunes) and set them over his predominantly keyboard-based arrangements to showcase his incredible keys wizardry and supple vocal tones.  Repeated listenings allowed us to draw a comparison between Jack and Delmark recording artist Ken Saydak.

Jack has taken these cuts and created somewhat of a “Great American Blues Songbook,” as it were.  He leads off with the laconic, dirge-like “Mother Earth,” with his arrangement holding to Memphis Slim’s version.  Brush-stroked drums and Andy Riedel’s stinging leads punctuate hi version of “Up The Line,” and the fellows go into jump-blues mode with the call-and-response of “Bad Bad Whiskey” and “Get On The Right Track Baby.”  John Hiatt’s “Feels Like Rain” features fine slide from Andy, and he also offers up some sweet reverb in the Americana-flavored title cut.

We had two favorites, too.  Jack’s tinkling piano and extended solos from both Andy and Jack take us all down to Rampart Street in “New Orleans Blues,” “lookin’ for my pretty baby!”  And, the other Dylan song, “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright,” is presented here in a slower tempo with both his piano and organ prominently displayed.

Encouraged by his father, Jack Sr., to take up the piano, Jumpin’Jack dedicates “Things Have Changed” to his memory, and also to his wisdom and guidance.  These varied examples show that Jack has brilliant command of several genres’ which makes this set a fine roots/blues primer!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

 

Andrew “Jr. Boy.” Jones review…December 2, 2013…

ANDREW “JR BOY’ JONES

I KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE

43RD BIG IDEA RECORDS

I KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE–I’VE GOT YOU ON MY SPEED DIAL–WHISKEY DRINKIN’ BLUES–G THANG–LET THE CHILD BE WILD–MOVIN’ FROM THE DARK SIDE–READY TO PLAY–YOU GOTTA BE FOOLIN’ YOU–MIDNIGHT–YOUNGER WOMEN–THE PARTY IS GETTING STARTED AT MIDNIGHT–MIXED BEANS–WHISKEY DRINKIN’ BLUES (LONG VERSION)

Andrew  Jones was born in Dallas, TX, and his grandmother nicknamed him “Jr. Boy” as a child.  He got his first guitar at age seven, and by sixteen he was playing in Freddie King’s band.  Since then, he’s played with Charlie Musselwhite, Katie Webster, and Johnnie Taylor, just to name a few.  His sixth solo CD is entitled “I Know What It’s Like,” and is thirteen cuts of hard-charging Texas blues mixed in with shots of Chicago and Delta blues, and features two cuts written by female vocalist Kerrie Lepai that fall into tthe soul-blues category.

Jr. Boy gets a sweet, fat tone out of his Gibson guitars, and coupled with his soulful vocal delivery, is quite an entertainer.  He also writes songs that put a humorous spin on everyday situations that we can all relate to.  Check out the funky tale of a man addicted to phone sex, “I Got You On My Speed Dial,” and “Let The Child Be Wild.,” featuring an extended solo.  Jr. Boy gets in some fine instrumental work, too, with cuts such as the brooding “Midnight,” the horn-spiced funk of “Mixed Beans,” and the T-Bone Walker-ish “G Thang.”

Of special note are the vocal works of Kerrie Lepai.  Her big voice sets the mood on the call-and-response shuffle of “Ready To Play,” then she calls out a no-good lover and asks the bartender to “make mine a double” in two scorching versions of “Whiskey Drinkin’ Blues.”

Our favorite was easy.  Jr. Boy’s guitar is backed by the horn section and tasty harp from Cheryl Arena as he extolls the virtues of being loved by “Younger Women.”

Andrew “Jr. Boy” Jones’ career has spanned over fifty years, both as a solo artist and sharing the stage with some of the best in  blues.  “I Know What It’s Like” stands as his best work to date!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

Jim Gustin and Truth Jones review…November 30, 2013…

JIM GUSTIN AND TRUTH JONES

CAN’T SHED A TEAR

SELF-RELEASED

I GOTTA SING–CAN’T SHED A TEAR–NO FAITH IN FOREVER–IF GOD MADE SOMETHING BETTER–BEAUTY FOR ASHES–WHY WHY WHY–GOOD-BYE–MY BABY JUST LEFT ME AGAIN–FILL UP MY SOUL–YOU NEVER GAVE UP ON ME–YOU ANSWER ME–LIFE IS HARD, LIVE WITH IT–WHAT DO YOU SEE IN ME?–SAY AMEN

Jim Gustin is a well-known Southern California singer, guitarist, and composer who has graced the stage of the Staples Center and even Dodger Stadium.  He possesses a voice a voice made for singing blues, with a soulful delivery built around a smoky rasp that at times is reminiscent of Springsteen.  On his debut CD, “Can’t Shed A Tear,” Jim Gustin and Truth Jones band have crafted fourteen originals that mix in a few spiritually-rooted cuts amidst the predominantly blues-rock groove over the rest of the set.

The positive messages bookend the album, with “I Gotta Sing” the praises of our Heavenly Father to lead off, then the set closes with a supercharged shot of gospel fervor, “Say Amen,” which starts off with a funky intro then morphs into a mighty finish.

Jim’s guitar and vocals shine on the title cut, the story of a man who’s lost a lover and “Can’t Shed A Tear, because I used them all on you!”  He duets with Jeri Goldenhar on another sultry, sexy shot of blues about love going bad and leaving both parties with “no one left to blame,” “No Faith In Forever.”

There’s plenty of hard-rockin’ blues to get your mojo workin’, too.  Sometimes things work out and sometimes they don’t is the theme of “Life Is Hard, Live With It,” with cool roadhouse piano to drive it along.  jim pays a playful tribute to his lovely wife Ellen in the mid-tempo groove of “If God Made Something Better, he must’ve kept it for himself!”  And, ragtimey clarinet and tinkling piano over a greasy slide guitar add to the N’Awlins feel of “My Baby Just Left Me Again.”

Two of Jim’s message tunes served as our favorites.  His acoustic dobro leads set the stage for the somber, sometimes angry,  “Beauty For Ashes,” the story of a man coping with the devastating loss of his son on Christmas Eve.  And, another shot of acoustic guitar along with Chuck Goldenhar on harp is a loving ode to mothers everywhere, “You Never Gave Up On Me.”

Jim Gustin and Truth Jones send out positive vibes with this strong, multi-faceted set.  His powerful singing and deft playing make “Can’t Shed A Tear” a sweet listen indeed!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.