Archive for March, 2014

Rachelle Coba review…March 29, 2014…

RACHELLE COBA

MOTHER BLUES

MONO RECORDS

NEVER BEEN TO MEMPHIS–AIN’T GOT TIME (TO FALL IN LOVE)–WORRIED BLUES–BETWEEN THE TRACKS–CHICAGO–TELEPHONE SONG–MOTHER BLUES–A MAN LIKE YOU–VIEW FROM HERE–LET YOUR LOVE SHINE–BONUS TRACKS:  NEVER BEEN TO MEMPHIS (REMIX)–BETWEEN THE TRACKS (REMIX)

Rachelle Coba is no stranger to the blues.  She began as a classical guitarist, but soon adapted that finger-picking style to a blues career.  Since then, she has backed players such as Albert Castiglia and Super Chikan, and served as Matt “Guitar” Murphy’s music director.  And, amongst all those things, she somehow found the time to write and record her solo debut for Mono Records, “Mother Blues.”

Rachelle wrings all kinds of emotion out of her Strat with those talented fingers, and has a sweet-and-sassy voice that we immediately fell in love with!  And, she covers just about every genre’ one can imagine over the course of these ten originals, with two bonus tracks remixed.

She sings in the opener that she’s “Never Been To Memphis,” but you’d never know it from listening to the next cut, “Ain’t Got Time.”  Her guitar leads recall the soulful strut of the legendary Stax Studio, and the backing vocal chorus adds to the authenticity.  Want a little jazz?  Then check out the brush-stroked drums backing Rachelle’s understated guitar in “Worried Blues” and the tale of “A Man Like You,” who’s an irresistible heartbreaker!

Rachelle’s voice and guitar are the only sounds in the Delta-styled “View From Here,” with a wee touch of gospel.  She tears up the strings in the slash-and-burn slow-blues of “Telephone Song,” as she can never seem to get a straight answer from her lover, who’s always “busy with a friend or two!”

We had several favorites, too.  She rocks the house on that leadoff  cut, stating that she’s been all over the world, but “Never Been To Memphis,” and, thus, haas a “great big hole in my soul!”  A freight train is the metaphor for love in the somber, poignant, “Between The Tracks,” and it’s the one train that everyone wants to ride!  And, the title cut is a sho’ nuff history lesson in four minutes.  “Mother Blues” is the “mother of all music,” from Dixieland to jazz to R & B and everything in between!

It’s hard to fathom that a player as talented as Rachelle Coba has never recorded previously.  But, after hearing “Mother Blues,” we are sure she will have a legion of fans clamoring for more!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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Terry Quiett review…March 28, 2014…

TERRY QUIETT BAND

TAKING SIDES

LUCKY BAG RECORDS  LB 2014

COME THE MORNING–NOTHING AT ALL–CUT THE ROPE–WHEELHOUSE BLUES–VOODOO QUEEN–WEAK-MINDED MAN–A FOOL SHOULD KNOW–TWO HEARTS–GIMME SOME–I COME RUNNING–GET BACK ON–YOU CAN’T COME BACK–LET’S GET IT ON (BONUS TRACK)

The Terry Quiett Band has not-so-quietly roared its way into their rightful place as one of the premier blues “power trios” on the scene today.  On their latest set, “Taking Sides,” Terry’s scorching guitar and equally-impressive vocals are again joined by Nathan Johnson on bass, and Rodney Baker on drums.  They wail thru twelve originals and one outstanding cover herein, with a slightlydifferent feel as the set progresses.

The title pretty much says it all—Terry divides this album into two distinct “sides,” if you will.  Cuts 1 thru 6 show Terry at his best with his guitars blazing.  Check out the leadoff Hill-country stomp of “Come The Morning,” where he tells a lover to “be gone come the morning,” but, slyly asks her for another shot of that “sweet jelly roll” before she departs!  Mississippi Hal Reed fuels the fire on this one, with his rousing harp.  A down-home groove drives the midtempo “Wheelhouse Blues,” as Terry’s slide does some serious testifyin’!  And, “Nothing At All” has perhaps Terry’s hottest slide licks throughout the whole set, with a fiery, nearly-two-minute solo as a climax!

Cuts 7 thru 13 reveal a more soulful side to Terry’s vocals, beginning with the regret-filled angst of “A Fool Should Know.”  “Gimme Some” is punched up by a hot horn section and backing chorus over Terry’s downright seductive requests to his lover!  “You Can’t Come Back” tells a cheatin’ lover that her ways have done her in, and he’s “washin’ my hands” of her.  This is another one that culminates in a brilliant solo from Terry.  And, he closes the set with a seriously-cool take of “Let’s Get It On,” with Scott Williams’ organ giving it a sweet, Southern-soul groove.

Terry Quiett’s guuitar chops are unquestionable, and the soulful side he elicits on the latter half of “Taking Sides” gives him yet another dimension for fans to enjoy!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Mikey Junior review…March 27, 2014…

MIKEY JUNIOR

TRAVELING SOUTH

SWING NATION/VIZZTONE SNCD 388014

TRAVELING SOUTH–NOBODY DOES IT LIKE ME–MORNING ON MY WAY–MILL TAVERN–KATIE LYNN–BAD TIME BLUES–THE CHEAT–YOU–SHE’S GOOD AT BEING BAD–PLEASE COME BACK–WRONG NUMBER–TRYING TO DO THE BEST I CAN

Mikey Junior burst onto the national scene about twelve years ago, and, with his spirited vocals, infectious stage personality, and incredible harp chops, those who wonder about the future of the blues harp need not worry.  With seven albums in his discography already, the good folks at Vizztone are proud to release his eighth, “Traveling South,” produced by Dave Gross, who adds guitar throughout.

Dave’s old-school techniques give this one a swampy, vintage feel, too.  On several cuts the arrangements are rather sparse, allowing Mikey’s vocals and harp ample room to shine, and especially on his chromatic work.  He channels the swagger of Muddy on “Nobody Does It Like Me,” and heads on down to “Mill Tavern” to drink (and fight!) his baby off his mind, since she’s been gone “fifteen days and fourteen nights!”  Kudos on this one to the stompin’ percussion work of Michael Bram, giving this one that brooding vibe.  Another no-good female gets her walkin’ papers in “The Cheat,”  where Mikey “sees thru your pretty disguise,” as his harp trills and fills keep the groove goin’ strong.  He closes the set with a sweet slice of Delta acoustic blues, spinning the tale of a man who faces much adversity, but is always “Trying To Do The Best I Can.”

We had two favorites, too.  Mikey finds a real ‘good-time” girl in the form of “Katie Lynn,” and sings of her many virtues over a midtempo rhumba groove.  And, the cheatin’ lover returns in perhaps the set’s best cut, “Bad Time Blues.”  Mikey’s harp is on fire, and this one has cool dual guitar from Dave Gross and Dean Shot that gives it a really cool, West Side/Magic Sam feel.

Vizztone Records has become one of the industry standouts in introducing fresh, young talent to the world of contemporary blues.  Add Mikey Junior to that list, and enjoy “Traveling South!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Cathy Lemons review…March 24, 2014…

CATHY LEMONS

BLACK CROW

SQUEEZE PLAY/VIZZTONE  VTCL-01

I’M A GOOD WOMAN–AIN’T GONNA DO IT–BLACK CROW–HIP CHECK MAN–YOU’RE IN MY TOWN NOW–IT ALL WENT DOWN THE DRAIN–THE BIG PAYBACK–I’M GOING TO TRY–TEXAS SHUFFLE–THE DEVIL HAS BLUE EYES

 

We had the great pleasure to review Cathy Lemons’ last album, a killer collabo with bluesman Johnny Ace from a few years back, the aptly-titled “LemonAce,” so we were familiar with what a sultry, soulful singer she is.  She’s back with her solo Vizztone debut, “Black Crow,” blending soul, blues, funk, and  a touch of the Delta over the course of ten cuts, six of which are originals.

On this set, the Texas native also plays the part of several women in her quest for love and happiness.  The set starts with her extolling her own virtues, “I’m A Good Woman ready to treat you like a king,” as she’s ready to do some serious back-scratchin’, set over a a swampy, Excello-fied beat.  She becomes the strong, defiant woman who vows never to give in to her worries in “Ain’t Gonna Do It,” with Steve Gurr’s guitar playing tastefully behind her.  That same defiance shows again in the slow-blues warning of “You’re In My Town Now, and if you mess with me, that’s the last thing you’ll ever do!”  And, she seeks “a little revenge” on the man-stealer in a seriously-funky take on James Brown’s “The Big Payback.”

Cathy has a rockin’ side, too. Sometimes, all she needs is a good time, and she calls on the “Hip Check Man,” a sweet shuffle featuring Steve Gurr also on harp.  And, “Texas Shuffle” rocks the joint down, with Volker Strifler on guitar.

We had two favorites, too, both of the Delta blues variety.  The haunting title cut is the tale of the age-old struggle between good and evil, while the set closes with only Cathy’s vocal over Steve’s harp and acoustic leads, “The Devil Has Blue Eyes,” which will take you right down to the Crossroads,

Cathy Lemons has performed in the San Francisco area for over twenty-five years, and “Black Crow” is poised to bring her a world-wide legion of fans!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

John Lyons review…March 19, 2014…

JOHN LYONS

SING ME ANOTHER SONG

SELF-RELEASED

ANOTHER WAVE–SHE’LL TELL YOU NO LIES–BELIEVE–WAITING FOR YOU–SING ME ANOTHER SONG–BEAUTIFUL–HELENGELI–UNDER THE STARS–DEAR JAMES–THE BLUES MOVED IN–BLINK OF AN EYE–BLUESTAR HIGHWAY

John Lyons grew up on a farm in South Haven, MI, but moved to Zurich, Switzerland, in 2001.  He is a very eclectic songwriter, a very expressive guitarist, and quite the observer of the human condition.  For his third album, “Sing Me Another Song,” he lets his storyteller’s soul run free on thirteen original songs that draw from everyday life that all listeners can relate to, mostly dealing with themes of love, loss, and hope for a brighter day further on up the road.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this set is its incredible diversity, almost as if you are listening to two different albums within the context of one.  The initial cuts, such as the leadoff “Another Wave,” “Beautiful,” “Believe,” and “Helengeli,” find John painting sonic pictures of  wistful places and sandy beaches where love is encouraged to develop and grow.  But, as the album progresses, the subject matter becomes decidedly darker, the “cheatin” thread develops, and John’s vocals and playing follow suit.

The title cut begins this bluesier journey of sorts.  “Sing Me Another Song”  is the story of the nightly cat-and-mouse game played out by men and women in every bar in the world, built around an undeniably catchy riff.  “Dear James” has John finding out the hard way that his lover is cheating, as she writes a letter to “the other man” that John finds, sadly, while “lookin’ for my smokes.”  And, what could be more pure blues than “She stole my guitar/ran away with my friend/The night she moved out/The Blues Moved In.”  The set closes with an uplifting gospel rave-up, reminding us all to hold on to Jesus’ hand and “keep the Devil way down in the hole.”

Hands down, tho, “Blink Of An Eye” was our favorite.  An acoustic affair that is part Dylan and part John Prine, the song follows another pair meeting in a bar.  The married female rejects the male’s advances, and the story takes a tragic turn as we are all reminded that nothing is guaranteed.

John Lyons has that rare gift to “tell stories in great detail” that not only capture your attention but also captivate your soul.  For a shot of something a little tastier than three chords and a cloud of dust, give a listen to “Sing Me Another Song.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don  Crow.

Polly O’Keary review…March 16, 2014…

POLLY O’KEARY

AND THE RHYTHM METHOD

COMPASS

SELF-RELEASED

FOOLS GOLD–SUMMER–NOTHING LEFT TO SAY–YOUR HONOR–HARDER THAN IT HAS TO BE–STOP, TRAIN–I’VE GOT NONE–HOW THE MIGHTY FALL–LOSING YOU AGAIN–YOU GET ME HIGH–LET ME BE KIND

Polly O’Keary has been singing, writing, and playing bass for over twenty-five years.  She made a name for herself in the Pacific Northwest, winning the Washington Blues Society’s Female Vocalist of the Year three times, and gained world-wide recognition over the four years she spent touring with Too Slim and the Taildraggers.  Her latest release is entitled “Compass,” and consists of eleven originals that allow her stellar vocals and mature writing skills to now reach a much wider audience.

Her backing band is cleverly referred to as The Rhythm Method, and are Clint Nonnemaker on guitar and Tommy Cook on drums.  This trio is also augmented by a horn section and keyboards from a few folks we’ll allude to later.

Polly starts the proceedings by calling out a homewreckin’ female friend, asking her “was it worth the love you stole for Fool’s Gold.”  This one features tough guitar and B-3 interplay between Clint and Arthur Migliazza.  Polly lays down a serious ballad, “Your Honor,’ as she defends her lover in front of a judge and begs him “don’t take my man from me.”  With a backing chorus, this one is done up in true Fifties’ tear-jerker fashion, as Polly plays the forlorn lover to the hilt.  Another sparsely-arranged Fifties’-styled cut is the tale of a woman who just can’t seem to keep a lover, and is jealous of those who can, and is entitled, “I’ve Got None.”  And, the sort of corollary to that tune is “Losing You Again,” as the lonely dawn once again reminds our heroine of the lover who’s not coming back.  This one is characterized by Polly’s vocal over brush-stroked drums and Cilnt’s single-note leads.  The set closes with perhaps its most powerful piece, the searing ballad, “Let Me Be Kind.”

We had a favorite, too, perhaps the quirkiest cut on the set.  Polly’s had it with a lover, so much so that there’s “Nothing Left To Say,” but it’s the way she says it that gets your attention.  Her scathing vocal is set over surf-meets-flamenco guitars, with a “Pulp Fiction”-ish mariachi horn section in the background that really makes this one sizzle!

Polly O’Keary and the Rhythm Method have crafted a very eclectic set of varying styles with “Compass.”  It is a set that we highly recommend!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Johnny Drummer review…March 14, 2014….

JOHNNY DRUMMER

BAD ATTITUDE

EARWIG MUSIC CD  4967

IS IT LOVE OR IS IT LUST–ANOTHER ROOSTER IS PECKING MY HEN–BIT HER IN THE BUTT–BAD ATTITUDE–MAKE YOU HAPPY–ONE SIZE FIT ALL–SURE SIGN OF THE BLUES–DON’T CALL ME TRASH–AIN’T NO SECRET IN A SMALL TOWN–U-TURN ON A ONE-WAY STREET–BETTER THAN GOOD–MY WOMAN, MY MONEY, MY WHISKEY–STAR 69

Johnny Drummer is one of those great “under the radar” players who has carved out quite a career for himself by playing mainly close to home in the thriving Chicago club scene on the South and West Side.  He’s a strong vocalist, harpman, keyboard player and bandleader, and his topical sense of humor plays well throughout his all-original material, especially in the area of male/female relationships.

That’s the basis of the subject matter with Johnny’s fourth Earwig release, “Bad Attitude.”  Johnny uses a horn section to give some of the cuts a polished, “uptown” sound, but he’s not afraid to break out his harp on the more traditional songs, such as “Sure Sign Of The Blues.”  He also tackles some good ‘ol vintage soul on two cuts, the dreamy “Make You Happy,” and the waaay-cool love song, “U-Turn On A One-Way Street!”

His sense of humor is all over this one, tho.  A sweet harp intro and solo at the bridge drives his “barnyard” tale that’s full of double-entendres’, “Another Rooster Is Pecking My Hen.”  He offers up a fine blue-collar anthem, “just ’cause I live in a trailer, Don’t Call Me Trash!”  And, “there’s no place you can hide where you can’t be found, because Ain’t No Secret In A Small Town!”

We had several favorites, too. The blues gets to rockin’ in the story of a woman whose “love is Better Than Good!”  Another song with some sly-and-sexy undertones is the funkalicious tale of a confident man who can “make it big or make it small, because One Size Fit All!”   And, you just gotta love the set-closer.  Johnny’s got his “midnight creep”  all ready to go, and “everything was fine,” until his woman mucked it all up by dialing “Star 69!”

Johnny Drummer is one of the last living links to the halcyon days of electric Chicago blues, making him a true Windy City elder statesman.  But, with his incendiary live shows that give the people just what they want, and albums such as “Bad Attitude,” Johnny’s showing absolutely no signs of slowing down!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.