Archive for May, 2014

Nick Moss review…May 30, 2014…

NICK MOSS BAND

TIME AIN’T FREE

BLUE BELLA RECORDS

SHE WANTS IT–WAS I EVER HEARD–LIGHT IT UP–FARE THEE WELL–TIME AIN’T FREE–BEEN GONE SO LONG–TELL YOU SOMETHIN’ BOUT YOURSELF–I WANT THE WORLD TO KNOW–DEATH LETTER BLUES–NO REASON–EZ BREE ZEE–WALKIN’ ON A LEDGE–BAD ‘N’ RUIN–(BIG MIKE’S) SWEET POTATO PIE

We’ve been fans of the Nick Moss Band since his initial album, “Got A New Plan,” back in 2001.  At that time, the Chicago guitarist was playing the classic combo style blues popularized by the Chess artists.  As the years have gone passing by, Nick’s playing has matured, as has his artistry.  As such, his later albums, such as “Privileged” and “Here I Am” took a more blues-rock approach with a decidedly harder edge.  With his latest release, “Time Ain’t Free,” Nick successfully straddles that thin line between the old and the new, with nods to his past and peeks into his future.

Also of note on this set is the emergence of vocalist/guitarist Michael Ledbetter.  A linear descendant of Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter, Michael began his career as a bluesman, but “found a calling,” as it were, within the Chicago operatic community.  Specially picked by Kate Moss, Michael’s classical training serves him well on his lead vocal forays.

There are thirteen originsls herein, and a couple of dynamite covers.  “Was I Ever Heard” rides Nick’s vocal and guitar over a freight-train beat, as he recounts the trials and tribulations of a traveling bluesman.  The chugging “Been Gone So Long” and the set’s opening cut, “She Wants It,” with some serious slide from Nick, both recall his early days.   Nick revisits Seventies’ soul with a song written for young daughter, Sadie, the wistful “EZ Bree Zee.”   And, Nick is always good for a shot of topical social commentary, this time in the form of  “No Reason.’

Michael Ledbetter’s cuts were more contemporary in nature.  He tells a cheatin’ lover that chances go ’round in the scathing, minor-key, “Tell Me Somethin’ ‘Bout Yourself,” and testifies like a tent revival preacher on “I Want The World To Know,” and a cool cover of a Rod Sstewart/Faces song,  “Bad ‘N’ Ruin.”

Nick’s cover was our favorite.  His slide howls like the proverbial hellhound on “Death Letter Blues,” bringing Son House’s brooding classic into modern times.

“Time Ain’t Free” serves as perhaps Nick Moss’ finest album to date.  His musical boundaries continue to broaden, and the addition of Michael Ledbetter adds depth and dimension to the vocals.  Definitely another good ‘un from the Nick Moss Band!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

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David Michael Miller review…May 29, 2014….

DAVID MICHAEL MILLER

PRESENTS

POISONS SIPPED

TWELVE TREATMENTS TO SOOTHE THE SOUL

HAND ME DOWNS–EDGE OF THE END OF THE WORLD–MEMPHIS BELLE–HOPE FINDS A WAY–MOONSHINE–SPENT–CAROLINA BOUND–DIGGIN ON BILL–ONCE– MOVING ON EXTRAORDINARY

The blues is a music that was born of strife, none perhaps greater than man’s constant struggle with good and evil.  That pull on a man’s soul is the underlying theme throughout the latest release from David Michael Miller, “Poisons Sipped.”  It is a dazzling collection of twelve originals that are indeed treatments to soothe the soul.

David Michael Miller represented hiis home base of Western New York in the 2013 IBC’s in Memphis, and has opened for luminaries such as Bobby Bland and Joe Bonamassa.  On this set, he is teamed with Chuck and Darrick Campbell on the sacred steel, the rhythm section of Carlton Campbell and Daric Bennett, Jim Ehinger on keys and Jay Moynihan on sax.

You can’t put a finger on Miller’s voice—he’s got that rugged, powerful style that just screams “soul,” and his guitar playing is along the same vein.  His gospel background jumps out at you on the opening cut, the story of “standing down another’s gun” in “Hand Me Downs,” with Darick’s lap steel bearing down like a runaway train.  “Moonshine” finds David rekindling a young love affair, and the couple’s subsequent struggles and redemption.  This one is set over a sweet, vintage soul vibe, with Jay’s sax and Stephen Jacob McLean’s trumpet setting a cool tone.  “Hope Finds A Way in a life worth living” is another song of redemption, with a strong Delta blues influence throughout, as is “Careless,” with accordion from Ron Davis.  The set closes with the poignant story of a man who’s got his share of flaws, and who often has “one foot in the shadows, one in the light,” but, to the woman who loves him, he is “Extraordinary.”

We had two favorites, too.  As longtime fans of the great Bill Withers, it was refreshing to listen to David singing the snappy funk of “Diggin On Bill,” whenever you need “your spirit to chill.”  And, another cut with a Delta underpinning is the somber love story of “Memphis Belle,” a lady of the evening who  “soothes like Heaven but hurts like Hell.’  This one features pedal steel from Chuck Campbell.

With “Poisons Sipped,” David Michael Miller has us all coming to grips with our own personal demons throughout this high-energy set.  With plans for a live gospel album later this year, we look forward to hearing more from this outstanding vocalist!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don crow.

John Ginty live show review…May 28, 2014…

JOHN GINTY

12TH AND PORTER

NASHVILLE, TN  MAY 21, 2014

John Ginty may be most widely-known for his strong keyboard work with the Dixie Chicks and Robert Randolph and the Family Band, but blues fans know him better from his recent solo album release, “Bad News Travels.’  (previously reviewed within this forum.)  Touring in support of this album, John brought his band to 12TH And Porter on Wednesday, May 21, 2014, and it’s a date we’d had circled on our calendar since we found out he was coming to town.

Not only was it a fantastic show from one of contemporary blues’ best keyboard players, it also served as a reunion of sorts for John with some of his friends from his home base of New Jersey adding to the fun.  Opening the show was Franklin, TN, resident Bill Griese, who is ‘transplanted” from New Jersey.  With a smooth vocal style at times reminiscent of James Taylor, Bill began with his originals “Close To You” and “Too Long Coming,’  before launching into one of our all-time favorites, Hall and Oates’ “Rich Girl.’  John Ginty came onstage to add his trademark B-3 to Bill’s final two songs, “The Power Of Our Love” and “Tonight’s The Night.”

John then began his set in earnest.  With Andrei Koribanics on drums, Paul Kuzik on bass, and Michael “Bucky” Buckman on guitar, (all of whom also hail from Jersey as well!), John drew heavily from his album.  Kicking things off with a nod to his Southern-rock heritage, “Hot ‘Lanta” got everybody in a party groove.  Favorites for us were “Elvis Presley,” the Addams Family-ish creep of “Peanut Butter,” and, featuring Bill Griese on vocals, “Black Cat.”  (There is a cool vid of this song on Bill’s Facebook page!)  Of special note was an appearance by Ben Sesar, himself noted as being Brad Paisley’s drummer, who also happened to be a high school friend of John’s, and he did the honors on drums for “The Quirk.”  The night ended much too soon with John’s show-stopping “Trinity,” hearkening back to his time spent with Robert Randolph and the Family Band.  This song featured one brilliant flourish of notes after another, breathing fire and spittin’ brimstone up thru its glorious climax, a few choruses of Hank’s “I’ll Fly Away.”

Throughout the night, John made several references to us while on stage, praising the works presented in this humble forum, and, for these kind words, we are eternally grateful.  Stating that a tour with the Chicks was in the works for 2015, John Ginty is out there working hard to ride the crest of “Bad News Travels.”  If you can, by all means catch him in a live setting if he comes to your town.  Trust us, you will not be disappointed by the immense keyboard talents of this man!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Al Basile review…May 23, 2014….

AL BASILE

WOKE UP IN MEMPHIS

SWEETSPOT RECORDS  SST 9482

YESTERDAY YOU LEFT–DON’T MAKE ME BEG–WHEN THINGS GET TOUGH–ONE MORE STONE IN THE PITCHER–I WOKE UP IN MEMPHIS–JIMMY AND JOHNNY–SAVED BY THE BLUES–NIBBLIN THRU THE FENCE–MAKE A LITTLE HEAVEN–FALLING STARS–TOO TOUGH–BIG LIKE ELVIS–YOU CHOOSE ME–MASKED MAN

Al Basile’s prowess as both a songwriter and a cool vocal storyteller has earned him the moniker of “THe Bard Of The Blues,”  On his latest album, he’s teamed up with some old (and new) friends to release “Woke Up In Memphis,” fourteen originals that would’ve been right at home on the Stax or Hi labels back in the late-Sixties, when Al and Duke Robillard were putting together what would become Roomful Of Blues.

That’s part of what makes Al’s albums so special.  They serve as a reunion of sorts, as Duke handles production duties and plays guitar throughout.  Joining them are Rich Lataille and Doug James on saxes, (the perfect complement to Al’s cornet), Bruce Bears on keys, Brad Hallen on bass, Mark Teixeira on drums, and special guest vocalist Sista Monica Parker.  Most of these folks have played with Al for over twenty-five years, and are readily familiar with how he likes to present his songs.

When Al writes a song, his intent is for the listener to do just that–listen, so that proper lyrical interpretation is achieved.  Take the girl in “Too Tough,” for eaxample.  Duke lays down a smooth-as-silk groove as Al lets us know that she may be “too tough for those younger guys, but she’s never too tough for me!”  The set opener recounts a broken love affair, and, if one is lucky enough, one day is all it takes to learn your lesson, as “Yesterday you Left, today you learn.’  Bruce Bears adds a fine B-3 solo as does Al on cornet on “One More Stone In The Pitcher,” a song about patience and perserverance.  “Masked Man” takes a veiled look at the Russian Emperor in Tolstoy-era “War And Peace” thru the eyes (mask, perhaps?)  of the Lone Ranger character that we grew up with, while “Make A Little Heaven” features Sista Monica Parker on duet vocals, as she and Al encourage us all to share faith, kindness, and mercy when there’s not enough to go around.

We had two favorites, too.  “Saved By The Blues” has a bit of a gospel feel as Al learns to “be myself” instead of “trying to step in somebody else’s shoes.”  and the Duke provides a tasty solo mid-song.  And, another one you MUST listen to all the way thru is “Big Like Elvis,” where our hero wants to “give all my friends Cadillacs,” but he has a darker side.  That side wants to round up all his nay-sayers and, “with a big gun, make ’em all pay,” and shoot something besides the TV screen in the Jungle Room!”

“Woke Up In Memphis” is Al Basile’s tenth solo CD, and his last four sets have each made the “Living Blues” Top 15.  This one, with its unique blend of blues, gospel, and R & B, is certain to raise the bar even higher for this outstanding bluesman!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

 

Kelley Hunt review…May 21, 2014…

KELLEY HUNT

THE BEAUTIFUL BONES

88 RECORDS  EER  1406

THIS TIME–GOLDEN HOUR–LET IT RAIN–RELEASE AND BE FREE–WHEN LOVE IS AT THE WHEEL–SIMPLIFY–THE BEAUTIFUL BONES–GATES OF EDEN–I’VE GOT A GOOD FEELING–I WANT YOU THERE–MIRACLE–THE SWEET GOODBYE

The inspiration for multi-instrumentalist and composer Kelley Hunt’s latest album came from merely looking out the window of her Kansas home during this past, particularly-harsh, winter.  The snowflakes sticking to the barren tree branches led her to ponder the beauty of nature, and “The Beautiful Bones” came to fruition.  There are twelve originals herein, each drenched in Kelley’s love for not only blues but gospel and soul as well.   Joining her also on this endeavor are some of Music City’s A-listers, including John Jackson on electric guitar, Bryan Owings on drums, Tim Marks on bass, and the McCrary Sisters on harmony vocals.

The album is both a celebration and a warning.  Kelley celebrates the beauty of life and the promises of rebirth, but cautions mankind not to destroy this beauty for his own gains.  It’s also a reminder for us all to stop and smell the roses in this hectic world.  That is the premise of “Simplify,” where we are all urged to “step away from “the job, the phone, and the car” and be ourselves.  “When Love Is At The Wheel you can ride all night” finds Kelley at her boogie-queen best, while John’s slide and the McCrary’s on backing chorus give this shot of funk a decided taste of the Delta.  The set closes with another bit of gospel-inflected soul, as Kelley bids “The Sweet Goodbye” to “old ways, heartaches and shame.”

Our favorite was an easy pick..  Kelley’s acoustic guitar drives the haunting story of a near-death experience behind the wheel, where our heroine literally sees her life flash before her.  It leaves her “standing at the Gates Of Eden,” but “with an earthly eye.”

With “The Beautiful Bones,” Kelley Hunt urges us all to go back and explore our roots, as finding out where we’ve been can aid us down the road as the future unfolds.  This one is her most personal, and, for us, her best set to date.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

 

Dudley Taft review…May 18, 2014…

DUDLEY TAFT

SCREAMING IN THE WIND

AMERICAN BLUES ARTIST GROUP

HARD TIME KILLING FLOOR BLUES–PACK IT UP–RED LINE–SCREAMING IN THE WIND–3DHD–I KEEP MY EYES ON YOU–THE REASON WHY–RISE ABOVE IT–BARRIO–SLEEPING IN THE SUNLIGHT–TEARS IN RAIN–SAY YOU WILL

For his latest album, Cincinnati-based bluesman Dudley Taft veered somewhat from the path taken on his prior albums.  For “Screaming In The Wind,” Dudley reached out to Tom Hambridge for the production duties as well as for co-writing credits on several of the ten originals (and two covers) that make up this powerful set of guitar-based blues-rock.

Dudley’s guitar and vocals lead the way with regulars John Kessler on bass and Jason Patterson on drums.  Another added dimension for this set is that the venerable Reese Wynans guests throughout, his B-3 work giving greater depth and flair overall.

As with each of Dudley’s prior albums, every song has a meaning and is done with a purpose.  Take the blues-to-reggae riff that drives “I Keep My Eyes On You,” for example.  It is Dudley’s way of conveying to us the constant daily pressures we face in trying to separate right from wrong.  “Tears In Rain” is a dark, minor-key blues based on the end of the movie “Blade Runner,” as we learn that love, as well as life or anything else, can be as easily lost as those tears in rain.

Also, Dudley always puts a Freddie King song on every album, and the bodacious funk of “Pack It Up” appears herein, fired up nicely with Reese’s organ work and the punch of the Muscle Shoals Horns.  The McCrary Sisters add in the gospel harmonies on the album’s acoustic moment, the Latin-tinged “Barrio.”

We had three favorites, too.  “I dream in 3DHD” is a blast of high-energy blues that takes a look at the two people that often reside inside one person, with their alter-ego sometimes being closer to whom they really are.  The slow-burn of “I Wonder Why” allows Reese’s B-3 to roam freely as Dudley sings of trying to come to grips with the end of an affair.  And, the set opens with Dudley absolutely nailing that killer riff that makes Skip James’ “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues” the classic that it is.

As one will hear while listening to “Screaming In The Wind,” Dudley Taft is not only one of the best guitarists on the contemporary scene, but his insightful songwriting will draw the listener in and give them a clearer idea of the man as a complete artist.  This is a set not to be missed!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

Planet Full Of Blues review…Saturday, May 17, 2014…

PLANET FULL OF BLUES

HARD LANDING

SELF-RELEASED

BIG MOUTH–SO SPECIAL–MASHED POTATOES AND GRAVY–OPEN YOUR EYES–BUSBOY–I HAD A DREAM–BIG BRIGHT LIGHT–SUNDAY DRIVE–FELT LIKE A TOURIST–SNAKE LADY–SHUGRUE SHUFFLE

With a home base down on the southeast coast of Virginia, Planet Full Of Blues is a serious power trio that creates a huge sound that is steeped in classic blues-rock with an ear toward today’s progressive sounds. Johnny Ray Light has that emotive, evocative vocal delivery that fits right in with his guitar playing.  On bass is Ron Dameron, and drummer Brock Howe rounds out the trio.

Their sophomore effort is entitled “Hard Landing,” and, for this one, the fellows motored west to Memphis, perhaps to soak up some of that city’s soul-blues ambience, but definitely to work with iconic producer Jim Gaines at Bessie Blue Studios.  Their material is all-original, and these eleven cuts rumble thru your soul like a runaway locomotive.

The party starts with a Grateful Dead-ish intro to “Big Mouth,” as Johnny Ray laments the reason he loses so many friends, because he’s unafraid to speak his mind, regardless of the outcome.  Food may be a metaphor for “other things” in “Mashed Potatoes And Gravy,” as Johnny warns his lover “you shouldn’t mress with this big man’s food!”  The fellows take a curious look at the after-life in the Byrds-like  jangly pop of “Big Bright Light,” while Johnny’s wailin’ slide takes center stage on the roadhouse boogie of “Snake Lady.”

We love the band’s guitar-fueled rockers, tho, and, with one exception, those served as our favorites.  A man who’s “not in love but I feel like I am” also “Feels Like A Tourist” in his own home!  And, “Busboy” has our hero getting fired from this job for “not smiling enough,” but, it leads him to take up guitar and become a rock star  “Open Your Eyes” is not a rocker in this vein, but it’s a great song with some on-point  social commentary.  The song urges us all to “put prejudices away,” and “take this place and make it better!”

Planet Full Of Blues is a breath of fresh air with their emotional, topical songwriting, powerful delivery, and outstanding all-around musicianship.  “Hard Landing” is a set well-worth hearing!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.