Archive for May, 2014

Little Mike And The Tornadoes review…May 15, 2014…

LITTLE MIKE AND THE TORNADOES

ALL THE RIGHT MOVES

ELROB RECORDS   ER  14232

HARD HARD WAY–PROBLEMS–SINCE MY MOTHER’S BEEN ILL–I GOT DRUNK LAST NIGHT–SAM’S STOMP–A LITTLE ON THE SIDE–ALL THE RIGHT MOVES–THE BLUES IS KILING ME–YOU WONDER WHY–ALL THE TIME–WON’T BE YOUR FOOL.  STUCK OUT ON THIS HIGHWAY–CLOSE TO MY BABY

Our first exposure to Little Mike And The Tornadoes was on vinyl, with their mid-Eighties’ work with Pinetop and Hubert Sumlin.  Always a purveyor of that classic “combo” sound, whenever the big names came thru New York City and needed a backing band, these young men from Queens were the “go-to guys,” for sure.

For their latest album, “All The Right Moves,” Little Mike has re-united the original line-up of The Tornadoes for a thirteen-cut romp thru everything that makes fans fall in love with the blues in the first place.  Little Mike is on the harp and vocals, Tony O. Melio is on guitar, Brad Vickers is on bass, Robert Piazza is on drums, and Jim McKaba is on piano.  These guys are well-versed in different styles and sounds of blues—hey, backing up all the luminaries they played behind meant they HAD to know varied styles.  Check out that “endless boogie” on “These Blues Is Killing Me,’ as Tony o’s guitar plays the call-and-response lines perfectly.  “All The Time” is Mike’s ode to his lover girl, done up in a cool, chicken-pickin,’ funky style.  “Close To My Baby” closes the set and has plenty of Mike’s harp blowing over that sweet Jimmy Reed groove.  Mike breaks out the big ol’ chromatic for a six-minute shot of slow-blues delight in the form of “Stuck Out On This Highway,” and the fellows take off on a West-Coast swing with the T-Bone Walker-ish “I Got Drunk Last Night.”

We had two favorites, too.  The fellows all have a good time with the rhumba beat of the sly-and-sexy “A Little On The Side.”  And, the set blasts off with a cut penned by Tony O. and the late Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, and it’s been one of our favorites for a long time, as Mike rips off the stop-time boogie of making  it as a bluesman in today’s economy, “Hard Hard Way.”

There will be all sorts of puns folks will make out of this album’s title, “All The Right Moves,” so we’ll just say this—Little Mike And The Tornadoes wanted to make an album that they’d enjoy listening to.  So, for a real-deal blues band that’s been laying down these sounds for over thirty years, you simply cannot go wrong with this set!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow

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John Mayall review…May 15, 2014…

JOHN MAYALL

A SPECIAL LIFE

FORTY BELOW RECORDS   FBR 006

WHY DID YOU GO LAST NIGHT–SPEAK OF THE DEVIL–THAT’S ALL RIGHT–WORLD GONE CRAZY–FLOODIN’ IN CALIFORNIA–BIG TOWN PLAYBOY–A SPECIAL LIFE–I JUST GOT TO KNOW–HEARTACHE–LIKE A FOOL–JUST A MEMORY

John Mayall is known as the “Godfather Of British Blues,” and rightfully so.  The players who started their careers as a member of his vaunted Bluesbreakers outfit reads like a “who’s who” of contemporary blues-rock.  They include Clapton, McVie, Peter Green, and a pre-Stones Mick Taylor just to name a very few.

For his latest album, “A Special Life,” on Forty Below Records, John traces his storied career back to its roots with a collection of choice covers and originals that delve into blues and Americana.  His current band is well-versed in the sound John wants to create, and consists of Rocky Athas on guitar, Greg Rzab on bass, and Jim Davenport on drums.  Zydeco great C. J. Chenier guests on a few cuts, as well.

John and C. J. start the festivities with a spirited duet on the loping boogie of “Why Did You Go Last Night,” a song made popular by C. J.’s iconic father, Clifton Chenier.   “Speak Of The Devil” is a guitar-fueled tale of domestic abuse, and C. J. returns to add backing vocals on the story of a woman who just won’t stop that midnight creepin’, “I Just Got To Know.”  Rocky unleashes a fiery solo midway thru this one.

The title cut might well be John’s autobiography, as he has indeed led “A Special Life,” not only spreading the word of the blues for himself, but helping to create that “wide-open freeway” for a host of other great British bluesmen.  This one showcases John’s harp chops, and he breaks it out again on an amped-up version of “That’s All Right.’

We had three favorites, too.  The fellows give an authentic, Chicago-styled read on Eddie Taylor’s “Big Town Playboy,” and John closes the set with one of his finest compositions, the piano-heavy slow-blues of “Just A Memory.”  And, in the brooding “World Gone Crazy,” John calls out all the “crazy leaders and non-believers”  responsible for what is sure to be “Reckoning Day.”

We have been fans of John Mayall for many years, and the man just continues to get better with each album.  He strives to keep his sound in step with the times, while making sure everything is cemented in the blues.  “A Special Life” is another top-notch set from a true legend of the blues!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

Carmen Grillo review…May 8, 2014…

CARMEN GRILLO

A DIFFERENT WORLD

BIG SURPRISE MUSIC

COME AND GONE–A REAL MOTHER FOR YA–I GOT THE SAUCE–TRYIN’ TO MAKE IT HAPPEN–PROTOTYPE–A DIFFERENT WORLD–TRANSATLANTIC BOOGIE–SAD STATE OF AFFAIRS–THE NATURE OF THE BEAST–EVERYTHING’S GONNA BE ALRIGHT–RIVER OF MOLTEN ROCK–YOU’RE THE ONE

For several years, guitarist Carmen Grillo was the driving force behind one of the Bay Area’s best-known groups, Tower Of Power.  Now, he holds court with another of San Fran’s legendary outfits, Sons Of Champlin, but has still found the time to release a fine solo effort, still utilizing that horn-fueled, soul-blues formula that was so successful with Tower Of Power.  It is entitled “A Different World,” and contains twelve cuts that show Carmen’s diverse and sensitive ways with a lyric, as well as his unique, jazz-inflected instrumental stylings.  Plus, it hooks him up with some of the hottest session cats on the planet to complete the band’s big sound.

It takes a confident soul to tackle Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s “A Real Mother For Ya,” but Carmen really captures that song’s lowdown, funky groove.  “Tryin’ To Make It Happen” follows a man’s attempt to salvage a love affair, even tho “she never gave a damn.”  To us, the arrangement and backing chorus gave this one a good ole Steely Dan vibe.  There are also four outstanding instrumentals, too, where Carmen’s guitar is stretched-out and firing on all cylinders, and one, “Prototype,” features the great Tom Scott on sax.

Carmen has some tough views on today’s society, too.  On the uptown strut of the title cut, we find out that the solution to today’s problems “won’t be found in Washington, D. C.”  The minor-key slow-burn of “Sad State Of Affairs” hits the nail on the head, as we are no longer “living in the land of milk and honey.’  “The Nature Of The Beast” prepares us for the Apocalypse, that’s gonna “shake you like an earthquake,’ altho Carmen sings these verboten lyrics over a lively, New Orleans-styled second-line rhythm, and features harp from Curt Campbell.

Our favorite was an easy choice, too.  Carmen captures a shot of the swagger of SRV in the braggadocio-filled roadhouse boogie of “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright.”

Carmen Grillo is a hugely-gifted artist whose creativity and great music-making continues to grow whether in a band or solo setting.  “A Different World” has wide-ranging appeal for all types of blues fans!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

Giles Corey review…May 7, 2014….

GILES COREY’S

STONED SOUL

DELMARK RECORDS    DE 834

OH MADEMOISELLE–MORNING TRAIN–DON’T LET THE GREEN GRASS FOOL YOU–TIME FLIES WHEN YOU’RE DRUNK–PORK AND BEANS–BRIGHT LIGHTS–RITA–RIGHT ON!–IT’S ALL BEEN SAID BEFORE–WATCH MYSELF GO CRAZY–THAT GIRL IS BAD–HOME IS ON MY MIND–EVERY TIME I SEE YOUR FACE

We first heard the outstanding guitar work of Giles Corey thru his playing with fellow Delmark artists Mississippi Heat.  He did a fine vocal on their album, “Hattiesburg Blues,” with his original, “Say Something Good.”  He’s been wowing the crowds on the Chicago scene for over twenty years, and boldly steps out on his own with the release of “Stoned Soul,” a very impressive collection of originals and covers that show a ferocious, sometimes raw sound that is at once contemporary but rooted deeply in the Chicago traditions that he has played throughout his career.

Joining Giles on this excursion are Marty Sammon on keys, Joewaun Scott on bass, Rick King on drums, and Pat Otto on mandola.  They’ve all spent time with Giles in one band or another over the years, and have that keen feel for what his sound is all about.

First off is the funky, wah-wah-and-slide-heavy strut of “Oh Mademoiselle.”  Pat Otto’s mandola evokes  memories of Johnny Young  as Giles spins a tale about a lover driving him straight to that “Morning Train,” after she “stole my motorcycle, part by part!”  Rick King takes the vocal on the vintage soul of “Right On!,” while Marty Sammon sings the lonely tale of a man stuck in a love affair, “runnin’ so hard but still not goin’ nowhere,” “Watch Myself Go Crazy.”  His keys work takes some nifty jazz turns in this one.

We had three favorites, too.  Corey gives and an old-school, almost ragtime, read of “Time Flies When You’re Drunk,” and memories of old lovers are conjured up.  This one features more eight-stringin’ from Pat.  Corey’s beginning to “Don’t Let The Green Grass Fool You”  initially stays in line with Pickett’s version, until his guitar takes this one to a hyper-space climax!  And, Giles’  slide is hell-bent-for-leather ridin’ over the freight-train-outta-control, Hill-country beat of Cedric Burnside’s “That Girl Is Bad!”

Taking their name from a wealthy landowner stoned to death for allegedly being a warlock in Salem,  Massachusetts, in 1692, Giles Corey has certainly crafted a set of blues for the 21st Century.  “Stoned Soul” is dripping with the energy of one of Chicago’s finest bands!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow…Nashville Blues Society.

Eden Brent review…May 5, 2014…

EDEN BRENT

JIGSAW HEART

YELLOW DOG RECORDS  YDR 2116

BETTER THIS WAY–EVERYBODY ALREADY KNOWS–JIGSAW HEART–OPPORTUNITY–I WISH I KNEW HOW IT WOULD FEEL TO BE FREE–THE LAST TIME–PANTHER BURN–LET’S GO AHEAD AND FALL IN LOVE–TENDIN’ TO A BROKEN HEART–LOCOMOTIVE–GET THE HELL OUT OF DODGE–VALENTINE

For Eden Brent’s last album “Ain’t Got No Troubles,’  released in 2010, this native Mississippi woman of the blues took a trip down to New Orleans, for recording and a shot of inspiration.  For her latest, “Jigsaw Heart,” she journeyed here to Nashville, recording in Ben Folds Studio, which was formerly the classic RCA Studio A.  She brought in Colin Linden to produce and play guitar, and these twelve cuts make up her most personal album to date.

Heck, even if you recorded the whole thing on our front porch, you’d never take the sounds of the Delta out of Eden Brent.  Her piano style has elements of blues, soul, gospel, and country, while that lovely voice simply drips with those deep, Mississippi-rooted influences, and the instrumentation of Linden and the remaining cast give this set genre’-crossing appeal.

She starts things off with the somber story of an affair that is dying, and figures it would be “Better This Way” to just call it quits.  On the title cut, Dan Dugmore adds some good ole cryin’ pedal steel as Eden strives to pick up the “scattered pieces of a Jigsaw Heart,” hoping that a new lover can help her rise like the Phoenix from the ashes of the old love.  She covers Joan Armatrading’s “Opportunity,” the story of a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde, with Colin’s guitar evoking those sounds of the Delta bluesmen.  This one also utilizes the outstanding gospel-tinged backing vocals of  The McCrary Sisters.  “Panther Burn” is a piano and mandolin piece that traces the seemingly-endless cycle of cotton plantation living and the hard work involved.  Colin adds in some fine acoustic work over Chris Carmichael’s fiddle and Eden’s vocal tale of a girl who knows the lovin’s over, and it’s time to “Get The Hell Out Of Dodge.”

We had two favorites, too.  Eden tells a lover who’s a bit pensive about doin’ the midnight creep that “it’s OK, Everybody Already Knows!”  This one is built around a solid left-hand boogie beat, which would make her mentor, Boogaloo Ames, proud.  And, the double-entendres’ fly fast and furious in the ever-so-sly-and-sexy New Orleans-flavored gumbo of  “Let’s Go Ahead And Fall In Love.”

Eden Brent is a three-time Blues Music Award winner, and it is easy to see why.  “Jigsaw Heart” gives the listener an excellent sampler platter of her many diverse styles, all steeped in her love for the blues.  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society

Tribute to Gregg Allman review…May 5, 2014…

VARIOUS ARTISTS

ALL MY FRIENDS: CELEBRATING THE SONGS AND VOICE OF GREGG ALLMAN

ROUNDER RECORDS  11661–35394

CD 1/DVD:  COME AND GO BLUES–WARREN HAYNES  END OF THE LINE–WARREN HAYNES AND DEREK TRUCKS  STAND BACK–SUSAN TEDESCHI AND DEREK TRUCKS  YOU CAN’T LOSE WHAT YOU AIN’T NEVER HAD–DEVON ALLMAN, JIMMY HALL, AND ROBERT RANDOLPH  PLEASE CALL HOME–SAM MOORE  JUST ANOTHER RIDER–KEB MO  BEFORE THE BULLETS FLY–BRANTLEY GILBERT  LET THIS BE A LESSON TO YA–DR JOHN  QUEEN OF HEARTS–PAT MONAHAN  ONE WAY OUT–JOHN HIATT  STATESBORO BLUES-GREGG ALLMAN AND TAJ MAHAL  JUST AIN’T EASY–WIDESPREAD PANIC  WASTED WORDS–WIDESPREAD PANIC AND DEREK TRUCKS  I’M NO ANGEL–TRACE ADKINS

 

CD 2/DVD:  TROUBLE NO MORE–TRACE ADKINS  MULTI-COLORED LADY–VINCE GILL  ALL MY FRIENDS–MARTINA MCBRIDE  CAN YOU FOOL–PAT MONAHAN AND MARTINA MCBRIDE  AIN’T WASTIN’ TIME NO MORE–ERIC CHURCH  WIN, LOSE, OR DRAW–ERIC CHURCH  THESE DAYS–JACKSON BROWNE AND GREGG ALLMAN  MELISSA–JACKSON BROWNE AND GREGG ALLMAN  MIDNIGHT RIDER–VINCE GILL, ZAC BROWN, AND GREGG ALLMAN  DREAMS–THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND  WHIPPING POST–THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND  WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN–FULL CAST

On January 10, 2014, at the iconic Fox Theater in Atlanta, a multi-generational and genre’-crossing group of musicians gathered in tribute to the music of one of the most recognizable voices in all of contemporary blues over the last four-and-a-half decades, Gregg Allman.  The group consisted of several who have played with Allman in one way or another, and those whose careers have been influenced by his music and style.  The result was a once-in-a-lifetime concert event released by Rounder Records as “All My Friends: Celebrating The Songs And Voice Of Gregg Allman.”  The two-CD and DVD set contains twenty-six performances by this diverse group of artists that encompassed not only blues artists, but rock and country as well.  The DVD contains bonus footage as well as individual interviews with each of the players.

The “house band” consisted of two Allman Brothers Band alumni, Chuck Leavell on keys and Jack Pearson on guitar.  Also on hand were Audley Freed on guitar, Rami Jaffee on keys, with Kenny Aronoff on drums, and producer Don Was on bass.

Highlights abound throughout, as one would expect.  The set opens with Warren Haynes on vocal and guitar on “Come And Go Blues.”  Susan Tedeschi handles the vocals on “Stand Back,” which climaxes in a ferocius guitar “duel,” and features the McCrary Sisters as backing chorus.  Dr. John ;lays down a funky “Let This Be A Lesson To Ya,’ with Jimmy Hall on harp, while Robert Randolph gets in some serious sanctified steel as he joins Jimmy Hall and Gregg’s son, Devon Allman, on Muddy’s “You Can’t Lose What You Ain’t Never Had.”

The first part of Disc Two focuses on some of today’s biggest names in country music as they interpret some of Gregg’s most important tunes.  Vince Gill’s beautiful upper-register vocals fit “Multi-Colored Lady” perfectly, while Martina McBride adds a poignant, somber touch to the title cut.

Toward the end of the evening, the guest of honor himself took the stage, duetting with Jackson Browne on “Melissa” and “These Days,” and rounding out a trio of Vince Gill and Zac Brown on a haunting “Midnight Rider,” one of the evening’s best moments.  Gregg  joined the Allman Brothers Band for some extensive jamming on “Dreams” and “Whipping Post,” before the entire cast reunited on stage to close the night with the traditional gospel of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken.”

We all know that “the road goes on forever,” but, the sad reality is that, if rumors are true, the Allman Brothers Band as we know it, will cease touring at the end of 2014.  If that be the case, then “All My Friends” certainly serves as a fitting tribute to one of the finest composers, musicians, and singers in any genre’, Gregg Allman.    Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society

 

Blue Mother Tupelo review…May 2, 2014…

BLUE MOTHER TUPELO

ONLY SUNSHINE

JUKE TONK STUDIOS—DIGGIN’ MUSIC

COUNTRY FUN–MEET ME DOWN RIVER–LIVIN’ THE GOOD LIFE–FREE–PEAKS AND VALLEYS–PENNY ROLL–ONLY SUNSHINE–COMFORT FOR MY SOUL–YOUR LOVE–MISSISSIPPI MUD

We have been fans and friends of Ricky and Micol Davis, the duo who comprise Blue Mother Tupelo, since we first heard their initial release some two decades ago. Thru that time, they have continued to write from the heart and soul, striving to bring the best musical experience they can to each record.  That trend continues with the May 20  release of “Only Sunshine,” only this time, in a bit of a departure for the couple, some of the cuts are co-written by some of the best composers in Americana and contemporary blues, including Ryan Tyndell, Kim Richey, Will Kimbrough, JP Williams, and Jeff Coplan.

On “Only Sunshine,’ Ricky plays all the guitars and much of the percussion.  and Micol handles the high, angelic harmonies, piano, and percussion, creating a “wall of sound” on several cuts.  The “good life” enjoyed by us folks down South is the theme of much of the set, with those incredible harmonies only Ricky and Micol can produce leading the way.

The good times git to rollin’ on the opening, “Country Fun.” with its tales of “catfish fryin’ and a crawfish boil,” and Sweet Thang and me, we’re all alone!”  Ricky’s acoustic leads are flanked by Dave Roe on the doghouse bass, and Greg Horne’s fiddle.  “Meet Me Down River” has a stomping, percussive beat, with Ricky singing ’bout “wetting a line from a cane pole,’ and, “girl, if you wanna get hip, we can go skinny-dip!”  Micol adds just the right feminine touch here, and the whole thing builds to a frenzied, slide-driven climax.  Micol pays tribute to that unbreakable bond of love between a mother and daughter in the poignant “Your Love,” while “Livin’ The Good Life” has Micol opening the song over tremolo guitar, later joined by Ricky as they realize that “we’ve had our share of tears, but we are blessed by the struggles.”  And, that constant struggle “between my spirit and my mind” is the theme of the gospel-tinged “Peaks And Valleys.”

We had two favorites, too, both dealing with strong social commentaries.  A haunting, storm-clouds-a-brewin’ beat propels “Free,” as Ricky stands up for what’s right, daring anyone to “try and take my gun.”  And, a bluesy acoustic lead drives a song about “a world that’s in a world of trouble,” as both Micol and Ricky plead for “Comfort For My Soul.”

Blue Mother Tupelo continue to write soulful, pensive songs that only a couple that’s been together as long as they have can create.  With “Only Sunshine,” their desire was to reach as many lovers of good, down-to-earth music as possible, and this set proves that mission to be a success!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.