Archive for July, 2014

Alexis P. Suter review—July 26, 2014…

ALEXIS P. SUTER

LOVE THE WAY YOU ROLL

AMERICAN SHOWPLACE MUSIC  ASM 4008

NUTHIN’ IN THE WORLD–25 YEARS–ANYTHING–BIG MAMA–LOVE THE WAY YOU ROLL–GONNA LOVE YOU–WAITING–YOU DON’T MOVE ME NO MORE–IT AIN’T OVER–HANG ON–THEM DAYS–SHAKE YOUR HIPS

Ol’ Elwood Blues himself has anointed Alexis P. Suter as the top contender for that mythical title of “Queen Of The Blues,” and with a voice as big and brassy, bold and sassy as hers, who are we to argue?  She brings those huge vocal chops to the table on her latest album, “Love The Way You Roll” on the American Showplace label.  On this set, there are ten band originals and two covers that show to everyone the immense talents of Alexis and her band, something that fans in the Woodstock, NY, area, and, especially those fans of the legendary Levon Helm’s Midnight Rambles, have known for some time.

Joining Alexis herein is Ray Grappone on drums, Jimmy Bennett on guitars, Peter Bennett on bass,  and Vicki Bell on background vocals.  Also of note is the keyboard wizardry of our good friend John Ginty on several cuts.

Up first is an ode to a special lover, as Alexis sings that “I’ve had some lovin’, but not like you,” in “Nuthin’ In The World I wouldn’t do for you!”   There’s a lotta great slide guitar from Mr. Bennett throughout this set, too, adding to the overall “down home” feel of the set, especially backing Alexis’ powerhouse vocals.  Check it out in “Big Mama,” where Alexis exhorts that “we’re gonna dance all night long and moan the blues.”  She turns in a great “voodoo queen” read in the brooding, swampy title cut, boldly telling a lover that “I need a log for my fire, baby, don’t you let it get cold,” before closing with a cool segue’ into Muddy’s “Rollin’ And Tumblin.”  The set closes with the boogie-fied stomp of Slim Harpo, as Alexis calls on her lover to just “Shake Your Hips, baby.”

We had three favorites, too.  She does a fantastic job on a Big Mama Thornton cut, giving a no-good man his walkin’ papers, as, frankly, “You Don’t Move Me No More!”  And, another lover is told right off who’s the boss, as Alexis says this affair “Ain’t Over til’ the fat lady sings!”  On perhaps the set’s most powerful cut, Alexis gives a truly soulful performance of an anthem to true love, “Anything,” that has a strong gospel-ish, “testifyin” feel, thanks to keyboard work from Mr. Ginty.

Comparisons to Koko Taylor are inevitable, but Alexis P. Suter is her own woman with her own style.  Grab a copy and give a listen to “Love The Way You Roll” and see for yourself!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Bridget Kelly Band review—July 23, 2014…

BRIDGET KELLY BAND

BACK IN THE BLUES

ALPHA SUN RECORDS

WHY I SING THE BLUES–WINDCHASE BLUES–MR. BLUES–COLD STONE TREATMENT–LET’S TALK ABOUT LOVE–TO DIE FOR LOVE–NOTHIN LEFT–TEXAS TEA–NINE AFTER MIDNIGHT–BLUE CADILLAC–BRING MY BABY BACK–WITHOUT YOUR LOVE–ALL DRESSED UP–SAD RIVER–ROCKIN THE BLUES

Ridin’ hard out of the North Central Florida area is a tough blues-ock outfit known as the Bridget Kelly Band.  Their 2013 debut is entitled “Back In The Blues,” on Alpha Sun Records. Bridget has one of those voices that can go from sultry into her upper register with ease, and is perfect for this bluesy material.  Joining her are Tim Fik on guitars and vocals, Mike Hamm on bass, and Michael Barady on drums.  Together, they tackle a myriad of emotions over the course of these fifteen cuts and seventy-plus minutes of good blues, with the emphasis squarely on Bridget’s vocals and Tim’s guitar.  Tim has that vintage feel for good ole Southern rock, along the lines of Les Dudek and Dickie Betts, which you can easily recognize as you listen.

Also as you listen to this set, Bridget and the band have a feel for songs that deal with love, loss. pain, and, eventual redemption.  Leading off, for example, is the midtempo groove of “Why I Sing The Blues,” as Bridget laments that “my ship of love ran aground,” but she vows to “keep keepin’ on!”  Tim breaks out the wah-wah pedal on some fancy guitar work in “Windchase Blues,” and Bridget and Tim give a bittersweet take on the end of a love affair, where there’s “Nothin Left but the shoutin’ and the blues.”

We had two favorites, too.  On one of the set’s most powerful pieces, Bridget sings of the planet’s destruction in the name of “sweet crude down in the ground”, entitled “Texas Tea.”  On this one, Tim’s blistering lead work scorches this one like a Texas twister.  And, Tim and Bridget again duet on a hilarious tune about “keepin’ the taxman away from my Blue Cadillac!”

The Bridget Kelly Band is making a whole lotta noise down Gainesville way, and rightfully so.  There’s so mighty powerful stuff on “Back In The Blues!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Royal Southern Brotherhood review…July 21, 2014…

ROYAL SOUTHERN BROTHERHOOD

HEARTSOULBLOOD

RUF RECORDS 1204

WORLD BLUES–ROCK AND ROLL–GROOVE ON–HERE IT IS–CALLOUS–RITUAL–SHOULDA KNOWN–LET’S RIDE–TRAPPED–SHE’S MY LADY–TAKES A VILLAGE–LOVE AND PEACE

It’s hard to believe that it has been two years since the release of the self-titled debut for Royal Southern Brotherhood.  We saw ’em at Grimey’s in May 2012, shortly after that set came out, and they have been going non-stop ever since.  In that time, they have released a live CD/DVD, “Songs From The Road,” (also on Ruf Records), and now their highly-anticipated second studio album is here.  “HeartSoulBlood” features twelve original tracks that follow a looser groove than the first one.  Constant touring has allowed all the fellows to write some powerful material, as well as being able to interchange guitarists at will.  Jim Gaines is once again at the producer helm, and he gets the utmost out of the twin guitars of Devon Allman and Mike Zito, with Cyril Neville holding down the funkified vocals and percussion.  Rounding out the crew is Charlie  Wooton on bass and Yonrico Scott on drums.

The material is a cool mix of  blues, soul, funk, and reggae.  There are good-time grooves and some excellent social commentaries.  One of those leads off, as “World Blues” makes it tough to watch the news as there’s trouble at every turn.  It rides a soulful slide riff over a doomsday beat.  Cyril traces the history of “Rock And Roll” from down in New Orleans at Cosimo Matassa’s studio, in an old-school roadhouse rave-up.  “Ritual” has Mike Zito singing over another haunting beat as he  encourages his lover to “not be afraid to do a little night trippin in the daylight.”  “Shoulda Known” is a fine showcase for Devon’s soulful voice, and would be right at home on any of his father’s solo albums from back in the day.  “Takes A Village” is perhaps the set’s most powerful piece, as Cyril reminds us that there are “too many evils in the world,” that our children must be protected from.  The set closes on a positive high, as “Love And Peace will heal the world,” set over a reggae groove, with dueling guitars from Devon and Mike.

We had two favorites, too.  Cyril brings the funk, the whole funk, and nothin’ but the funk on his swagger-filled strutter, “Here It Is.”  And, he recounts a sad tale with a much-too-tragic ending that leaves him with a “Callous on my soul.”

Go ahead and call them a supergroup, but Royal Southern Brotherhood are heedin’ the call to keep blues-rock moving forward.  “HeartSoulBlood” allows all the fellows to shine in playing, writing, and singing, and is a brilliant follow-up to their debut!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

The Carmonas review…July 19, 2014….

THE CARMONAS

THE CARMONAS

INTO THE SUN–MIDNIGHT MOONLIGHT–HUMAN HURRICANE–CRICKETS–ALL THINGS FALL APART–SALINAS–CORNER OF THE WORLD–AND SO I WOKE–IF THIS IS LOVE–DEAD AND BURIED–WHEN YOU’RE OLDER

The Carmona family is one of those unique bands that have a sound borne from being siblings.  Aaron Carmona and sister Alison handle the vocals, with brother Chad on the guitars.  Rounding out the ensemble are more extremely talented individuals, with Eben Cathey on banjo, Daniel Heacock on fiddle, Stephen Turney on piano, Tom Hoey on drums, and Eric Wilkey on doghouse bass.  They’ve already played the Bluebird Cafe, and have shared the stage with Marty Stuart and Emmylou Harris, among others.  And, their self-titled debut album hits the streets on July 29, and everyone will be able to witness the immense talents of these young folks.

They grew up as an “Army family,” and, thus, were constantly moving around the country.  Their music and sound is rooted in the various things they absorbed during their travels.  But, you can’t teach or learn that mesmerizing harmony that permeates these eleven cuts, and it is that plus their affinity for traditional-sounding instrumentation and arrangements that makes this set special.

They do experiment with some electrified instruments in a few places, but it does not deter from the overall sound, but, rather, enhances the experience.  “Into The Sun” leads off, as Aaron sings of a love that has gone bad, but, instead of “waiting for the last train to whistle,” he moves forward with his life, “Into The Sun.”  “Crickets” is a sweet duet done as an ode to everlasting love and “standing together while listening to the sea,” with Daniel’s fiddle solos adding fluent colors.  Alison’s intro leads to another dazzling duet in “Corner Of The World,” a place where no matter how many storm clouds gather, you always have a safe haven.  In perhaps the set’s most powerful piece, Alison and Aaron, backed only by acoustic guitar, give a chilling performance of “Dead And Buried in the ground.”

We had two favorites, too.  “Midnight Moonlight” features some of the amplified instrumentation, and, with its brooding, minor-key textures, was the most blues-oriented cut on the set.  And, “Salinas” is a terrific story-in-song that chronicles the tale of a man torn between driving all night to that California town to forget a lover, or turning around for “one night more.”  But, in the end, he “keeps my headlights on the road.”

Comparisons to the Avett Brothers and Mumford And Sons are inevitable, but we want to step back in time and add another name to that list.  The Dillards had that sort of musical telepathy that only siblings can share, and The Carmonas have it, too.  “The Carmonas” is this family’s most excellent debut!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Paul Karapiperis review…July 16, 2014…

PAUL KARAPIPERIS

ONE SIN IN SEVEN PARTS

WELCOME BOY–IN THIS WORLD OF MADNESS–YOUR TICKET TO ADVENTURE–A CALLIN DOWN THE RIVERSIDE–A SECRET PLACE–DIG IN YOUR SOUL–THE DREAMLAND’S DOOR

Ahhhh, Facebook.  How were we, as a world civilization, ever able to function without being able to see what our fellow man is up to during every waking hour of every day?  Seriously, tho, the social media outlets can serve a meaningful purpose when it comes to exposing new and exciting music to a literal world-wide audience.  Such is the case with bluesman Paul Karapiperis, all the way from Central Greece and the village of Malesina.  We met thru Facebook, and his latest album, “One Sin In Seven Parts,” can be viewed as a video on YouTube.

Paul has actually taken one song and divided it into seven parts, within the concept of the story of a man and his journeys thru life.  Paul is a dedicated student of the blues, with influences ranging from Muddy to Son House, thru Peter Green and Captain Beefheart.  He sings with a booming, powerful brogue, not unlike another friend of ours, Dave Arcari from the UK.

The piece starts with “Welcome Boy,” over Paul’s ethereal slide guitar intro, which includes unusual percussion via Paul’s metallophone and baglamas.  His harp “welcomes” a young man into “the craziest world you’ve ever seen.”  Part Two begins with Paul’s acoustic slide and begs the question as to why a couple would bring a child “In This World Of Madness.”  The “endless boogie” of John Lee Hooker kicks off the rather somber tale of “Your Ticket To Adventure,” where Paul warns of “confusion within the confines” of alleged “words of wisdom.”

“Callin’ Down The Riverside” foretells that a hard rain’s gonna fall, and his wailing harp evokes those ill winds blowng as this piece ends.  “A Secret Place” has an acoustic opening that segues’ into the most “electrified” portion of the whole set, as screaming guitar lines complete this tune set over a rhumba beat.  A cool, Sonny Boy Williamson-styled country-blues-harp riff opens the next portion, as Paul urges us all to “Dig In Your Soul” to find the truth.  This one reminded us of Hubert Sumlin’s works with Howlin’ Wolf.  The set closes as it began, this time with a minor-key, slow-blues in the vein of SRV, “The Dreamland’s oor.”

Thanks to social media, we are much the better off for hsving been introduced to Paul Karapiperis and “One Sin In Seven Parts.”  For a shot of something both old and new in blues, check out his FaceBook and YouTube pages today!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Davina And The Vagabonds review….July 14, 2014…

DAVINA AND THE VAGABONDS

SUNSHINE

ROUSTABOUT RECORDS

SUNSHINE–FLOW–FIZZLE OUT–AWAY FROM ME–I TRY TO BE GOOD–YOU BETTER START PRAYING–RED SHOES–THROW IT TO THE WOLVES FOR LOVE–I’D RATHER DRINK MUDDY WATER–YOU MUST BE LOSING YOUR MIND–HEAVENLY DAY–UNDER LOCK AND KEY (BONUS TRACK)

Since their last album in 2011, Davina (Sowers) And The Vagabonds toured extensively throughout thirty-eight states, two Canadian provinces, and eight Europan nations.  That extensive travel took its toll, and, as such, several band members have changed since the release of “Black Cloud.”  Now, tho, all is “Sunshine,” as the new album’s title explains, featuring nine originals and three covers, showing that this group has lost none of its dedication and passion to carrying on their vintage jazz, swing, and blues style, all done acoustically.  Davina’s vocals are energetic, sassy, and, when the need arises, downright torch-y.

The upbeat, doo-wop-inspired title cut sets the tone for the rest of the album.  Her heart is now full of “Sunshine,” after the love affair that was “wrong for years” is now behind her.  “Away From Me” is that “3 AM and it’s closing time” torch song, where “the blues took you away from me and me away from you,’ its poignancy underscored by only the backing of piano and brush-stroked drums.  “I Try To Be Good” is a cute “good girl-bad girl” song, set over a minor-key rhumba beat.

Even tho she’s got on “My Red Shoes,” Davina’s staying in tonite with that special someone!  The horn section, percussion, and piano give this one a pure New Orleans groove.  And, the set closes as it began, with the optimism of Davina who begs a new lover to “take me out from Under Lock And Key.”

We had two favorites, too.  Davina does have a bluesy side, evident on the down-and-dirty classic, “I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water and sleep in a hollow log” than let her lover go!  And, she plays the “messenger” to a potential beau who’s lover is “hangin’ around with all those nasty boys uptown,” in the ragtimey, “You Better Start Praying.”

Davina has been compared to Adele, Bessie Smith, and Amy Winehouse, with her attention to detail on this new take on a vintage sound.  Decide for yourself as you enjoy Davina And The Vagabonds and “Sunshine!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

The Mannish Boys review…July 12, 2014….

THE MANNISH BOYS

WRAPPED UP AND READY

DELTA GROOVE MUSIC  DGPCD 165

I AIN’T SAYIN–EVERYTHING’S ALRIGHT–STRUGGLE IN MY HOMETOWN–WRAPPED UP AND READY–IT WAS FUN–I CAN ALWAYS DREAM–I IDOLIZE YOU–YOU BETTER WATCH YOURSELF–SOMETHING FOR NOTHING–CAN’T MAKE A LIVIN–THE BLUES HAS MADE ME WHOLE–I HAVE LOVE–TROUBLES–SHE BELONGS TO ME–DON’T SAY YOU’RE SORRY–BLUES FOR MICHAEL BLOOMFIELD

Every time a new Mannish Boys set is released, for us, anyways, it is the closest thing to a blues festival without leaving your living room.  Between the regular lineup and the special guests, just about everyone who is anyone in West Coast blues makes an addition to this fabulous sixteen-cut collection, which is sho’ nuff “Wrapped Up And Ready” on the Delta Groove label.

The core band consists of Sugaray Rayford on vocals, Randy Chortkoff on harp and vocals, Eli Fletcher on guitar, Paris Slim Goldwasser on guitar and vocals, Willie Campbell on bass, and Jimi Bott on drums.  Check out “You Better Watch Yourself,” with Sugaray’s vocals set over a funky, James Brown-style arrangement, with serious harp from Jacob “Walters” Huffman.  Paris Slim also brings the funk on a tune that details a man who’s so far down that even his mother has disowned him, entitled “Struggle In My Hometown,” with a tricky time change mid-song.  Slim returns near the close of the set with a slide guitar exercise that tells a lover “Don’t Say You’re Sorry, ’cause you didn’t do no wrong,” set over a Diddley shuffle.

Sugaray reaches down into that smotth, Charles Brown territory with his “crooning” style in “Troubles,” with harp from Kim Wilson, and on “Everything’s Alright,” featuring the successful return of David “Kid” Ramos on guitar.  Kid has battled health issues for quite some time now, and it is great to see him back where he belongs.

Steve Freund takes an excellent vocal and guitar turn on a song that could easily serve as his biography, as he sings that “my purpose is to play the blues on this guitar,” and “The Blues Has Made Me Whole.”  Candye Kane and her guitarist extraordinaire, Laura Chavez lay down that smoky, passion-flower groove of Ike and Tina’s “I Idolize You,” with fine harp from Randy.

Our favorite was easy.  Earlier this year, a boxed-set tribute to Mike Bloomfield was released, as a tribute to this great bluesman who left us waaay too soon back in 1980.  As such, Eli Fletcher and Monster Mike Welch trade slow-blues licks and solos for eight glorious minutes in the set-closing “Blues For Michael Bloomfield.”

The Mannish Boys never fail to deliver powerhouse blues, comin’ at you with everything they’ve got.  These guys live and breathe this music, and “Wrapped Up And Ready” is dedicated to the Number One Mannish Boy, Finis Tasby, and is one of their finest sets to date!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.