Archive for July, 2014

Alastair Greene Band review…July 10, 2014….

ALASTAIR GREENE BAND

TROUBLE AT YOUR DOOR

ECLECTO GROOVE RECORDS  EGRCD 516

PEOPLE–TROUBLE AT YOUR DOOR–BACK WHERE I BELONG–RED WINE WOMAN–FIRST BORN SON–LOVE YOU SO BAD–LAST TRAIN AROUND THE SUN–CALLING FOR YOU–MAKE THE DEVIL’S DAY–STRANGE FEELING–PRETTY PRICE TO PAY–THE SWEETEST HONEY

Progressive rock fans may be familiar with the guitar wizardry of Alastair Greene thru his works with the Alan Parsons Project, as he played on Parsons’ 2004 release, “A Valid Path,” and has toured with them since 2010.  Alastair has also led his own power trio in the SoCal region since 1997.  He believes that the current lineup playing with him has helped him reach new creative heights, and has defined the sound he has been seeking.  As such, “Trouble At Your Door” is the latest release from the Alastair Greene Band, and shows they are a force to be reckoned with in the pantheon of blues-rock trios.  Along with Alastair on guitars and vocals, we also have  Jim Rankin on bass and Austin Beede on drums.

This set simply drips with the power and passion of Alastair’s playing and singing.  Certainly there are elements of blues-rock, as well as stone Delta blues and even a nod to his prog-rock days throughout the course of these twelve originals.

Leading off are a pair of cautionary tales about choosing hate over love.  “People” follows Alastair’s churning slide as he urges us to “face the truth and make a call,” while the title cut takes a stronger, more “in-your-face” approach to “lyin’ to yourself” which is bound to lead to “Trouble At Your Door.”   The brooding, percussion-heavy “Calling For You”  recalls his Alan Parsons days, while a snarling blues riff drives the tale of a man whose life of excesses is about to send him on that “Last Train Around The Sun.”  “Make The Devil’s Day” jumps out at you with a rocked-up intro as Alastair warns of “signing on the dotted line just to buy some time!”

We had two favorites, too.  With the recent marking of the 60TH anniversary of the release of Elvis Presley’s “That’s All Right, Mama,”  Alastair gives us “Love You So Bad,” with its chugging beat and echo-effect vocals.  At mid-song, he unleashes a torrent of notes which got us to thinking what might’ve been had Sam Phillips ever had a chance to record SRV.  And, the set closes with a tale of forbidden lust with “The Sweetest Honey” as the prize.  As we listened, we thought this was a cool way to bring “Crossroads” into the 21ST Century!

Perhaps Alan Parsons himself paid the ultimate compliment to Alastair Greene, saying that he could play guitar for any band, anywhere.  Luckily for us blues fans, he’s riding high with the release of “Trouble At Your Door!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

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Andy T-Nick Nixon Band review…July 7, 2014….

ANDY T-NCK NIXON BAND

LIVIN IT UP

DELTA GROOVE PRODUCTIONS  DGPCD 166

BABY RIGHT NOW–BEST IN TOWN–LIVIN IT UP–MY BABY IS NOW ON MY MIND–GOOD MAN–ONE NOTE SHUFFLE–BACK DOWN SOUTH–LAST TO LEAVE–LET’S SAY IT FOR GOOD–SNAKE IN THE GRASS–WHATEVER YOU HAD YOU AIN’T GOT IT NO MORE–OH BABY–LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

Andy “T” Talamantez was born and raised in Southern California,  and moved to Nashville in 2008.  James “Nick” Nixon was already here—this big-voiced soul man was a fixture on the storied Jefferson Street club scene of the Fifties and Sixties, that also spawned the careers of Clifford Curry, Marion James, Jimmy Church, and Frank Howard, all still active today.  Nick recorded for Chess in the Seventies, and was a natch’l fit for the smooth guitar stylings of Andy T.  Their debut, “Drink Drank Drunk,” was a fan and critic favorite, and now they are back with the follow-up, “Livin It Up.”  It is thirteen cuts, ten originals and three cool covers, and, for us, this one does an even better job of showcasing the talents of this band than the first one.

Andy T is still smooth-as-silk on guitar, and he’s joined by Sam Persons on bass, Jim Klingler on drums,  Ron Jones and Dana Robbins on sax, Larry Van Loon on keys, and Christian Dozzler on piano and harp.  Yes, Christian is the former keyboard player for Larry Garner who was always introduced as “four-foot-and-thirty-inches tall!”  These guys have the feel for the sounds Andy and Nick are looking for, and you can almost feel that Jefferson Street vibe as you listen.

Christian blows some down-home harp and plays piano also over Nick’s vocal on the loping beat of the story of a man who puts up with his lover’s “cheatin and doggin me around,” simply  because, “Baby, You Are The Best In Town!”  This one was written by Nick and Billy Cox, he of Band Of Gypsys fame.  Andy’s playing is as clear as a bell on the T-Bone Walker classic, “My Baby Is Now On My Mind.”  That smooth, West-Coast tone is prevalent throughout this one, with Christian again  on piano.  “One Note Shuffle,” written by Larry Van Loon, is a swingin’ instrumental that lets everybody shine.  Nick gets back on the vocals in a warning to everyone to “watch your back for that “Snake In The Grass,” with Andy working the call-and-response guitar lines, and Larry rockin’ the B-3.

This set is so full of excellent R & B that picking favorites was impossible.  So, we decided to highlight those that show just what a blues shouter Nick Nixon really is.  A shot of juke-joint boogie is the sax-and-piano rocker that tells the tale of everybody’s favorite bar patron, who’s always “the first to walk in and the Last To Leave.”  Two slow-blues cuts that Nick simply nails are the stingin’ “Go And Find You A Good Man,” and the beautifully-romantic set-closer, “Love At Frst Sight.”  Nick has that innate ability to make his voice quiver to add to the ambience of the song, and these two cuts are the reason why they just don’t make ’em like Nick any more.

We are proud to call every one of these folks our friends, but, even if we didn’t know them from Adam, “Livin It Up” is still one of the best collections of vintage blues and R & B that you’ll hear anywhere!  Thanks, Andy T and Nick!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, the Nashville Blues Society.

Dom Flemons review…July 6, 2014….

DOM FLEMONS

PROSPECT HILL

TILL THE SEAS RUN DRY–POLLY PUT THE KETTLE ON–BUT THEY GOT IT FIXED RIGHT ON–HAVE I STAYED AWAY TOO LONG–GEORGIA DRUMBEAT–I CAN’T DO IT ANY MORE–SONORAN CHURCH TWO-STEP–(TOO LONG) I’VE BEEN GONE–MARCHING UP TO PROSPECT HILL–GOOD THING–GROTTO BEAT–HOT CHICKEN–SAN FRANCISCO BABY–MY MONEY NEVER RUNS OUT

Many fans are familiar with Dom Flemons, one of the members of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, perhaps the foremost purveyors of vintage African-American blues and roots music on the scene today.  Dom is not only a fantastic interpreter of these classic sounds, but he is a formidable student of the histrionics behind this great music, as well.  On his latest solo set, due out July 22, 2014, he combines elements of all his studies from roots to blues to jazz and even Southwestern Native American music  to create “Prospect Hill,” fourteen songs either drawn from this era of musical history, or written by Dom in that vintage style.  He is also joined on this set by some of his good friends who are also well-versed in this music, including  Keith Ganz, Ben Hunter, Brian Horton, and Guy Davis.

The show starts with “Till The Seas Run Dry,” a Jazz Age-era tune from New Orleans with Keith Ganz on six-string banjo and Brian Horton on clarinet, as Dom sings of the end of a love affair which will never rekindle until “the clocks run backwards and all the seas run dry!”  “Polly Put The Kettle On” is adapted here from a version by Sonny Boy Williamson, with Ben Hunter’s excellent fiddle  solos.   One of Dom’s originals written in this classic style is the very bluesy “I Can’t Do It Any More,” performed here as a tribute to the early rock and roll and R & B shouters of the Fifties, with Dom offering up some fine acoustic blues guitar.  “Sonoran Church Two-Step” was actually adapted for banjo by Dom from the original Native American arrangement, with Ben Hunter again on fiddle.

We had three favorites, too.  Guy Davis adds six-string banjo to “But They Got It Fixed Right On,” full of double-entendres’ with a playful duet vocal from Pura Fe Crescioni and sax from Brian Horton, while another song of the same vein, which Dom learned from Frank Stokes, is the good-time proto-rap of “Ain’t It A Good Thing To Have More Than One Woman,” with jive patter from Guy Davis.  Another of Dom’s originals is based on a true story of sorts, after Dom and a few of his cronies ate at the iconic Prince’s Hot Chicken restaurant.  This one has everyone in the song clamoring for that “Hot Chicken from East Nashville, Tennessee,” with chicken-pickin sax from Brian Horton and dueling guitars from Dom and Keith Ganz.

Dom Flemons is one of the most outstanding players on the blues/roots/Americana scene today, with a never-ending repertoire of early African-American songs interspersed with jazz, blues, and R & B.  “Prospect Hill” is certain to please his curent fan base and bring him a legion of new fans!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

Dexter Allen review…July 3, 2014…

DEXTER ALLEN

BLUEZ OF MY SOUL

DEEP RUSH RECORDS

COMING HOME TO MISSISSIPPI–RIDE THIS TRAIN–STILL CALLED THE BLUEZ–MONK DONKY–COME OUT AND PLAY–HAVE A TIME–BLUEZ PARTY–DEEP INSIDE–PUDDIN AND RICE–I DOUBT IT–THAT SAME THANG

One of the best jobs in all of the blues world simply has to be as guitarist in Bobby Rush’s band.  On the one hand, you get to watch one of the true blues masters ply his craft on stage every night. And, on the other hand, there are those two booty-licious dancers about ten feet in front of you!  All jokes aside, tho, Dexter Allen did spend several years as Bobby’s guitarist, playing all over the USA as well as France, Spain, and Germany, and many other foreign lands.  Dexter has just released his third album overall, entitled “Bluez Of My Soul,” but this one is just a little different.  Yep, Bobby Rush himself has endorsed Dexter by releasing this set of originals on hs own Deep Rush label.

Bobby has a ton of respect for Dexter, saying that he sees Dexter as a younger version of himself.  Dexter had a background in gospel before joining Bobby’s revue,  and those experiences have certainly paid off in his solo career.  Dexter can play virtually any instrument, but sticks mainly to guitar and a little bass over these eleven cuts.

Dexter sho’ nuff knows how to have a good time, and makes sure you have one, too!  Bobby Rush blows the harp over Dexter’s opening cut, letting everybody know that no matter how many great places you visit, there’s nothing better than “Coming Home To Mississippi,” and that good ole “cotton and catfish!”  It’s also a positive message tune,  because there’s nothing more important than love of family!”   “Bluez Party” keeps the good times rolling, as does “Have A Party,’ where it’s a sure bet that “no one is going home alone tonight!”   ‘Deep Inside” is a powerful ballad done in tribute to his lover, while he closes the set with a serious shot of funk, talkin’ ’bout “That Same Thang that makes the birds and the bees all get along,” again featuring Bobby on harp.

We had two favorites, too.  “Monk Donky” is a call-to-arms to all the women to hit the dance floor and shake their favorite body parts!  This one has Dexter really smokin’ the strings at the bridge, too.  “Still Called The Bluez” touches on some topical subjects, such as “mothers against daughters,” and “everybody lookin’ for an easy way out,” as well as the fact that now “a lot of people have money, but they still have problems, too!”

Dexter Allen is proving himself very worthy of the praise heaped upon him by Bobby Rush.  With the stone-cold funk of “Bluez Of My Soul,” it’s easy to see why!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

Brigitte DeMeyer review…July 1, 2014…

BRIGITTE DEMEYER

SAVANNAH ROAD

SAVANNAH ROAD–SAY YOU WILL BE MINE–BOYS GOT SOUL–PLEASE BELIEVE ME–BIG MAN’S SHOES–CONJURE WOMAN–HONEY HUSH–WORKER–HOME GROUND–LIGHTNIN’ POOR–SIMMER RIGHT–BUILD ME A FIRE–MY SOMEDAY

Not so long ago, singer-songwriter Brigitte DeMeyer met up with Gregg Allman, then later read his biography and became intrigued by the history of his home base of Savannah, GA.  A born storyteller, Brigitte turned her studies of this storied region into her sixth album, “Savannah Road.”   It is thirteen originals, each of which has its own inspiration, with many written from personal experiences.

Also of note on this set are the sparse, minimal arrangements that allow Brigitte’s beautiful voice to shine thru.  As she studied the history of the Savannah region, she found parts of it to be haunting and downright spooky.  Thus, these arrangements go a long way in cementing that eerie vibe.  And, it sho’ nuff doesn’t hurt to have some of thee greatest players on the planet adding instrumentation throughout, including Will Kimbrough, Ricky and Micol Davis, and Jano Rix, to name just a few.

The title cut leads off, with its summery images of peach country, and “fill those barrels, pick the fruits, and shake those trees down to their roots.”  Fine examples of Southern culinary delights are wrapped up in a couple of love songs, with the “biscuits and jelly” of “Baby, give me some of that Honey Hush,” while love is the key ingredient to that special stew that has to “Simmer Right,” and features sweet harmony from the McCrary Sisters, too.  Brigitte traces her mother’s journey out of Nazi Germany in WWII with the poignant “Build Me A Fire.”    And, Jeff Coffin’s clarinet gives a ragtimey feel to an ode to Man’s Best Friend, who’s “favorite song is your footsteps,” entitled “Big Man’s Shoes.”

We had two favorites, too.  “Lightnin’ Poor” is the tale of a perhaps-mythical street corner bluesman with a “cigar box guitar and chicken-wire strings” who “drives a Cadillac but doesn’t have a telephone!”  This one embodies the spirits of the legends of the past, from Hank Sr.’s Tee Tot right on down to ol’ Curtis Loew.  The McCrarys again add their special touches to this one, too.  And, “Miss Ella James” is the “Conjure Woman” who Brigitte enlists to put a voodoo spell on her lover.  Blue Mother Tupelo’s Ricky Davis brings the mojo with excellent slide guitar, and the lovely Micol Davis adds harmony vocals, and when these two lovely ladies’ voices entwine, it is a little slice of Heaven, indeed!

Brigiitte DeMeyer turns the summer heat up a notch with “Savannah Road.”  Her storyteller’s soul and sparse arrangements that accentuate her delivery makes this one quite an entertaining listen!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

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