Archive for August, 2014

Gina Sicilia review…August 21, 2014….

GINA SICILIA

THE ALABAMA SESSIONS EP

VIZZTONE LABEL GROUP

SINKIN LOW–WASTED IT ALL ON YOU–I’M IN TROUBLE–NO USE AT ALL–MY LOVE

About a year ago, Gina Sicilia packed up her bags and she took off  down the road.  Of all the places a woman of her immense talents could have ended up, she chose the friendly confines of our very own Music City, USA.  And, it really didn’t take her very long to realize that life does indeed move at a slower pace in this part of the country, and that composers and musicians all see things from a different perspective ’round here.

Those different looks at life and love are the underlying theme of her latest release.  For this project, she went down even further south–to Muscle Shoals, AL, to the Nutt House Studios–for “The Alabama Sessions,” a five-song EP that chronicles a deeply-personal side of Gina never before seen.  Her voice is that same powerful instrument that it has always been, but, her arrangements and instrumentation are more rock- or roots-rock-oriented this time around.

Starting off, she takes a page from another famous Alabama native who saw the light many years ago, as Gina finds herself “Sinkin’ Low,” and “I need to be redeemed.”  A love affair that comes to a sad end has Gina asking for the return of her “hope and faith, for I Wasted It All On You.”  She did not totally abandon her blues-lovin’ ways, as Fifties-style tremolo guitar and a rockabilly arrangement drives her “hoodoo-you-voodoo” vocal in “I’m In Trouble.”  Perhaps the most poignant cut of the five is her somber look at life and love, for there’s “No Use At All to live half a life” with no feelings or love.  The set closes with a tale of unrequited love, as Gina’s unrealized love for another, “My Love,” has her begging for “a place where they can’t tell us who to love.”

Gina Sicilia continues to mature as an artist and composer.  We only wish “The Alabama Sessions” could have been a longer effort to continue to show this highly-personal side to Gina’s career.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, TheNashville Blues Society.

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Liz Mandeville single…August 20, 2014…

LIZ MANDEVILLE

CLOUD OF LOVE

SINGLE FROM THE FORTHCOMING

HEART O CHICAGO ALBUM

The last time we caught up with Liz Mandeville, she had just completed her “Clarksdale” album.  She’s migrated northward for her next project, all the way up to the “Heart O’ Chicago,” and, if the first single is any indication, she’s got another winner headed our way.  The single is entitled “Cloud Of Love,” and, along with Liz’s soulfully-struttin’ vocal, this one is punched up by a horn section led by the great saxman Eddie Shaw.  Liz is a great talent, and she’ surrounded herself with some of Chicago’s finest—we look fforward to hearing the rest of Heart O’ Chicago!”  Until next time,,,Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

Sugar Ray And The Bluetones review…August 19, 2014…

SUGAR RAY AND THE BLUETONES

LIVING TEAR TO TEAR

SEVERN RECORDS

RAT TRAP–HERE WE GO–THINGS COULD BE WORSE–LIVING TEAR TO TEAR–MISERY–IT’S NEVER AS BAD AS IT LOOKS–SHORT RIBS–I DREAMED LAST NIGHT–NINETY NINE–OUR STORY–HUNGRY BUT HAPPY–NOTHING BUT THE DEVIL

For their latest CD on the Severn label, Sugar Ray (Norcia) And The Bluetones come out swingin’, with one of the toughest, hardest-rockin’ sets they have waxed in some time.  Sugar Ray’s vocals and harp are in top form, and his four-piece crew of “usual suspects” sets up a monster groove throughout these twelve cuts.  Speaking of, “Monster” Mike Welch is on guitar, Anthony Geraci is on keys, Mudcat Ward is on bass, and Neil Gouvin is on drums.  These guys have worked with Ray many times before, and they know just what he’s after to bring out the best in these dazzling arrangements.

The party jump-starts with the blistering “Rat Trap,” where Ray tries to avoid the bait of a lover, noting that “it’s always the second rat that gets away with the cheese!”  Mike’s tremolo-like guitar over Ray’s harp give this one a decidedly-Fifties feel.  That same vibe runs thru Ray’s poignant song devoted to his wife, “Our Story,” as he proudly proclaims her to be “the only one for me.”

Ray gets back into the swing of things with a sweet read of Rice Miller’s “Ninety Nine,” with acoustic piano from Anthony.  The set closes with Ray’s echo-effect vocals telling the tale of a no-good lover, “Nothing But The Devil,” who’s so bad he’s about “to break out just like the measles and get all over you!”

As a veteran of Roomful Of Blues as well as his own solo projects, Ray offers up some sage advice on a couple of cuts that served as our favorites.  Ray breaks out the chromatic on a tale that teaches us to stop complaining,  because, “for every bad, Things Could Be Worse.”  A cool song that could easily serve as Ray’s autobiography lets us know that, for a bluesman, “It’s Never As Bad As It Looks, and never as good as it seems!”

Sugar Ray and The Bluetones continue to bring the best in harp-driven, swingin’ blues to fans all over the world.  “Living Tear To Tear” keeps that tradition alive and well!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Kaye Bohler review…August 18, 2014…

KAYE BOHLER

HANDLE THE CURVES

INDEPENDENT RELEASE

DIGGIN ON MY MAN–THE WAY I DO BUSINESS–BUBBLE GUM–HANDLE THE CURVES–BACKBONE–PARTY TIME–SLAYED–IT’S THE BLUES–FAMILY IS FOUND–DON’T TAKE MY HOPE AWAY

You can’t help but fall in love with the powerfully-soulful voice that belongs to one of California’s finest ladies of the blues, Kaye Bohler.  Her fifth CD (and the second one that we have had the honor to review) is entitled “Handle The Curves,” ten originals that continue to show how Kaye’s supercharged talent continues to evolve.  On this set, which was produced by Grammy-award winner Pete Anderson (who also adds guitar throughout the set), Kaye fronts a full band with a killer horn section, with arrangements penned by “Tonight Show” alum Lee Thornburg.

Pete knew he had a dynamite soul singer in Kaye, and set her up with Stax-like production to take full advantage of her strengths.  On this set, there are excellent examples of vintage R & B and true soul, with a few cuts aimed squarely at the dance floor.

The set opens with Kaye struttin’ her stuff over a funky backbeat, tellin’ everyone “I’m Diggin’ On My Man, gettin’ all the lovin’ I can!” She proves her worth as a strong-willed, independent woman on anotther funky cut that shows she’s got some “Backbone” to get her over the hard times.  She reminds any potential lover with an agenda that “I don’t need nobody causin’ me strife, ’cause That’s The Way I Do Business, and the way I do life!”

The title cut recalls a woman who’s had some bumps along her road of life, and asks a lover to be sure before he gets in too deep that he can “Handle The Curves,” in this minor-key classic.

We were partial to the ones where Kaye lets her hair down.  After her workin’ day is done, it’s  “Party Time,” to “throw back a few!”  This one swings from start to finish.  And, Kaye gets her bump’n’grind on with the story of gettin’ away from all the bad news on TV and “gettin’ my healin’ from the blues,” on “It’s The Blues.”

She’ll rock you, she’ll roll you, she’ll love all over you and might even scold you, but you’re guaranteed to sho’ nuff enjoy Kaye Bohler and “Handle The Curves!”  Fans, Kaye is the real deal–they don’t call her the “white Tina Turner” for nothin’!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

The Villains review…August 17, 2014…

THE VILLAINS

A LITTLE SOMETHING FOR THE PAIN

UNIVERSAL RECORDS

SAVE THE WORLD–THE FIRST–DADDY’S GOT A SHOTGUN–COMING HOME TO YOU–HARD TIMES (FOR THE WORKING MAN)–IT RAINED EVERYDAY–ALL ABOUT YOU–GOOD FOR NOTHING–LADY CRUZ–ALL THIS TIME–YOU BELONG TO ME–WISH YOU WELL–SUNDOWN

The Villains are a roots-rock band that hail from the Atlanta area, and they have adopted a unique approach to their adult-contemporary sound.  They consist of Dan Call on bass, (who also is the band’s producer), Jimmy James Schmitt and Michael Wilkes on guitars and strings, Magno on guitars and keys, and Sean McNally on drums.  They indeed employ the use of three different lead vocalists for their third album, “A Little Something For The Pain,” with twelve originals and one cool cover.

Along with the three different leads, these songs offer up a varied look at life, love, and the pursuit of happiness.  Several of these cuts will leave you with a peaceful, easy feeling, while a few are hard-line looks at topical social commentary.

The set kicks off with the jangly pop love song, “Save The World,” reminiscent of “Damn The Torpedoes”-era Tom Petty.   Up next is the stunningly-beautiful “The First,” an  ode to the power of young love where, “there’ll never be another first–just you.”  Life on the road which is begiining to exact an emotional toll is the theme of “Coming Home To You,” while a superficial lover with a “who cares about the truth” attitude is studied in the harmony-rich “All About You.”  The set closes with a well-done read of Gordon Lightfoot’s “Sundown,” set in that immortal “room where you do what you don’t confess.”

We had several favorites.  The slide-heavy tale of young lust  that goes a wee bit too far ends up with “Daddy’s Got A Shotgun, ready to send me to Kingdom Come!”  We’ve all had this feeling, too–“I wake up a little further behind every day,” which is the underlying message of that seemingly “dead end road” that is today’s economy, in the gritty “Hard Times (For The Working Man).”  And, a tough look at elements within today’s society reminds us that no matter how big you dream or how hard you work, if you’re branded aas “Good For Nothing” then you are “born to lose.”  This one sounds like a long-lost Travis Tritt or Van Zant brothers gem, with it’s scathing subject matter.

The Villains were shooting for a wider audience with this set, and we believe they have hit on a winning formula.  “A Little Something For The Pain” is varied within its scope, and indeed has something for everyone’s taste!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Mud Morganfield and Kim Wilson review…August 16, 2014…

MUD MORGANFIELD AND KIM WILSON

FOR POPS: A TRIBUTE TO MUDDY WATERS

SEVERN CD 0064

GONE TO MAIN STREET–JUST TO BE WITH YOU–I DON’T KNOW WHY–I WANT YOU TO LOVE ME–STILL A FOOL–MY DOG CAN’T BARK–SHE’S GOT IT–I LOVE THE LIFE I LIVE, I LIVE THE LIFE I LOVE–BLOW WIND BLOW–NINETEEN YEARS OLD–I WANT TO BE LOVED–TROUBLE NO MORE–I JUST WANT TO MAKE LOVE TO YOU–SHE MOVES ME

In conjunction with the Centennial anniversary of the birth of Muddy Waters, his son, Larry “Mud” Morganfield joined talents with harp man Kim Wilson of the Fabulous Thunderbirds and a slew of other top-ranked players steeped in the tradition of deep Chicago blues to record “For Pops: A Tribute To Muddy Waters,” on the Severn label.

Joining Mud and Kim on this project are players that both men as well as producer David Earl hand-picked, based on not only their abilities, but their passion for this music.  Thus we have Barrelhouse Chuck on piano, Steve Gomes on bass, (who also co-produces), Robb Stupka on drums, and the twin-guitar attack of Billy Flynn and Rusty Zinn.

Mud wanted to record some of his father’s more famous tunes, of course, but also some of the lesser-known ones to show the breadth and scope of Muddy’s talents.  Even with a few cuts that may be familiar to only hard-core fans, every cut is a powerhouse.  The band knows the material, and, yes, the more one listens to Mud, the more he sounds like his dad.

The jams kick off with Mud “Gone To Main Street to put shoes on your feet.”   Next up, it takes a man with cast-iron stones to “call my mother-in-law honey” in order “Just To Be With You.”  Kim is all over this one, blowing that killer riff over Mud’s vocals to drive it home.   The slide guitar and harp interplay is sweet in the rapid-fire pace and staccato backbeat of “My Dog Can’t Bark,” while Kim busts out the big ole chromatic on the big-band-ish swing of “I Don’t Know Why.”

There is no way to pick a favorite here, but we were partial to a couple.  The haunting tale of those “two trains running” thru the chill of a Rolling Fork night is the theme of “Still A Fool,” with Mud moaning the blues over Robb’s pounding, Doomsday-like beat.  And, one of the lesser-known cuts is a killer stop-time story of  a one-of-a-kind lover, “She’s Got It!”

This tribute was a labor of love, and the love Mud feels for his father and for this timeless music shows thru on every groove of this CD.  “For Pops: A Tribute To Muddy Waters” is indeed a set that would make “Pops” proud!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Missy Andersen review…August 14, 2014…

MISSY ANDERSEN

IN THE MOMENT

MAIN SQUEEZE RECORDS  MS 1202

RENT PARTY–WHOLE LOTTA NUTHIN’–NIGHT STALKER–MORE THAN ENOUGH–BETTER OR WORSE–NO REGRETS–SAME TTHINGS MAKE YOU LAUGH WILL MAKE YOU CRY–REACH OUT–LADIES SHOES–HEY NOW–I’VE BEEN WALKIN’

Missy Andersen was born in Detroit, and spent her school years growing up in the Borough of Queens, NY.  During this time, she discovered the classic soul singers of the Sixties and Seventies thru her parents’ extensive record collection.  This great music inspired her to sing, and her mother worked with her to hone her skills.  Soon, she was opening for Cissy Houston, and also toured as a backing vocalist for various blues festivals.  It was during one such tour that she met her husband-to-be, Heine Andersen, of Denmark.  Heine is a guitarist who’s steeped in the traditions of the blues, and theirs was a natural coming-together of talents which led to their marriage, and formed the core of Missy’s band.  Her latest album is entitled “In The Moment,” and it is a dazzling showcase for not only her powerful voice, but also the ease with which she handles a variety of material.

With a voice as potent as Missy’s, it is very likely that she could call her own shots as to the type of artist she wanted to become.  Want examples?  Just take a listen to “Reach Out,” featuring sweet guitar from Nathan James, and the set-closing Snooks Eaglin cover of “I’ve Been Walkin,” with cool piano from Sue Palmer.  With all their gospel fervor, one could easily envision Missy as a member of that soul-savin’ army of renowned gospel singers.  Classic soul?  a piece of cake–check out the poignnant ballad, “More Than Enough,” as she vows to a lover to stick together as one.  She sets up a sweet Stax-style groove over the punch of the horns and guitars, as well as the B-3 work of Ben Moore,  in a forewarning to a lover, “The Same Things Make You Laugh Will Make You Cry.”

We were partial to her more traditional blues cuts.  James Harman adds harp and Nathan James is again on guitar on the stompin’ shuffle where Missy reminds her lover-about-to-leave-her that she took him for “Better Or Worse.”  And, the set’s opener is an all-out raver in the grand tradition of Louis Jordan, as Heine’s swingin’ guitar lines propel Missy’s vocals on the good times that keep on rollin’ at this mighty fine “Rent Party!”

As one can gather from listening to “In THe Moment,” Missy Andersen is a tremendously-gifted and very versatile artist.  This set is poised to bring her a whole new legion of fans!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.