Archive for January, 2015

Ruf Records 20th Anniversary review….January 30, 2015…

VARIOUS ARTISTS

20 YEARS ANNIVERSARY

RUF RECORDS  RUF 1208

CD 1–GIRLS WITH GUITARS:  BITCH–BLISS AVENUE–CAN’T KEEP LIVING LIKE THIS–DOWN IN THE SWAMP–SHINE–TRY ME–LOVE FEVER–STRANDED IN MEMPHIS–NEVER BEEN ROCKED ENOUGH–SKINNY GIRL–SHOW ME–TOUGHEST GIRL ALIVE–IN THE BASEMENT

CD 2–GUYS WITH GUITARS:  IF YOU WANNA LEAVE–ROCK AND ROLL–LIVIN EVERY DAY–SPEECHLESS–TEMPTATION–VOICES IN DALLAS–WAITIN ON DAYLIGHT–SOME OTHER MAN INSTEAD–BLUES CARAVAN–I’M TORE DOWN–SWAMP FUNK–HOMESICK–NUTHIN LIKE THE BLUES–BAD AVENUE–YOU CAN’T ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU WANT

For the 20th anniversary celebration of Ruf Records, label founder Thomas Ruf took a unique approach.  He released a double-CD collection, one dedicated to his label’s “Girls With Guitars,” the other to the “Guys With Guitars.”  The 28-track overview traces his label’s early days up thru his current talent signings.

We had several favorites over both sets.  On the distaff side, it’s hard to beat the leadoff  collaboration between Dani Wilde, Samantha Fish, and Cassie Taylor, a rousing cover of the Stones’ “Bitch.”  A haunting harp permeates the swampy mood of Dani Wilde’s acoustic “Shine,” while newcomer Eliana Cargnelutti weaves a cool tale of something that ain’t so bad, being “Stranded In Memphis.”  Candye Kane gives a great live performance to prove why she’s the “Toughest Girl Alive,” and the set closes with Sue Foley, Roxanne Potvin, and Deborah Coleman taking the funky road down to Sugar Pie DeSanto’s “In The Basement.”

The guys are well-represented, too.  Denmark’s Thorbjorn Risager leads off with the slide-driven boogie of “If You Wanna Leave,” while Cyril Neville’s vocal leads the Royal Southern Brotherhood in the roadhouse anthem, “Rock And Roll.”  Bart Walker captures the sound and vibe of vintage Southern rock on “Waitin On Daylight,” while the Spin Doctors open a new chapter in their career with the stripped-down blues of “Some Other Man Instead.”  The late Jeff Healey gives an absolutely-incendiary read of Freddie King’s “I’m Tore Down,” and the set closes (and comes full-circle) with another Stones cut, this one from the late Luther Allison, without whom there would likely be no Ruf Records.  His version of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” shows a soulful, funky side of Luther, and, sadly, serves as his final recording.

Ruf Records gives us the “20 Years Anniversary” and it is a fantastic overview of Thomas Ruf’s vision regarding his label’s storied past as well as its bright future.  Thanks, Thomas, for twenty great years, and here’s to many more!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashvile Blues Society.

 

Mike Zito And The Wheel review…January 27, 2015

MIKE ZITO AND THE WHEEL

SONGS FROM THE ROAD

RUF RECORDS 1206

CD–INTRO–DON’T BREAK A LEG–GREYHOUND–LITTLE RED CORVETTE–RAINBOW BRIDGE–PEARL RIVER–HELL ON ME–C’MON BABY–JUDGMENT DAY–DIRTY BLONDE–SUBTRACTION BLUES–GONE TO TEXAS

DVD–DON’T BREAK A LEG–GREYHOUND–I NEVER KNEW A HURRICANE–HELL ON ME–PEARL RIVER–DIRTY BLONDE–ONE STEP AT A TIME–SUBTRACTION BLUES–JUDGMENT DAY–GONE TO TEXAS–LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE ON ME–NATURAL BORN LOVER–TEXAS FLYER

Mike Zito is one of those musicians who just can’t seem to get enough of the road.  He loves the connection and interaction with the fans, and it’s obvious the feeling is mutual.  His latest release, for Ruf Records, is a CD/DVD combo,  “Songs From The Road.”  Altho he grew up in St. Louis, his “adopted” home is Texas, and this set was recorded in Woodland at the Dosey Doe.  The “home” crowd was on fire from the start, and Mike and the band feed off that energy.

For this set, Miike drew from his previous solo albums, and from some personal experiences as well.  They kick off with a serious shot of funk with cool sax from Jimmy Carpenter, the dance-floor burner, “Don’t Break A Leg.”  “Greyhound” is Mike’s look back at a darker part of his life, while “Rainbow Bridge” celebrates homecomings and renewed vigor for life, and Mike plays some killer slide.

We had two favorites, too.  We’ve always enjoyed to rockin’ roadhouse boogie of “Dirty Blonde,” and on this set Mike offers up a waaaay-cool acoustic “Little Red Corvette.”

The DVD really makes this set complete, tho.  Aside from the cuts on the CD,  we are treated to bonus tracks such as “Let Your Light Shine On Me,” “Natural Born Lover,” and the rousing “Texas Flyer” that closes the concert portion.  Bonus footage includes six “storyteller” videos featuring Mike and the audience.

Mike Zito has declared that he will no longer be performing with Royal Southern Brotherhood.  However, he is not going to stop touring, and will continue to bring great music to us fans, just like his “Songs From The Road” collection.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Sarah Lou Richards review…January 25, 2015…

SARAH LOU RICHARDS

THE WOMAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN

SELF-RELEASED

NOTHING LEFT–AVERY–I AIN’T EASY TO LOVE–DON’T BREAK MY HEART–HOME AGAIN–ONE WORD–SOUL TO KEEP–NOD TO NEIL–WHAT KIND OF FOOL–FEAR OF FLYING–WHY–MILE MARKER I–WON’T BE LONESOME LONG

Sarah Lou Richards follows up her critically-acclaimed 2010 debut, “Ruby Red Shoes,” with her first set as a bandleader.  This one was recorded in Muscle Shoals, AL, with Gary Nichols producing, adding keys and a duet vocal to boot.  It is entitled “The Woman Behind The Curtain,” which consiss of ten out of thirteen originals, showing her maturation as a performer and writer.  She is at ease with Nichols at the helm, and, on this set, she’s not afraid to take chances and cros musical boundaries.

She starts off wanting to go back to a time before “love slipped thru my fingers” and seize it, and “love like there’s Nothing Left.  “Avery” deals with the pain of a love that falls victim to substance abuse, while Sarah asks only of a new lover,  “Don’t Break My Heart.”  She closes the set with the somber tale of leaving a bad relationship, knowing that he “Won’t Be Lonesome Long.”

We had two favorites, too.  She duets with Gary Nichols on “I Ain’t Easy To Love,”where our two lovers realize they’re not perfect, but “are a little less broken, every day I spend with you.”  And, sung from the male point of view is “Nod To Neil,’ with its definitive uses of Fifties’ doo-wop for effect.

Sarah Lou Richards is another one of those performers who’s comfortable hangin’ out in that zone where country and soul intersect.  We will all have to soon pay attention to “The Woman Behind The Curtain” following this strong set!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

George Taylor review…January 21, 2015…

GEORGE TAYLOR

RAIN OR SHINE

SELF-RELEASED

GOODNIGHT–THE HARD WAY–RAILROAD SONG–WHAT AM I GONNA SAY–SCENERY–ONLY BLUE–BREAKIN IN BOOTS–HARVEST MOON–THE RAIN–SEAT WITH YOUR NAME

George Taylor has spent some time in Austin, TX, playing to the crowds at SXSW.  But, to really learn his true calling, he made a pilgrimage to the Delta to find out what the blues was all about.  As luck would have it, he’d just released his debut, “Trouble Town,” and found himself in Helena, AR, during a live broadcast of “King Biscuit Time.”  Ole Sonny Payne interviewed him, and he soon recorded his latest set back in Austin, this one entitled “Rain Or Shine.”

This one is a really-eclectic set of originals, for sure.  George combines country-blues with the sounds and stories of the Delta for a collection of ten songs that bring together his earthy vocals and deft finger-picking, and will appeal to a broad fan base.

Check out the somber message of “Scenery,” with George’s comparison of a broken love affair to that of a “runaway train,” but “the scenery always stays the same.”  Another great metaphor is George’s lyric from the country-grunge of “tryin’ to love you is like Breakin’ In Boots.”  “Harvest Moon” literally finds George howling at that moon after “drinkin’  ‘shine” and contemplating another relationship going south.  He closes the set with the high-lonesome message of repentance and redemption, “Seat With Your Name.”

We had three favorites, too.  The set leads off with the rockin’ story of George’s lover, who cheats with ole Bobby McGeee.  This leaves George to come a-callin’ for “one more go at Goodnight.”  “What Am I Gonna Say” deals with infidelity and its consequences, while the country-blues harp and odd percussion drives the classic barroom tale of “I’m Only Blue when I think of the times we shared!”

George Taylor brings us a set of hard-drinkin’ and hard-lovin’ good (and bad) times with the release of “Rain Or Shine.”  He takes a touch of twang and mixes it with the ghosts of the Mississippi Delta for a delicious shot of his unique brand of ‘shine!!  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow.

Mike Osborn review…January 19, 2015…

MIKE OSBORN

IN THE DOG HOUSE

MOB-CD-002

LOVE VS. EGO–COMPANY GRAVEYARD–LOVIN TIME–COLD MAN COLD–FIRE AND GASOLINE–TIED UP–CHEAP WOMEN–VETERANS SONG–SATAN AND ST. PAUL–JUMP IN YOUR FIRE–IN THE DOG HOUSE

Mike Osborn is a strong guitarist and vocalist from the San Francisco Bay area who combines a soulful delivery with deadly guitar lines along with a passion for doing what he does best—bringing great blues to the masses!

Over his career, he’s traveled a somewhat unusual path.  After success at an early age, he laid his guitar down to concentrate on home and family concerns.  Since he picked it up again, tho, he hasn’t missed a stroke.  His latest CD is entitled “In The Dog House,” and there are eleven outstanding originals written by Mike, John Fulbright, Dennis Walker, and the set’s Grammy-winning producer, Alan Mirikitani.

Mike kicks things off with a strong rocker which finds him faced with the dilemma of “Love VS. Ego,” and, in this case, “love wins!””Company Graveyard” has a poignant message set over that “endless boogie” groove.  Mike breaks out the wah-wah to work out on the classic “my baby left me” song, “that’s Cold Man Cold.”  The somber message of “Veterans Song” reminds us that “those who live to tell know the deepest scars are within.”  The set closes with the title cut, a  raucous, rattlesnake-hide of an instrumental that rocks with sheer abandon.

We had two favorites, too.  Three things you can alwas count on seeing at most “every little smoky bar” is “Cheap Women, cheap whiskey, and cheap guitars!”  This one has some killer barrelhouse piano from Teddy Andreadis.  And, Mike exercises his slow-blues chops on a “true love” song—“you got me Tied Down, tied up, and twisted with my heart wrapped up in chains!”  This one scorches from start to finish!

The blues world and all us fans are all better off since Mike Osborn has returned to the contemporary scene.  And, a set as strong as “In The Dog House” will bring him some well-deservedrecognition!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Fabrizio Poggi and Chicken Mambo review…January 17, 2015…

FABRIZIO POGGI AND CHICKEN MAMBO

SPAGHETTI JUKE JOINT

APPALOOSA RECORDS  AP-177-2

BYE BYE BIRD–KING BEE–THE BLUES IS ALRIGHT-DEVIL AT THE CROSS ROAD–MYSTERY TRAIN–WAY DOWN IN THE HOLE–CHECKIN’ UP ON MY BABY–ONE KIND FAVOR–MOJO–ROCK ME BABY–NOBODY–WANT MY BABY–BABY PLEASE DON’T GO (BONUS TRACK)

Fabrizio Poggi has been hailed as the best-known Italian bluesman in the United States today, and his skills as a vocalist and harpman certainly add to his well-deserved reputation.  His international career has spanned some forty years, and his current release is entitled “Spaghetti Juke Joint,” and has Fabrizio and his high-octane band, Chicken Mambo, blast thru three originals and ten covers with the aid of a few special friends along the way.

The title is a historical reference of sorts, dealing with the number of Italian immigrants who left their homeland in the late 19th century and migrated to the Mississippi Delta to pick cotton alongside the black slaves.  They all suffered the same misfortunes, from floods, malaria, and unscrupulous plantation bosses.  They all shared the same passions for making music, and Fabrizio has effectively “carried this bidness on.”

He shows off his Hohner skills on the opening “Bye Bye Bird,” and Sonny Landreth adds some serious slide to “I’m A King Bee.”  A slightly-different version of “The Blues Is Alright” has more fantastic guitar from Ronnie Earl.  Another song re-vamped by Fabrizio for this set is “Mojo,” with its ultra-funky groove and killer slide from Steady Rollin’ Bob Margolin.

We had three favorites, too.  The fellows knock “Checkin’ Up On My Baby” out of the park, and remind us all to “keep the Devil Way Down In The Hole” on a killer version of this Tom Waits tune.  “Devil At The Cross Road” is a cool original cut, with its eternal message of hellhounds, deals goin’ down, and the voice of the Devil calling for retribution in the form of your soul.

Fabrizio Poggi has been a student of the blues for many years now, and has eighteen albums and some serious world-wide credentials.  As a harp player he can rock with the greats, and he and Chicken Mambo really strut their considerable stuff on “Spaghetti Juke Joint.”   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Bill Phillippe review…January 17, 2015…

BILL PHILLIPPE

GHOSTS

ARKANSAS STREET RECORDS

COME ON IN MY KITCHEN–FATHER’S LAMENT–WEDDED HEART–BROKEN CUP–KEEP YOUR LAMP TRIMMED AND BURNING–TIGHTROPE–BIG BILL’S DREAM–MOTHERLESS CHILDREN–THE BALLAD OF BLIND WILLIE–GOD DON’T NEVER CHANGE–IN MY TIME OF DYING–DEATH LETTER–YOU’RE GONNA NEED SOMEBODY ON YOUR BOND

Bill Phillippe has spent the last twenty years playing and singing throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, altho when one listens to him, you’d swear he grew up in the Mississippi Delta.  His latest release is entitled “Ghosts,” and consists of a mix of thirteen originals and covers, that shows how deep his passion runs for the pre-WWII Delta masters.

This recording is pure Bill–just his acoustic guitar and vocals, with very sparse arrangements.  Bill has a firm grasp on the deft finger-picking styles of those great players of the past, and we enjoyed his stylings on “Keep Your Lamp Trimmed And Burning” and “Come On In My Kitchen.”

His originals are in keepng with the works and subject matter of those Delta masters, as well.  The struggles of life and death, love and loss, and the eternal flame of hope and redemption act as the common thread that bind these songs together.  There are the poignant, somber cuts such as “Motherless Children,” “In My Time Of Dying,” Father’s Lament,” and “Death Letter,” which features some outstanding picking from Bill.  Our favorites were “The Ballad Of Blind Willie” and “Big Bill’s Dream,” with its tales of Lady Liberty!

Bill Phillippe has kept alive the music of the Delta, and you can almost hear those “Ghosts” haunting throughout this set!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.