Archive for February, 2015

JP Blues review…February 26, 2015…

JP BLUES

LIVE AT DARWIN’S

MIDNIGHT CIRCUS RECORDS   MCP 1004

KEEP ON WALKING–YOU UPSET ME BABY–AIN’T GONNA LOSE YOU YET–OLD MAN JOE–MEET ME HALFWAY–AMERICAN BOY–GOOD ENOUGH–DAY BY DAY–99 PROBLEMS–ANOTHER TIME ANOTHER PLACE–GOOD MORNING LITTLE SCHOOLGIRL

There’s nothing like spending your birthday bringing the best in live blues to an appreciative crowd, but that’s exactly what happened to John Pagano, “JP Blues.”  JP spent his twenty-fifth birthday in Marietta, GA, at Darwin’s Burgers And Blues, and the result is his first live set, “JP Blues: Live At Darwin’s.”

JP has already released two critically-acclaimed albums, “I Will Not Go Quietly,” and “Make Room At The Table.”  “Live At Darwin’s” has the unique distinction of being distributed primarily thru online digital retailers.  On this one, JP is joined by Shiloh Bloodworth on drums and Tony Hossri on bass.

They kick things off with “Keep On Walking,” featuring a fiery solo from JP, while “Ain’t Gonna Lose You Yet” sets up a cool, funky, danceable groove, as does “Meet Me Halfway.”  JP’s plea to his lover begs the question “am I Good Enough for you,” and utilizes a bit of a reggae-fied vibe, while the raw power of his playing is on full display with tunes such as “Day By Day” and “Another Time Another Place.”

We had two favorites, too.  JP turns B. B.’s “You Upset Me Baby” into a full-on, blues-rockin’ guitar tour-de-force.  And, JP busts out his slide for a touch of thumpin’ Mississippi Hill country blues with “Old Man Joe.”

JP Blues is now endorsed by Epiphone guitars, and rightfully so.  He brings fierce,  deep passion and power into the mix, drawing from that same wellspring that Magic Sam drew from.  One listen to “JP Blues: Live At Darwin’s” and you’ll be a believer, too!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Steve Earle review…February 22, 2015…

STEVE EARLE AND THE DUKES

TERRAPLANE

NEW WEST RECORDS  NW 6328

BABY BABY BABY (BABY)–YOU’RE THE BEST LOVER THAT I EVER HAD–THE TENNESSEE KID–AIN’T NOBODY’S DADDY NOW–BETTER OFF ALONE–THE USUAL TIME–GO GO BOOTS ARE BACK–ACQUAINTED WITH THE WIND–BABY’S JUST AS MEAN AS ME–GAMBLIN BLUES–KING OF THE BLUES

It’s hard to fathom the near thirty-year passge of time since Steve Earle’s debut, “Guitar Town.”  Since that time, he’s won multiple Grammys and has become one of the most respected roots-rock and Americana artists on the scene today.  In his own words, it was only a matter of time before he made a blues album, and “Terraplane” is the amazing result.  Steve captures the spirit of Mance Lipscomb, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Jimmy Reed, and even some early-era Stones, and dedicates this album to the late Johnny Winter.  This set was produced by R. S. Field, and recorded at Nashville’s House Of Blues Studio D.

Steve wrote roughly one-third of this album while touring Europe with only a guitar, harp, and a backpack.  As such, the arrangements are predominantly sparse, with Steve on vocals, harp mandolin, and guitar, Chris Masterson on guitar, Eleanor Whitmore on fiddle, Kelly Loone on bass, and Will Rigby on drums.

The party starts with the loping beat of “Baby Baby Baby (Baby),” a cool tale ’bout a girl down South, “from a town called Shut My Mouth.”  Eleanor’s fiddle is the perfect complement to Steve’s fingerpicking on the lively country-blues of “Ain’t Nobody’s Daddy Now.”  Steve captures that early-Stones vibe in “Better Off Alone,” while a late-night booty call finds Steve waiting for that “Usual Time of the night,” with its Buster Brown-meets-Jimmy Reed backbeat.  Steve breaks out his eight-string for the stop-tme of “a travelin’ man” who’s always been  “Acquainted With The Wind.”  The set closes with the mojo-licious tale of a man who’s the “direct descendant of John The Conqueroo,” “The King Of The Blues.”

We had three favorites, too.  Steve and Eleanor duet in another country-blues tale of two lovers whose passion thrives on ‘fussin’ and fightin,” “My Baby’s Just As Mean As Me.”  An adolescent’s memory of his sister’s choice of footwear conjures up the rockin’ “Go Go Boots Are Back,” while the haunting “Tennessee Kid” invokes Beelzebub and those deals down at the Crossroads, wheer we all know “the balance comes due someday.”

Steve Earle also states in the liner notes to “Terraplane” that the blues are the one thing we all have at one time or another.  This set also captures the spirit of his fellow Texas bluesmen, as well as delving deeper into the endless wellspring of great songwriting that has been Steve’s penchant throughout his timeless career.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Smokin’ Joe Kubek and Bnois King review…February 19, 2015…

SMOKIN’ JOE KUBEK AND BNOIS KING

FAT MAN’S SHINE PARLOR

BLIND PIG CD  BPCD  5163

GOT MY HEART BROKEN–CORNBREAD–DIAMOND EYES–CRASH AND BURN–RIVER OF WHISKEY–DON’T WANT TO BE ALONE–BROWN BOMBA MOJO–HOW MUCH–ONE GIRL BY MY SIDE–LONE STAR LAP DANCE–DONE GOT CAUGHT BLUES–HEADED FOR RUIN

Smokin’ Joe Kubek and Bnois King have been playing together for some twenty-five years.  Their fire-and-ice tandem playing style has thrilled fans all over the world, and for their triumphant return to the Blind Pig label, they have just released “Fat Man’s Shine Parlor.”

The party gets goin’ with the “endless boogie” drive of “Got My Heart Broken,’ as Bnois sings of an affair with “another man’s wife” that he just can’t seem to turn loose of.  Every Southern food staple from ribs to hoghead cheese all go better with “Cornbread,” while, sometimes, when your love life hits the skids, just call the “Brown Bomba Mojo!”  Both players get in some great fretwork on this one.

The high cost of traveling is the theme of “How Much”‘ as Bnois bemoans expensive cab rides and airport security checks. Jjoe coaxes some funky, echo-effect sounds out of his guitar on “One Girl By My Side,” and both fellows sho’ nuff let their hair down in the swingin’ instrumental, “Lone Star Lap Dance.”

We had three favortes, too.  A superficial woman who “looks like a million but ain’t worth a dime” is ready to “Crash And Burn.”  Joe busts out his slide over Bnois’ vocal on a story of life’s various temptations, “River Of Whiskey,” and Bnois literally “got caught with my pants down” on the slyly-humorous slow-burn of “Done Got Caught Blues!”

Smokin’ Joe Kubek and Bnois King can always be counted on to bring us fans the very best in roadhouse-rockin’ blues  Take a trip down to the “Fat Man’s Shine Parlor” for a red-hot good time!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

Tinsley Ellis review…February 18, 2015…

TINSLEY ELLIS

TOUGH LOVE

HEARTFIXER MUSIC  HFM 1012

SEVEN YEARS–MIDNIGHT RIDE–GIVE IT AWAY–HARD WORK–ALL IN THE NAME OF LOVE–SHOULD I HAVE LIED–LEAVE ME–THE KING MUST DIE–EVERYTHING–IN FROM THE COLD

We had the great fortune to see Tinsley Ellis in Atlanta several years back, when he was a vital part of Chicago Bob Nelson and the Heartfixers, and we knew he was something special, even back then.  Since those days, Tinsley has released seventeen albums, all showcasing his dazzling guitar abilities and clever, mature songcrafting.  His latest set is entitled “Tough Love,” ten originals that show why he’s been able to stay on top of his game for some thirty-five years.  He’s joined by some fine session men, too.  There’s Kevin McKendree on keys, Lynn Williams on drums, and Steve Mackey on bass.  This one was recorded at the Rock House in Franklin, TN, and Tinsley produced.  As such, the listener gets that “live in the studio” feel, as the band laid down a helluva tight groove on these cuts.

Leading off is a minor-key story of a love affair that crashes and burns after “Seven Years,” done in by a “one-night stand.”  “Midnight Ride” and “Hard Work” show Tinsley’s allegiance to the classic Southern rock sounds, while “All In The Name Of Love” creates a Stax vibe that features Jim Hoke on sax and Steve Herman on trumpet.

Tinsley’s slide guitar and his passion for Albert King come into play in the haunting, eerie, “The King Must Die,” while he revisits the good ole Heartfixer days, and also adds harp on the juke-joint blues of “Everything.”

We had two favorites, too.  Another affair that was “over a long time ago” has Tinsley begging his lover to just “Leave Me, if that’s what your heart wants to do.”  And, the slow-burn of “Should I Have Lied” has a great B. B. King vibe in Tinsley’s guitar work, as he ponders that question after his lover “spent all night crying.”  This one is embellished by great solo work from Tinsley and strong piano from Kevin.

Tinsley Ellis is a literal “road warrior” with his nearly-non-stop touring.  He’s played in all fifty states as well as Europe, Canada, Australia, and South America.  He wanted to make “Tough Love” for his fans, and we all can embrace and enjoy it!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

The Mike Henderson Band review…

THE MIKE HENDERSON BAND

IF YOU THINK IT’S HOT HERE…

ELLERSOUL RECORDS   ELL 1501

I WANTA KNOW WHY–SEND YOU BACK TO GEORGIA–IT’S ALRIGHT–IF YOU THINK IT’S HOT HERE–WEEPIN AND MOANIN–MEAN RED SPIDER–IF I HAD POSSESSION–UNSEEN EYE–MATCHBOX–GAMBLIN BLUES–ROCK HOUSE BLUES

We have been fans of Mike Henderson ever since his 2006 album, “Edge Of Night,” and his blazing version of “My baby she left me ’cause I wouldn’t lay my guitar down.”  He’s not only a monster, in-demand guitar player, he’s a fine singer and harp man as well.  And, you can also add Grammy-nominated songwriter to his resume’, too.

This fantastic entertainer is back on the Ellersoul label with “If You Think It’s Hot Here,” which returns him to his blues-rockin’ roots with a sweet mixture of originals and covers over the course of the eleven cuts presented herein.  His backing band ain’t no slouch, either, with Michael Rhodes on bass, Pat O’Connor on drums, and the immensely-talented Kevin McKendree on keys.

Mike captures that “old school” vibe on all these cuts, letting his vocals and guitar take charge.  There is absolutely not a weak cut on this one, folks, but we picked some highlights.  The fellows rock the house on “Send You Back To Georgia,” Theodore Roosevelt “Hound Dog” Taylor’s “It’s Alright,” and turn Muddy’s “Mean Red Spider” into a struttin’ slab of funk, with an extended solo from Kevin on piano.  And, “don’t let your right hand know what your left hand do,” because Sonny Boy’s “Unseen Eye is watching you!”

Mike’s originals capture that spirit of down-home blues, too.  The set kicks off with the red-hot “I Wanta Know,” and closes with Mike on harp and Kevin on piano for a cool instrumental, “Rock House Blues.”

We had some favorites, too.  Mike’s slide is sho’ nuff workin’ overtime on his Delta-fied read of “If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day.”  One can almost feel the ghost of Robert Johnson standin’ over his shoulder on this one.  And, at the total opposite end of the spectrum is the title cut.  It’s a sobering look at Eternity and doing unto others, “If You Think It’s Hot Here, just wait until that Pearly Gate is closed!”

Mike Henderson is the real deal, the genuine artifcle, and any other adjective you can think of.  He still holds down that solid Monday night gig at the iconic Bluebird Cafe, and “If You Think It’s Hot Here” just adds to his growing legacy!  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow.

Eric Sardinas review…February 13, 2015…

ERIC SARDINAS AND BIG MOTOR

BOOMERANG

JAZZHAUS RECORDS  JHR 102

RUN DEVIL RUN–BOOMERANG–TELL ME YOU’RE MINE–MORNING GLORY–BAD BOY BLUES–IF YOU DON’T LOVE ME–TROUBLE–LONG GONE–HOW MANY MORE YEARS–HEAVY LOADED

Blues-rocker Eric Sardinas and Big Motor have just released their debut CD for Jazzhaus Records, entitled “Boomerang,” eight originals and two really cool covers of his signature, trademark, boogie-blues.  He continues to use a custom-made Resonator guitar in lieu of an electric guitar, which allows him to achieve his unique sound and also to reach one of his musical goals–to take straight-ahead rock and roll and mix it with the blues.  Backed by Levell Price on bass and Bryan Keeling on drums, this is a supercharged set with highlights all around.  Delta blues are represented by “Morning Glory,” Chicago blues by a J. B. Hutto-inspired houserocker, the set-closing Heavy Loaded,” and more contemporary fare, such as “If You Don’t Love me,” and “Tell Me You’re Mine.”

We had several favorites, too.  The title cut is a rockin’ “love story” of sorts, as Eric’s lover continues to “spin me around and around,” just like a “Boomerang.”  “Bad Boy Blues” is a mid-tempo groove featuring organ from Dave Schulz, as Eric sings of a lot of “trouble on my mind.”  This one also has a cool extended slide solo, as well.  A childhood memory of an Elvis concert which Eric attended led to his cover of “Trouble,” one of the highlights of the movie “King Creole,” and Eric rocks thru the stop-time verses and that high-energy, slide-fueled climax!

With “Boomerang,” Eric Sardinas continues to keep his Resonator blazing, and brings us fans the best in good-rockin’ blues!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Brad Absher review…February 12, 2015…

BRAD ABSHER AND SWAMP ROYALE

LUCKY DOG

MONTROSE RECORDS

WOMAN WHO LOVES ME–I NEED A DRINK–SAME LOVE–I CAN’T WAIT–MISS YOUR WATER–WANNA BE YOUR MAN–RATHER BE BLIND–NOT TONIGHT–LIPSTICK TRACES–JESUS ON THE MAINLINE–TROUBLE–MEMPHIS ON THE WAY

The Gulf Coast has long been a “melting pot” of varying ethnicities, and, as such, musical styles and genres’ as well.  Brad Absher and his band, Swamp Royale, have been fixtures on that fertile scene for some twenty years, spanning five previous albums.  They were a Top Ten finalist in the 2014 IBC’s, and their latest set for Montrose Records is entitled “Lucky Dog.”  It is a fine mix of covers and Brad’s originals that owe as much to Memphis as Muscle Shoals.  His smooth, inviting vocal style, no doubt also a product of his environment, and his flashy fretwork throughout this album makes this a set tailor-made for the dance floor.

He starts the party with a couple of originals, the leadoff strutting slab of funk, “Woman Who Loves Me,” but, when she says goodbye, “I Need A Drink to help me get thru it!”  “I Can’t Wait,” another original, is an organ-heavy story of a love struggling to stay afloat, due to Brad’s constant touring, but he vows to make it up, “one kiss at a time.”

Brad covers some notable R & B associated with the Gulf region, also, and they are really good.  He puts his own soulful, bluesy spin on “You Don’t Miss Your Water,” “Lipstick Traces,” and a wah-wah-infused read of Bill Withers’ “Same Love.”

We had several favorites, too.  Brad breaks out his slide on the traditional gospel of “Jesus On The Mainline,” and closes the set with a cool “road trip” song, “Memphis On The Way.”  And, there’s a nod to Music Row with another original, the barroom-perfect “Not Tonight, I’ve got a heartache.”

Brad Absher and Swamp Royale are well-versed in classic blues and R & B, and Brad’s originals are written in the same vein.  With a set as strong as this one, he’s indeed a “Lucky Dog.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.