Archive for March, 2015

Toots Lorraine review…March 30, 2015…

TOOTS LORRAINE

AND THE TRAFFIC

MAKE IT EASY

INDEPENDENT RELEASE

MAKE IT EASY–WHEN DID YOU STOP TRYIN–LET YOUR TEARS FALL BABY–GET BACK TO LOVIN–SATISFIED–WADE IN THE WATER–BUILT FOR COMFORT–WRONG SIDE OF LOVE–CHAD MO’ SHUFFLE–LOW DOWN DOG–HINDSIGHT–LOVE THE WORLD

Toots Lorraine and the Traffic are a cool breath of fresh air on the contemporary blues scene today.  They show a deep passion for the preservation of classic West Coast jump blues and good ole Chicago blues.  For their latest album, Toots and the Traffic channeled that vintage sound into “Make It Easy,” featuring a blend of covers and originals that all pay tribute to the ancestors of the blues.

Toots has that perfect blend of sugar-and-spice in her vocals that fits in well with this material.  Check out the opening title cut, the jazzy “Make It Easy,” with big fat chromatic harp from Aki Kumar.  Chad Dant gets in some fine guitar grooves over Toots’ vocals, as she tells a no-good lover to “Let Your Tears Fall, Baby.”  She gets downright torchy and right to the heart of the matter on the slow-burn of ” let’s Get Back To Lovin, the only thing we do right!”

Toots does some hi-octane testifyin’ on another swingin’ band original, “Satisfied,” with guitar from Chris “Kid” Andersen.  She plays a woman who realizes she made a mistake “the very second I let you go,” and is now on “The Wrong Side Of Love, lookin’ back at you.”  This one is built around a sweet, stop-time, slow groove.  She swears “I won’t be your Low Down Dog no more” over Aki’s chromatic, and closes the set with a universal call for peace, love, and understanding, the haunting “Love The World.”

Our favorite was easy.  Aki’s harp intro gives way to Toots’ telling everybody that “I got everything a good man needs,” and is sho’ nuff “Built For Comfort, not for speed!”

It is always refreshing to have a band that knows the history of the blues, and it’s even better when you have a fine, fine singer such as Toots Lorraine and a backing band as talented as The Traffic to carry this bidness on.  “Make It Easy” is an easy set to enjoy, for sure!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Michael Falzarano review…March 29, 2015…

MICHAEL FALZARANO

AND EXTENDED FAMILY

I GOT BLUES FOR YA

HYPNOTATION RECORDS–WOODSTOCK RECORDS  WR 0049

THE NIGHT KING CURTIS DIED–I GOT BLUES FOR YA–I NEVER THINK OF YOU–SNAKE BOX BOOGIE–BIG FISH–WE GOT A PARTY GOIN’ ON–GOOD GOOD LOVIN–CROSSROADS AVENUE–THE DEVIL’S GONE FISHIN’–DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY–TROUBLE–LET’S WORK TOGETHER

Michael Falzarano is a veteran of Hot Tuna and New Riders Of The Purple Sage, having contributed guitar and lyrics for both bands.  His current backing band, The Extended Family, features many well-known players, and they combine their myriad of talents for Michael’s latest, “I Got Blues For Ya,” ten very well-conceived originals and two covers that show why Michael has been an in-demand player for some 45 years down the blues highway.

His bluesy, gravelly vocal is a perfect match with the call-and-response of Kane Dailey’s crying slide on the leadoff “The Night King Curtis Died.”  The “King Snake Boogie” fuses dynamite piano from Professor Louie with that good ole “endless boogie” a la John Lee Hooker.  A cool story about a lover who thinks she’s all that is just a “Big Fish,” and features slide from Kerry Kearney and Vassar Clements on the fiddle.

There are a couple of good “party anthems,” as well.  “We Got A Party Goin’ On” has those “champagne corks poppin” while a woman with that ‘red dress on and black hair piled high” can’t be nothin’ but “Trouble!”  This one has fine piano again from the Professor and Farfisa organ from Harley Fine.  The set closes with a rousing read of Wilbert Harrison’s clarion call for peace, “Let’s Work Together.”

We had two favorites, too.  A haunting, live version of Rev. Gary Davis’ “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” takes on a true country-blues feel with Danny Mitterhoff on mandolin and Jason Crosby on fiddle.  And, a downright devilish look at that place where the deal goes down is “Crossroads Avenue,” complete with a “hoodoo man and a mojo hand!”  Alexis P. Suter is right on time with backing vocals, too.

Micael Falzarano has an unbridled passion for the blues that hasn’t waned throughout his career.  “I Got Blues For Ya” continues to add kudos to his impessive resume’!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

My Own Holiday review,,,March 25, 2015…

MY OWN HOLIDAY

REASON TO BLEED

ECLECTO GROOVE RECORDS  EGCRD 517

HOLD ON ME–RAZORBLADES–TWO COINS–MEMPHIS–DEVIL IN ME–REASON TO BLEED–WHISKEY IN THE WELL–ON THE FLOOR BLUES–SMILE–STONE FREE–STRANDED–DON’T SHINE ON ME–RIGHT BACK WHERE I STARTED

My Own Holiday consists only of guitarist/vocalist Joey Chrisman and drummer Nick Bartolo.  They hail from Lake Arrowhead, CA, far enough from the glitz of L. A. for them to create a sound that is raw, passionate, and fuses the blues with elements of metal.  Their latest album for Eclecto Groove Records is “Reason To Bleed,” and these thirteen cuts put the emphasis squarely on the band’s incredible songwriting skills and their minimalist, propulsive sound.

Check out the grungy punch of a love gone so bad that “it hurts to hear you speak/I’d rather just go chew on Razorblades,” and another one that comes at you hard and fast, “on my last day you can send me away with Two Coins over my eyes!”

“Whiskey In The Well” is perhaps the set’s most somber piece, and finds Joey trying to drink a lost lover off his mind, while “Stranded” has a tremolo-drenched, Fifties’ feel.  The set closes on a Dylanesque note, with quiet guitars over Joey’s vocal, “Right Back Where I Started.”

Our favorite was easy.  Another song with a cool storyteller’s vibe is the tale of a man who realizes all too late that “I should have quit you when I had the chance to fly higher,” entitled “Memphis.”

My Own Holiday ain’t the Black Keys, nor are they the White Stripes, altho those comparisons are inevitable.  Nope—Joey and Nick owe as much to Dylan as they do Son House.  Great songs set over a sparse arrangement is the premise of “Reason To Bleed,” and we highly recommend this one to all blues fans!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

The Bernard Allison Group review…March 22, 2015…

THE BERNARD ALLISON GROUP

IN THE MIX

JAZZHAUS RECORDS  JHR 106

FIVE LONG YEARS–CALL ME MOMMA–MOVE FROM THE HOOD–TELL ME WHO–SOMETHING’S WRONG–LUST FOR YOU–I HAD IT ALL THE TIME–I’D RATHER BE BLIND–SET ME FREE–MOVING ON UP

Bernard Allison is the youngest of nine children whose father was the great Luther Allison.  Young Bernard began to play guitar around the age of ten, and, since 1990, he has recorded several critically-acclaimed albums. Since the passing of his iconic father in 1997, Bernard has accepted the challenge to keep the blues alive in his own ways.  He fuses his father’s sounds with his own, adding flourishes of funk, soul and rock to create a unique sound all his own.

Such is the premise of his latest album, and first in nearly six years, “In The Mix,” on the Jazzhaus label.  This set combines all of Bernard’s myriad of influences for a highly-entertaining album.  Check out the smooth soul of the song that finds Bernard asking Momma for advice on love, “Call Me Momma.”  He channels Pops in the haunting groove of “Lust For You,” with excellent B-3 from Mark Leach.  His love for classic soul and blues is evidenced through sweet covers of Tyrone Davis’ “I Had It All The Time,” and a funk-filled read of Freddie King’s “I’d Rather Be Blind than to see you go.”  The set closes with a gospel touch, as he soulfully covers his father’s “Moving On Up.”

We had two favorites–one cover and one original.  Bernard busts out the slide guitar on both of ’em–his original is the tale of a cheatin’ lover, “Something’s Wrong with you!”  And, the horn section adds a touch of “uptown soul” over Bernard’s slide and vocal on his dad’s story of improving one’s lot in life, “Move From The Hood.”

Bernard Allison continues to be a torch-bearer for the future of the blues.  “In The Mix” continues his family’s strong tradition of bringing us nothin’ but the best in blues!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

Balkun Brothers review…March 20, 2015…

BALKUN BROTHERS

REDROVA

BALKUN MUSIC

LAST JAM (OH YEAH!)–REDROVA–GOT MY BOOTS ON–KEEP ME WARM–S.F.T.A.–BIPPIDEE BOPP–KEEP IT UP–SALLY’S BLUES–FRIED PICKLE PARTY–SLIDIN BUTT–TELL ME (WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND)–TOO DAMN LONG

The Balkun Brothers hail from Hartford, Connecticut.  Steve plays guitars and is on vocals, and brother Nick is on drums and vocals.  Add in bass man Caleb Battersby, and they are a formidable power trio, indeed.  They have won numerous awards in the northeast, and have been finalists in the IBC’s.  Their latest set, “ReDrova,” takes old-school blues and turns it upside-down and rockets it head-first into the 21ST Century. Twelve cuts of intense, raw, futuristic blues-rock is the content herein, and listeners can feel the influences of Muddy, Jimi, and, even Cream.

They kick out the jams with “Last Jam (Oh Yeah!), and it has a great, grungy, Hendrix feel to it.  A spaced-out intro gives way to some serious Delta-fied slide from Steve in the title cut, and he keeps that slide smokin’ with the Hill Country stomper, “Got My Boots On.” Nick’s percussion drives another slide-driven rocker, “S. F. T. A.,” with Caleb on the big baritone horn.  “Sally’s Blues” is a love gone sour slow-blues, and the instrumental “Fried Pickle Party” is, sadly, too short.  But, “Slidin Butt” makes up for it, with a thumping opening that slows slightly at the bridge before rockin’ right over the cliff for a climax.  The set closes with a miss-my-baby ode after being on the road just “Too Damn Long.”  Steve’s guitar and Nick’s percussion drive this one home, hard and fast.

Our favorite was easy.  Steve conjures up the ghost of Elmore James with “Tell Me (What’s On Your Mind).  He kicks his slide into high gear on this clever shuffle, finishing with some great staccato flourishes of fretwork, too!

The Balkun Brothers have a firm grasp on their blues history, and they do a fantastic job taking those classic sounds and updating them for today’s contemporary arena.  “ReDrova” is destined to bring them even more accolades!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

 

 

Brad Hatfield review…March 20, 2015…

BRAD HATFIELD

FOR A CHANGE

SELF-RELEASED

THAT’S MY HOME–BACK DOOR SCRATCHIN’–BEHAVE YOURSELF–SMARTER THAN I WAS–DEVIL ON BOTH SHOULDERS–SO MUCH, SO LITTLE–NEVER FINISHED NOTHIN’–GOOD LOVE AFTER BAD–DRINK DRANK DRUNK–FOR A CHANGE–SWAMP POKER–BURBANK’S BOOGIE

In 2013, Brad Hatfield received a Blues Award nomination for Best New Artist, and he’s continued to build a strong career off of that success.  His latest album is a fine one, for sure.  Brad has teamed up with producer Tom Hambridge to release “For A Change.”  It’s twelve cuts of soulful blues written by Brad and some more of the best in the blues bidness, including Tom Hambridge, Richard Fleming, Scott Holt, and Gary Nicholson.  The backing band is a stout as they come, too.  Brad is on harp and vocals, Tom is on drums, Kevin McKendree is all over the keys, Tommy McDonald is on bass, and Etta’s husband Bob Britt adds great guitar.

This set puts the focus on Brad’s vocal strengths, and that gritty style he sings in.  Check out the leadoff cut, a groovin’ shuffle that pretty much describes the life of a traveling bluesman, “wherever I put down my suitcase, baby, That’s My Home.”  Bob’s slide is in overdrive as Brad sings of roadhouse women with a “Devil On Both Shoulders,” with “one speaking the truth, the other speaking in tongues,” while Brad’s harp intro leads into some fine barrelhouse piano from Kevin on the tale of a small-statured woman who “does So Much with So Little!”  Brad’s a man who’s had enough of a one-way love affair on the slow-burn of his original tune, “Never Finished Nothin,” while everybody has a good time with the ultimate party song, “Drink Drank Drunk.”

The title cut finds Brad asking a lover, who’s been the victim of many a “back door man,” “how would you like to be treated right For A Change,” and closes the set with a hard-drivin’ foot-stompin’ ode to that good ole barbecue, “Burbank’s Boogie.”

We had two favorites, too.  “Behave Yourself” lopes along at a sweet, Jimmy Reed pace, while “Smarter Than I Was” is its polar opposite.  Bob Britt’s slide comes right outta the dark Delta mists and grabs you as Brad sings that “it’s been nine cold, dark nights, and she ain’t comin’ home!”

Brad Hatfield has upped his game to the next level with “For A Change,” He’s got a great bluesman’s voice, is a killer harp man, and has a great supporting cast.  Here’s wishing him continued success with this set!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Tas Cru review…March 18, 2015…

TAS CRU

YOU KEEP THE MONEY

CRUSTEE TEAS RECORDS  1402

YOU KEEP THE MONEY–A MONTH OF SOMEDAYS–HALF THE TIME–LA BELLE POUTINE–HEART TROUBLE–A LITTLE MORE TIME–ONE BAD HABIT–TAKE ME BACK TO TULSA–COUNT ON ME–HOLDING ON TO YOU–BRINGING OUT THE BEAST–THINKING HOW TO TELL ME GOODBYE

Bluesman Tas Cru has been hailed as the “master of the triple entendre,” and rightfully so.  He has always had a way with a lyric, as well as being a helluva singer and guitarist.  For his sixth album, “You Keep The Money,” he continues to bring forth songs that’ll make you think, make you smile, and make you wanna dance!

The concept of the album and the title cut came out of a conversation with Delta blues icon T-Model Ford, a victim of failing health and a home that had fallen into great disrepair.  As such, Tas Cru organized a benefit gig at the Bluesberry Cafe, with the door money going to T-Model.  He graciously deferred, asking Tas only to “show me the love–You Keep The Money.”  That sentiment drives the opening title cut, going out to every blues player knowing he’s not likely to get rich playing the blues.  It features great harp from Dick Ericksen, and B-3 from Guy Nirelli.  “Heart Trouble” follows a funky, staccato beat as Tas blames his latest malady on falling in love.  A sweet, gospel-inflected cut that pays tribute to all of the aging players still around to spread the word of the blues finds Tas asking for them all to have “just A Little More Time.”  Dick’s harp and Chip Lamson’s piano helps Tas to break his “One Bad Habit,” which just happens to be “women like you”  “Count On Me” uses Tas’ ability to make a clever play on words, and he closes the set with a country-tinged “breakup song” of sorts, “Thinking How To Tell Me Goodbye.”

We had two favorites, too.  “A Month Of Somedays” is a helluva long time, especially after your lover is gone, as evidenced in this minor-key ballad.  And, a pastoral, acoustic intro gives way to the rockin’ “Take Me Back To Tulsa,” with cool references to the Bristol Motor Speedway and the good ole boys of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Tas Cru experiments with several styles of blues and plays them with passion and soul.  “You Keep The Money”pays a debt to blues players everywhere!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.