Archive for April, 2015

Anthony Gomes review…April 27, 2015…

ANTHONY GOMES

ELECTRIC FIELD HOLLER

UP 2 ZERO ENTERTAINMENT

TURN IT UP–BACK DOOR SCRATCHIN–WHISKEY TRAIN–BLUESCHILD–NOWHERE IS HOME–LOSING GAME–THE BLUES AIN’T THE BLUES NO MORE–JUNK IN THE TRUNK–LOVE CRAZY–RED HANDED BLUES–DELTA RAGA–LISTEN TO THE UNIVERSE

The last time we saw Anthony Gomes was during Blues Awards week a few years ago.  We always catch Barbara Blue down at Silky Sullivan’s during that week, and on that night, Anthony dropped in unannounced and played a hot surprise set.  He’s just released his latest set of blistering blues-rock, “Electric Field Holler,” that not only showcases his guitar and vocal chops, but brings out a great storyteller’s side of his talents.

Born in Toronto, he picked up the guitar as a teen, immersing himself in the sounds of Clapton, Buddy, and B. B.  He sums it all up quite succintly in the autobiographical “Blueschild,” where he describes his love for the blues—“I heard it in the cradle, I’ll take it to the grave”  The plight of the 1.5 million homeless children in the USA is touched upon by the poignant tale of “where can you run to when Nowhere Is Home.”  He tries to dull the pain of a lost love by “going halfway down the label” and ridin’ hard on that “Whiskey Train.”  This one, a sweet slow-blues, is full of excellent flourishes from Anthony.

There are some less-serious cuts, too.  The “more cowbell” of the leadoff “Turn It Up” has Anthony telling us he has “Mississippi thunder in my soul,” and is “comin’ to rock your town!”  “Junk In The Trunk” is an ode to those booty-licious hip-shakin’ mamas found on dance floors everywhere, and “Red Handed Blues” has a couple of cool plot twists as a man tells his fiance’ he and his buds are going fishing, but hit the strip club instead!

For all of Anthony’s electric mojo, one acoustic-themed cut stood tall for us.  It’s an intriguing story borne of the Delta, and, altho the Crossroads are still there, “the Devil don’t live there no more,” because “The Blues Ain’t The Blues No More.”  It’s a reflection of changing times, as “we ain’t got no tomorrow and we ain’t got yesterday!”

Anthony Gomes is a fine student and scholar of blues history, and truly has “a blues soul in a rock and roll heart.”  “Electric Field Holler” is a sho’ nuff cure for what ails you!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

The Guitar Heroes review…April 26, 2015…

GUITAR HEROES

MAKING HISTORY

STONY PLAIN RECORDS   SPCD 1381

THAT’S ALL RIGHT–SUSIE Q–SLEEP WALK–LEAVE MY WOMAN ALONE–YOU’RE THE ONE–COMIN’ HOME BABY–FLIP FLOP AND FLY–ONLY THE YOUNG–POLK SALAD ANNIE–BAD APPLE–COUNTRY BOY

The blues has been on a hot streak lately, given the number of outstanding releases over the last few weeks.  They include the Arlen Roth “Slide Guitat Summit,” Tad Robinson’s “Day Into Night,” and a live set of previously-unheard tracks from John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.  Add to that list one of the most-anticipated releases of the year, “Guitar Heroes: Making History” from Stony Plain.  Recorded live at the Vancouver Island MusicFest on July 12, 2013, this set features the legendary guitar talents of Albert Lee, James Burton, Amos Garrett, and David Wilcox performing some of the most-recognizable songs of the rock era.

The reverence these players have for each other is the reason this whole set is such a fun listen.  There were no egos—just four guys getting together to jam, altho these four arguably changed the course of rock and roll guitar forever thru their recorded legacy.

Albert Lee’s backing band serves the same purpose herein, including Jon Greathouse on keys and vocals, Will MacGregor on bass, and Jason Harrison Smith on drums.  Every cut is a gem, embellished by the brilliant solos traded back and forth by these men.  Leading off, Albert Lee has the vocal on “That’s All Right,” and everyone gets a solo.  Albert also takes lead vocal on a cover of Ray Charles’ “Leave My Woman Alone,” and closes the set with his own “Country Boy,” filled with one flourish after another.

Jon Greathouse has the vocal, but it’s that killer riff that drives “Susie Q,” played by James Burton just the way he did on the Dale Hawkins original.  James also has a fine solo on “Comin’ Home Baby,” an instrumental that took us back to the days of listening to just about any Elvis Presley live recording from the early Seventies, where, as that song played in the background, he’d introduce the band members, including “James Burton on guitar.”

One of the most unique vocalists on the set is Canada’s “best-kept secret,” David Wilcox.  His big voice sets the tone for “You’re The One,” “Flip Flop and Fly,” and his own “One Bad Apple.”  Amos Garrett has perhaps the most electrifying performance on the album.  His solo take on Santo and Johnny’s “Sleep Walk” begins as did the original, then takes off into new territory by its climax, thanks to Amos’ groundbreaking string-bending techniques.

Meant to be just a souvenir for the band, it soon became something special that everyone believed HAD to released to the music-loving public.  And so it is—“Guitar Heroes: Making History” is four legends at their best!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Breezy Rodio review…April 25, 2015…

BREEZY RODIO

SO CLOSE TO IT

WINDCHILL RECORDS 1001

WHEN MY HEART BEATS LIKE A HAMMER–SO CLOSE TO IT–JUST ABOUT TO LOSE YOUR CLOWN–WALKING WITH MY BABY (SHE SO FINE)–SNEAKING AROUND–TIME TO COME BACK HOME–TOO LAZY–MARY–THE DAY I MET YOU–I CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF YOU–PLEASE ACCEPT MY LOVE–I WIN SOME MORE–ONE BROKEN HEART FOR SALE–HOW MUCH CAN A POOR MAN TAKE–EVIL HEARTED WOMAN (BONUS TRACK)

Breezy Rodio is a powerhouse guitarist, vocalist, and writer.  He started out playing in New York, but realized that the real-deal blues was in Chicago.  Thus, he moved to the Windy City a few years ago, and has never looked back. Aside from some of his own projects, (including a few reggae albums), he’s worked with Chicago legend Linsey “Hoochie Man” Alexander on his last few Delmark albums.  Breezy’s latest solo set is entitled “So Close To It,” and it is full of classic Chicago blues, both of his own creation as well as some choice covers.  There are some mighty fine special guests, too.  Billy Branch adds harp to the loping stride of “Walking With My Baby,” and name-checks Halstead, among others, for a perfect place for a stroll with that perfect girl.  Breezy is a huge fan of B. B. King also, and his expressive guitar lends itself well to a horn-drenched “Sneakin Around,” “Please Accept My Love,” (with church-ified organ from Chris Foreman), and the leadoff cut, another showcase for his dazzling fretwork, “When My Heart Beats Like A Hammer.”  The whole band cooks on a Latin-tinged take on Brother Ray’s “You’re Just About To Lose Your Clown,” and Breezy captures the soul and spirit of T-Bone Walker in “Too Lazy.” “Mary” has that stinging Albert King feel, while the deep slow blues of “The Day I Met You” features vocals from Joe Barr and Carl Weathersby.  We loved the stop-time punch of Breezy’s tale of having “women everywhere,” but “I Can’t Get Enough Of You.”  He closes the set with a live “Evil Hearted Woman,” a slow-burner perfect for “last call.”

For favorites, we chose one unusual cut and one traditional cut,  Breezy and B-3 master Chris Foreman, along with the horn section, make Presley’s “One Broken Heart For Sale” a cocktail-lounge party anthem, and Lurrie Bell’s deep guitar lines takes us right down to the alley on the original, “I Win Some More.”

Breezy Rodio is an extremely talented, versatile young man, as evidenced by his forays into other genres’ and working well with other players.  He gets down to some serious Chicago blues with “So Close To It!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

Moondog Medicine Show review…April 24, 2015…

MOONDOG MEDICINE SHOW

LET IT GO

HOT STUFF–SHE WEARS TROUBLE (LIKE A CROWN)–LET IT GO–DESIRE–HOW I LOVE YA–SEVEN DAY FOOL–TIRER LE BLUES–MAMA–IT’S ALL GOOD–THE DAY AFTER YESTERDAY

The Moondog Medicine Show members hail from Western Maryland, but their musical souls run from Chicago to Memphis and on down deep into the Delta.  All these influences are prevalent on “Let It Go,” ten cuts that showcase the big voice of Lana Spence and the excellent musicianship of Joel Newman on guitar, Keith Sylvester on bass, and Daniel Tait on drums, with guests Jeremy Leber on keys, Tom Crawford on sax, and Eddie Galvin on harp.

This one jumps right out at you from track one, as Lana lends that powerhouse vocal to the Memphis Minnie shouter, the slyly-sexy “Hot Stuff,” with Tom Crawford’s sax on fire throughout.  The title cut is a stomper straight outta North Mississippi with Joel’s slide blazing the trail  “How I Love Ya” is a gospel-inflected story of love and redemption, while Lana’s tribute to mothers everywhere reminds us that “what some men can do is truly amazing, but  nobody is as strong as my Mama!”  “It’s All Good” is a clever look at what draws us to our lovers, because Lana knows exactly “who’s pitchin’ and who’s catchin!”  Joel rides his acoustic slide all over this one, too.

We had two favorites.  Joel’s “surf guitar” punches up Lana’s vocal tale about a woman so in love that she’ll be a “Seven Day Fool.”  And, the wah-wahs are workin’ overtime on the story of a sho’ nuff “man hater,” a bad mojo mama that has a potion she calls “make my day,” the voodoo-licious “She Wears Trouble (Like A Crown)”

This is another of those fine sets that we wish could’ve been longer.  Everyone in the Moondog Medicine Show had a great time making “Let It Go,” and their enthusiasm is indeed infectious!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Tad Robinson review…April 22, 2015…

TAD ROBINSON

DAY INTO NIGHT

SEVERN RECORDS  0065

Tad Robinson has always been one of the smoothest singers, not only in blues, but in any genre’.  His follow-up album to “Back In Style,” from 2010,  has just been released on Severn Records and is entitled “Day Into Night,” twelve cuts of sweet soul-blues that take a look at varying stages of love, from the strong, lasting kind down to the one-night stands, and everything in between.

Tad is backed by that strong Severn house band of Johnny Moeller on guitar, Robb Stupka on drums, Steve Gomes on bass, and Kevin Anker on keys.  Tad, Steve and Kevin are the predominant writers of the original material as well.

Things take flight with Tad’s reminiscence of a “Soul Lover,” who may be “gone away” but is “always here” in his heart.  Tad gives a very strong read of Bobby Bland’s song of unconditional love, as Tad urges his lover to “take my hand and Lead Me On.”  When you know you’ve found a love you can count on is the upbeat message of both “Mellow In Love,” and “Love Is A Winner,” while a man who’s made plenty of mistakes in love finds himself down on “Used To Be Road,” terminally trapped in a “Blue Yesterday.”  Johnny’s understated guitar adds the perfect touch here, too.  “Nightwatch” has Tad keeping a lonely eye out for a lover who’s vowed to “return one day.”  This one has sweet guitar from Alex Schultz, also.

We had two favorites, too.  Two people who let their lust get in the way find out that “it might feel like love, but it’s just Lonely Talkin,” with fine staccato, stabbing fretwork from Anson Funderburgh.  And, Tad busts out his harp for the set’s bluesiest cut.  Seems his lover needed a break, so “While You Were Gone, that fine lady in Apartment C sho’ nuff broke it down for me!”  This one rocks that swampy, Excello-styled groove to the hilt.

Tad Robinson just gets better with each album.  Knowing that you’ll get a strong set of soul-blues from this fine singer is as inevitable as “Day Into Night!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Chris Daniels and the Kings Featuring Freddi Gowdy review…April 21, 2015….

CHRIS DANIELS AND THE KINGS

FEATURING FREDDI GOWDY

FUNKY TO THE BONE

MOON VOYAGE RECORDS

FUNKY TO THE BONE–SOMETHING YOU GOT–DON’T LET YOUR MOUTH WRITE NO CHECKS–JOY–COOL BREEZE–DANCE DANCE DANCE–WHAT A DAY–NOBODY KNOWS–SURVIVORS–BIRTHDAY SUIT

As are many of us, Chris Daniels and Freddi Gowdy are survivors, still standing after bouts with cancer.  You gotta celebrate life as much as you can, and what better way than thru ten hot slabs of R & B-soaked blues from Chris Daniels and the Kings with Freddi Gowdy, “Funky To The Bone.”  Guitarist Chris Daniels has been a staple on the Colorado blues scene, working with The Kings, his horn-fueled backing band, since 1984.  Freddi has been rockin’ these blues since the Sixties, and by joining forces with Chris and the Kings makes this set a fine combo of Sam and Dave, Tower Of Power, Al Green, and even a bit of Chicago, and gets your blood pumpin’ and your booty bumpin.’

The party starts with funky guitar and the horns pitchin’ in over Freddi’s vocal to proclaim this set as “Funky To The Bone.”  “Joy” has an uplifting, positive, gospel-inflected feel, while “Cool Breeze on a hot summer night” combines Stax soul with contemporary hip-hop.  “What A Day” is a fine example of swing-styled blues, with tinkling piano courtesy of Billy Payne, he of Little Feat fame.  The set closes with the bump’n’grind tale of Freddi hoping to find his woman ’bout 3 AM, dressed in her “Birthday Suit!”

We had two favorites, too.  A clever take on the old soul adage of “talkin’ loud and sayin’ nothin” is Freddi’s reminder, “Don’t Let Your Mouth Write No Checks Your Booty Can’t Cash!”  This one is a stone-solid dance floor burner with clever, humorous lyrics.  Almost the polar opposite is the poignant “Survivors,” dedicated to all of us who’ve lived thru “the wind and the rain” and everything else life has thrown at us, sending a message of hope thru the power of this song.

Chris Daniels and the Kings featuring Freddi Gowdy and “Funky To The Bone” can be summed up by the phrase on the CD’s back cover art—“Rock and soul, funky blues, and a good time!”  We couldn’t have said it better—dig this one with your dancin’ shoes on!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

The Nighthawks review…April 21, 2015…

THE NIGHTHAWKS

BACK PORCH PARTY

LIVE AND ACOUSTIC

ELLERSOUL RECORDS  ELL 1505

ROCK THIS HOUSE–WALKING AFTER MIDNIGHT–DOWN IN THE HOLE–MATCHBOX–TIGER IN YOUR TANK–JANA LEA–ROLLIN STONE–GUARD YOUR HEART–DOWN TO MY LAST MILLION TEARS–HEY MISS HEY–ROOSTER BLUES–BACK TO THE CITY

The Nighthawks continue their foray into acoustic blues following up their Blues Award-winning ‘Last Train To Bluesville” with a brilliant, live-in-the-studio set done at Montrose Studio in Richmond, VA, entitled “Back Porch Party.”  And a party it is, indeed—set in front of an intimate, in-studio crowd, the fellows roll thru twelve cuts of cool covers and ‘Hawks originals.

The lineup is the same—the venerable Mark Wenner on harp, Paul Bell on guitar, Johnny Castle on bass, and Mark Stutso on drums.  The engineers hit “record” and the guys did the rest–one take is all it took to get this party committed to wax, and it makes for a really fun listen.  Things kick off wth the Jimmy Rogers chestnut, “Rock This House,” while Mark pays tribute to one of his mentors, Muddy Waters, with a chugging “Tiger In Your Tank,” and the pounding stomp of “Rollin’ Stone.”  Johnny Castle’s cuts, “Jana Lea” and “Hey Miss Hey” have a Fifties’ doo-wop feel, and Mark has made “Walkin’ After Midnight” a staple of the band’s live shows.  Two of the band’s early works are also represented.  Mark takes the lead vocal and tells the tale of “learning the wrong from the right,” but never how to “Guard Your Heart.”  The set closes with another cool original as Mark vows to move “Back To The City,” because “this country living sho’ has got me down!”

We had two favorites, too.  The story of that “Little Red Rooster and the little brown hen” is a humorous rocker, and “Down In The Hole” is where the fellows want to keep the Devil.  This one has fine call-and-response vocals from everyone, set over a haunting groove.

Hey—good blues is good blues, whether it’s stripped-down or amped-up, and The Nighthawks have been pitchin’ a boogie for some forty years, and they just keep getting better!  “Back Porch Party” is a whole lotta fun!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.