Archive for May, 2015

JC Smith review…May 30, 2015…

THE JC SMITH BAND

LOVE MECHANIC

COZMIK RECORDS CR-CD-006

JUMP FOR JOY–COLD SWEAT–COME ON HOME TO ME–LOVE MECHANIC–RING AROUND THE TUB–YONDER WALL–BAD BAD FEELING–LAST NIGHT–TALK TO ME BABY–ROCKET TO THE MOON–FIVE LONG YEARS–AIN’T NO STRANGER

JC Smith and his band are one of the hottest, hi-octane outfits in the San Francisco Bay area.  They have won numerous awards, including the 2012 Metro Newspapers Best Of Silicon Valley with Best Original/Local Band.  JC is on guitar and vocals, and utilizes a full horn and keys section to lay down an irresistible groove that’s hard to beat.  His latest release for Cozmik Records is “Love Mechanic,” and the varied blues, funk, swing and soul cuts herein show why crowds dig him so much.

Leading off is a good shot of West Coast swing, the jive-and-wail of “Jump For Joy,” one of JC’s originals.  From there we go right into “Maceo” mode, as JC and the band funk up the place in a “Cold Sweat,” and do it to death a little later with “Yonder Wall.”

“Bad Bad Feeling” is a pure shot of the Delta, with its country-blues feel, and its tales of “back door men” and “black cat bones.”  There are two fine examples of slow-blues, too, that give JC and the fellows a chance to stretch out a bit.  “Last Night” is done in tribute to many of our blues legends who have passed on, as Todd Reid’s soulful B-3work takes the place of Little Walter’s harp.  And, JC “works that steel mill like a slave” in a six-minute slow-burn of “Five Long Years.”  The set closes with a Toronzo Cannon cover, as JC lets the world know that “I Ain’t No Stranger in your town, as long as the blues are around!”

We had two favorites, too.  Another blistering funker is the title cut, as our “Love Mechanic” wants to give all the ladies a “check-up under your hood!”  And, he takes us all to church with another original, the testifyin’ plea for a lover to please “Come On Home To Me.”

One thing you can say about most of the cuts on the JC Smith Band’s “Love Mechanic.”—get on your dancin’ shoes, because you can “shake a tailfeather like a broke-neck goose!”  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow.

 

Amy Hart review…May 28, 2015….

AMY HART

LIVE AT THE MAYNE STAGE

PAINTED ROCK RECORDS/VIZZTONE  VTPRR–2015L

IN THE ZONE–BLUES AT THE TOP OF THE WORLD–GET READY–PUT ME BACK–BLUE EYED BLUES–RIBCAGE–RED DRESS BLUES–GET THE GIRLS DANCIN–EVEN COUNTRY GETS THE BLUES–CONGRATULATIONS–RICH ASS DADDY–TALKING–YOU DRIVE ME

Amy Hart was born in Chicago, with her first gig in 1979 being part of a West Side blues band.  She now calls Nashville home, and we are fortunate to have her.  She recently returned to the Windy City for several gigs, including one special show at Rogers Park for the PBS series, “Live At The Mayne Stage,” which serves as her latest release.

Amy is on guitar and vocals, and is joined by her husband, Wally Hoffman, on bass, PT Gazell on harp, Gene Bush on dobro, and Matt McDowell on drums.  The groove kicks off with the harp-fueled “In The Zone.” Amy recently headlined the Himalayan Blues Festival in Kathmandu, Nepal, and that exhilarating excursion is documented by “Blues At The Top Of The World,” while “Put Me Back the right way this time” finds Amy “scattered on the carpet” after the daily challenges of life become too much.  PT blows a cool Butterfield groove on this one, too.

The lovelorn “Blue Eyed Blues” anjd “Even Country Gets The Blues” do indeed have a country feel, thanks to Gene Bush’s sweet dobro.  Amy gets the good times rollin’ with the funky strut of “Ribcage,” and her “call to arms” for dancers, “Get The Girls Dancin.”  And, every girl needs that special someone, that “Big Fat Rich-Ass Daddy” to take care of ’em, and this one rocks with a juke joint feel.

We had two favorites, too.  “Red Dress Blues” is a new song from Amy, and this minor-key classic deals with one-night stands, as “the last thing I need tonite is the blues.”  And, “Congratulations, baby—you got the blues” when “you’re at the mercy of nothin’ left to lose.”   PT and Gene get in some extended solos on this one.

Whether she’s “Live At The Mayne Stage” in Chicago, or live on stage at the Fillin’ Station in beautiful downtown Kingston Springs, Tennessee, Amy Hart is a Triple-A guarantee for a great night of the blues!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

Billy Price and Otis Clay review…May 27, 2015…

BILLY PRICE AND OTIS CLAY

THIS TIME FOR REAL

BONEDOG/VIZZTONE  BDRCD 46

SOMEBODY’S CHANGING MY SWEET BABY’S MIND–I’M AFRAID OF LOSING YOU–GOING TO THE SHACK–ALL BECAUSE OF YOUR LOVE–LOVE DON’T LOVE NOBODY–I’LL NEVER DO YOU WRONG–DON’T LEAVE ME STARVING FOR YOUR LOVE–BROADWAY WALK–BOOK OF MEMORIES–TOO MANY HANDS–TEARS OF GOD–YOU GOT ME HUMMIN’

Otis Clay is one of the defining voices in soul music.  Beginning his career as a gospel singer in groups such as the Sensational Nightingales, he garnered national attention with his sides for Hi Records some forty-plus years ago.  Cuts like “Is It Over?” and “Trying To Live My Life Without You” not only defined his career, but a whole genre’–Southern soul–as well.

Billy Price, a New Jersey native, gained notoriety in the Washington, D. C. area, singing R & B with Roy Buchanan as his guitarist.  Otis Clay’s emotion-packed vocals struck a chord with Billy, and both these stalwarts of soul ventured to Chicago to the Delmark Studios to record “This Time For Real,” which was produced by Duke Robillard, and features members of his band.

Folks, this is ’bout as good as it gets.  There are no overdubs, no vocal tricks–just two men performing the music they love.  Check out the tale of a man who’s not the lover he oughta be, and, thus, “Somebody’s Changing My Sweet Baby’s Mind.”  Both men realize all too late that “It takes a fool to learn that Love Don’t Love Nobody,” and they both start doing crazy things such as “goin’ to work on Sunday, thinkin’ it’s Monday,” “All Because Of Your Love.”

This set has some lighter moments, too.  “Goin’ To The Shack” and “Broadway Walk” are full of funky swagger, and the set closes with both fellows having a great time on Sam and Dave’s “You Got Me Hummin.”

We had two favorites, too.  The gentlemen swap lines throughout on the poignant story of the end of an affair, a footnote in a lover’s “Book f Memories.”  And, Otis’ gospel background is displayed on the positive message of looking to the “Tears Of God to show you the way to turn.”

Billy Price and Otis Clay, with “This Time For Real,” have crafted a set that brings the mentor face-to-face in the studio with a brilliant student, making for an unforgettable listen!  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Hans Theessink and Terry Evans review…May 26, 2015…

HANS THEESSINK AND TERRY EVANS

TRUE AND BLUE

BLUE GROOVE  BGO  2520

DEMONS–MOTHER EARTH–GLORY OF LOVE–GOTTA KEEP MOVING–VICKSBURG IS MY HOME–BOURGEOIS BLUES–DON’T LET THE GREEN GRASS FOOL YOU–CROSS ROAD BLUES–MAYBELLENE–DELTA TIME–TALK TO YOUR DAUGHTER–SHELTER FROM THE STORM–I NEED MONEY–TEARS ARE ROLLING

Hans Theessink is perhaps Europe’s best-known bluesman.  He’s logged over fifty years on the road with over 7500 shows, and has an instructional guitar video available.  His laid-back vocal style is the perfect complement to Terry Evans, a Vicksburg-born bluesman whose gospel upbringing gives his vocals that truly-intangible “soul.”  When these two giants get together, magical things happen.  “True And Blue,” is their latest collaboration, recorded live at the Metropol in Vienna, Austria, in front of a blues-lovin’ crowd.

Both men are accomplished guitarists, and the fourteen cuts herein are brought to life by the talents of these two great players.  There’s a sweet mix of Hans’ originals and crowd-pleasing covers, and both players have a lotta fun in this setting.

They strike that playful mode with the special-efeects scat-singing on “The Glory Of Love” and “I Need Money,” with Hans also on harp.  Terry’s Delta roots run deep on several cuts, including “Talk To Your Daughter,” the deep blues of “Gotta Keep Moving,” and a sweet ode to his desire to leave “the chilly and cold winds of Lake Michigan” and go back down South to where “Vicksburg Is My Home.”

Both men get the crowd involved on a soulful tribute to Wilson Pickett, “Don’t Let The Green Grass Fool You,” and Hans’ outstanding guitar fireworks that make up his take on “Maybellene.”

We had several favorites, too.  Hans gets in a country-blues mood on guitar and harp as he and Terry pay tribute to Leadbelly during the 125th anniversary of his birth, the “Bourgeois Blues.”  Hans literally grabs that hellhound by the tail as Terry sings of that mythical place where the deal went down, “Cross Road Blues.”  And, Hans’ somber original, “Shelter From The Storm,” has an ethereal, gospel feel as he vows to a lover to always be her safe harbor.

“True And Blue” from Hans Theessink and Terry evans has that laid-back, “front porch” groove even tho it was recorded in a packed theater.  When these two legends combine their talents, the whole is indeed greater than the sum of the parts!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Arthur James review…May 24, 2015…

ARTHUR JAMES

ME, MYSELF, AND I

SELF-RELEASED

292 NASHUA STREET–BLUES, BLUES, BLUES–WHAT YOU TRYIN’ TO DO–LONG BLACK ROAD–OOH YEAH–THINGS AIN’T NO BETTER–GOT ME A WOMAN–DROWNIN’ ON DRY LAND–FORGOTTEN YOUTH–KUMBAYA–WAITER, THERE’S A BOMB IN MY SOUP–LIFE

As one listens to Arthur James’ latest release, “Me, Myself, And I,” you’ll notice several things.  His fingerpicking is exemplary, and all the ten original songs on this set are written in the same vein as the players he’s always listened to—Son House, Bukka White and Robert Johnson, up thru Keb’ Mo’ and Eric Bibb on the contemporary scene.

Also, as Arthur created these songs, he did so with the listener in mind, to bring them directly into the song.  As such, this album is predominantly acoustic and Arthur wrote all the songs, plus a sweet re-working of “Kumbaya.”  What you hear is what went down in the studio, too—just Arthur, his voice, and his guitar.

The set starts with a playful instrumental, showcasing his chops and setting the tone for what’s to come, “292 Nashua Street.”  “What You Tryin’ To Do” is another humorous cut about Arthur’s “girl,” who’s “got a staple in her navel!”  “Ooh Yeah” and “Got Me A Woman” extoll the virtues of women he admires, either up close or from afar.

The set takes a darker, more intense turn as it enters its second half.  Goin’ down that “Long Black Road,” Arthur’s “future lies in darkness,” and “bad luck and the Devil overtook me there.”  “Forgotten Youth” recalls fond memories of one’s past, which are just that–memories.  “Things Ain’t No Better” finds Arthur surrounded by the blues–in his house, on the TV news, and everywhere else.

Perhaps the two most intriguing cuts close the set, and served as our favorites.  Arthur goes into Richie-Havens-at-Woodstock as he sings “Waiter, There’s A Bomb In My Soup” with its apocalyptic message of the consequences as man continues to destroy the Earth from within, thru nuclear waste or dropping of bombs, with the only hope being a “bomb of love.”  The set closes with another instrumental, “Life,” that follows the previous song’s somber rhythm pattern.

Arthur James has long been a well-respected sideman for other players, but “Me, Myself, And I” is his own personal statement.  Excellent picking and uniquely-crafted songs make this set a fine listen, indeed!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Sugaray Rayford review…May 23, 2015…

SUGARAY RAYFORD

SOUTHSIDE

NIMOY SUE RECORDS  NIM 2

SOUTHSIDE OF TOWN–MISS THANG–LIVE TO LOVE AGAIN–TEXAS BLUESMAN–TAKE IT TO THE BANK–CALL OFF THE MISSION–ALL I THINK ABOUT–TAKE AWAY THESE BLUES–SLOW MOTION

Sugaray Rayford is known the world over as the lead singer for the Mannish Boys, who record for Delta Groove.  He has also released two prior solo albums, and his third just hit the streets.  It is entitled “Southside,” and it is nine fine original soul-blues cuts.

The big man with the bigger voice takes listeners on a cool musical journey, showcasing his ease with singing uptown soul or down-home blues, as most of these cuts have a smooth-and-soulful Memphis/Stax vibe.

The set starts as Suga tells us all about the best place to go to have a good time—“down on the Southside Of Town.”  Guitarist Gino Matteo brings the funk on the tale of a woman that every man knows, “Miss Thang.”  The “church women call her sassy,” but all the men just drool over “them big ‘ol hips!”  A soulful, Al Green-inspired story of repentance is “If I Live To Love Again, I’ll do it different.”  A clarion call for peace is the message in “Call Off The Mission,” because “we’re in no position to say what’s wrong or right!”  The set closes with a sweet, old-school “love jam,” the seven-minutes-of-bliss that is a lesson for lovers everywhere to take things in “Slow Motion.”

We had two favorites, too.  Suga is a sho’ nuff “Texas Bluesman,” and he’s proud of his heritage.  Thus, he name-checks all the great ones from the Lone Star State, from Lightnin’ Hopkins to SRV to the Iceman and several others in this swingin’ shuffle.  And, a cut that sounds as if it could have been recorded on Suga’s back porch starts off with everybody talking about fried chicken and singing in the church.  Then, Ray starts the vocal regarding his love skills, which are so good that you can “Take It To The Bank.”  This one has a cool Delta feel, and an extended country-blues harp solo from our good friend Bob Corritore.

Sugaray Rayford continues to find that perfect balance between uptown soul and juke joint grit.  You simply cannot go wrong takin’ a trip down to the “Southside.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

Billy Hector review…May 22, 2015…

BILLY HECTOR

OLD SCHOOL THANG

GHETTO SURF MUSIC  GSM 025

SHE’S GONE–GOIN’ DOWN–OLD SCHOOL THANG–FAKE ID–VITAMIN B–COME ON HOME–EVIL, SLICK, ‘N SLY–HAMMER–RITA–SHORT AND SWEET–PEOPLE OF THE WORLD

Billy Hector has been a fixture in the New Jersey–Tri State area for over thirty-five years.  He’s won numerous “Brest Guitarist” accolades, and performed on April 25th on the Kennedy Center stage along with Alvin Youngblood Hart, Robert Plant, and a host of others in the tribute to “Leadbelly At 125.”  On June 27, 2015, this East Coast icon will release “Old School Thang,”  ten originals and one awesome cover that shows why he’s held in such high regard.

He kicks out the jams with a fiery, guitar-laden tale of a lover who was “here for a minute, but now She’s Gone.”  This one is also augmented by the horns over a hot Latin beat.  The title cut is indeed an “Old School Thang,” a monster slab of dance floor funk that is a fan favorite.

There are a couple of fine instrumentals, too.  “Vitamin Big Daddy” and “Short And Sweet” are solid slow-bluesers that allow Billy to just rear back and let the blues flow freely.

For all his East Coast swagger, we can hear a lotta the Delta in Billy’s DNA.  “Fake I D,” a tune about being a gambler and taking your chances in life, sounds as if it coulda been cut down at the Crossroads.  It has a cool acoustic dobro intro, which gives way to some serious electrified psychedelia.  And, “Come On Home” has a Hill-Country feel, with that driving beat and harp from Ken Sorensen.

We had two favorites, too—one cover and one original.  Billy goes into Iceman mode as he touts his “Hammer” as the perfect cure for what ails your woman!  And, the wah-wah comes out swingin’  for Billy’s scalding tribute to Don Nix and Freddie King, “Goin’ Down.”

Billy Hector is one of those iconic players that has been an inspiration to others.  His versatility and overall chops are incredible, and “Old School Thang” owes as much to his future as it does his past!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.