Archive for June, 2015

The Betty Fox Band review…June 27, 2015….

THE BETTY FOX BAND

SLOW BURN

SELF-RELEASED

THINK ABOUT IT–SWEET MEMORIES–SLOW BURN–SOLID GROUND–PLEASE COME HOME–OUR LOVE–REMEMBER ME–TAKE A WALK WITH ME–LET THE LIGHT SHINE–BABY PLEASE–WHO’S HOLDIN’–GOODBYE–ANGEL FLYIN’ TOO CLOSE TO THE GROUND

There must be something in the water or the sunshine down in Central Florida, because the Suncoast Blues Society has produced another winner for blues fans everywhere.  She is vocalist and composer extraordinaire Betty Fox, a finalist in the 2015 IBC’s.  She has an extensive gospel background, and a feel for classic soul deep down in her heart which translates well on her latest CD, “Slow Burn.”  For this set, she is joined by Kid Royal on guitar, Barry Williams on bass, Shawn Brown on keys, and Sam Farmer on drums.

Betty’s sassy, strutting style fits this material well, as the band originals are written with that vintage Stax/Hi sound in mind.  Leading off is “Think About It,” with Kid riffing on a James Brown-styled groove.  The chance discovery of an old photo brings back those “Sweet Memories of a love that was never mine,” while “Our Love” is a feel-good cut about making that love “a little stronger every day.”  “Baby Please” is a plaintive, soulful plea to a lover that has Betty reachng down into the literal depths of her soul to get her point across, while she closes the set accompanied only by her acoustic guitar on a somber “Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground.”

“Solid Ground” and “Let The Light Shine,” with their messages of faith, hope, and redemption, recall Betty’s gospel days.  The playful, jazzy nature of “Please Come Home” and “Who’s Holdin,” complete with some snazzy scat-singing, show us her lighter side.  Thus, these four served as our favorites.

A fantastic singer with an excellent corps of backing musicians, “Slow Burn” from The Betty Fox Band sets her up for much future success!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Mitch Mann review…June 26, 2015…

MITCH MANN

BLACKWATER CREEK

CRAZY CHESTER RECORDS  CCR 001

GOING DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD–BABY DON’T FORGET–CROWS INTRO–CROWS–ST. LOUIS BLUES–MAKE THIS LAST MINUTE LAST–MORE THAN I COULD EVER SHOW–SOMETIMES A ROCK–BLACKWATER CREEK–DETOUR YOU–HOLD HER WHILE YOU GOT HER–TOM CLARK–IT’S TIME–GOOD THINGS

Modern-day acoustic bluesmen have to depend on their musicianship and storytelling to get their messages across, just like the old-school masters. Mitch Mann, of Fiddleworms and Yellowhammer fame, is up to that acoustical challenge, as his latest set, “Blackwater Creek,” will attest.  It’s seven originals and four covers that are enhanced not only by Mitch’s talents, but by several special guests sprinkled throughout.

The luminaries come out early–on the leadoff “Going Down The Road Feeling Bad,” Andreas Werner is on lead guitar as Mitch handles vocals and rhythm.  Backing harmony is provided by Russell Mefford and none other than Grateful Dead member and Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame songstress, Donna Godchaux, who reappears as co-writer and vocalist on the set-closing reminder to us all to stay positive and hopeful, and always seek life’s “Good Things.”

There’s a jigger of Django in the gypsy-fied guitar lines of “Baby Don’t Forget,” while Mitch shows his country-blues roots on “Crows,” with harp from Jimmy Hall.  Mitch shows a softer side on the ballads that bolster the idea that love conquers all, “More Than I Could Ever Show,” and the poignant “Hold Her While You Got Her,” because “that come and go girl may never be here again.”

We had some favorites, too.  A very bluesy “leavin’ song” has Mitch singing “I’m searching for a better road so I can Detour You.”  Two “death ballads,” if you will,  (always popular down South!), round out our faves.  Music City icon Buzz Cason adds harmony on “It’s Time.”  and, the story of “Old Tom Clark” deals with the “Jesse James of Muscle Shoals,” a man with “a lust for gold” and “a heart as cold as the grave.”

Mitch Mann offers up a very eclectic set of roots and blues with “Blackwater Creek.”  His excellent troubadour-ish stylings along with the stellar cast of backing players make this a set you won’t want to miss!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Rick Vito review…June 24, 2015….

RICK VITO

MOJO ON MY SIDE

DELTA GROOVE RECORDS  DGPCD 168

MOJO ON MY SIDE–EASY BABY–PRETTY WOMEN–MY HOUSE–MISSY BROWN–LIFE WAS JUST A STRUGGLE–FEMME FATALE–WHO WERE YOU THINKING OF–HOUSE PARTY–LET A WOMAN BE A WOMAN–SHE’S GOT IT ALL–HELP ME LORD–YOU CAN RUN–RIVER OF BLUES

Guitarist Rick Vito spent four years as a member of Fleetwood Mac, from 1987-1991, during their “Tango In The Night” period.  He’s played on over a hundred recordings for other people, perhaps best-known for his brilliant solo on Bob Seger’s “Like A Rock.” He’s also recorded several solo projects, including our favorite from 1998, “Pink And Black,” containing a searing version of “I Wouldn’t Lay My Guitar Down.”

His latest release is on the Delta Groove label, entitled “Mojo On My Side,” with eleven originals and three covers that let his immeasurable slide guitar talents run wild.  You can almost feel the spirits of giants such as Son House and Fred McDowell rising from the Delta mists as Rick’s slide wails to put a spell on a lover, knowing he’s got that good “Mojo On My Side.”  Mojo Johnson’s percussion casts another swampy spell on the story of “Missy Brown,” she who “walks like a cool breeze!”  Jim Hoke’s sax adds to the soulful strut of Rick’s cover of “doing the best I can,”  “Life Was Just A Struggle.”  Rick gets that sinking feeling with a lover that “something just ain’t right” in “Who Were You Thinking Of last night?,” as his slide seems to be seeking the answer on its own.  “House Party” recalls his “Pink And Black” days, with rockin’ slide a la Theodore Roosevelt “Hound Dog” Taylor, while “Let A Woman Be A Woman” is a stone shot of horn-struttin” funk.  “You Can Run but you can’t hide” is the message from a lover bound and determined to keep a hold on Rick.  The handclap percussion and almost-sanctified slide give this one a cool gospel vibe.

We had three favorites, too.  The West Side rules as Rick lays down that unmistakable riff of Magic Sam Maghett’s “Easy Baby,” with the help of Jim Hoke’s sax.  “Pretty Women on my mind” has Rick rockin’ his slide for all it’s worth in this tale of “blondes, brunettes, and redheads, too!”  On a serious note, Rick’s acoustic original, “Help Me Lord,” is a poignant plea with guitar as pure as the Delta soil from whence it originated.

Rick Vito is a consummate slide player, and his passion for the blues is as deep as it is wide.  If that ain’t enough, he’s got some good “Mojo On My Side” to bring it all home!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Diane Durrett review…June 23, 2015…

DIANE DURRETT

SOUL SUGA AND DIANE DURRETT

BLOOMING TUNES MUSIC

SHOW UP SEXY–BUTTER’S IN THE SKILLET–ALL IS WELL–BE SOMEBODY’S ANGEL–PUSH THE PUSH BACK–LET GO AND LET GROOVE–SASSY LARUE–WOO HOO–I KNOW YOUR NOTHINGS–BRIGHT SIDE–LET IT BE

Diane Durrett is one of those rare female singers that you’ll always remember as soon as you hear her for the first time.  She has just released her seventh set, on Blooming Tunes music, and entitled “Soul Suga.”  There are eleven cuts herein, which show a sexy, sultry, danceable side coupled with a softer, more vulnerable Diane, all of which is enhanced by her incredible pipes.  She has beaucoups of friends, too, most of whom contributed to this set in some way, including Yonrico Scott, Charlie Wooton, Randall Bramblett, and Tinsley Ellis, to name just a few.

Ladies, would you like to dance?  Then, don your highest stilettos and those slinky fishnet hose, you know, cut kinda low at the top and high at the bottom, so you’ll be sure to “Show Up Sexy,” because, as Diane will tell you, “you still got that fire way down below!”  When a woman really needs some “attention,” fellows be ready, and “don’t walk away when The Butter’s In The Skillet!”  This one’s set over a cool, midtempo, horn-driven, funk-filled groove.

Diane shows her compassionate side on several ballads, too.  Dealing with the pain of the loss of a loved one is laid bare in “All Is Well,” and she encourages us all to “Be Somebody’s Angel,” and spread some love, because “it don’t take wings to lift somebody’s spirits!”  The set closes with Randall’s piano and sax leading the way as Diane seeks comfort for us all in the words to “Let it Be.”

We had two favorites, too.  A righteous, Mardi Gras party groove drives the story of “Sassy Larue,” a great singer “right up there with Billie Holliday.”  And, you just gotta love the sexy, sly, double-entendres’ of “I got a little Woo Hoo in my hoo hoo,” which is well-lubed by the guitar stylings of guest Tinsley Ellis.

A member of the Atlanta Chapter of NARAS, the Grammy folks obviously know a good ‘un when they hear her.  You will, too, after you get a little taste of “Soul Suga” from Diane Durrett!   until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Mississippi Fever review…June 19, 2015…

MISSISSIPPI FEVER

300 MILES TO MEMPHIS

SELF-RELEASED

I FEEL LIKE SUPERMAN–TRAVELING RIVERSIDE BLUES–STEAL AWAY YOUR LOVE–DOWNTOWN TRAIN–‘TIL THE SUNRISE–BLACK DRESS–OUT ALL NIGHT–300 MILES TO MEMPHIS–THE DEVIL’S GOT YOU NOW–JESUS JUST LEFT CHICAGO

Being the guitarist in a blues power trio is a tough gig.  He has to have the chops to vary things night after night to keep things “fresh” and “real,” to quote the popular vernacular.  Mississippi Fever, outta St. Louis, has a stomp-down good ‘un at the helm in Brent Barker, along with bassist Ted May and his brother Tom on drums.  They have just released “300 Miles From Memphis,” a blistering set of eight originals and two covers that give Brent and the fellows room to lay down a hot groove.

You gotta love that wah-wah-infused guitar that leads off Brent’s Saturday-night-and-I’m-ready-to-rock anthem, “I Feel Like Superman, partyin’ from the bottom to the top!”  “Steal Away Your Love” has Brent lookin’ for a “partner in crime” to “break and enter your heart,” with piano from Rick Steff.  Brent gets his swagger on with the chunka-chunka strut of “I’m your Downtown Train,” and busts out the wah-wah again for a session from “the love doctor,” with a lady wearin’ that hot-lookin’ “Black Dress.”

Brandon Santini’s harp drives the freight-train beat of the title cut, referring to the distance between Memphis and St. Louis, and the fellows close the set with a buzzsaw cover of “Jesus Just Left Chicago.”

We had two favorites, too.  A lover who’s long gone is the subject of “Out All Night,” and Brent’s slow-burnin’ lead lines on this one make you feel his pain.  And, at the opposite end of the spectrum is Brent kicking off “Traveling Riverside Blues” with sweet acoustic work before blasting off into the stratosphere and singing ’bout those “women in Vicksburg, clean on up to Tennessee!”

Today the temperature in Music City was a robust 92 degrees, but that ain’t nothin’ compared tyo the heat laid down in “300 Miles To Memphis” from Mississippi Fever!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

Henry Gray and Bob Corritore review…June 17, 2015…

THE HENRY GRAY AND BOB CORRITORE SESSIONS

VOL. 1–BLUES WON’T LET ME TAKE MY REST

DELTA GROOVE MUSIC  DGPCD 169

LET’S GET HIGH–BLUES WON’T LET ME TAKE MY REST–I’M IN LOVE AGAIN–RAMBLIN’ ON MY MIND–WORRIED LIFE BLUES–THEY RAIDED THAT JOINT–RIDE WITH YOUR DADDY TONIGHT–TROUBLE BLUES–I’M GONNA MISS YOU–THAT AIN’T RIGHT–CAN’T AFFORD TO DO IT–BOOGIE WOOGIE BALL–HONEY DON’T LET ME GO–SHE DON’T MOVE ME NO MORE

Pianist Henry Gray may be best-known for his work with Howlin’ Wolf from 1956-1968.  After that, he backed the likes of Bo Diddley, Jimmy Rogers, and Little Walter, among many others.  He has been working with Arizona-based harp man Bob Corritore since 1996, and, over those nineteen years, comprising some twelve recording sessions, they have a virtual treasure trove of recordings from which to draw.  One of those sessions occurred on January 25, 2015, Henry’s 90th birthday.  Just released on the Delta Groove label is “Vol. 1–Blues Won’t Let me Take My Rest,” featuring fourteen cuts, all but four previously unissued.

Henry takes the vocal on ten cuts, and a literal “who’s who” in contemporary blues guest star and round out the set.  Throughout, Henry and Bob let their immense talents drive this music, each seemingly knowing where the other is going without missing a beat.

The party starts with Willie Smith on drums and backing vocals as Henry and Bob urge everyone to “Let’s Get High,” while Nappy Brown adds his suave style on “Trouble Blues.”  Henry rocks the boogie on “They Raided That Joint,” and both these cuts feature the mighty Kid Ramos on guitar.

Bob’s usual duet partner, Dave Riley, adds vocals on “Ride With Your Daddy Tonight,” while John Brim adds guitar and vocals on “That Ain’t Right.”  Robert “Jr.” Lockwood takes the vocal turn on the Robert Johnson classic,  “Ramblin’ On My Mind.”

Picking favorites was nearly impossible, but two cuts stood out for us.  Henry has the vocal on a sweet read of “Can’t Afford To Do It,” with guitar from Big Jon Atkinson.  And, the ol’ Tail Dragger himself name-checks all the backing players from Henry on down in the raucous party anthem, “Boogie Woogie Ball.”

Henry Gray and Bob Corritore are national treasures, and their music is respected by everyone in the blues community.  Hopefully, we won’t have long to wait before volume two of “Blues Won’t Let Me Take My Rest!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Omar Coleman review…June 16, 2015…

OMAR COLEMAN

BORN AND RAISED

DELMARK RECORDS  DE 840

TRYIN’ TO DO RIGHT–MAN LIKE ME–SIT DOWN BABY–I WAS A FOOL–WISHING WELL–SLOW DOWN BABY–LUCKY MAN–I DON’T WANT NO TROUBLE–YOU GOT A HOLD ON ME–BORN AND RAISED–ONE REQUEST–TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT–I KNOW YOU BEEN CHEATING–RASPBERRY WINE

The excitement level at Delmark’s Riverside Studios was at fever pitch earlier this year as they recorded the Delmark debut of a young rising star on the Chicago scene, harpman and vocalist Omar Coleman.  Omar was West-Side “Born And Raised” (and proud of it!) in 1973, and that’s what he titled this album.  He captures the good-time spirits of several Windy City greats with these fine fourteen originals, too.

Omar’s always been a big fan of Bobby Rush, Junior Wells, and Al Green, and he touches on the styles of these legends throughout.  Check out the minor-key, remorse-filled, “I Was A Fool to let you run out on me,” with Mike Wheeler on guitar, and the poignant ballad, “One Request,” to sample the Al Green connection.  You gotta love his tributes to that “folk-funk” strut of Bobby Rush, too, with cuts like the danceable “Sit Down Baby,” and “I Don’t Want No Trouble.”  Labelmate Toronzo Cannon adds guitar on the Hill-Country groove of “Man Like Me” and again on Omar’s ode to a lover, “You Got A Hold On Me.”

We had two favorites, too.  We loved that killer rhumba beat on “I Know You Been Cheating,” with Neal O’Hara on piano and Dave Herrero on guitar.  And, “Slow Down Baby” rocks with a steady roll, with Dave’s Berry-licious licks riding  over Omar’s wailin’ harp!

The folks at Delmark know a good thing when they hear it, and Omar Coleman, with “Born And Raised,” is poised to make his mark on the contemporary blues scene!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.