Archive for June, 2015

The Lucky Losers review…June 13, 2015…

THE LUCKY LOSERS

FEATURING CATHY LEMONS AND PHIL BERKOWITZ

A WINNING HAND

WEST TONE RECORDS  WTR  1504

CHANGE IN THE WEATHER–I TAKE WHAT I WANT–WHAT HAVE I DONE–A WINNING HAND–SUICIDE BY LOVE–WHAT WAS IT YOU WANTED–WHAT IS SUCCESS–LONG HARD ROAD–BABY YOU GOT WHAT IT TAKES–CRY NO MORE–DETROIT CITY MAN–DON’T YOU LOSE IT

Texas-born Cathy Lemons has been a fixture on the Bay Area blues scene for some twenty-five years, performing with the likes of Tommy Castro and John Lee Hooker, with three albums to her credit.  Phil Berkowitz is another great San Fran-based harpman and vocalist, and he and Cathy have combined their considerable talents, naming themselves The Lucky Losers, and releasing “A Winning Hand” on West Tone Records.

This set combines originals from both players and some rarely-heard covers to make for a cool exercise in classic blues, New Orleans funk, and R & B, with a little bitta jazz.  The festivities kick off with the horn section leading the way in a shot of Stax-styled soul, “Change In The Weather.”  This cut reminds us to stay positive and “get back in the rat race” and “live for one more day.”  Ben Rice adds slide guitar on the N’Awlins groove of Alan Toussaint’s “What Is Success,” with that funky piano courtesy of Chris Burns.

Cathy and Phil get in some fine duets, too.  Phil sets the “tone,” literally, on the big ol’ chromatic harp as he and Cathy romp thru Sam and Dave’s “I Take What I Want.”  The mood turns downright playful as they cover the Brook Benton and Dinah Washington chestnut, “Baby, You Got What It Takes!”

Steve Freund adds guitar on Cathy’s original title track, and it has a Neil Young vibe throughout.  Cathy and Phil close the set on another note of perserverance, “Don’t You Lose It.”

We had two favorites, too.  Brush-stroked drums and Cathy’s smoky, sultry vocal on “Suicide By Love” deals with the consequences of life’s excesses, be it “suicide by drink, suicide by drugs, suicide by gamblin’ or suicide by love!”  And, the story of a no-good “Detroit City Man” has that “endless boogie” drive of another famous Detroit native, John Lee Hooker.  Both these cuts feature outstanding guitar from the set’s producer, Kid Andersen.

No matter what may be your taste in blues, Cathy Lemons and Phil Berkowitz, as The Lucky Losers, have laid down “A Winning Hand” that make us all the lucky winners!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow

Advertisements

Jim Singleton review…June 11, 2015…

JIM SINGLETON

8 O’CLOCK IN THE AFTERNOON

SELF-RELEASED

RATTLESNAKE SHAKE–NOTHING TO DO WITH LOVE–DON’T TAKE–WHAT’S GOING ON–HERE I GO AGAIN–DON’T OWE YOU A THING–HEART WITH A MIND OF ITS OWN–PLACE IN MY HEART–WICKED GAME–A MILLION MILES AWAY

Jim Singleton always called the South his home—Dumas, AR, to be exact–but, growing up, he was drawn to the sounds of the British Invasion bluesmen.  While making a documentary about Clarksdale, MS, and its deep connection to the blues, he enlisted his friend and British guitar hero, Bernie Marsden, to make an album that pays tribute to music icons from both sides of  “the Pond.”

The result is “8 O’Clock In The afternoon,” seven covers and three originals that put the emphasis squarely on the blues, and, more importantly, the “Clarksdale connection” in blues history as it relates to the UK bluesmen.

Listeners, draw your own conclusions regarding the nature of the subject matter of the leadoff “Rattlesnake Shake,” written by Peter Green,  but don’t miss out on the powerhouse guitar licks Jim lays down.  He veers into a stomping, Hill-Country vibe with the freight-train chug of Gary Clark, Jr.’s “Don’t Owe You A Thing,” while his echo-soaked take on Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” fits in perfectly.

There is some fine balladry, also.  Gary Vincent’s “Don’t Take your love away from me” is spiced up by well-placed dollops of accordion from Mark Yacavone.  And, Charlie Musselwhite adds a mournful harp on the minor-key read of Bernie’s tale of one man’s undying love for a woman, “I’ll always have a Place In My Heart for you.”

Our favorite was easy.  Done up in the tradition of Fleetwood Mac’s  “Oh Well” is “What’s Going On,” written by Rory Gallagher, with its staccato, stop-and-go rhythm and vocal pattern that gives way to a barrage of fretwork fireworks.

Jim Singleton, with “8 O’Clock In The Afternoon,” effectively connects the dots of blues history from the Delta to the UK.  This one should not be missed!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Lazer Lloyd review…June 8, 2015…

LAZER LLOYD

LAZER LLOYD

LOTS OF LOVE RECORDS  LO 77001

BURNING THUNDER–SUFFERING–ROCKIN IN THE HOLY LAND–NEVER GIVE UP– OUT OF TIME–BROKEN DREAMS–SET MY SOUL FREE–SITTIN ON THE DOCK OF THE BAY–MOROCCAN WOMAN–LOVE YOURSELF–TIME TO LOVE–WHOLE HEART

Lazer Lloyd has been dubbed Israel’s “King Of The Blues,” and rightfully so.  Originally working with Atlantic Records fresh out of college, he played a New York gig with Shlomo Carlebach, “The Singing Rabbi,” who invited him to come to Israel, and the rest is blues history.  In a land where the blues is an exotic treat, Lazer has built quite a following.  Powerful and intense guitar work, strong vocals, and now, taking his writing to another level, he has just released “Lazer Lloyd,” on Lots Of Love Records.

Lazer takes the listener on a sonic journey that touches on several variations of the blues, and he is always tweaking his vintage equipment, searching for just the perfect tone and sound.  And, positive messages are at the heart of all his songs.  The set leads off with the pounding drive of “Burning Thunder.”  From Adam and Eve down thru Robert Johnson at the Crossroads and beyond, man’s soul has been in a constant struggle with sin and salvation, and this cut addresses that battle.  “Suffering” touches on the life of a road-tested bluesman, but, Lazer reminds us of his lifelong mantra in the wistful “Never Give Up.”  The grungy power chords of “Out Of Time” and “Set My Soul Free” pay homage to his Hendrix influences, while at the other end of the spectrum, his take on “Sittin On The Dock Of The Bay” is done acoustically, with Lazer’s lead lines taking the place of that iconic whistled refrain.

“Love Yourself” was originally written with the religious terrorists in mind.  Over a churning riff, Lazer reminds those that kill that they are killing a little bit of themselves with each senseless murder.

Our favorite was easy.  Lazer blows a mean harp on the Canned Heat-styled boogie of “Rockin’ In The Holy Land,” describing how “a crazy old Jew” ended up playin’ blues in the Middle East.

Lazer Lloyd’s songs on this album will strike a deep chord with those of us who want to try and make this world a better place to live.  The lyrics come straight from his soul, and his playing has never sounded more fierce!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Dan Rodriguez review…June 4, 2015…

DAN RODRIGUEZ

COME ON HOME

SELF-RELEASED

COME ON HOME–NEW KIND OF LOVE–CALIFORNIA–IT’S ABOUT YOU–RUM RIVER–STORM–I’LL BE WAITING (WHEN YOU COME HOME)–MILK AND HONEY–SECOND CHANCES–BELIEVE

Minneapolis-based singer-songwriter Dan Rodriguez took a huge leap of faith with his latest album, ten originals that comprise “Come On Home.”  First off, he ventured to Nashville and recorded this set at the brand-new Octane Studios, marking the first project in that studio.  And, along with the bittersweet looks at life and love–which are all full of honesty and emotion–one will also find a few catchy, surprisingly-soulful, more pop-oriented tunes.

Case in point–the centerpiece of the album is the track, “I’ll be Waiting For You (When You Come Home),” already used in an ad for Budweiser featuring a faithful dog who patiently waits for his master to get home, who has opted to spend the night somewhere after a night of drinking, rather than risk driving  while intoxicated.  That one served as our favorite, but there are several other standout cuts.  Dan utilizes guitar and keyboard on the uptempo groove about that “New Kind Of Love,” the kind where “the music’s playing and the radio’s off.”  That same formula drives the Motown-flavored “I don’t need Milk And Honey–all I need is your love,” with a sweet backing chorus.  The set closes with a song of redemption, teaching us the lesson that whatever your situation, you can “fill your heart with hopes and dreams if you just Believe.”

Dan Rodriguez imparts some fine life lessons over the course of the cuts that comprise “Come On Home.”  He is an immensely-talented young man that we will no doubt be hearing a lot more from in the future!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

The Hobo Nephews Of Uncle Frank review…June 3, 2015…

THE HOBO NEPHEWS OF UNCLE FRANK

AMERICAN SHUFFLE

CHAPERONE RECORDS  CR 020/CIC 026

EVERYBODY’S GOT A BABY BUT ME–DOWN THE LINE–OVER AND BACK AGAIN–LOW FLYING BIRD–WHEN THE NIGHT COMES–TAKE THIS TOWN–OLD NUMBER FOUR–DOWN SO LOW–THE DAY BILLY MARTIN QUITS–ME, YOU, AND THE UNIVERSE–THERE’S THE TRAIN, HERE’S YOUR TICKET

The Hobo Nephews Of Uncle Frank–now THERE’S a band name–consist of brothers Teague and Ian Alexy who call Minnesota home.  The Americana duo grew up in Atlantic City, but they have toured long and strong over the last decade, and their songs–insightful looks at our heroes, hopes, loves, and dreams–are the backbone of their sound.  Their latest album is “American Shuffle,” and they derive their inspiration from the likes of Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, and even Jack Kerouac.

Ian and Teague share vocal duties and writing credits, as well as guitar duties.  Ian is on bass, and Teague blows a fine harp.  Many of the cuts have an earthy, bluesy feel, too.  Check out the leadoff cut, where even crude, cynical, ugly guys have women throwing themselves at their feet, but the fellows bemoan the fact that “Everybody’s Got A Baby But Me.”  Teague’s harp and banjo from Dave Carroll give this one a sweet, laid-back groove.  Two lovers who reunite long after their youth has passed find that they have a love that never ends, but goes “Over And Over And Back Again,” with fine pedal steel from Bill Quinn.  “Take This Town” has a Bonnie-and-Clyde-ish storyline, while “Down So Low,” perhaps the set’s most blues-oriented cut, is driven by Teague’s harp and a rolling slide guitar riff from Ian.

Our two favorites were easy.  An “unofficial” tribute to Brett Favre is the tale of “Old Number Four,” who may have been “battered, beaten, and bruised to the core,” but never lost his spirit for the game.  And, on the other side of the coin is a humorous look at one of the most colorful, tempestuous baseball men of our generation, and “the day Billy Martin becomes a good loser is The Day Billy Martin Quits.”

“American Shuffle” is a fine reminder of what the Hobo Nephews Of Uncle Frank are all about.  Their songs lead the way, with poignant, colorful looks at life, and their musicianship is superb!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Jon Pousette-Dart review…June 2, 2015…

JON POUSETTE-DART

TALK

LITTLE BIG DEAL RECORDS   LBD 005

LET’S TALK ABOUT IT–I WANT TO MEAN SOMETHING–CAN WE JUST TALK–HOW MUCH–REMEMBER TO FALL–THE STORY OF MY LIFE–MARISOL–COME ON COME ON COME ON–AMNESIA–INVISIBLE–COUNTY LINE

Jon Pousette-Dart has been making quality music since the Seventies.  The Pousette-Dart Band even served as the opening act for the Frampton Comes Alive tour back in the day.  He’s always prided himself on honest, thought-provoking lyrics, and his latest album, his tenth overall, is perhaps one of his best.  “Talk” will hit the streets on July 24, 2015, and it is a cohesive collection of eleven songs, most of which Jon wrote or co-wrote with some of the most incredible writers on the planet, including Kostas, John Oates, Fred Knobloch, Angela Kaset, and Gary Nicholson.  He duets with a passel of fine-sounding ladies, too, such as Rhonda Vincent, Jonell Mosser, and Bekka Bramlett.  The backing band is just as stellar–Reggie Young, Glenn Worf, David Hungate, Clayton Ivey, and a host of others–to make this a truly amazing collaboration.

Over the course of this set, one can sense that Jon took a long look at love and life thru a prism, and all the angles, fragments, and possibilities jelled into these songs.  Several cuts deal with communication, or the lack thereof, in a relationship.  Such is the case with the opening “Let’s Talk About It,” with the two lovers looking for a breakthrough to stay together.  Dan Dugmore’s pedal steel is the perfect touch to “Can We Just Talk,” while a look back at love the way it used to be is the lesson taught in “Remember How To Fall.”  A sweet ballad regarding that one true love that many of us have found becomes the thread of “The Story Of My Life,” and the set closes with a story of letting go, “swingin’ low across that County Line.”

We had a favorite, too.  Jon hits an uptempo groove telling the tale of an overworked lover who’s encouraged to “put your red dress on and dust off your blue suede shoes” and “Come On Come On Come On” and have a little fun!

Now a Nashville resident, as are many of the contributing players on this set, Jon Pousette-Dart has crafted a set of songs that deal with things in everyday life to which we can all relate.  “Talk” is a standout collection!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Victor Wainwright and the WildRoots review…June 1, 2015…

VICTOR WAINWRIGHT AND THE WILDROOTS

BOOM TOWN

BLIND PIG CD  BPCD 5164

BOOM TOWN–SATURDAY NIGHT SUNDAY MORNING–STOP BOSSIN ME BABY–IF IT AIN’T GOT SOUL, PT. 1–WHEN THE DAY IS DONE–GENUINE SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY–TWO LANE BLACKTOP REVISITED–WILDROOT FARM–PIANA’S SAVANNAH BOOGIE–THE DEVIL’S BITE–REAPER’S ON THE PROWL–BACK ON TOP–WILDROOT RAMBLE

Everyone knows the story of Robert Johnson, the Crossroads, the devil, and the deal that went down.  That pull on a man’s soul between good and evil, sin and salvation, is a constant, and, on his latest album, “Boom Town,” piano master Victor Wainwright and the WildRoots touch on this subject freely over the course of thirteen originals.

Victor is a major talent on the ‘elephant’s teeth,” winning the Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year in 2013 and 2014 at the BMA’s.  Joining him on this set are Hall and Oates alumni Stephen Dees on bass and Charlie DeChant on sax, with Billy Dean on drums, and several special guests throughout.

Victor is a raucous piano rocker with a surprisingly soulful voice.  This party gets started with the foot-stompin’ beat of “Boom Town,” with a “hoodoo in my step to rock all night long!”  The tale of an overbearing lover comes at ya right out of the Little Richard canon, a frenzied-paced stop-time rocker called “Stop Bossin’ Me Baby,” with Nick Black on duet vocal.

“Genuine Southern Hospitality” and “WildRoot Farm” follow a lazy, laid-back groove, and both extoll the virtues of everything good about Southern living, the latter with duet vocals from Patricia Ann Dees.  Victor busts out two monster instrumentals, too–“Piana’s Savannah Boogie,” and the eclectic, set-closing, “WildRoot Rumble.”

We had two favorites, too, from both sides of the pulpit.  First up is another furious rocker reminding us to “heed the warning” of the preacher, because “after Saturday Night comes Sunday Morning!”  And, one of the most powerful pieces on the set is the deep gospel roots of the sparsely-arranged testifyin’ of “goin’ dow to the river” to get your soul “Ready When The Day Is Done.”

Victor Wainwright and the WildRoots just keep on getting better with each outing.  Excellent musicianship and topnotch material are always on tap down at “Boom Town!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.