Archive for July, 2015

Joel Zoss review…July 30, 2015…

JOEL ZOSS

FLORIDA BLUES

BLUZPIK RECORDS 2015

HAVE YOU SEEN MY RIDER–PAPERS OF LIGHT–VODKA AND RED BULL–THE RIDDLE SONG–STREET VET CHANT–KEY TO THE HIGHWAY–TWO FISH–ALBERT’S SONG–GOODNIGHT IRENE–FOLLOW ME I’LL TURN YOUR MONEY GREEN

Guitarist Joel Zoss began his career in Chicago, working with many blues legends, opening shows for Etta James and B. B.  His stock as a composer took off after Bonnie Raitt cut two of his songs, “Too Long At The Fair” and “I Gave My Love A Candle.”  His latest set, recorded with his acoustic trio, is “Florida Blues.”  Recorded and mixed by Grammy winner Ron Taylor at Echo Beach Studios in Jupiter, FL, Joel combines his own compositions with a few classics that showcase his brilliant fingerpicking skills.  His trio consists of Jeff Adkins on bass, Matt Calderin on drums, and Jeff Harding, the set’s producer, on guitar on one cut.

The set starts with the easy groove of “Have You Seen My Rider,” with its tales of a “bad moon rising” and “hoodoo you,” with a fine solo at the bridge.  “Papers Of Light” follows a samba-esque pattern, while the old-time feel of “Albert’s Song” takes a tongue-in-cheek look at life in The Sunshine State, full of “pythons in my back yard” and where it’s “too damn hot to contemplate.”

He does two fine covers also.  “Key To The Highway” has that sweet solo from Jeff Harding, while “Goodnight Irene” has a rolling rhythm pattern repeated throughout.

We had two favorites, too.  If “Vodka And Red Bull” doesn’t cause your heart to blow outta your chest, you are bound to “get a good buzz on!”  And, perhaps the set’s most intriguing cut is an ode to homeless vets, “Street Vet Chant.”  Many of them suffer in silence, admittedly “disenfranchised and scary as Hell,” and whose best friends are “my forty-four and my three-five-seven!”

Joel Zoss, on “Florida Blues,” plays these blues they way the Delta masters intended–straight from the soul, and just as natural as puttin’ on your walkin’ shoes!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Small Blues Trap review…July 28, 2015…

SMALL BLUES TRAP

TIME THRICKS

ANAZITISI RECORDS

GAMBLIN–THIS LITTLE TUNE–TIME TRICKS–I WISH I COULD FLY–A STRONG SHADE OF RED–I’M LEAVIN’ THIS TOWN–JESSE JAMES

Probably, one would not immediately think of blues when one thinks of Greece.  But, the trio known as Small Blues Trap have been carryin’ that blues bidness on way over in Greece for some eleven years now.  Their fifth set, recorded at the Shelter Home Studio in the city of Malesina is entitled “Time Tricks.” seven of the unique originals that this band has become noted for.

With an unmistakable vocal delivery that sounds like a cross between Joe Cocker and Hans Theesink, Paul Karapiperis also plays guitar and harp.  On bass is Lefteris Besios, and on second guitar, violin, and percussion is Panagiotis Daras.   There’s a lot of good blues over this set, and the band is not afraid to push the envelope and use modern technology to create their desired sound.

“Gamblin” opens the set, using layered guitars to convey a message reminiscent of the days of the Old West here in the States, along with Paul’s mournful harp on this sly story of “snake eyes,’ a “rabbit’s foot,” and “holding the Queen in my arms last night.”  The set closes in a similar vein with a two-part instrumental.  It seems that “Jesse James” came back from the dead to take care of some unfinished busness.  The beginning follows a marching beat over guitar lines, then gives way to a strong, acoustic guitar, Delta-inspired climax.

“I Wish I Could Fly” is a good shot of funk, over a stuttering backbeat and echo-ey harp reminiscent of Bobby Rush.  The fellows use guitars, violin, and a unique percussion pattern to convey “A Strange Shade Of Red,” while our favorite, fellas, was just too short.  It’s a Robert Johnson-inspired, Chicago blues tune with biting guitar and harp, with Paul “puttin’ on my walkin’ shoes and Leavin’ This Town!”

Small Blues Trap scores big again with “Time Tricks.”  The future of Grecian blues is sho’ nuff in good hands with this well-rounded trio!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The nashville Blues Society.

 

 

Albert Cummings review…July 24, 2015….

ALBERT CUMMINGS

SOMEONE LIKE YOU

BLIND PIG RECORDS   BPCD 5166

NO DOUBT–I FOUND YOU–UP YOUR SLEEVE–MOVIN’ ON–SO STRONG–FINALLY IN LOVE–MAKE UP YOUR MIND–MEATLOCKER–I’M IN LOVE WITH YOU–OLD DOG–STAY AWAY FROM MY SISTER

For his latest set, which also marks his return to Blind Pig Records, blues-rock Stratocaster blaster Albert Cummings looks at love, life, and relationships thru his own eyes, as well as thru the eyes of old dogs, little birds, and protective siblings.  It all comes together in the twelve original cuts that comprise “Someone Like You.”  This set was produced by David Z, and a stellar cast of backing musicians includes Mike Finnigan on keys, Tony Braunagel on drums, Reggie McBride on bass, and Jimmy Vivino guesting on guitar on three cuts.

The rock-fest kicks off with Albert’s tale of a lover doin’ a little midnite creepin’.  And, “when there’s a doubt, there’s No Doubt” what’s going down!  Another lover who thinks she’s foolin’ Albert finds out “I know what you got Up Your Sleeve” with his Strat blazin’ on this uptempo groover.  He shows a “ballad” side with the title cut, featuring Jimmy Vivino on guitar, and a cut that deals with things that hold a relationship together, “what makes us So Strong.”

The longer this set goes, the harder Albert rocks it, leading to our three favorites.  That “Old Dog”  we alluded to earlier wonders aloud “how I ever dug up a bone like you!”  This one rocks from the git-go as does the set-closer, with that protective brother warning a bad-news suitor to “Stay Away From My Sister.”  This one has Mike really laying down some fine roadhouse piano, over Albert’s burnin’ fretwork.  Our other favorite is seven minutes of slow-blues bliss, as Albert and Jimmy Vivino trade licks on the sly tale of that “Little Bird” that tells everything she knows, consequences be damned!

Just like the houses that master carpenter Albert Cummings builds from the ground up, his blues are built to last.  Add to that the fact that on “Someone Like You,” all the cuts were virtually done in one take, showing why Albert loves the spontaneity of his music!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Jay Stollman review…July, 24, 2015…

JAY STOLLMAN

ROOM FOR ONE MORE

FEATURING DEBBIE DAVIES

NUMBER 7 RECORDS

RIDE ‘TIL I’M SATISFIED–I’M DONE–TIRED OF TRYIN–LONESOME IN MY BEDROOM–I’D RATHER DRINK MUDDY WATER–A CHANGE IS GONNA COME–PUCKER UP BUTTERCUP–BACK TO MEMPHIS–TUMBLE–CAN’T SLOW DOWN–ANOTHER NIGHT TO CRY–DEVIL IN DISGUISE–LOVE ME AND LEAVE ME–ROOM FOR ONE MORE

Jay Stollman is a fire-and-brimstone vocalist from the East Coast who has one of those gravelly, Jack Daniels-burnished voices that is simply perfect for the blues.  He recently guested on vocals on Debbie Davies’ “Love Spin” album, and she returns the favor on Jay’s latest, “Room For One More.”  It is a good mix of covers and originals which showcase his incredible vocal chops.  Those chops will soon be on display everywhere, as the family and band of the late Johnny Winter just tabbed Jay to fill the vocal role on the upcoming Johnny Winter Remembrance Tour.

This album is full of the things that one is likely to hear on this upcoming tour.  Jay and Debbie kick off the proceedings with Walter Trout’s rousing ode to life as a bluesman, “Ride ‘Til I’m Satisfied.”  Everyone gets in a funkified mood for the soulful “Pucker Up Buttercup,” with Debbie on backing vocal, and Matt Zeiner’s piano.

Jay brings classic blues to the table, with the slow-burn of “Lonesome In My Bedroom” and Lonnie Johnson’s “Another Night To Cry over you.”  Jay gives a great read on a couple of iconic tunes, “I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water,” with cool stop-time guitar from Debbie, and again with a sanctified-and-soulful, “A Change Is Gonna Come.”  He close the set on another powerful note, with a song written along with Andy Abel, who adds the chilling acoustic slide guitar on “Room For One More.”

We had two favorites, too.  Another original from Jay and Scott Spray is the sly, second-line strut of a man who’s only interested in a woman who’ll “Love Me And Leave Me!”  And, Jay captures the spirit of Johnny Winter with “Tired Of Tryin,” from Johnny’s “Nothin But The Blues” album.  Kevin Totoian’s harp also is spot-on, as he makes everything click by nailing an extra-long solo at the bridge, much like James Cotton’s original.

Jay Stollman’s stock is bound to rise on the strength of the upcoming Johnny Winter tributes, and with killer sets such as “Room For One More!”  He’s a great singer, making this a “don’t miss” set!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

Ted Drozdowski’s Scissormen review…July 21, 2015…

TED DROZDOWSKI’S SCISSORMEN

LOVE AND LIFE

DOLLY SEZ WOOF RECORDS   DSW 002

BEGGIN’ JESUS–LETTER FROM HELL–THE RIVER–WATERMELON KID–LET’S GO TO MEMPHIS–R. L. BURNSIDE (SLEIGHT RETURN)–CAN’T BE SATISFIED–BLACK LUNG FEVER–DREAMING ON THE ROAD–LIVED TO TELL–UNWANTED MAN (FOR WEEPIN WILLIE ROBINSON)

For the latest set from Ted Drozdowski’s Scissormen, “Love And Life,’ the duo of guitarist-vocalist Ted Drozdowski and drummer Matt Snow becomes a trio with the addition of bassists Marshall Dunn and Robert E. McClain, Jr., and enlist special guests Paul Brown, from Bobby Rush’s outfit, on keys, and Mighty Sam McClain on a guest vocal.

Before moving to Nashville, Ted spent a lot of time in the North Mississippi Hill Country, and he is doing a great job in “carryin’ that bidness on” of the sounds of the legends from that region, including Jessie Mae Hemphill, Junior Kimbrough, and R. L. Burnside.  Ted also wanted each song to tell a story, all the while incorporating his “anything goes” approach to blues guitar.  If you want a good example of his uniqueness, check out his old group, The Devil Gods, and their burnin’ version of “V-8 Ford Blues!”  Ted uses modern technology to effectively layer the sounds of his guitars to give this music his desired sound.  The party starts with a tune laying bare man’s constant battle between good and evil, “Beggin’ Jesus,” because “on the road to perdition, I’m payin’ every toll.”  It has a killer slide solo, also.  Ted uses echo-effects, and Matt’s drumming lead the way in a cool tribute to the “man with the superior mind,” bluesman and Mensa member Bill Homans, ol’ Watermelon Slim himself.  It’s presented here as “Watermelon Kid,” and “you can write a book about all the things he’s did!”

Ted busts out his homemade one-string diddley bow for a psycho-blues read of Muddy’s “Can’t Be Satisfied,” and pays tribute to “two grandpas I never knew,” both of whom died from “Black Lung Fever” before he was born.

We had three favorites, too.  First up is a sweet Stax-like soul tune with vocals from Mighty Sam McClain, pleading with a lover to “Let’s Go To Memphis, and paint Beale Street red!”  Paul Brown’s organ work, coupled with Sam’s vocal read gives this one a real churchy, sanctified feel.  Ted recounts a dream in “R. L. Burnside (Sleight Return)” over an ultra-funky groove where R. L. comes back to “drink some whiskey and watch Amos ‘N’ Andy on TV!”  And, proof that Ted really wanted to get weird and have some fun on this set, is Ted’s echo-soaked Letter From Hell,” where “it’s kinda warm, but the Devil treats me well!!”  Matt’s stompin’ beats and Ted’s hellhound slide make this one as eerie as a moonlight trip to the Crossroads on Friday The 13th.

Ted graciously sent us an autographed review copy of “Love And Life,” with an inscription that reads, “It’s Alive!”  It’s that Colin Clive, mad-scientist mantra that makes his music so unique, and with his love for the blues and the spirit of the Hill Country legends as a backdrop, this set is an avant-garde blues gem!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Ronnie Earl And The Broadcasters review…July 17, 2015…

RONNIE EARL AND THE BROADCASTERS

FATHER’S DAY

STONY PLAIN CD   SPCD 1385

IT TAKES TIME–HIGHER LOVE–RIGHT PLACE, WRONG TIME–WHAT HAVE I DONE WRONG–GIVING UP–EVERY NIGHT ABOUT THIS TIME–FATHER’S DAY–I NEED YOU SO BAD–I’LL TAKE CARE OF YOU–FOLLOW YOUR HEART–MOANIN’–ALL YOUR LOVE–PRECIOUS LORD

One of the things we love about a new album from Ronnie Earl And The Broadcasters is his penchant for making each one just a little different.  This time, for “Father’s Day,” he enlists the aid of two fantastic vocalists—Diane Blue, with whom he has worked previously, and Chicagoan Michael Ledbetter, a linear descendant of the immortal Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter.  Also, this time Ronnie adds a sax section, courtesy of Mario Perrett and Scott Shetler.

Ronnie’s passion for the “kings of the West Side” is given the royal treatment on this set with the vocalists, the horns, and Ronnie’s stinging fretwork.  Michael takes lead vocal on Otis Rush’s “It Takes Time,” the slow-burn of “Right Place, Wrong Time,” and Magic Sam Maghett’s “All Your Love.”  Diane turns in a fine read on the other Magic Sam cut, a lively “What Have I Done Wrong,” with excellent keys from Dave Limina.

Ronnie’s originals are very heartfelt and straight from his soul on this one, too.  Diane and Michael duet on a jazzy search for the serendipity of a “Higher Love,” and they team up again on a positive message for us all, to “Follow Your Heart,” and “do what’s good for you.”

We had two favorites, too.  The title cut is co-written by Michael and Ronnie, and is a sparsely-arranged slow-blues, with a definite Muddy Waters, deep-Delta feel.  It deals with healing old wounds, coming to grips with mortality, and making peace, as Ronnie did with his father just “last Father’s Day.”  And, Diane closes the set with a powerful hymn, “Precious Lord, Take My Hand.”  Ronnie’s single-note lead lines sound eerily as if he is channeling an inner B. B. King, and Dave’s Sunday-morning organ adds the perfect touch for Diane’s vocals.

Ronnie Earl dedicated this set to his father, and his playing is as passionate and pure as we’ve ever heard from him.  The vocalists and other musicians involved make “Father’s Day” one of Ronnie’s most powerful sets thus far.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Jeff Healey review…July 16, 2015…

JEFF HEALEY

VINTAGE JAZZ, SWING, AND BLUES

THE BEST OF THE STONY PLAIN YEARS

STONY PLAIN CD  SPCD  1380

THREE LITTLE WORDS–THE WILD CAT–STARDUST–SHEIK OF ARABY–GUITAR DUET STOMP–SING YOU SINNERS–I WOULD DO ANYTHING FOR YOU–PARDON MY SOUTHERN ACCENT–SOME OF THESE DAYS–MY HONEY’S LOVIN’ ARMS–HONG KONG BLUES–SWEET GEORGIA BROWN

Jeff Healey was one of the most talented, innovative guitar players we’ve ever had the privilege of hearing.  His album, “Mess Of Blues,” won the Blues Award for Best Blues-Rock Album in 2009, and rightfully so.  Jeff also had a jazzier side that brought out his passion for vintage jazz and swing, which led Holger Petersen of Stony Plain Records to record four jazz sets and a live DVD with The Jazz Wizards.  As such, Jeff’s “The Best Of The Stony Plain Years” chronicles this period in Jeff’s career with twelve cuts that recall the Jazz Age of the 1920’s and 1930’s.

Fluid on guitar, which he played across his lap, and trumpet, many of these cuts have a “Hot Club” feel, from the halcyon days of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli, especially with jazz violin from Drew Jurecka on cuts such as the “Sheik Of Araby,” with humorous asides from the other bandmates, with washboard courtesy of Gary Scriven.

Jeff’s trumpet skills are on display on the lively “Some Of These Days,” and a rousing “Sing You Sinners.”  Jeff breaks out his electric guitar on “I Would Do Anything For You,” and dusts off a Johnny Mercer nugget with the ragtime feel of “Pardon My Southern Accent.”

We had three favorites, too.  Jeff and Drew capture that Hot Club spirit on the sprightly guitar-and-violin instrumental, “The Wild Cat.”  Jeff hits those unique Far Eastern notes that comprise Hoagy Carmichael’s “Hong Kong Blues” perfectly, and closes the set with a rousing, eight-minute “Sweet Georgia Brown!”  This cut was previously released on a promo-only CD sampler, and is a real treat!

Jeff Healey left us all too soon in 2008, but his music and legacy will live on forever.  If you were not familiar with Jeff’s penchant for jazz, by all means check out “Vintage Jazz, Swing, And Blues: The Best Of The Stony Plain Years!”   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.