Archive for July, 2015

Hot Roux review…July 15, 2015…

HOT ROUX

STRANGER’S BLUES

HI HAT RECORDS AND ENTERTAINMENT   HHE 3406

BROKEN AGAIN–STRANGER’S BLUES–WOMAN WHERE YOU BEEN–SEVEN LONELY NIGHTS–BIG MAMA’S–TICK TOCK–ANNA LEE–RED PEPPER BABY–CAN’T GET YOU OFF MY MIND–ANOTHER SEVEN LONELY NIGHTS

Hot Roux bandleader Jerry McWorter is one of those great “singing drummers” in the vein of Sam Lay and Levon Helm.  He and bassist Brent Harding wrote the original cuts on their latest CD, “Stranger’s Blues.”  Carving out a niche for themselves in Southern California, they have backed Kenny Neal, Kim Wilson, Albert Lee, and a host of others.

For this set, the duo enlist the guitar talents of Tommy Harkenrider, Ed Berghoff, Pat McClure, and Franck “Paris Slim” Goldwasser, he of Mannish Boys fame.  Over the course of these ten cuts, there is some mighty fine blues-roots music, and we heard a definite Dave and Phil Alvin influence.

The set leads off with Jerry asking his lover “will one man ever be enough for you,” in “don’t want my heart Broken Again.”  The title cut has a Saturday afternoon B-movie feel with Franck on tremelo guitar and Jerry’s echo-effect vocals that lament a man marked as a “stranger here,” with “everybody starin’me down.”

Jerry brings that Excello-fied swampy funk to the story of “Big Mama’s,” who is “five feet tall, loved by many and feared by all!”  “Anna Lee” has a Levon Helm vibe throughout, while “Red Pepper Baby,” who “heats me right up,” is a rhumba romp all the way thru.

We had three favorites, too.  Jason Huffman blows some mean harp on “Woman Where You Been,” with that sweet Blasters feel.  “Seven Lonely Nights” lays bare the story of a man whose lover has “packed her bags and went away,” and he’s rapidly “workin’ on number eight!”  This version is done as a loping, Jimmy Reed groove, with a killer slide solo from Franck.  The set closes with “Another Seven Lonely Nights,” with the same lyrics, but done up in a lively, Mardi Gras party groove.

Jerry McWorter and Hot Roux, with “Stranger’s Blues,” had only one drawback, but one that can easily be fixed—it was just too darn good to be so darn short!  Good rockin’ blues from a fine cast of players for sure, we encourage all fans to get ya a little taste of a good, Hot Roux!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

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Laura Tate review…July 14, 2015…

LAURA TATE

I MUST BE DREAMING

A TRIBUTE TO THE MUSIC OF MEL HARKER

SNAKE TATTOO–NO PLACE TO HIDE–WHAT A WAY TO GO–I MUST BE DREAMING–DEAD END ROAD–TALK IS CHEAP–IF EVER FOREVER SHOULD END–COWBOY JAZZ–COUNTING UP THE WAYS–DON’T TRY TO TALK ME OUT OF LOVING YOU–TOO BLUE–HOLD ON (THE EDGE OF YOUR LOVE)

Laura Tate is a Texan blues lady with one of those voices that can easily go from a soulful growl to a sultry, passionate delivery perfect for ballads.  Our readers may compare her to Music City’s own Etta Britt, and Laura’s style certainly fits well within the context of this material.

Enter songwriter Mel Harker.  Laura made fast friends with Mel several years ago, always enjoying his ways with a lyric and the development of his characters in his songs.  Mel paid her the ultimate compliment recently, turning over his entire catalog to Laura.  She has rewarded all us fans with a hand-picked list of Mel’s twelve best songs for her latest CD, “I Must Be Dreaming: A Tribute To The Music Of Mel Harker.”

Over the course of this set, Laura lends her sweet, sultry, and sassy vocals to torch songs such as the title cut, which finds her backed by a lush, full band.  Laura brings Harker’s words to life, and the ballads are very poignant.  Check out a love affair on the skids, as she begs her lover, “Don’t Try To Talk Me Out Of Loving You,” while she vows to stand by another lover no matter what, even “If Ever Forever Should End.”

There are several examples of some good ole rock and blues, too.  The set leads off with the clever tale of a straight-laced businesswoman who is really a “time bomb of passion” who “went and got herself a Snake Tattoo!”  The story of a love affair with “Mr. Wrong” is punctuated by Terry Wilson’s keyboard work as Laura realizes, “I’m sinking fast, but What A Way To Go.”  And, a humorous story of all things country and western, from the “cool water” to the “tumblin’ tumbleweeds” of The Sons Of The Pioneers” is the gentle lope of “Cowboy Jazz.”

Our favorite was easy.  A hearty, rockin’ tale of a lover who “ain’t nothin’ but a Dead End Road” has a great Texas-sized juke-joint, Delbert feel to it, with mighty fine piano from Teresa James.

Laura Tate has done an excellent job of introducing the music of Mel Harker to those who might not be familiar with him.  Her soulful, passion-filled vocals are a perfect fit for Mel’s great songs!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Samantha Fish review…July 13, 2015…

SAMANTHA FISH

WILD HEART

RUF RECORDS  RUF 1213

ROAD RUNNER–PLACE TO FALL–BLAME IT ON THE MOON–HIGHWAY’S HOLDING ME NOW–GO HOME–JIM LEE BLUES, PT. 1–TURN IT UP–SHOW ME–LOST MYSELF–WILD HEART–BITCH ON THE RUN–I’M IN LOVE WITH YOU

Only in her mid-twenties, Samantha Fish has just released her third album for Ruf Records, entitled “Wild Heart.”  Produced by Luther Dickinson, this one has the feel of the Mississippi Hill country, meshed perfectly with Samantha’s over-the-top, powerful guitar work and spitfire vocals.  Luther adds bass and slide guitar, and guest Lightnin’ Malcolm is also on  guitar, with Brady Blade on drums.

She starts the proceedings with a snarl and a kiss-off to a no-good lover who turned out to be just a “Road Runner.”  Luther adds lap steel over Samantha’s guitar on the modified Diddley beat of “Blame It On The Moon if I’m not by your side.”  Her stompin’ ode to life on the road, where “every line on this road is another line on my face” is “The Highway’s Holding Me Now.”  More great examples of her “girl power” anthems are “Show Me” and “Turn It Up,” with her lyric, “we gotta get outta here, make our presence known.”

Samantha shows her softer side in several places, too.  A broken love affair finds her realizing “I Lost Myself when I gave you the best of me.”  And, one of the most powerful cuts on the set is the poignant “Go Home.”  It deals with the pain of inner struggles with one’s own demons, and has backing vocals from Shontelle Norman-Beatty and Risse Norman.

We had two favorites, too.  Samantha lets her rock star loose with the snarl of “Bitch On The Run,” rockin’ with a Jagger-Richards edge.  At the other end of the spectrum is a cool acoustic read of Charley Patton’s “Jim Lee Blues, Pt.1,” with Luther duetting with her on mandolin.

Samantha Fish attended the King Biscuit Festival at the age of seventeen, forging friendships with many of the players on “Wild Heart.”  As such, this set is a career-defining moment for this extremely talented young lady!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

John Ginty review…July 11, 2015…

JOHN GINTY

NO FILTER

AMERICAN SHOWPLACE MUSIC  ASM 5116

FREDO–BALL OF FIRE–OLD SHOES–ELEVATORS–BATTLEGROUNDS–ROCK AND ROLL SUNDAY–ANNANDALE–NO JELLY–PIRATES–NO FILTER–FREDO-REMIX FEAT. REDMAN

John Ginty is one of the most highly-regarded keyboard men on today’s contemporary scene.  He’s worked with the Dixie Chicks, Santana, and Albert Castiglia, among others, and was a founding member of the Robert Randolph Family Band.  His breakout CD from a year or so back, “Bad News Travels,” along with its companion live CD/DVD, exposed him to a world-wide audience.  He has just released his latest set, “No Filter,” on the American Showplace Music label.  Produced by Ben Elliott, it is eleven cuts of John’s signature powerhouse keyboard work, done again with a stellar cast of backing players and vocalists.

Let’s get right into this great music.  John’s music has a gospel feel, mixed with jazz and Southern rock, with everything firmly rooted in the blues.  He kicks off with a strong, darkly-themed, percussion-heavy instrumental, “Fredo.”  The remix of this cut closes the set, performed as a socially-conscious  rap from Redman, who cautions us herein that the world “is still full of Backstabbers–just ask the O’Jays!”

In between, John’s versatility on all things keyed is on full display.  The samba shades of “Ball Of Fire” features vocals and guitar from Cris Jacobs, who also adds vocals on the somber tale of a convicted criminal who never “realized he wasn’t going back to Annandale.”

One of the staples of John’s live shows is “In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed,” and he pays tribute to his Southern-rock heroes with the instrumentals, “Elevators,” and “No Jelly,” which veers into a spacey, tripped-out climax.

John ended his first CD with a gospel-meets-blues instrumental entitled “Trinity.”  He gives us two more of those great gospel-inflected tunes herein, both done with vocals, and these served as our favorites.  Paul Gerdts is the featured vocalist in the tale of a preacher who never really minded having a “Rock And Roll Sunday!”  This one hits you like vintage Ray Charles, and John’s keys do some mighty fine testifyin.  And, speaking of testifyin,’ no one does it better than John’s good friend Alexis P. Suter.  She’s backed by John on acoustic piano on this stop-time blues where she reminds us not to “tell me what I should do until you’ve walked a mile in these Old Shoes!”

With “No Filter,” John Ginty further adds to his resume’ as bandleader, taking his keyboard wizardry to places few players, if any, have ever trod.  A consummate performer and great friend, he makes this set one that should not be missed!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

David Michael Miller review…July 9, 2015…

DAVID MICHAEL MILLER

SAME SOIL

FOOD FOR THE SOUL RECORDS

ALL THE BLUES TO YOU–JUST RIDE–GOT THEM BLUES–FRIEND OF MINE–DOING ME IN, DOING ME WRONG–SHOES TO SHINE–NEEDLE TO THE WHEEL–IF ‘IN YOU HEAR ME–BORN TO LOSE–TOO EARLY IN THE MORNING–MAN’S GOT THINGS TO DO

Hot on the heels of his breakout album, “Poisons Sipped,” David Michael Miller is back with an even stronger sophomore set of  hard-hitting blues mixed with gospel inflections and some fine ballads as well.  This set is entitled “Same Soil,” and joining David are Jim Ehinger on keys,  Carlton Campbell on drums, Jeremy Keyes on harp, Jason Moynihan on sax, and Robert Parker on bass.

The Buffalo, NY-based Miller draws his inspiration for these songs deep from the Delta–in fact, most of these songs were recorded on vintage, pre-WWII equipment.  He starts this set with a blues “history lesson” of sorts, “All The Blues To You.”  It begins in the Mississippi cotton fields with “the leader that plays Lucille,” up thru Memphis at Stax, on to Chi-town and Motown, ending with the jam-band musings of the Allmans, Phish, and the Grateful Dead, with the mantra that “it’s all good when It’s All Good Blues To You.”  David’s guitar leads venture into jam territory on “Just Ride,” with sweet harp from Jeremy.

“Friend Of Mine” is an excellent minor-key slow-blues that finds David’s guitar meshing perfectly with Jason’s sax, and that sax comes into play again on the tale of a bluesman who is told by some of the older patrons in the juke joint that “Son, you got some Shoes To Shine” before your dues are paid!

The story of “Charlie” is bittersweet, as he feels that “life is just the blues, and dyin’ feels like winning,  because I was Born To Lose.”  David closes the set on a somber note with the ballad written in tribute to his grandfather, who passed away during the recording of this album, “Man’s Got Things To Do.”

We had two favorites, too.  “Got Them Blues” is a soul-sanctifyin’,  testifyin’ shot of the gospel spirit full of killer slide guitar, while David channels the swagger of his inner Muddy with the stop-time story of a no-good lover who’s “Doin’ Me In, Doing Me Wrong.”

David Michael Miller travels over that sacred “Same Soil” that the blues forefathers trod upon for the inspiration for this fine set.  He shows a strong versatility thru killer musicianship and clever, thought-provoking lyrics.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Christian Collin review…July 7, 2015….

CHRISTIAN COLLIN

SPIRIT OF THE BLUES

C-TRAIN RECORDS

ONE AND ONLY–PLAYER’S GAME–A WOMAN LIKE YOU–DANCE THE BLUES AWAY–WITHOUT YOU–SPIRIT OF THE BLUES–HIGHWAY SONG–BLUES FOR YOU–DEAD MAN WALKING–OLD 109–THE RIVER (UNPLUGGED)–FOREVER FRIENFDS

Christian Collin was born in Detroit, into a musical family–his father was road manager for Bob Seger–so young Christian was always exposed to great music.  His becoming a musician was part of the natural order of things, choosing guitar as his signature instrument.  He’s just completed his latest release, twelve blues and blues-rock originals that comprise “Spirit Of The Blues,” which pays tribute to his heroes and allows him to forge his own unique sound.

Joining Christian on this fine set are Alex Evans on bass, Chris Morrow on drums, Johnny Iguana on keys,  and Matthew Skoller on harp.  Pete Galanis guests on slide guitar, as does Billy Branch on harp, which we’ll address shortly.

A cold shot of Texas-styled blues-rock leads things off, as Christian assures his lover that she’s his “One And Only,” even if “the world around us crumbles to the sea.”  He turns in some fine balladry, too.  An ode to a lost lover is “Without You, I’m on the outside looking in,” while the set closes with some vintage soul, laying bare the story of two lovers who have gone their separate ways, vowing to be “Forever Friends.”

His rockin’ side really lets the good times roll, tho.  Johnny’s piano rides the boogie as Christian sings “Mama warned me about a Woman Like You–she’ll give any man the blues!”  A slab of Chicago-styled blues has Matthew blowin’ for all he’s worth over Christian’s stop-time read of “Highway Song,” where he vows to “catch a ride to nowhere” to get away from a no-good lover.

We had three favorites, too.  The only cut where Christian plays slide guitar on this set is on the haunting groove of “Dead Man Walking,” built around a droning, almost Hill-Country riff as Christian sings this one thru the soul of a “man without a friend, a man without a home.”  The title cut is a cool, slow-burnin’ homage to his heroes, being “struck by Lightnin’ Hopkins and blown away by Stevie Ray.”  Billy Branch adds harp to our other favorite, a Delta-rific, testifyin’   “The River (Unplugged),” as Christian “goes down to the river to cleanse my sins.”

Christian Collin has captured the “Spirit Of The Blues” with this set.  Everybody knows the blues consoles and the blues rocks and rolls, and this young man really brings it all home with this one!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Slackjaw review…July 5, 2015…

SLACKJAW

IT’S ALWAYS SOMETHING

SELF-RELEASED

CARRIED BY SIX–COMMIT A CRIME–IT’S ALWAYS SOMETHING–NEW ADDICTION–DON’T GIVE ME NO JIVE–WHISKEY LANE–SOUL’S UP FOR SALE–IF YOU EVER LEAVE–COLD DAY IN HELL–BOTTLE OF WHISKEY

That sound you hear blasting out of the New Jersey area isn’t a Nor’easter, buis t it is the hard-rockin’ sound of the power trio that bill themselves as Slackjaw.  These guys have been tearin’ up every venue in Jersey of late, including the venerable Stone Pony.  Their latest CD continues their signature, powerful sound with ten strong cuts entitled “It’s Always Something.”  John Thompson is on guitar and vocals, with Carl Capodice on bass, and Randy Marinelli  on drums and harp.

You gotta love that chicken-scratch guitar funk the fellows lay down in “Commit A Crime,” while the life of a traveling bluesman, “It’s Always Something,”is set over a pounding, freight-train groove. with Carl doing his best Axl Rose impression on some fine mile-a-minute fretwork.

Randy gets in some fine harp as the fellows shift gears a bit for a “love story” of sorts, where “my New Addiction is you!”  Love goes sour on a couple of cuts, too.  The slow-blues of “Don’t Give Me No Jive” is John’s response to a cheatin’ lover who can’t keep her stories straight, while John comes of age with another heartbreaker, and he vows never to take her back until that mythical “Cold Day In Hell,” featuring some cool time and signature changes, and a killer wah-wah chorus.

We had two favorites, and they bookend the set.  Leading off is one of the reasons these guys have such a following, as they weave the tale of a man with some serious anger management issues, but stands up for his beliefs, as he’d “rather be judged by twelve than Carried By Six.”  And, the set closes on a helluva unusual note, further showing this band’s versatility.  The predominantly-acoustic (save for an amped-up chorus) is, “I’m gonna drink this Bottle Of Whiskey because I can!”  With a honky-tonk feel throughout, if they pitched this one to Paisley or some of the “bro-country” players, it would likely sell a million.

Slackjaw is rapidly outgrowing their “hometown heroes” moniker, and are becoming a force on the contemporary blues scene.  Enjoy, as did we, “It’s Always Something.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.