Archive for July, 2015

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.

Kern Pratt review…July 1, 2015…

KERN PRATT

BROKEN CHAINS

GIGTIME RECORDS

DELTA MOURN–GREENVILLE MISSISSIPPI BLUES–LIGHTS ARE ON, BUT NOBODY’S HOME–SOMEWHERE SOUTH OF MEMPHIS–BLACK HANNAH–COTTON PICKIN–DON’T LEAVE ME BABY–IT HURTS ME TOO–HANDCUFFED TO THE BLUES–SMOKIN’ GUN–SOULSHAKE–BROKEN CHAINS

Kern Pratt is living out his dream as a bluesman.  Playing guitar since the age of eight, at sixteen he was good enough to be asked by Joe Frank Carollo of Hamilton, Joe Frank, and Reynolds fame, to come to Vegas to play with him.  He’s never looked back, altho he did fulfill a promise to his dad to complete his GED.

As a young man growing up in the Delta, Kern was exposed to all kinds of blues and blues players, from the raw power of T-Model Ford to the funk of Bobby Rush, and everything in between.  He’s put all his influences together to create his own unique sound with the release of “Broken Chains,” a clever mix of covers and originals that show his incredible guitar chops and that soulful, well-seasoned vocal delivery that sounds as if it were aged and mellowed in a Jack Daniels barrel.

There’s something for everyone on this set, so we are going to break from our usual tradition and discuss each track individually.  Here we go…..

The set opens and closes with the Resonator slide work of Wes Lee on two instrumentals, “Delta Mourn,” and the title cut.  Kern kicks off his portion with a blistering, Elmore James-styled boogie, “Greenville Mississippi Blues,” documenting a mythical trip “down the Blues Highway” from Greenville down to Indianola and Yazoo City and everywhere in between.  Eden Brent is on that firecracker piano, too!

Kern pours us an icy-cool Collins Mix on the hilarious “Lights Are On, But Nobody’s Home,” then gets serious with the minor-key tale of the sad lengths some will go to just for “thirteen silver dollars,’ “Somewhere South Of Memphis.”  The story of T-Model’s guitar is the theme of “Black Hannah,” while “Cotton Pickin” is another cool Albert Collins-styled instrumental set over an awesome horn arrangement.  “Don’t Leave Me Baby” follows a second-line groove with Kenny Neal on second guitar, and Kern and harpman Luc Borms give a sweet, acoustic, country-blues read of “It Hurts Me Too.”  “Handcuffed To The Blues” has that down-home Bobby Rush groove, and Denise Owen is the featured vocalist on a classic, southern-soul “cheatin’ song,” catchin’ her lover red-handed with that “Smokin’ Gun.”

By far our favorite cut was a duet with Kern and Denise on a song cut right here in Music City back in our younger days.  They capture that good-time vibe of Peggy Scott and Jo Jo Benson, “dancin’ with your baby really turns the Soulshake on!”

We can’t say enough good things about Kern Pratt and “Broken Chains.”  He’s had his ups and downs just like we all have, but the music has brought him through it all.  This is sho’ nuff one helluva set!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Royal Southern Brotherhood review…July 1, 2015….

ROYAL SOUTHERN BROTHERHOOD

DON’T LOOK BACK–THE MUSCLE SHOALS SESSIONS

RUF RECORDS 1215

I WANNA BE FREE–REACH MY GOAL–DON’T LOOK BACK–HIT ME ONCE–THE BIG GREASY–HARD BLUES–BETTER HALF–PENZI–IT’S TIME FOR LOVE–BAYOU BABY–POOR BOY–THEY DON’T MAKE ‘EM LIKE YOU ANY MORE–COME HELL OR HIGH WATER–ANCHOR ME

The Royal Southern Brotherhood have undergone some notable changes since their last album.  Cyril Neville is still at the heart of the group, but gone are guitarists Devon Allman and Mike Zito, each pursuing their own solo careers.  Fear not, tho, blues fans–Nashville vocalist and guitarist Bart Walker now holds down one vacated spot, while the other belongs to Tyrone Vaughan, Jimmie’s son and SRV’s nephew.  They have just released fourteen original tracks laid down at the legendary FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL, entitled “Don’t Look Back.”

The positive messages of love and hope ring loud and proud throughout this set.  Along with the three major players, the rhythm section of Yonrico Scott and Charlie Wooton keep things groovin’ along nicely.  Bart Walker, with a voice trained in opera and classical music, kicks things off with the grungy, powerful crunch of “I Wanna Be Free from the trials and struggles” of everyday life, as each man takes a verse.  Cyril reminds us in “Reach My Goal,” to “keep your eye on the donut, and not just the hole,” while Bart’s country-blues banjo leads the way on the title cut, as he “knows there is a better way—I just ain’t found it yet!”  A message to show “every child is a love child,” entitled “Penzi,” follows a near-tribal rhythm pattern over Bart’s mandolin.  “Hit Me Once” and “Bayou Baby” are good-time shots of funky soul, and Cyril pays a sweet tribute to “my wife, my lover, and my best friend” in “Better Half,” and closes the set by asking her to “Anchor Me with your precious love for all eternity,” done with Cyril backed only by acoustic guitar.

Given the direction our society has been headed lately, a set of positive vibes to give hope for a better future is a great salve.  The Royal Southern Brotherhood, with “Don’t Look Back,” show us that love, indeed, is the answer!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.