Archive for July, 2015

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.

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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.