Archive for August, 2015

Zac Harmon review…August 31, 2015…

ZAC HARMON

RIGHT MAN RIGHT NOW

BLIND PIG RECORDS  BPCD 5167

RAISING HELL–BALL AND CHAIN–HUMP IN YOUR BACK–STAND YOUR GROUND–RIGHT MAN RIGHT NOW–FEET BACK ON THE GROUND–LONG LIVE THE BLUES–BACK OF THE YARDS–I’M BAD LIKE JESSE JAMES–AIN’T NO BIG DEAL ON YOU–GOOD THING FOUND

We  first met Zac Harmon in Memphis at the 2006 Blues Music Awards where he won the Best New Artist Debut for “The Blues According To Zacariah.”  He continues to combine old-school soul-blues with contemporary sounds and lyrics, and has just released his latest for Blind Pig, “Right Man Right Now.”

Zac knows a little bit about good blues, too.  He grew up in Jackson, MS, and, by the age of eighteen, his guitar chops were such that he was sharing the stage with most all the touring acts who came to Jackson, including Z. Z. Hill, Dorothy Moore, and many others.  On this set, he’s got some mighty fine special guests, too, including Mike Finnigan, Bobby Rush, Anson Funderburgh, and Lucky Peterson.

Anson and Lucky are up first, joining Zac on the leadoff cut, a real foot-stomper where Zac gets the dancers ready by telling ole Satan to “get thee behind me, because tonight we’ll be Raising Hell.”  Lucky’s keyboard work is right on time, as are Anson’s Texas-blues guitar lines.  The title cut is full of swagger from Zac as he tells a potential one-night stand that he’s “not Mr. Perfect, but I’m the Right Man Right Now!”  And, he can sho’ nuff boogie like the Hook on an ominous, brooding take of “I’m Bad Like Jesse James.”  Zac closes the set with some sage advice for all of us.  Sometimes, gettin’ rid of a bad lover turns into a “Good Thing Found!”

Zac turns in some excellent topical, socially-conscious cuts regarding today’s society, too.  An ultra-funky bass line drives the tale of life in the inner city, down in the “Back Of The Yards.”  And, perhaps the album’s most powerful piece deals with the tragic deaths of innocent youth in today’s world, all for the right to “Stand Your Ground.”

Our favorite was a much lighter fare.  Two good ol’ Mississippi bluesmen, Zac and Bobby Rush, team up for a rockin’ funk-fest, with Bobby blowin’ harp as these two cats spin the sly-and-sexy tale, “Put A Hump In Your Back!”

Zac Harmon tells it like it is—“Long Live The Blues, the blues is here to stay,” and a strong set such as “Right Man Right Now” is brilliant testifyin’ to that fact!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

 

Andy T—Nick Nixon Band review…August 30, 2015…

ANDY T—NICK NIXON BAND

NUMBERS MAN

BLIND PIG RECORDS  BPCD  5168

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR–DEVIL’S WIFE–DEEP BLUE SEA–TALL DRINK OF WATER–NUMBERS MAN–PRETTY GIRLS EVERYWHERE–BLUE MONDAY–HIGHTAILIN’–SUNDOWN BLUES–TELL ME WHAT’S THE REASON–BE SOMEBODY SOME DAY–WHAT WENT WRONG–GATE’S SALTY BLUES–THIS WORLD WE LIVE IN

“Andy T” Talamantez grew up playing blues guitar in Southern California, influenced by the likes of Albert Collins and T-Bone Walker, while forging a smooth, fluid style all his own.  James “Nick” Nixon is a Nashville living legend, both as an educator with his “Blues In The Schools’ program, and a world-class singer, fronting his own bands in the heyday of the vibrant R & B scene on Jefferson Street.  Heck–he’s even recorded sides for Chess Records!

When Andy and his lovely wife Kathy moved here several years ago, it was no surprise that Andy and Nick teamed up.  Their debut for Blind Pig is a beaut–thirteen cuts of originals and covers entitled “Numbers Man,” that blends down-home blues, jazz, R & B, and even zydeco for good measure!

Andy’s guitar lines mesh perfectly with Nick’s unbridled, gospel-rooted, soulful vocals.  They kick off with a cool “my baby left me” shuffle–she’s gone, so might as well “Shut The Front Door!”  Christian Dozzler, he who stands “four feet and thirty inches tall,” (according to Larry Garner!) adds accordion on “What Went Wrong,” and a song about Nick’s new lover, herself a “Tall Drink Of Water,” where he “needs a ladder to kiss her!”  Andy’s smooth West Coast roots shine thru on a killer instrumental, “Hightailin,” and swings over Nick’s vocals on “Tell Me What’s The Reason.”

There are many more highlights, too.  The title cut, written by Billy Cox and Richard Fleming, tells the tale of the neighborhood hustler, and tho, “the law wants him busted,” he offers a small “ray of hope” to those with not a lot left to look forward to.  Nick’s “Sundown Blues” gets an uptown treatment, courtesy of harp from Kim Wilson, and “dueling” keyboards from Larry Van Loon on B-3 and Christian Dozzler on piano.  And, the set closes on a poignant note.  Nick’s gospel roots are on display in one of Andy’s originals, as Nick urges us all to “change our hate to love” and make “This World We Live In” a better place.

We’ve known Andy T for several years, and Nick for most all our adult lives.  Their collaborations bring back the days of classic R & B, and “Numbers Man” continues their legacy!  Guys, we love you, and want to thank you for a lifetime of great blues.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Lara And The Bluz Dawgs review…August 29, 2015…

LARA AND THE BLUZ DAWGS

HOWLIN’

LOCK ALLEY MUSIC

UH HUH–FLAT LINE–I WONDER–WEARIN’ ME OUT–T-DAWG–DON’T MESS WITH MY BABY–LOVE ME TONIGHT–I’M OVER IT–SAY GOODBYE–LOVE OF MINE–SHADOW GROOVIN’–HOWLIN’

“How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways…”  Ah, yes, we all learned that poem written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning in our school days.  On their latest release, Lara And The Bluz Dawgs use the power of eleven cleverly-done original tunes to convey the many messages of love in a relationship.  It’s entitled “Howlin,” and lead singer Lara Germony brings the heat on a set that rocks from start to finish!  Based right here in Nashville, she’s backed by hubby Gregg on bass, Al Rowe on guitar, Dan Nadasdi on keys, Reggie Murray on sax, and Ray Gonzales on drums.

This set positively drips with soulful, good-time grooves based on a lover’s point of view.  Check out the leadoff “Uh Huh,” as Lara regrets a good man who got away, set over a rockin’ roadhouse shuffle with Al’s scratchin’ guitar lines and Dan’s pounding piano kickin’ things into high gear.  She takes the opposite approach a few cuts later on “Wearin’ Me Out,” where she flat tells Mr. No Good “you ain’t welcomed here no more!”  And, the corollary of that situation shows up when she knows she did the right thing, “I’m Over It.”

Knowing when to fold ’em is also important in a relationship, and is spelled out in a poignant, Fifties-inspired ballad that has Lara telling her soon-to-be-ex that” sometimes it’s best to Say Goodbye.”  Then, there’s that strong love that finds Lara snarlin’ to all the girls, “Don’t Mess With My Baby!”

We had two favorites, too, and they close the set.  A tale of two cheatin’ lovers who are perpetually “on the run from the morning light” are the tortured souls in “Shadow Groovin,” punctuated by Reggie’s shady sax lines.  And, when it’s all said and done, sometimes all you wanna do is dance and do a little “Howlin.”  This one is set over a second-line rhythm pattern, the good times rollin’ all the way to Bourbon Street!”

Lara And The Bluz Dawgs and “Howlin” capture the feel and soul of vintage Delaney and Bonnie.  You’ll want to go do a little howlin’ on your own after you give it a listen!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Dalannah and Owen review…August 27, 2015…

DALANNAH AND OWEN

BEEN AROUND A WHILE

QUEST RECORDS   QST–009

BEEN AROUND A WHILE–EARLY IN THE MORNING–THAT AIN’T IT–BLUES, MOTHER OF SIN–ALREADY GONE–QUEEN BEE–INNER CITY BLUES–HEAVEN’S RIGHT HERE–COME ON IN MY KITCHEN–WHY I SING THE BLUES–WALKIN’ BLUES

Canadian blues duo Dalannah Gail Bowen and Owen Veber have taken a decidedly “outside the box” approach to the blues for their first release together.  Dalannah handles all the vocals, and Owen is on bass, and that’s all folks–yep, this duo uses only Dalannah’s voice and Owen’s bass lines to convey an unusually-powerful message in “Been Around A While” on Quest Records.

They’ve got some fine credentials, too.  Dalannah has sung gospel, jazz, and blues for nearly fifty years, and brings all her influences to the table on this set.  Her philanthropic side is evident in her charitable volunteer work for the poor in Vancouver’s downtown east side.  Owen is a classically-trained bassist, and his fluid lines ride crystal-clear over these eleven cuts, as they mix their own material with clever, topical covers.

They kick off with Dalannah’s celebration of life song, noting that “I’ve Been Around A While,” but, “all that living can be good for you!”  She handles the Billy Eckstine chestnut, “Blues, Mother Of Sin”  with ease, giving us a literal three-minute blues history lesson!  “Already Gone” is a cool original that has Dalannah givin’ a cheatin’ lover his walkin’ papers, while the story of one who is looking for something that they’ve already found is the theme of the jazzy “Heaven’s Right Here.”

We had two favorites, too.  Owen rides that ummistakable bass line of “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)” over Dalannah’s ominous, brooding vocal that makes this song as relevant as it was forty years ago when Marvin Gaye first cut it.  And, the set closes with that marching bass line that leaves no doubt that Dalannah “woke up this morning, lookin’ ’round for my shoes,” Son House’s “Walkin’ Blues.”

Dalannah Bowen and Owen Veber have taken a really unique approach to the blues on this set.  Only a couple of seasoned veterans with unlimited musical chops could pull it off, so, if you are looking for something completely different, check out “Been Around A While.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Jimmy Burns review…August 25, 2015…

JIMMY BURNS

IT AIN’T RIGHT

DELMARK RECORDS  DE 841

BIG MONEY PROBLEM–WILL I EVER FIND SOMEBODY–SNAGGLETOOTH MULE–LONG AS YOU’RE MINE–HARD HEARTED WOMAN–MY HEART IS HANGIN’ HEAVY–CRAZY CRAZY CRAZY–A STRING TO YOUR HEART–ROCK AWHILE—STAND BY ME—SURROUNDED–I KNOW YOU HEAR ME CALLIN’–IT AIN’T RIGHT–MESSIN’ WITH THE KID–WADE IN THE WATER

Venerable Chicago bluesman Jimmy Burns made his Delmark debut back in 1996 with “Leavin’ Here Walkin,” and triumphantly returns to the spotlight with his fifth set for Delmark, “It Ain’t Right.”  Over the course of these fifteen tracks, Jimmy lays down some fine authentic Chicago blues, as well as several cuts in the soul-blues vein that allows his smooth, stylish vocal delivery to shine.  Producer Dick Shurman took full advantage of Jimmy’s immense talents, making this another set of blues the way they oughta be played.

Billy Flynn wrote the leadoff cut, a driving shuffle about living in today’s world, where everybody has “Big Money Problems.”  Billy Branch’s piano man, Ariyo Ariyoshi adds tasty keys, too.  Jimmy plays the lover trying to stay ahead of the game by going to see his “hoodoo man,” in the minor-key, West-Side-flavored “Snaggletooth Mule.”

Jimmy’s right at home on the soulful cuts, too.  The horn section drives the story of true love, “As Long As You’re Mine,” while “Crazy Crazy Crazy” and “Stand By Me” recall vintage Fifties’ doo-wop.  Jimmy blows some low down harp on “A String To Your Heart,” and Roosevelt Purifoy gets down on some organ along with Ariyo on piano on “I Know You Hear Me Calling.”

The set closes with three true classics, done in different-than-usual ways.  Little Walter’s “It Ain’t Right” has fluid guitar lines as a substitute for the harp.  “Messin’ With The Kid” is presented by Jimmy as a slowed-down sho’ nuff funk fest.  And, he takes us all to church with the traditional gospel of “Wade In The Water.”

We had two favorites, too.  Goree Carter’s “Rock Awhile” has Jimmy playing some fine roadhouse, stop-time guitar boogie over Ariyo’s piano.  And, the other Billy Flynn original is a powerful soul-blues cut entitled “Will I Ever Find Somebody?”  The horn section sweetens things up, and Jimmy’s vocal has a Sam Cooke feel, as he takes this one to a testifyin’ climax.

Jimmy Burns stays true to his blues roots with this outstanding collection.  Enjoy “It Ain’t Right” from this down-home blues master!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

 

Chris James and Patrick Rynn review…August 24, 2015…

CHRIS JAMES AND PATRICK RYNN

TROUBLE DON’T LAST

VIZZTONE  VTCP 001

SHAMELESS–LILLY MAE–LONESOME WHISTLE BLUES–GOING DOWN TO THE OCEAN–TROUBLE DON’T LAST–DON’T DRIVE ME AWAY–STEADY GOIN’ ON–A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME–HARD TO KEEP A DOLLAR–ROLL TUMBLE AND SLIP

We’ve been fans of Chris James and Patrick Rynn for nearly twenty years, when they were backing Sam Lay.  They’ve always been purveyors of that classic combo sound that was prevalent in the years immediately following WWII when amplified blues became standard.  Such is the case with their latest album for Vizztone, “Trouble Don’t Last.”

They are paired with some fantastic backing musicians, too.  Along with Chris on guitar and vocals and Patrick on bass, we have June Core on drums, and both Rob Stone and Aki Kumar on harp.  “Lilly Mae” has a good country-blues feel, and was originally done by Detroiter Calvin Frazier, hence the lyrical nod to Hastings Street.  June keeps the beat stompin’ throughout, too.  The title cut is a band original that recalls vintage Muddy, as that loping beat rides over the ominous lyrics, “I gave her a home but she mortgaged my soul.”  The set closes on a similar note with a tune from Sunnyland Slim, “Roll Tumble And Slip,” featuring both Rob and Aki on dual harp!

The fellows do write some fine topical contemporary blues.  The story of a man who’s down on his luck thanks to poor choices at the track and a DUI from the high sheriff realizes he made some mistakes, but it all “Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time!”  And, everybody’s “paycheck is gettin’ smaller” and it is sho’ nuff “Hard To Keep A Dollar” nowadays!

We had two favorites, too—one original and one cool cover.  The set begins with Chris’ fine lead work on a brooding ode about people we all know, who are “Shameless,” and whose “best friend is a dollar!”  And, Chris pays tribute to Freddie King with the jazzy swing of “Lonesome Whistle Blues,” with a great vocal arrangement.

With each successive album, Chris James and Patrick Rynn just keep gettin’ better.  They had a great backing band on “Trouble Don’t Last,” and this set shows why they are among the best players of real-deal, down-home blues on the scene today!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Smoky Greenwell review…August 22, 2015…

SMOKY GREENWELL

NEW ORLEANS BLUES JAM

LIVE AT THE OLD U. S. MINT PERFORMING ARTS CENTER

GREENWELL RECORDS  GWR-102

SMOKE ALARM–MY OWN BLUES CLUB–PETER GUNN–POWER OF NOW–JODIE–I EARNED THE RIGHT TO SING THE BLUES–BETWEEN IRAQ AND A HARD PLACE–NEED A FRIEND–LOVES GONE–LEROY’S SHUFFLE–BACK TO THE BOOGIE

The name Smoky Greenwell is synonymous with good-time blues in New Orleans.  He’s been a member of War, as well as Blues Co-Op, with Warren Haynes.  He recently got together with some of his good friends down at the Old U. S. Mint Performing Arts Center to release his tenth CD, (and companion DVD), “New Orleans Blues Jam”.

Smoky’s been singing, blowin’ sax and harp, and writing some of the coolest songs around since the Seventies.  This set takes a good look at some of his most popular material, done up nicely in this intimate setting.  He starts the party with one of three fine instrumentals, a rockin’ harp romp entitled “Smoke Alarm.” and closes on a similar note, with that “endless chooglin” of “Back To The Boogie,” done up John Lee Hooker style.  And, Smoky simply blows the hell outta some “Peter Gunn” on the tenor sax!

He’s been a club owner in the Big Easy, too, and that part of his life is documented in the bittersweet slow-blues of “My Own Blues Club.”  Sadly, when Katrina rolled thru ten years ago, “we sold the club at a loss, and now when I play there, the new owner is my boss!”  The jazzy swing of “Power Of Now” reminds us all to stop living in the past and seize the day, and warns his lover to stay away from “Jodie” while he’s out on the road!  Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes adds a cool touch of zydeco with his vocals and accordion work on the minor-key “Loves Gone” and the dance floor-burner that is “Leroy’s Shuffle!”

Our favorite was easy.  A tongue-in-cheek look at a war “that’s based on lies” has New Orleans, U. S. A., squarely “Between Iraq And A Hard Place!”

Even tho it is roughly six months ’til Mardi Gras, there’s no harm in gettin’ an early start, is there?  Grab a copy of Smoky Greenwell’s “New Orleans Blues Jam” and commence to laissez les bon temps roulet!  Yeah you right!!  Sheryl and Don Crow.