Archive for August, 2015

Danielle Nicole review…August 21, 2015..

DANIELLE NICOLE

WOLF DEN

CONCORD MUSIC GROUP  CRE  36460-02

WOLF DEN–HOW YOU GONNA DO ME LIKE THAT–TAKE IT ALL–YOU ONLY NEED ME WHEN YOU’RE DOWN–JUST GIVE ME TONIGHT–EASIN’ INTO THE NIGHT–DIDN’T DO YOU NO GOOD–WAITING FOR YOUR LOVE–I FEEL LIKE BREAKING UP SOMEBODY’S HOME–IT AIN’T YOU–IN MY DREAMS–FADE AWAY

Hot on the heels of her self-titled  EP from back in March, Blues Award-winning bassist and vocalist Danielle Nicole has just released her debut full-length set for Concord Records, “Wolf Den.”  For this set, Danielle ventured down to New Orleans, where she worked with Grammy-winning producer Anders Osborne.  The result is a brilliant blend of straight blues, funk, soul, and a touch of gospel.

That grit and funk of New Orleans runs deep thru the grooves on these twelve cuts, too.  The title cut leads off, with that mythical “Wolf Den,” a place where “the lady in red” says “you look like you could use a friend.”  This one is set over a swampy, percussion-and-organ-heavy groove.  A couple of songs from her EP re-emerge here, in all their defiant, spit-in-your-eye passion—“You Only Need Me When You’re Down,” and “Didn’t Do You No Good,” both featuring stomp-down percussion from drummer Stanton Moore, best-known for his work with Galactic.

Danielle shows a softer, more vulnerable side, also.  “Take It all” and “Waiting For Your Love” are excellent ballads, the latter featuring Luther Dickinson on guitar.

As tough as it was, we picked three as favorites.  Dickinson returns on guitar as Danielle plays the homewrecker on the prowl to the hilt on the ultra-funky “Feel Like Breaking Up somebody’s Home.”  She takes the opposite approach on the torch-y tale of unrequited love, knowing that her paramour’s “heart belongs to another,” but begs “Just Give Me Tonight” as a memory.  And, the sweet soul vibe of “How You Gonna Do Me Like That” recalls vintage Stax, and, more specifically, The Staples Singers, as the groove breaks into a “testifyin,” gospel-inflected climax.

We knew Danielle Nicole was somethin’ special when she worked with her brothers in Trampled Under Foot.  With “Wolf Den,” she has begun what looks to be a highly-successful career in contemporary blues!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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Bob Malone review…August 18, 2015…

BOB MALONE

MOJO DELUXE

DELTA MOON RECORDS  DMR  008

CERTAIN DISTANCE–TOXIC LOVE–HARD TIMES–I’M NOT FINE–PARIS–LOOKING FOR THE BLUES–RAGE AND CIGARETTES–SHE MOVES ME–DON’T THREATEN ME (WITH A GOOD TIME)–WATCHING OVER ME–CHINESE ALGEBRA–CAN’T GET THERE FROM HERE

Los Angeles-based keyboard whiz, composer, and vocalist Bob Malone has carved out a nice career for himself, both thru his solo works as well as his session work with others, most notably with John Fogerty’s band since 2011.  His latest album is his eighth solo work and is entitled “Mojo Deluxe,” and is twelve cuts of predominantly his own originals with some cool covers.

Aside from being a killer keyboard man, Bob is a clever songwriter, penning songs about life, love, and things to which Everyman can  relate.  There are several cuts that could be construed as semi-autobiographical, including the leadoff “Certain Distance,” where, as a natural introvert, Bob sings of keepin’ that distance “from the whole human race!”  Bob DeMarco is on guitar, with Stan Behrens on the harp.  Another good one is a stinging ode to those who are always asking “How are you feeling?” even tho they don’t really care, and Bob tells ’em straight up that “I’m Not Fine–thanks for asking!”

Bob gives an authentic read on Brother Ray’s “Hard Times,” on upright acoustic piano as well as B-3.  He has a lot of fun on a myriad of instruments, including a funky riff on a clavinet on the rockin’ “Don’t Threaten Me (With A Good Time!)”  “Chinese Algebra” is just that–a tricky, fiff-heavy instrumental, while Bob takes a look at where he’s been as well as where he’s going on the poignant cuts “Watching Over Me,” and the set-closing “Can’t Get There From Here.”

We had two favorites, too.  Bob connects on a roundhouse jab at an ex-lover who’s made a lifetime of “bad decisions,” laced with “whiskey and regrets, Rage and Cigarettes.”  Perhaps the set’s most unique cut is “Paris.”  Bob’s look at the City Of Lights is bittersweet, as, when one is not in love, it’s “just another city without you.”

Bob Malone has crafted a fine set of keys-based blues and roots music with “Mojo Deluxe.”  This one is sure to please a vast array of fans!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Jay Gordon and Blues Venom review…August 17, 2015…

JAY GORDON AND BLUES VENOM

WOODCHOPPER’S BALL

SHUTTLE MUSIC  SHU  14115

THE STINGER–HOBO HILTON–CHAINSAW BOOGIE–STRANGER BLUES–VOODOO WOMAN–TRAVELIN RIVERSIDE BLUES–PAIN–MESSAGE TO COLLINS–DRIPPIN BLUES–PURE GRAIN ALCOHOL–BLUES VENOM–ORIGINAL SIN

For those unfamiliar with Jay Gordon, he is a West-Coast, certified bad mofo blues guitar player.  Endorsed by Gretsch, he coaxes enough energy outta that “big black guitar” to power most Third World countries!!  Seriously, tho, Jay has opened for the likes of Albert Collins and Johnny Winter, and has played Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival.  Add to that his Grammy nomination, and his pedigree is in place.

“Woodchopper’s Ball” is his latest set, twelve cuts of originals mixed with cool covers that just let the man wail on the strings.  He starts off the party, exhorting “Let’s go to work,” then rips into “The Stinger.”  Bassist Sharon Butcher handles the vocals on Koko’s “Voodoo Woman,” while Jay sends out an icy-cold blast of blues on the instrumental, “Message To Collins.”

If you dig slow, deep, passionate, crash-and-burn blues, then this album is one you cannot miss.  Jay turns in several fine slow-riders, including some killer slide work on “Pain,” while the autobiographical “Blues Venom” features fine B-3 work from Rich Wenzel, and a cool harp break from Mario Ramirez, the real-life brother of the late Richie Valens.  The set closes with a bang and nine minutes of blues bliss where we learn the “Original Sin” of a bluesman!

This set has its share of lighter moments, too, and those served as our favorites.  A little shot of Elmore James comes thru in the roadhouse rock of “Chainsaw Boogie,” played on a guitar made from a real chainsaw!  The “Hobo Hilton” is a tongue-in-cheek slow-burner about living in L. A. literally in the shadow of the Capitol Records building, but the fame and fortune that goes with it might as well be a million miles away.  And, the set’s most unique cut is Jay’s take on “Travelin’ Riverside Blues,”  done unplugged and acoustic, just the way ole Robert Johnson intended, on his way down to the Crossroads.

Jay Gordon can hold his own with any guitar slinger on the planet, and he lets all his fire and fury fly from his fingers on “Woodchoppeer’s Ball.”  Simply put, the man can rock some blues!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

 

Corte’ review…August 16, 2015…

CORTE’

SEASONED SOUL

SELF-RELEASED

THAT’S WHAT LOVE WILL MAKE YOU DO–I’M TORE DOWN–OH PRETTY WOMAN–ALL YOUR LOVE (I MISS LOVING)–UNCHAIN MY HEART–ANY OLE WAY–THAT’S THE WAY LOVE IS–I WANT TO LOVE YOU–LEAP OF FAITH–COLD SWEAT

For those of us who’ve always wanted to sing but fall in the Hopelessly Tone-Deaf category, it’s refreshing to hear from someone whose voice is his only instrument.  Such is the case with (Al) Corte’, who grew up singing in the church until his family realized he had a huge talent for R & B and blues.  He not only has vocal chops of the highest order, he goes a step further with the ten cuts that comprise “Seasoned Soul,” bringing us some of the most revered songs of our lifetime, drawing from Stax, Motown, and classic blues.

Corte’ starts the party with the strut of Little Milton’s, “That’s What Love Will Make You Do,” over Jerry Bone’s organ fills.  “Oh Pretty Woman” has a touch of ole Bobby Rush in Corte’s vocal, while “That’s The Way Love Is” has Jerry playing some sweet Allman-esque slide.

Corte’ works out on some fine material associated with Delbert, too.  “Leap Of Faith” has a gospel feel, augmented by backing vocals from Sarah Jo Roark.  And, “I Just Want To Love You” is one of Corte’s most vibrant vocals on the set, with the bittersweet subject matter of “how frail a man can be,” punctuated by Charlie Chalmers’ sax solo.  He closes on a 100,000-watt note, with a blistering read of the Godfather’s “Cold Sweat.”

We had three favorites, too.  Corte’s read of “Unchain My Heart” is another one with a great, “testifyin” feel, while Otis Redding’s chestnut, “Any Ole Way,” is presented in a light-hearted, playful tone.  And, the minor-key blues of Magic Sam Maghett’s “All Your Love (I Miss Loving), features another strong vocal performance and a fittingly-mournful harp from Jerry Bone.

Corte’s “Seasoned Soul”  was recorded live in the studio with no overdubs and no techno-gizmo enhancement–what you hear is what you get, and it sho’ nuff sounds good to us!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

The Ragpicker String Band review…August 14, 2015…

THE RAGPICKER STRING BAND

THE RAGPICKER STRING BAND

YELLOW DOG RECORDS  YDR 2242

HONEY BABE–MINOR BLUES–GOOGLE BLUES–BLUE MONK–CLEAN UP AT HOME–MOTEL TOWEL–BABY WHERE YOU BEEN–BLACK MATTIE–LONELY ONE IN THIS TOWN–BY YOUR SIDE–MILKCOW BLUES–TRIMMED AND BURNING–STREET DOCTOR BLUES–BRUNO’S DREAM

The Ragpicker String Band consist of three of the best string players on the planet, having garnered between them nine Blues Music Award nominations.  Yes, their self-titled album brings together that mandolin man, Rich Del Grosso, acclaimed fingerpicker Mary Flower on guitar and lap slide, and multi-instrumentalist Martin Grosswendt.

This is a vintage acoustic-blues-lover’s dream.  Over the course of fourteen tracks, these three giants breathe new life into songs by The Mississippi Sheikhs, Sleepy John Estes, Lil Johnson and others, mixed with their own originals written in the same styles.  Another sweet thing about this set aside from everyone’s string mastery is their tight vocal harmonies throughout.

Mary plays the forlorn lover to the hilt on “Minor Blues” and hee own “Baby Where You Been,” all punctuated by her fabulous fretwork.  All three show their prowess on a jazzy instrumental read of “Blue Monk,” and close the set with a pastoral, peaceful cut, another of Mary’s originals, “Bruno’s Dream,” with everyone meshing perfectly.

Rich Del Grosso is in fine form, too, both in his playing and that deep-from-the-soul baritone delivery.  He has a lot of fun with “Black Mattie,” the sly humor of his original “Street Doctor Blues,” giving “sweet dreams to lost souls,” and another original “love song” with a rhumba-esque beat, “you can count on me, baby, to be By Your Side.”  Martin’s no slouch, either, giving fine vocal reads on the playful “Clean Up At Home,” and the slyly-sexy “Milkcow Blues.”

We had two favorites, too.  Mary takes the lead vocal on the traditional “Trimmed And Burning,” giving it a strong gospel feel, urging us to “don’t stop praying, for this old world is almost done.”  And, Rich brings this vintage music into the social media age with one of the most humorous songs we’ve heard in quite some time.  “Google Blues” finds Rich on lead vocal hittin’ on a woman in a bar that has “free Wi-Fi,” and she “pulled up all my shady past when she Googled me!”

The Ragpicker String Band has brought fans an album that is a stringed and vocal tour-de-force.  These three outstanding musicians give these tunes a fresh coat of paint while staying true to their blues roots.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Katy Guillen And The Girls review…August 10, 2015…

KATY GUILLEN AND THE GIRLS

KATY GUILLEN AND THE GIRLS

SELF-RELEASED

DON’T GET BITTER–OLD BEST FRIEND–WOKE UP IN SPAIN–STALLING ON DREAMS–GABRIELA–THINK TWICE–QUIVER–IF YOU WERE GONE–DON’T TURN YOUR BACK–THE RACE–EARTH ANGEL

Katy Guillen hails from Kansas City, and is part of that city’s vibrant blues scene which includes Concord artist Danielle Nicole and a host of others.  Katy has been a student of the guitar since she was a small child, and is fluent in blues guitar and flamenco.  Blues fans are gonna fall in love with her sterling debut, “Katy Guillen And The Girls.”  Katy is on guitar and vocals, with Claire Adams on bass and backing vocals, and Stephanie Williams on drums.

The eleven originals that comprise this set are predominantly riff-heavy blues-rockers, with a bit of an “edge” to all of them.  Claire’s backing vocals also add depth to these already-powerful songs.  Leading off is the uptempo tale of coping with the ups and downs of relationships, “get better, Don’t Get Bitter.”  This theme is revisited with the story of “working on a new love,” and is entitled “Woke Up In Spain.”

Katy’s passion for Hendrix is evident in the growling lead lines of “what makes your heart pound/what makes you Quiver.”  The set closes with another fine bit of alternative-blues, “Earth Angel.”

Straight blues are well-represented, too.  A stone slab of funky-grooved blues is Katy’s word to a no-good lover, “Don’t Turn Your Back on a good thing.”  And, “Think Twice” is a playful romp with a highly-danceable groove,

Our favorite was easy.  “Stalling On Dreams” begins as a poignant reminder of memories of a faded love, which morphs into a strutting, funked-up climax.

Tom Ruf, if you read this, here is your next candidate for the “Girls With Guitars” tour.  “Katy Guillen And The Girls” is a sparkling debut from a young lady who has what it takes to strike big in contemporary blues!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

 

Buddy Guy review…August 8, 2015…

BUDDY GUY

BORN TO PLAY GUITAR

RCA/SILVERTONE  88875-12037-2

BORN TO PLAY GUITAR–WEAR YOU OUT–BACK UP MAMA–TOO LATE–WHISKEY, BEER, AND WINE–KISS ME QUICK–CRYING OUT OF ONE EYE–(BABY) YOU GOT WHAT IT TAKES–TURN ME WILD–CRAZY WORLD–SMARTER THAN I WAS–THICK LIKE MISSISSIPPI MUD–FLESH AND BONE (DEDICATED TO B. B. KING)–COME BACK MUDDY

Long-time fans of Buddy Guy are familiar with his “comeback” album of sorts, (even tho he never really went anywhere!), “Damn Right I’ve Got The Blues.”  A few years later, he revisited his roots and gave us all a cold drink of “Sweet Tea.”  You’ll find elements of both of those albums on his latest, “Born To Play Guitar,” on the RCA/Silvertone label.

There are some serious Tennessee connections, too.  Glenn Worf is on bass, Kevin McKendree and Reese Wynans are on keys, and Tom Hambridge is on drums, and doubles as producer.  Buddy kicks things off with the autobiographical title cut, reminding us all that “I got a reputation” and “I got blues runnin’ thru my veins!”  Billy Gibbons is the first special guest, as he and Buddy trade stories of ’54 Strats and “Seventy-something Eldorados.” because “I ain’t slowin’ down ’til I Wear You Out!”  Joss Stone joins Buddy for a playfully-sexy duet on the Brook Benton/Dinah Washington chestnut, “Baby, You Got What It Takes!”

Buddy revisits his days with Junior Wells as Kim Wilson blows some mean harp on the Little Walter classic, “Too Late,” and a cool shot of love on the run, “Kiss Me Quick.”  “Damn Right”-era contemporary blues are well-represented, too, with the wah-wah workout of “Turn Me Wild,” “Crazy World,” and the horn-heavy romp, “Thick Like Mississippi Mud.”

We had three favorites, too.  Rob McNelley adds some sweet slide guitar to the sly tale of “havin’ a Back Up Mama, in case mama Number One ain’t around!”  Van Morrison’s duet with Buddy on a tribute to B. B. King is entitled “Flesh And Bones,” and takes on a spiritual tone as the fellows sing “we’ll all live on, in the sweet by and by.”  Backing harmonies are provided by the iconic McCrary Sisters, also.  Buddy closes the set with a plaintive request, “Come Back Muddy,” as he recounts the glory days of those two legends, singing “Lord knows, you can’t be replaced.”  Doyle Bramhall II adds twelve-string guitar, and Reese is on the ol’ upright piano.

Buddy put it best at the climax of the opening cut.  “When I’m gone, there’ll be a polka-dot guitar resting on my grave.”  Not only was he “Born To Play Guitar,” he promised Muddy he’d do his best to carry this bidness on!  Buddy, we love you, man, and thank you so much for a lifetime of great blues!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.