Archive for September, 2015

Duke Robillard review…September 29, 2015…

DUKE ROBILLARD

THE ACOUSTIC BLUES AND ROOTS OF DUKE ROBILLARD

STONY PLAIN CD  SPCD  1383

MY OLD KENTUCKY HOME–BIG BILL BLUES–I MISS MY BABY IN MY ARMS–JIMMIE’S TEXAS BLUES–BACKYARD PARADISE–EVANGELINE (FEAT. SUNNY CROWNOVER)–LEFT HANDED–I’D RATHER DRINK MUDDY WATER–I’M GONNA BUY ME A DOG (TO TAKE THE PLACE OF YOU)–NASHVILLE BLUES (FEAT. MARY FLOWERS)–ST. LOUIS BLUES–WHAT IS IT THAT TASTES LIKE GRAVY–SOMEDAY BABY–LET’S TURN BACK THE YEARS–TAKE A LITTLE WALK WITH ME–SANTA CLAUS BLUES (FEAT. MARIA MULDAUR)–PROFOUNDLY BLUE (FEAT. JAY MCSHANN)–UKULELE SWING

In a career that has spanned some fifty years,  Duke Robillard has brought fans all types of music, from his days as leader of Roomful Of Blues as well as some thirty albums under his own name.  His latest set for Stony Plain Records celebrates his “unplugged” side, thusly-titled “The Acoustic Blues And Roots Of Duke Robillard,” eighteen cuts that touch on the Duke’s mastery of several styles, and includes some very special guests.

Duke has always been a fan of roots music.  On this set, he blends blues, swing, jazz, even 1920’s-era hokum and country to really show his passion for all music.  He starts off with a brief instrumental read of “My Old Kentucky Home,” before diving head-first into “Big Bill Blues,” with Matt McCabe on piano.  Sunny Crownover lends her big voice to a cool cover of Robbie Robertson’s “Evangeline,” with Duke’s dobro and Russell Gussetti on concertina to set this song’s mood.  Staying in an Americana mode, Mary Flower adds duet vocals and fingerpicked guitar on a sweet read of the Delmore Brothers’ “Nashville Blues,” while Duke again uses his dobro axe to breathe new life into Hank Sr.’s “Let’s Turn Back The Years.”

Duke’s right at home with the blues, too.  Maria Muldaur guests on the vocal on a jazzy early Christmas gift, where “no money, no honey” is bound to give you the “Santa Claus Blues!”  “Profoundly Blue” teams Duke with piano legend Jay McShann on a slow-blues groove originally done by Charlie Christian, while the set closes with Duke on a vintage uke for a jumpin’ “Ukulele Swing.”

We had two favorites, too.  Duke does The Singing Brakeman proud on an authentic version of “Jimmie’s Texas Blues,” right down to that classic “blue yodel!”  And, “Left Handed” is a humorous,  straight-blues tune that features Matt on piano and Jerry Portnoy on the harp.

We’ve been fans of the Duke since his Roomful days, and with each album, he proves that there is literally nothing that he can’t play!  Enjoy “The Acoustic Blues And Roots Of Duke Robillard!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

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Mindi Abair and the Boneshakers review…September 28, 2015…

MINDI ABAIR AND THE BONESHAKERS

LIVE IN SEATTLE

HEADS UP INTERNATIONAL  HUI–37996–02

HERE SHE COMES–WILD HEART–HAUTE SAUCE–I CAN’T LOSE–BRING HIM ON–BALL AND CHAIN–BE BEAUTIFUL–GONE–MAKE IT HAPPEN–BLOOM–I’LL BE YOUR HOME–SUMMERTIME–FLIRT–COLD SWEAT

Mindi Abair is one of the most-respected sax players on the scene today, having played with Aerosmith, on American Idol,  and even on the Opry stage.  She got a 2015 Grammy nomination for her CD, “Wild Heart.”  The first time we heard The Boneshakers do “Cold Sweat,” we were hooked.  Mindi joins this powerhouse outfit for “Live In Seattle,” cut at Jazz Alley.  It’s fourteen cuts including three brand new songs, all of which gives Mindi a chance to put a raw, edgy stamp on her sound.

Mindi fits right in with this band, and kicks things off with two cuts from her catalog, “Wild Heart,” and “Haute Sauce.”  Long-time Boneshakers vocalist Sweet Pea Atkinson joins the festivities for a bluesy take on a band original, “Ball And Chain.”

Mindi cranks up the funk on a number written about winning, aptly-titled “I Can’t Lose.”  She switches gears with a ballad about being yourself, striving to “Be Free, Be Strong, Be Beautiful,” and gets in a Memphis mood on an instrumental she wrote with Booker T. Jones, “Make It Happen,” with the keyboard parts handled by Rodney Lee.

As the night progresses, the band really hits its stride.  Mindi tells the crowd that when you are with people you love, you’re at home, as she and Randy Jacobs do a cool duet on “I’ll Be Your Home,” another cut with a soulful, Memphis feel.  Randy’s guitar recalls Hendrix as Mindi absolutely lays down a killer groove on a cover of Gershwin’s “Summertime,” and Sweet Pea returns to close the set on lead vocal on our favorite, “Cold Sweat,” as Mindi goes into full-on “Maceo” mode!

Mindi Abair meshes perfectly with The Boneshakers.  “Live In Seattle” shows what can happen when the right players inspire the best from each other!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

Webb Wilder review…September 25, 2015….

WEBB WILDER

MISSISSIPPI MODERNE

LANDSLIDE RECORDS  LDCD-1043

STONES IN MY PATHWAY(INTRO)–ROUGH AND TUMBLE GUY–IF IT AIN’T BROKE, DON’T FIX IT–ONLY A FOOL–I GOTTA MOVE–TOO MUCH SUGAR FOR A NICKEL–LONELY BLUE BOY–YARD DOG–I’M NOT JUST ANYBODY’S FOOL–IT TAKES TIME–LUCY MAE BLUES–WHO WILL THE NEXT FOOL BE?–I’M GONNA GET MY BABY–STONES IN MY PATHWAY

He burst on the scene way back in 1986, with an appropriately-titled debut, “It Came From Nashville!”  He cut a larger-than-life figure, with a blazing guitar and a booming baritone vocal to match.  Yep–he’s Webb Wilder, The Last Of The Full-Grown Men, who’s urged us for nearly thirty years to “Work Hard, Rock Hard, Eat Hard, Sleep Hard, Grow Big, And Wear Glasses If You Need ‘Em!”  His latest album reunites him with the Landslide label, and is “Mississippi Moderne.”  Webb mixes clever originals with waaay-too-cool-for-school covers that recall blues, British-Invasion rock, and even garage-rock psychedelia.  The “usual suspects,” most of whom have been with Webb since the beginning, are along for this ride.  Tom Comet is on bass, Jimmy Lester is on drums, and the guitar triumvirate of George Bradfute, Bob Williams, and Joe V. McMahan all back Webb throughout.

Webb learned some sage advice from his mama–if something is too good to be true, then it’s “Too Much Sugar For A Nickel,” so “cut off the deal if you feel that it ain’t sweet enough for you!”  “Only A Fool” features Bob on electric sitar, and Webb touches on his passion for Sixties Brit-rock with cuts such as “Gotta Move” and “Yard Dog.” Rockabilly gems such as Charlie Rich’s “Who Will The Next Fool Be” and Harold Jenkins’ “Lonely Blue Boy,” long a staple of Webb’s live shows, make their debut on CD herein.

Webb digs some blues, too.  Heck–his aunt Lillian McMurtry ran Trumpet Records for years, cutting sides for well-knowns such as Sonny Boy Williamson II (Rice Miller) and the not-so-well-knowns such as Willie Love.  His blues cuts thus served as our favorites.  The set starts and ends with a brooding “Stones In My Pathway,” turning from Robert Johnson-inspired Delta blues into a full-blown sermon from Webb at its end!  And, “I’m Gonna Get My Baby” has that good ole Jimmy Reed beat, ’cause all the cool kids already know that Jimmy Reed is the King of rock and roll!

Webb lays out his whole way of looking at life and music in the first two cuts.  On “Rough And Tumble Guy” he vows “I’ll be rockin’ til’ the day I die,” and then exhorts “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It!”  Sage words to live by from a man well-versed in all four types of music–country AND western, and rock AND roll!  Webb’s one of our favorite artists ever, and “Mississippi Moderne” continues his great legacy!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Andy Poxon review…September 25, 2015…

ANDY POXON

MUST BE CRAZY!

ELLERSOUL RECORDS  ER-1509-24

MUST BE CRAZY–LIVING ALONE–NEXT TO YOU–GIVE ME THE CHANCE–COLD WEATHER–DON’T TELL YOUR MAMA–HARDER EVERY DAY–I WANT TO KNOW–ALREADY GONE–MAKING A FOOL–DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO–TOO LATE–REBOUND

Andy Poxon has sho’ nuff got it goin’ on.  This young man has just released his third album for EllerSoul Records, entitled “Must Be Crazy!”  On this collection of vintage swing, R & B, and roots music, he came to the friendly confines of the Rock House Studios in Franklin, TN.  Under the production tutelage of Kevin McKendree, Andy’s killer guitar and ever-maturing vocals take center stage.  All thirteen cuts were written either by Andy alone or in tandem with Kevin and Yates McKendree.  Kevin’s also on keys throughout, (save for Yates on organ on one cut), Steve Mackey is on bass, Kenneth Blevins on drums, Jim Hoke on sax, and the McCrary Sisters and Chris Kohanski on backing vocals.

The cuts have a jump-blues, swingin’ feel, or go in the direction of classic soul, all done to take advantage of Mr. Poxon’s considerable talents.

The title cut leads off, with an unmistakable, Elmore James-styled intro.  Andy tells another guy “you Must Be Crazy to break that poor girl’s heart!”  Two sides of the same coin are studied with Andy’s tale of “doin’ fine since you left,” as “Living Alone ain’t so lonely after all!”  He then changes gears on a song that belies the pain of lost love, “Harder Everyday,” done in a slow, classic-soul style.

“Cold Weather” lets Andy get in some jazzy, “3 AM-closing time,’ slow-blues licks while an old-time-used-to-be comes crawling back, but Andy tells her flat out,  “It’s Too Late–you shoulda thought of that before!”

For all the swingin’ blues on this set, our favorites were vastly different.  Another good dose of vintage soul is Andy’s poignant tale of a love affair about to crash, which has his lover “Already Gone.”  And, the set closes on a rousing instrumental note that sounds as if it was cut down at 926 E. McLemore in Memphis, as Andy and Yates McKendree (on organ) make “Rebound” sound like a long-lost MG’s track.

Andy Poxon is a gifted young artist who is rapidly coming into his own.  He could probably play any style he wanted to, and all blues fans are lucky his passion is for vintage blues and R & B, served up aplenty on “Must Be Crazy!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Todd Wolfe Band review…September 23, 2015…

TODD WOLFE BAND

LONG ROAD BACK

AMERICAN SHOWPLACE MUSIC  ASM  5117

POISON–LONG ROAD BACK–OUTSIDE WOMAN BLUES–NEVER WALK ALONE–PEACE UNTO YOU–FIRE ME UP–ANNALEE–GONE–BLACK QUEEN–ONE SHOT–MERCY–HOODOO RIVER

Guitarist Todd Wolfe is perhaps best-known for his work with Sheryl Crow and Leslie West of Mountain.  His last set, from 2013, was “Miles To Go,” and was one of our favorites from that year.  He and his band return with “Long Road Back,” ten originals and two covers that continue to show why Todd is one of the most highly-regarded players on the scene today.

Joining Todd are the core band that recorded together in 2013.  Roger Voss is on drums, Justine Gardner is on bass, and the inimitable John Ginty is on keys.  After the success of their last album, the band has been touring almost non-stop, logging at least 200 nights a year on the road.  Thus is the title cut, a tribute to those road-weary players who know it’s tough to maintain a relationship long-distance, since it’s such a “Long Road Back to you!”  A stage-door affair with a “flower child from the Royal Crown” is the theme of “Fire Me Up,” while the strutting funk  of the leadoff cut is the tale of one of those women who “came without warning” but who turns out to be “Poison,” as she takes much more than she gives.  And, the set closes with a groove-filled jam where Todd and John get in some fine solos, giving “Hoodoo River” a downright “Phish-y” vibe!

We had several favorites, too.  Cream’s “Outside Woman Blues” is given a great treatment here, with Todd’s guitar blazing the way, and John’s electric piano adding to the vintage feel of this one.  A band original that recalls “Let It Rain”-era Clapton is the acoustic dobro-fueled “Peace Unto You.”  “Annalee” rides the boogie straight outta the hills of North Mississippi, and Todd’s take on Stephen Stills’ “Black Queen” is positively cosmic, with his wah-wah and fuzztone guitar work on full display.

Todd Wolfe continues to impress blues fans everywhere with his live shows and fantastic sets such as “Long Road Back.”  We give it two big thumbs way up!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society,

Al Basile review…September 22, 2015…

AL BASILE

B’S EXPRESSION

SWEETSPOT RECORDS  SST  9732

WHOLE LOT OF GOOD GOOD LOVIN’–IT WASN’T THAT GOOD–NOT LIKE I DO–DON’T YOU EVER GET TIRED OF BEING RIGHT?–I’M RUNNIN’ LATE–HAVE I GIVEN MY BEST?–NEVER GOOD ENOUGH–SOMETHING’S MISSING–ANSWER ME–I DIDN’T COME HERE TO LIE–EVEN JESUS FELL–THAT AIN’T BAD–YOU KNOW, YOU DON’T KNOW

Al Basile’s accomplishments would fill a book, so we are going to stop after we say he was a founding member of Duke Robillard’s Roomful Of Blues (on cornet), and received the first Master’s Degree from the Brown University Creative Writing Program.  As such, his songs play out like little five-minute novellas, and he’s earned perhaps the coolest nickname in all music, “The Bard of the Blues!”

His latest album for Sweetspot Records is his twelfth produced by the Duke, who adds guitar throughout.  It is entitled “B’s Expression,” thirteen original cuts that explore Al’s clever, philosophical looks at love, life, and relationships.  The cuts mostly follow a midtempo, horn-rich, Stax-like groove, with Al adding his tasteful cornet licks on several songs.

Al starts off with a touch of swagger in a message to all the lovely lady listeners—“I’ve Got A Whole lot Of Good Good Lovin’ going to waste!”  When you find out that something you always wanted wasn’t quite what you expected, you find out the hard way that it “Wasn’t That Good.”   This one has a bouncy rhythm, punctuated by Bruce Bears on keys.  Putting the past in the past and not falling back into old bad habits is the theme of “I’m Running Late,” as Al politely begs off an encounter with an ex.  A funky, strutting groove drives Al’s message that “If you ain’t got no groove, Something’s Missing.”

We had three favorites, too.  A lover who is totally into herself has Al feeling hopeless, and that no matter what he does, “it’s Never Good Enough.”  He waxes philosophically with Biblical references in “Have I Given My Best,” dealing with always trying to help others when you can, and makes us realize that, even when things look bleak, “three times up the hill to Calvary, even Jesus Fell.”

Al Basile is one of our favorite players in any genre’.  His songs are lyrically thought-provoking and insightful, and his playing and singing always impeccable.  “B’s Expression” adds to his ever-growing legacy!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Deb Callahan review…September 22, 2015…

DEB CALLAHAN

SWEET SOUL

BLUE PEARL RECORDS

BIG LOVE–I KEEP THINGS RUNNING–SHACKIN’ UP–I AM FAMILY–SWEET FEELING–BORN TO LOVE YOU–SEVEN STATES AWAY–WAY DOWN IN THE HOLE–STEP BACK–YOU DON’T KNOW YOUR MIND–CRAZY ‘BOUT YOU BABY–SLOW AS MOLASSES, SWEET AS HONEY–I BEEN HOODOOD

It’s been just about five years since Philly-based lady of the blues Deb Callahan’s last CD, “Tell It Like It Is.”  During that time, she became a new mom to her now four-year old son, Elijah, to whom she dedicates her latest set, “Sweet Soul,” on the Blue Pearl label.  There is a good mix of originals and covers that all fit the theme of how her life has changed since the birth of her son.  The songs deal with juggling careers, being a mother, and the general daily push just to keep things together.  The songs come from this sweet period in her life, (thus the set’s title), and keep a generally upbeat, funky tone.

Her dedications and testimonials to love are varied throughout this set.  “Big Love” leads off, as Deb feels as if she’s been “taken to a new place I’ve never been,” set over a funky groove.  Johnny Lee Schell adds slide guitar on the tale of mistakes one can make in the love game throughout their life, where “Shackin’ Up ain’t all it’s cracked up to be!”  Another of Deb’s and Allen James’ originals is a poignant tale of sometimes having to dole out a dose of tough love to those we love the most, “I Am Family.”

Lies and mistrust in a relationship are killers, too, as is evidenced in Deb’s cover of David Egan and Buddy Flett’s “You Don’t Know Your Mind.”  And, the set closes with the voodoo of Dr. John’s “I Been Hoodood,” with Allen’s wah-wah pedal blazing a swampy trail over Deb’s vocal.

We had three favorites, too.  Deb’s declaration of independence is set forth in the strut of “I Keep Things Running–I’m a thorough-assed female!”  While at a gig n Tallahassee, Deb only has her lover on her mind, and can’t wait to drive back home, which is “Seven States Away.”  This one morphs into a modern-day “Route 66” as she drives home from state to state!  And, Deb reminds us all to “walk with Jesus, and keep the Devil Way Down In The Hole.”

Deb Callahan possesses a powerful, soulful voice with just the right balance of grace and grit.  She’s a “Sweet Soul,” inded!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.