Archive for September, 2015

Joe Stanley review…September, 19, 2015…

JOE STANLEY

LEGEND

ELLERSOUL RECORDS  ER–1508–21

DISC ONE:  BLUE MOON–FLAMINGO–MR. NICK–THE NEARNESS OF YOU–ODE TO BILLY  JOE–SECRET LOVE–SEPTEMBER SONG–THE PREACHER–UNDECIDED–BILLY HANCOCK INTERVIEW PART 1

DISC TWO:  DEEP PURPLE–A FOGGY DAY IN LONDON TOWN–GEORGIA–JAMBALAYA–JAMBALAYA (ALTERNATE TAKE)–JUST A GIGOLO–JUST A GIGOLO (ALTERNATE TAKE)–LET’S GET HIGH–PENNIES FROM HEAVEN–PLEASE RELEASE ME–WALKIN’ WITH MR. LEE–YOUR CHEATIN’ HEART–YOUR CHEATIN’ HEART (ALTERNATE TAKE)–BILLY HANCOCK INTERVIEW PART 2

Joe Stanley was a legend, indeed.  As a vital player in the bustling Washington, D. C. area blues, jazz and R & B scene in the 50’s and 60’s, he could hold his own with the best sax men in the business, because he was one of ’em.  This two-disc posthumous release from EllerSoul Records is produced by drummer Big Joe Maher, with whom Joe played in the years immediately preceding his death in 2007.

Joe grew up in an era where, if you couldn’t play and sing anything popular on the radio, you couldn’t keep a gig.  Thus, over the course of these two discs, Joe regales us with vintage jazz, blues, R & B, and even country.  That’s why he was such an in-demand player with the likes of Fats, Big Joe Turner, Charlie Daniels, and Roy Clark.  And, as further testimony to his musical heritage, he also was a cousin to Mickey Gilley and Jerry Lee Lewis!

Disc One chronicles some of Joe’s classic jazz and swing combo works.  Each features Joe on sax, with EllerSoul labelmate John Cocuzzi on keys, and both have ample opportunities for outstanding solos.  The lone vocal is Joe on “The Nearness Of You,” with a decidedly-bluesy, struttin’ take on Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode To Billy Joe,” which served as our favorite.

Disc Two has a bit more of an “edge” to it–it is done in a live setting, and has Big Joe Maher on drums, John Cocuzzi on piano, and Ivan Appelrouth on guitar.  The emphasis here is more on Joe’s vocals, and he proves he can sing any song and sing it well, with varied styles in play.  Evidence his jazzy read on “A Foggy Day In London Town,” “Pennies From Heaven,” and a rowdy, good-time read of “Just A Gigolo.”  His country lineage shows thru on sweet takes of “Please Release Me,” “Jambalaya,” and “Your Cheatin’ Heart.”  Our favorite was a blistering tribute to one of his contemporaries, the great Lee Allen, with “Walkin’ With Mr. Lee.”

Each disc close with an interview with Billy Hancock, who spins endearing tales of growing up and playing in the various clubs, integrating predominantly-black clubs, and being a “jack-of-all-trades” to keep a gig!

Joe Stanley was not only a top-notch musician and vocalist, he was a pioneer in the early days of R & B, and a man who gave back to the musical community much more than he received.  “Legend” serves as a fitting tribute to this great player!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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The Claudettes review…September 17, 2015…

THE CLAUDETTES

NO HOTEL

YELLOW DOG RECORDS  YDR  2265

BIG EASY WOMEN–CALIFORNIA, HERE I COME–YOU’D HAVE TO BE OUT OF YOUR MIND (TO PLAY THESE BLUES)–SOUTHBOUND STROLL–YOU BUSY BEAVER, YOU–YANA ARRIVES (THEME)–SHE’S SO IMAGINARY–LAISSE TOMBER LES FILLES–MIRZA–NE T’EN VAS PAS–CHEZ LES YE-YE–YANA DEPARTS (THEME)–THE SWINGER GOES STRAIGHT–NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS–SUMMER FINALLY CAME–LIFE IS SUCH FUN, AND THEN SEEMS TO DISAPPEAR

In 2013, The Claudettes were Chicago piano-pounder Johnny Iguana and drummer Michael Caskey, who released the highly-acclaimed instrumental album, “Infernal Piano Plot…Hatched,”  in which we compared their piano-and-drum works to “Little Richard on speed backed by a jug of good Tennessee corn likker.”  Their second set for Yellow Dog Records branches out in a big way.  It’s titled “No Hotel,” and over the course of sixteen cuts, there’s more of the band’s trademark bombast and all the good ole nasty noise that two guys can make.  And, adding to the fun and frivolities, they proudly introduce 24-year-old Nigerian-American singer/dancer Yana, who regales us with five tunes, one sung in English, the rest in French, all done up cabaret-style.

The boys kick off with a blistering, piano-bashing “Big Easy Women,” which morphs into the perfect soundtrack for a Saturday morning B-movie, where the hero rushes to save the damsel tied to the tracks!  “You Busy Beaver,You” tips its hat to the Peanuts gang withy some jazzy, Guaraldi-like licks, while a couple of “show tunes” get a royal treatment.  “No Business Like Show Business” has a campy, Fifties feel, while “California, Here I Come” is presented in a brooding, stormy, minor-key arrangement.

Yana’s contributions fit perfectly within the mood of the set.  “She’s So Imaginary” recalls Seventies-era Carole King, while the French songs are sexy, sultry fun with a hint of mid-80’s Madonna.

Our favorite was easy.  The guys get in a sweet, slow-boogie blues groove with “The Swinger Went Straight,” with Johnny’s mighty left hand carrying the day.

Johnny Iguana and Michael Caskey continue to be the “Colin Clives of the hipster set,” as they’ve created a monster that chews up blues, jazz, boogie-woogie and anything else in its path and spits it out as something completely different that’s guaranteed to satisfy!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Chris O’Leary review…September 11, 2015…

CHRIS O’LEARY

GONNA DIE TRYIN’

AMERICAN SHOWPLACE MUSIC  ASM  5227

CAN’T HELP YOURSELF–19 CENTS A DAY–HOOK, LINE, AND SINKER–GONNA DIE TRYIN’–LETTERS FROM HOME–THE DEVIL DROVE TO TOWN IN A V8 FORD–THE MACHINE–WALKING CONTRADICTION–HARVEST TIME–ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT–TELL IT TO ME STRAIGHT

We first met Chris O’Leary at the 2011 Blues Music Awards when he performed at the pre-show party in support of his nomination for Best New Artist Debut.  He’s just gotten better with each successive release, and “Gonna Die Tryin” is no different.  Chris spent seven years in the USMC, and six years as the harpman/bandleader for Levon Helm’s Barnburners, making him a veteran of many a Midnight Ramble in upstate New York.  Those life experiences show up in his socially-conscious songwriting, as he writes from the heart, and thru the eyes of a man who’s “been there.”

Evidence the minor-key slow-blues of “Letters From Home.”  Chris Vitarello’s crying guitar opens this poignant tale of many war vets who are “terrified and lonesome,” and whose only solace comes from those much-needed “mail calls.”  A stomping, percussive beat rides Chris’ story of how many of us in the workforce feel–“we’re all just part of The Machine.”  This one features piano from one of our favorite players, Bruce Katz.  “Hook, Line, And Sinker” is a fine shot of horn-driven dance floor funk, and Bruce turns in some mighty fine B-3 work over Chris’ harp in the Biblically-themed title cut, explaining that ” razor-thin line between righteousness and dyin.”

We had three favorites, too.  A tune that we thought was a sweet rememberance of Levon follows a second-line rhythm pattern.  It’s the story of Wanda and Charlie and their “illegal agriculture,” where everything revolves around “Harvest Time.”  John Mooney’s on the guitar, too.  A rockin’ tale of lust, temptation, greed, John Dillinger and Robert Mitchum follows ole Satan as “The Devil Drove To Town In A V8 Ford.”  And, another societal tune is built over a Hooker-like “endless boogie” as the outsourcing of American jobs overseas for “Nineteen Cents A Day” strikes a deep chord within Chris as he hammers home his point.

Chris O’Leary is a natch’l-born frontman, and his experiences as a soldier and musician create a deep well from which to create songs.  “Gonna Die Tryin” has it all–excellent musicians and thoght-provoking lyrics delivered by a powerhouse singer!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Mitch Woods review…September 10, 2015…

MITCH WOODS

JAMMIN’ ON THE HIGH C’S

LIVE FROM MITCH WOODS CLUB 88

ON THE LEGENDARY RHYTHM AND BLUES CRUISE

CLUB 88/VIZZTONE RECORDS  VT 8815

BIG MAMOU–T’AINT NOBODY’S BIZNESS–RIP IT UP–STORY OF CLUB 88–BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY–JAMBALAYA–EYESIGHT TO THE BLIND–I WANT YOU TO BE MY BABY–7 MILE LIMIT–ROCK ME BABY–WINE SPO DEE O DEE–FRIENDS OF BILL W.–BROKE–BOOM BOOM–WEE WEE HOURS–WHOLE LOTTA SHAKIN’ GOIN’ ON–TOAST

Mitch Woods has been the “after hours” piano bar host on the Legendary Rhythm And Blues Cruise for twelve years now.  On January 21-23, 2015, the cruise ship rocked with Mitch backing an All-Star lineup of guest artists that make up “Jammin’ On The High C’s,” on the Vizztone label.

Fans, this is truly the next best thing to being on the Big Boat.  The crowds are rowdy, and the players feed off that vibe.  Leading off is Mitch jamming with members of Roomful Of Blues on “Big Mamou.”  Billy Branch blows some cool Chicago harp on a sparsely-arranged jam of “Eyesight To The Blind,” lamenting that he oughta be in bed, but everyone was glad he decided to play some blues instead! He comes back a bit later for a high-spirited read of “Boom Boom,” with Mitch on keys and vocals and Coco Montoya on guitar.

Dwayne Dopsie adds a touch of zydeco stomp to the party, rockin’ the joint with “Jambalaya” and closes the musical portion of the program with his squeeze-box kickin’ over Mitch’s piano on a , er, “killer” version of “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On!”

We had three favorites, too.  Mitch and Tommy Castro channel their inner Little Richard and sho’ nuff “Rip It Up!”  Victor Wainwright joins in on the piano fun for some extended jamming on “Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee,” and again on a raucous, Roaring-Twenties-inspired duet with Julia Magness on “T’aint Nobody’s Bizness.”

The Legendary Rhythm And Blues Cruise now employs four pianists who rotate shifts to make sure the boogie woogie rolls all nite long.  Mitch Woods has captured the good-time feel of being on that ship with “Jammin’ On The High C’s,” and it’s a boatload of fun!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

Stephen Young And The Union review…September 9, 2015…

STEPHEN YOUNG AND THE UNION

EAGLE FORT RUMBLE

RAGGED COMPANY RECORDINGS  RCR 001

SHIVER–DUTY FREE 200–LATELY I’VE RESCUED A ROSE–THE BLIND LEADING THE BLIND–LAND LEG BLUES–MONSOON SEASON–SHADOWMAN–BEAUTIFUL DEAD–SHUFFLE (IN THE QUICKSAND)–TEARDROPS–SOMEONE YOU DREAM OF

Americana and roots fans here in the USA are about to find out what fans “across the pond” in Ireland have known for quite some time–Stephen Young And The Union are one of the best outfits in any part of the globe.  Their sophomore release is entitled “Eagle Fort Rumble,” eleven originals that showcase the vocal and instrumental talents of Stephen, and the rest of The Union–Shayne Byrne on guitars, banjo, and keys, Kenny Hollywood on keys, Steve Deasy on bass, and Johnny Byrne on drums.

It’s a miracle that this set ever got off the ground, let alone completed to such a high degree.  It was recorded in a secluded log cabin in rural Ireland, eloquently-dubbed “Eagle Fort.”  The sessions were tension-filled, and one member actually left during the band’s six-week seclusion.  That may perhaps be why several of the songs herein have a decided edgy “bite” to them, including the leadoff “Shiver,” with its foreboding groove which rides a brilliant guitar solo as the song builds to its climax.  Shimmering mandolin, courtesy of Brian Murphy, earmark “Duty Free 200.”

We heard a lot of traditional Irish folk influences scattered throughout, too.  Banjo lines are the common thread of “Lately I’ve Rescued A Rose,” and “Shuffle (In The Quicksand) bristles with a vintage vibe.  The set closes with a sparsely-arranged, pastoral piece built around Stephen’s vocal and lone piano, which gives way to strings to augment “Someone You Dream Of.”

We had two favorites, too.  Jangly guitars and over-the-top vocal arrangements recall Sixties’-era Roger McGuinn and the Byrds in both “The Blind Leading The Blind” and “Beautiful Dead.”

The total time spent from start to finish in the making of “Eagle Fort Rumble” added up to some two-and-a-half years.  But, we believe fans will feel it was time well-spent, as Stephen Young And The Union have produced a set with excellent musicianship and vocals from this truly talented group of players!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

D’Mar and Gill review…Labor Day, 2015…

D’MAR AND GILL

TAKE IT LIKE THAT

AIRTIGHT RECORDS

I FELL IN LOVE WITH THE BLUES–BACK TO PARADISE–SONG FOR HONEYBOY–SOUVENIR OF THE BLUES–DANCIN’ GIRL–YOU NEVER KNOW–THREE WAY INN–MUST BE LOVE–TAKE IT LIKE THAT–SWEET TOOTH–LONESOME FOR LEAVIN’–TORE DOWN AND BLUE–SINCE I SAW YOU

Chris Gill has been playing some deep Delta blues for ’bout fifteen years or so.  Drummer Derrick “D’Mar” Martin spent fifteen years in Little Richard’s band, so you know he can keep a’knockin’ with the best of ’em.  When these two players combine their talents, something really special always happens.  Evidence their 2011 debut, “Real Good Friends” as an example, and take note of their latest release—thirteen original cuts that comprise “Take It Like That,” which sends the listener on a cool musical journey thru the Delta and on down the mighty Mississippi, with some jazzy island-flavored riffs along the way!

There is a fine, socially-conscious cut that has a decided blues feel.  An ominous, percussive background rides over Chris singing of “children learning talents in school” that have nothing to do “with the Golden Rule,” and he urges us all to keep on pushin’ to ” find our way Back To Paradise.”  The “Song For Honeyboy” (Edwards) is a slide-driven boogie that tells of this bluesman’s “real good friend that travels with me everywhere”—his ole guitar!  “Dancin’ Girl tips its hat to the Hill Country, while “Sweet Tooth” has Chris longing for “that sweet sugar you got,” with backing vocals from Lisa Andersen.

We had two favorites, too.  The fellows riff on a little bit of ragtime down at the “Three Way Inn,” where, even if “that big-legged woman drinks all your wine,” you can still “have a real good time!”  And, the set leads off with a tune that reminded us of when we got into the blues in our younger days.  Chris was diggin’ WNOE and WDIA, and, even the ole Wolfman howlin’ down in Del Rio, TX, as he recounts the swingin’  tale of how “I Fell In Love With The Blues.”

D’Mar and Gill have shown us where the next generation will lead the blues, and it’s headed to a sweet place, indeed.  Enjoy “Take It Like That” from these two fantastic talents!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Eddie Cotton review…September 6, 2015…

EDDIE COTTON

ONE AT A TIME

DECHAMP RECORDS  100315

ONE AT A TIME–BE CAREFUL–BETTER DEAL–CATCH I WANTED–DEAD END STREET–FAIR WEATHER LOVER–FILLING ME WITH PLEASURE–HARD RACE TO WIN–JE NE SAIS QUOI–MISSISSIPPI–MY MONEY–EGO AT YOUR DOOR–RACE TO THE DOLLAR–WAR IS OVER

Eddie Cotton is one of those great “young guns” of the blues under the umbrella of DeChamp Records, the label owned by fellow bluesman Grady Champion.  For his latest release, Eddie is joined by Grady as well as fellow labelmate JJ Thames for “One At A Time,” fourteen cuts of original, down-home blues that lets Eddie run wild on the guitar.

Born in Clinton, MS, Eddie’s a preacher’s son who has successfully bridged the gap between the blues and the gospel he grew up on.  There are several highlights on this set, all of which burn deep with Eddie’s passionate picking and singing.  Starting off, his guitar struts its considerable stuff as he tells everyone that the old “tryin’ to love two” game is gettin’ too hard to play, so he’s vowing to love ’em “One At A Time” from now on! “Be Careful” rides that “endless boogie” over Eddie’s warning to watch out for “roosters totin’ knives” in the decisions we make!  He burns up some slow blues on the tale of those women who are done with you “when you spend your last dime,” those “Fair Weather Lovers.”  He touches on vintage soul with the “steal away” lovers who find solace on a “Dead End Street,” and again on the horn-and-keys-driven tale that has Eddie telling a lover, “I’m checkin’ my Ego At The Door.”

We had two favorites, too.   Eddie recounts lessons learned from his father and tells it like it is–“time gives, and time takes away,” and “the race against time is A Hard Race To Win.”  And, the slow-blues of “Better Deal” is a classic.  Eddie does it up Iceman style, his sweet licks ridin’ over the story of his lover who’s givin’ the “back door man a Better Deal than me!!”

Eddie Cotton is sho’ nuff a BAD man, and he’s got the guitar to back it up.  Want some good down-home blues?  Get some Eddie Cotton and “One At A Time!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.