Archive for October, 2015

Zora Young and Little Mike review…October 21, 2015…

ZORA YOUNG AND

LITTLE MIKE AND THE TORNADOES

FRIDAY NIGHT

ELROB RECORDS

I’VE BEEN A FOOL TO LONG–A FOOL’S LAMENT–44 BLUES–TRUE LOVE IS HARD TO FIND–I LOVE CHICAGO–FRIDAY NIGHT–CHAINS OF LOVE–JUST YOUR FOOL–COUNTRY GIRL–I’M GOOD–SPANN’S BOOGIE

Little Mike and the Tornadoes are a griity, seasoned band of blues veterans that have recorded with Pinetop, Jimmy Rogers, Hubert Sumlin, and many others back in the Eighties, as well as releasing material under their own name.  Zora Young has been a stalwart on the Chicago blues scene for quite some time, too.  She is a direct relative of Howlin’ Wolf, and grew up singing in her Baptist church choir in West Point, MS.  Her family moved to Chicago when she was seven, and when she got old enough, she started singing blues in neighborhood taverns.  Thus, it is a part of the natural order of things that Zora and Little Mike would record, and “Friday Night” is the outstanding result!  It is a Chicago-blues-lover’s dream, as Zora lays down some of her favorite cuts interspersed with some fine band originals.

First up is “I’ve Been A Fool to Long,” one of Mike’s originals, where Zora sings that “I’m wastin’ my time” with an unfaithful lover. Mike’s harp takes on a country-blues feel over Zora’s pleading vocal in “A Fool’s Lament,” where she tells a lover that “I’d rather be lying with you than to you!”

“Friday Night” is a struttin’, funky piece that is full of good times “down at the juke joint,” with Mike’s harp blasting away at the solo.  She lets all the fellows know right off that “I’m Good–so good that I can knock on wood.”  And, Zora pays tribute to one of her early mentors, Lucille Spann, the wife of Chicago blues piano legend Otis Spann, with her rendition of sure-fire ways to get and keep a man, “Country Girl,” with fine piano courtesy of Jim McKaba.

We had two favorites, too.  You can’t mistake that instantly-recognizable riff of the Wolf’s “44 Blues,” as Zora is sho’ nuff on the lookout for a “no-good, alimony-and-child-support-duckin’ man!”  And, Zora simply nails a beautiful, slow-blues read as the forlorn lover in “Chains Of Love, tie my heart to you!”

Zora Young proudly sings “I Love Chicago, and Chicago is my home, the home of the blues” as she recounts her career as one of the Windy City’s best women of the blues.  Backed by Little Mike and the Tornadoes, “Friday Night” is nothin’ but fun from start to finish!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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Anthony Geraci review….October 21, 2015…

ANTHONY GERACI

AND THE BOSTON BLUES ALL-STARS

FIFTY SHADES OF BLUE

DELTA GROOVE MUSIC  DGPCD 171

EVERYTHING I DO IS WRONG–FIFTY SHADES OF BLUE–SAD BUT TRUE–HEARD THAT TUTWILER WHISTLE BLOW–IF YOU WANT TO GET TO HEAVEN–DON’T KEEP ME WAITING–THE BLUES NEVER SLEEPS–TOO LATE FOR COFFEE–DIAMONDS AND PEARLS–CRY A MILLION TEARS–IN THE QUICKSAND, AGAIN–YOUR TURN TO CRY–BLUES FOR DAVID MAXWELL

Anthony Geraci knew he wanted to play the piano by age four, so his parents started him on an old upright.  He’s certainly come a long way, as he is a founding member of both Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters and Sugar Ray (Norcia) and the Bluetones.  In the Boston area, as well as anywhere the blues are played, these guys are kings.  And, Anthony has assembled an A-list of backing players for his latest set for Delta Groove Music, “Fifty Shades Of Blue.”  It is thirteen original tracks of deep blues, jazz-inflected roots music, and a couple of dynamite instrumentals that show the depth and breadth of Anthony’s talents as a player and composer.

Anthony states that he doesn’t sing, but he hired the best singers he knew for this set.  And, Monster Mike Welch is on guitar throughout.  Mike and Darrell Nulisch open the proceedings with the plaintive story of a man trying to get past the fact that “Everything I Do Is Wrong.”  Michelle “Evil Gal” Wilson adds vocal on “If You Want To Get To Heaven, you got to go through Hell,” with Anthony’s acoustic piano adding the backdrop of the pain she feels in this song.  Toni Lynn Washington knows what she wants from a lover, and just how to get it, namely, “Diamonds And Pearls!”

Sugar Ray Norcia adds vocal and harp to several cuts, too.  Monster Mike’s slide drives the Delta-inspired “Sad But True,” as Sugar Ray blows a fine solo.  And, the slow groove of “I Heard That Tutwiler Whistle Blow” has the feel of vintage Muddy, as Ray sings of “riding that train to Heaven, with  my baby and the Lord.”

As good as all these are, we had two that stood out to us.  Anthony’s piano strikes a jazzy chord as Sugar Ray and Michelle are the playful lovers in the title cut, complete with “blindfolds” and “handcuffs on the bureau!”  The set closes on a poignant note as Anthony pays tribute to a recently-passed giant of blues piano with the instrumental, “Blues For David Maxwell.”

Anthony Geraci has been a major player in contemporary blues for over thirty-five years.  He steps up as bandleader with a little help from his many friends in this excellent set of “Fifty Shades Of Blue!”  Until next time… Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Ashley Monical review…October 19, 2015…

ASHLEY MONICAL

FACING THE SHADOW

FIRECAT RECORDS

A CHILD I WAS–RUNNING–RUBIES AND DIAMONDS–STAGE FRIGHT–TO THE MOUNTAIN–HUNT ME DOWN–JUST A LITTLE COLDER–SLEEP CHILD SLEEP (AXEL’S SONG)–TROUBLE–HONEST MAN–TRAVELING SOUL

Ashley Monical’s mom began singing to her as soon as she could talk when she was a child, beginning what would become a lifelong love for music.  Ashley gained notoriety as a member of the acoustic folk duo The Wildflowers, with Halley Anna Finlay.  For her latest album, “Facing The Shadow,” Ashley and members of the Band Of Heathens—Falcon Valdez on drums, Scott Davis on bass, and Trevor Nealon on keys–journeyed to a cabin in Wimberley, TX, owned by Ashley’s dad for two weeks in the summer of 2014.  The songs have a common thread running thru them, as Ashley faces her hopes, dreams, and fears, and expresses this in ways that we all can relate to.

The set starts with the ethereal, piano-based ballad, “A Child I Was,” with iots serene, spiritual theme as a backdrop.  “To The Mountain” also has a gospel-like vibe, augmented by the violin of Eleanor Whitmore and the well-spaced guitar lines from Scott Davis.

A wistful love affair, where “he can’t stand to stay and can’t stand to leave” is the theme of “Rubies And Diamonds,” while “Sleep Child Sleep (Axel’s Song)” is a lullaby Ashley wrote for her godson which also serves as a means to impart some of life’s most important lessons to him.

“Trouble” finds her at home “with some moonshine” to “wait you off my mind,” with a cool, sorta-honky-tonk piano solo at the bridge.

Ashley has some blues in her soul, too, and we liked those cuts the best.  “Traveling Soul” is a stomping, percussive, Delta-fied trip “down to the river” to seek redemption for “that monkey on my back.”  A similar theme drives “Running,” as the lead character is escaping his inner demons, and is akin to “Rumours”-era Fleetwood Mac or early Tom Petty.

Ashley Monical has a stunning voice that deserves to be heard by a broader audience.  Here’s hoping that “Facing The Shadow” is her stepping-stone to a great career!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

The Reverend Shawn Amos review…October 18, 2015…

THE REVEREND SHAWN AMOS

LOVES YOU

PUT TOGETHER RECORDS

DAYS OF DEPRESSION (WITH THE BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA)–BRAND NEW MAN–BOOGIE (WITH MISSY ANDERSEN)–BROTHER’S KEEPER–YOU’RE GONNA MISS ME (WHEN I GET HOME)–JOLIET BOUND–WILL YOU BE MINE–THE OUTLAW–BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY (WITH MINDI ABAIR)–HOLLYWOOD BLUES–PUT TOGETHER–LAST DAY I’M LOVING YOU

Shawn Amos, indeed an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church, is also the son of Wally Amos (he of Famous Amos cookie fame), and singer Shir-Lee May Ellis.  He’s also one of the premier artists in contemporary blues today.  His latest release, “The Reverend Shawn Amos Loves You,” is as eclectic and diverse as it is entertaining.  There are twelve cuts, ten of them originals, and the set is produced by Mindi Abair, without a doubt the “sax-iest” woman on the planet!

Shawn grew up in the Seventies, surrounded by the Sunset Strip scene,  good, bad, and ugly as it may have been.  Many of the sounds on this album were borne of that era, and Shawn mixes it all together with his unique looks at the blues.

Kicking off is “Days Of Depression,” where Shawn, aided by the Blind Boys Of Alabama, takes a gospel trip down to the pre-WWII deep South, longing to “go where the wind blows” and “go with the Lord.”  Things take a 180-degree turn with the next cut, a slab of JB’s-inspired funk, “Baby gonna make me a Brand New Man.”  That funky vein resurfaces a bit later as Shawn extolls the virtues of a well-proportioned lady, who is sho’ nuff “Put Together!”  Shawn and Missey Andersen give in to their carnal desires, too, over the infectious beat of “Boogie.”

Shawn calls out a no-good lover over the stomping beat of “You’re Gonna Miss Me (When I Get Home), and Mindi adds her sax to a song she and Shawn co-wrote, about life on the “other side of Tinsel Town,” “Hollywood Blues.”

We had two favorites, too.  Shawn and Mindi do a sweet duet on “Bright Lights, Big City,” his harp and her sax blowing in sweet accord.  And, Shawn makes a call for peace, wanting to “chase hate with love” in the poignant “Be My Brother’s Keeper.”

“The Reverend Shawn Amos Loves You,” and offers up twelve good reasons why on this most excellent set!  Until next time..Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Dave Weld and the Imperial Flames review… October 17, 2015…

DAVE WELD AND THE IMPERIAL FLAMES

SLIP INTO A DREAM

DELMARK RECORDS  DE 842

SLIP INTO A DREAM–SWEET ROCKIN’ SOUL–LOOKING FOR A MAN–TAKE ME BACK–MAY BE RIGHT, MAY BE WRONG–SWEET LOVE (DULCE AMOR)–LOUISE –TREMBLE–WALK ON DOWN–DOROTHY MAE–TOO BAD, SO SAD–20% ALCOHOL–SLIP INTO A DREAM (REPRISE)

Dave Weld is an extraordinarily-talented slide guitar player from Chicago.  His band, The Imperial Flames, have appeared in twenty-six states at last count, and show no signs of slowing down.  In fact, their latest set for Delmark, “Slip Into A Dream,’ is one of their most varied and exciting sets to date!

Dave got bandleader advice and life advice from mentor, J. B. Hutto, himself a Chicago slide legend.  And, when J. B.’s nephews formed Li’l Ed and the Blues Imperials, Dave was a part of it all, on rhythm guitar.  On this set, virtually  all the players get a vocal, and there are several special guests as well.  The set starts with the deep, West-Side flavor of the title cut, with fine duet vocals from Dave’s writing and life partner, Monica Myhre.  She has a lot of fun with the rowdy “Looking For A Man,” and who shows up on harp is none other than Bobby Rush!  There are a couple of rockin’ Fifties-styled cuts, too–the frenetic pace of “Sweet Rockin’ Soul,” and another good one from Monica, “Louise.”  She gets her sultry groove on with the sweet-and-sassy “Walk On Down,” a good slow-blues workout for Dave’s slide as she convinces him to “walk down to Room 293 for some real fun!”  And, Buddy’s son, Greg Guy, adds guitar on a tale of love gone waaay wrong, “Too Bad, So Sad.”

We had two favorites, too.  Bobby’s on harp again as Dave pays tribute to “uncle J. B.” on the set’s sole cover, the raucous “20% Alcohol.”  And, “May Be Right, May Be Wrong” is a fine, blue-collar, stop-time tale of Dave “workin’ hard all day long, just to get back to you!”

How far back do we go with Dave Weld?  Well, on Friday night,  June 17, 1994, O. J. Simpson was all over the news with that “freeway chase,” but all the cool kids  were at the Boardwalk Cafe in South Nashville to see Li’l Ed And The Blues Imperials, and Dave was on rhythm that night.  Still strokin’, Dave is back and better than ever with “Slip Into A Dream!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Sam Butler review…October 16, 2015…

SAM BUTLER

RAISE YOUR HANDS!

SEVERN RECORDS  CD 0066

Sam Butler has worked as the guitarist for  acclaimed gospel group The Blind Boys Of Alabama for over twenty years, literally learning at the feet of his father, Samuel Butler, Sr., as a child.  Producer Brian Brinkerhoff wanted to expose Sam to a broader audience by releasing an album of Sam’s guitar stylings on spiritually-themed songs written by predominantly-secular artists.  The splendid result is his latest release for Severn Records, “Raise Your Hands!”  Sam plays twelve cuts from writers such as Johnny Cash, Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen, and several others.

Joining Sam are lap steel master Roosevelt Collier, bassist Viktor Kraus, and drummer Marco Giovino.  Sam’s guitar tone is pure and strong throughout, breathing life into this gospel-inflected material.  Check out the rolling riff that drives the leadoff cut, Springsteen’s tale of Biblical miracles spelled out in “Heaven’s Wall.”  Brothers Maurice and Robin Gibb wrote the next cut, as Sam exhorts that “you can believe what you wanna–I’m gonna believe in The Lord.”

Several of the cuts have a decidedly-bluesy feel to them.  Roosevelt’s lap steel adds to the vibe of a cool Tom Waits song, where “there ain’t no smokers on this Gospel Train,” and “there’s never a sign that says No Vacancies Any More at God’s Hotel,” from Nick Cave.

Sam’s love for contemporary gospel is on full display thru more traditional cuts such as Curtis Mayfield’s “Wherever You Leadeth, I will follow,” and he closes the set with the quiet solitude of “Sanctuary,” where, no matter what, “Thou art with me.”

We had two favorites, too.  Sam gives a subdued, reverential vocal read of Clapton’s “Presence Of The Lord,” before it gives way to its bombastic, Armageddon-like instrumental climax.  And, another bluesy cut is the story of that last ride, the one taken in that “Long Black Cadillac,” where Sam recounts his life as “God’s messenger,” who “sings to ease pain.”

No amount of accolades can begin to express the contributions Sam Butler has made to the field of gospel music.  If your soul is in need of some musical manna, “Raise Your Hands!” is filling fare, indeed!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Little Boys Blue review…October 15, 2015…

LITTLE BOYS BLUE

BAD LOVE

JAXON RECORDS

BAD LOVE–SHE PUT ME DOWN–TREAT ME LIKE YOU USED TO DO–DEATH LETTER BLUES–FORGET THESE BLUES–HOWLING AT YOUR DOOR–CAJUN GIRL–YOU AND I–GO BACK HOME–AIN’T NO USE IN CRYING–CAN’T BE SATISFIED

Little Boys Blue were formed back in 1993, by lead vocalist and harp man J. D. Taylor, and guitarist Steve Patterson.  They have played all the major festivals, and finished third in the 1997 IBC.  Their third album, recorded in Jackson, TN, for Jimmy Exum’s Jaxon label, is entitled “Bad Love,” a cool collection of nine originals and two covers that combine blues, Sun rockabilly, soul, and good ole roots-rock.  Fans, if you like your blues fueled by solid harp and killer guitar, it just don’t get much better than this!

The party starts with the minor-key title tune, as J. D. laments that “two and two is four, but somethin’ just don’t add up,” as he knows his lover is two-timin’ him.  A sweet horn section punctuates “why don’t you Treat Me Like You Used To Do,” and shows up again on the soulful strut of “You And I.”  Both of these have that good ole Delbert feel to them.   The covers are mighty impressive, too.  Known for their incendiary live shows, the fellows present a great read of Son House’s “Death Letter Blues,” as J. D.’s harp and Steve’s slide add the deep feeling to those lyrics of “takin’ that girl down to the burying ground.”  And, the set closes with one of Muddy’s classics, as they give a country-blues feel to “Can’t Be Satisfied,” differing somewhat in this version thanks to drummer Mark Brooks driving a freight train beat throughout.

We had two favorites, too.  A swingin’ shuffle with fine B-3 from Dave Thomas has J. D. singing that he did all he could do to please his woman, but, still, “She Put Me Down.”  And, the fellows break it on down with some deep, pulsating slow blues in the form of “Ain’t No Use In Crying,” where J. D. confronts his cheatin’ lover.  This one has all the players giving impeccable solos with cool call-and-response interplay.

Little Boys Blue are another great reason why the South is sho’ nuff the sweet homeland of the blues.  We had a lot of fun listening to “Bad Love,” and we know the fans will, too!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.