Archive for January, 2016

Magic Sam review…January 13, 2016….

MAGIC SAM BLUES BAND

BLACK MAGIC

DELMARK RECORDS  DE 620

I JUST WANT A LITTLE BIT–WHAT HAVE I DONE WRONG–EASY BABY–YOU BELONG TO ME–IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT–SAME OLD BLUES–SAN-HO-ZAY–YOU BETTER STOP–KEEP ON LOVIN’ ME BABY–WHAT HAVE I DONE WRONG (ALT.)–I JUST WANT A LITTLE BIT (ALT.)–EVERYTHING’S GONNA BE ALRIGHT–KEEP ON DOIN WHAT YOU’RE DOIN–BLUES FOR ODIE PAYNE–SAME OLD BLUES (ALT.)–WHAT HAVE I DONE WRONG (ALT 2)–KEEP ON LOVIN ME BABY (ALT.)

The fine folks at Delmark Records have done it again, with a Deluxe Edition release of Magic Sam Maghett’s “Black Magic.”  There are eighteen tracks of deep West Side blues with a touch of soul.  Two cuts have never been released, and there are some sweet alternate takes included.  And, the accompanying booklet features never-before-seen photos of Sam and the band.

And what a band it is—Sam is on guitar and vocals, with Mighty Joe Young on second guitar, Mac Thompson on bass, Odie Payne, Jr., on drums, Lafayette Leake on piano, and the venerable Eddie Shaw on sax.  This is a veritable Hall Of Fame of Chicago bluesmen!

Sam would sadly pass away on December 1, 1969,  shortly after the release of this set, at the age of 32.  He proudly proclaimed that he thought “this album’s the best I’ve heard!”  This one is full of the stinging guitar that made Sam the legend he is, and it also has its share of soul-blues cuts, too, thanks to the sax work of Eddie Shaw.  That’s how this one kicks off, with “Just A Teeny-Weeny Bit Of Your Love,” with Sam and “Eddie baby” playing the call-and-response figures perfectly.  Another fine example of that soulful strut is one of Sam’s originals, “You Belong To Me.”

There’s plenty of the strong, passion-filled blues that made Sam so popular, too.  Label founder Bob Koester states in the liner notes that that players from the West Side were products of their environment, as it were.  That side of town had a rough-and-tumble reputation, and Sam, Jimmy Dawkins, and others from the West Side epitomized that area thru their raw, stinging sound.  Sam lets that powerful side show thru on “It’s All Your Fault,” a lively version of Don Nix’s “Same Old Blues,” and a sweet, slow-burning read of “You Better Stop.”

Two cuts, alternate takes of “Same Old Blues” and “What Have I Done Wrong” are previously-unissued, and our favorite was “Keep On Doin’ What You’re Doin,” which has Sam stating before the song starts that “I got nothin’ but expert musicians–I don’t have to worry ’bout anything!”

That’s what makes this Deluxe Edition of Magic Sam Maghett’s “Black Magic” so much fun to listen to.  These guys were riding high and at the top of their game in the tough world of playing blues in Chicago.  It is so sad that Sam passed so young, before becoming the star he surely would have been.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

 

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Professor Louie and the Crowmatix review…January 10, 2016…

PROFESSOR LOUIE AND THE CROWMATIX

MUSIC FROM HURLEY MOUNTAIN

WOODSTOCK RECORDS  WR56

GOLDEN MORNING–HURLEY MOUNTAIN ROAD–ULSTER OUTCRY–ASHTON–FAMILY REUNION–CROP DUSTIN’ BLUES–YOU GOT ME DIZZY–JOHN’S TRACTOR–FOUR FARMERS–LIGHT IN YOUR EYES–ROCK ‘N’ ROLL BARN–LET’S GO HOME–ANGEL BAND–GOODNIGHT HURLEY MOUNTAIN

Aaron “Professor Louie” Hurwitz and his band, The Crowmatix, are based in the upstate New York area near Woodstock and the Catskills.  This recording was made in the LRS REcording Studio in Woodstock, and Professor Louie worked closely with Levon Helm and The Band from 1993 thru 2000.  This album, entitled “Music From Hurley Mountain,” is a collection of eleven originals and three covers that were inspired by the quiet solitude and rich history of that area.  The music herein is steeped in gospel, blues, and roots music, and one should listen to this set, at least the first time, in the order in which it was recorded.  The fourteen cuts represent “a day in the life” of the residents of Hurley Mountain.

The Professor is on vocals, keys, and accordion, with Miss Marie on vocals, Frank Campbell on bass, Gary Burke on drums, John Platania on slide guitar, Josh Colow on lead guitar, and Larry Packer on violin.  The set starts with a soft instrumental, “Golden Morning,” as the day begins, featuring the Professor’s accordion.  Intricate harmonies steeped in a gospel background make up the core of the historical tale of “Hurley Mountain Road,” while “Ulster Outcry” features Miss Marie on lead vocal.  “Ashton” is the account of a town flooded purposely to make way for a reservoir, but was never resettled.  Larry Packer’s violin punctuates the “Family Reunion,” where Miss Marie urges all of us to stop and smell the roses while we’re alive, and that strong gospel feel returns toward the end of the set with a sweet rendition of the traditional “O Come Angel Band.”

“Crop Dustin’ Blues” features excellent slide guitar from John Platania, cleverly melded with the Professor’s organ lines.  The good times roll as Miss Marie gives a rhumba-riffic version of Jimmy Reed’s “You Got Me Dizzy,” and the Professor pounds the 88’s into submission on the frenetic “Rock “n” Roll Barn,” with John’s slide ridin’ over the groove.  The set closes with another pastoral instrumental.  As the sun goes down and the moon comes up, we bid “Goodnight, Hurley Mountain.”

Professor Louie and The Crowmatix capture the feel and the spirit of the rich heritage of the Kingston-Woodstock-Catskills region of New York.  “Music From Hurley Mountain” shows off this ensemble’s passion and versatility with this most excellent set!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Jonn Del Toro Richardson review…January 8, 2016….

JONN DEL TORO RICHARDSON

TENGO BLUES

VIZZTONE RECORDS  VT-JRCD-01

BEHIND THE CURTAIN–I’M HER MAN–LOVE IF YOU WANT IT–TRIPLE LINDIG–THE MOMENT–CAN’T RUN FROM LOVE–GET ME BACK TO TEXAS–THIS I KNOW–TALL PRETTY BABY–HERE SHE COMES–WILD RIDE–TELL ME DO YOU LOVE ME–TENGO BLUES

We were in the audience in Memphis when guitarist Jonn Del Toro Richardson and vocalist Diunna Greenleaf won the 2005 IBC’s.  In the ten years hence, Jonn has played with all his heroes, and now, stepping into the role of bandleader, he has just released “Tengo Blues” on the Vizztone label. Thirteen originals produced by fellow Texan Anson Funderburgh show the myriad of influences Jonn heard while growing up in Houston, amidst the sounds of country, blues, and R & B on the radio, and a family immersed in the mariachi sounds of his lineage.

It was no fluke, either, when Jonn won the Most Promising Guitarist during that same 2005 IBC.  You can hear him baring his soul with every note, and his vocals are powerful and full of conviction.  That soulful voice is on full display in the leadoff “Behind The Curtain,” and he and the Texas Horns show off Jonn’s rich heritage on the mariachi love song, “The Moment.”

Jonn plays a ton of solid blues on this set, too.  Dig that loping beat of “Love If You Want It,” and the Jimmy Reed-ish boogie of “Get Me Back To Texas,” with Anson on second guitar.  There are two fine instrumentals, both with a jazzy flair, “Triple Lindig” and the set-closing title cut.

We had two favorites, too, and they were total opposites as far as musical styles are concerned.  “This I Know” is a classic slow-blues ballad with a definite Fifties’ flair, as Jonn testifies his love for his woman, and features pure single-note leads, and sanctified keyboard work from Nick Connoly.  And, the Texas Horns add just the right spice to the jumpin’ boogie of his “Tall Pretty Baby,” with that “butt that looks better than J Lo!”

One of the cuts on “Tengo Blues” pretty much sums up the last few years of Jonn Del Toro Richardson’s career.  It’s sho’ nuff been one “Wild Ride,” but he’s learned a lot of valuable blues lessons that have served him well as a guitarist, vocalist, composer, and bandleader.  This is the set we’ve been waiting for from this young bluesman!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Bob Margolin review…January 7, 2016…

BOB MARGOLIN

MY ROAD

STEADY ROLLIN’/VIZZTONE VT-SRR 002

MY WHOLE LIFE–MORE AND MORE–I SHALL PREVAIL–GOODNIGHT–UNDERSTANDING HEART–LOW LIFE BLUES–BYE BYE BABY–YOUNG AND OLD BLUES–ASK ME NO QUESTIONS–FEELIN’ RIGHT TONIGHT–DEVIL’S DAUGHTER–HEAVEN MISSISSIPPI

We’ve been friends with steady Rollin’ Bob Margolin for several years now.  He was Muddy’s rhythm man during the mid-Seventies, and is featured on all those classic Blue Sky albums with Johnny Winter.  Since Muddy’s passing in 1983, Bob has carved out a very successful career as a bandleader in his own right.  A founding partner of Vizztone Records, his latest set is entitled “My Road,” and it’s a trip thru his musical roots that includes some interesting songs and arrangements that take a turn from his previous outings.

He’s joined by Tad Walters on harp and vocals, and Chuck Cotton on drums and vocals.  Bob goes into full-on “crooner” mode 0n the romantic love story that is his original, “More And More, our love has grown so strong.”  He and Chuck break down Nappy Brown’s “Bye Bye Baby” into its core elements, turning it into a doo-wop, street corner serenade, backed only by Tad’s harp.

There’s plenty of red-hot blues, too.  Check out the shufflin’ boogie of “I’m Feelin’ Right tonight,” and the deep tone of giving in to one’s vices and weaknesses, “dancing with the Devil’s Daughter.”

Bob always mixes in a bit of humor into his blues, too.  Check out the leadoff cut, which serves as a good autobiography of his fifty years on the bandstand.  Whether playing for six or six thousand, he realizes that “My Whole Life led up to this!  It also features that tricky, dead-stop ending, much like Muddy’s “She’s So Pretty.”  Another one of Bob’s originals takes a look at aging and one’s perception of it.  “Young And Old Blues” teaches us a jumpin’ lesson–“it depends on which side you look from, and the truth can sure be cold!”

Our favorite closed the set.  The residents of “Heaven Mississippi” are the spirits of all the greats, who come to Bob in a dream.  His slide wails like that proverbial hellhound that accompanies “Robert Johnson and the Devil, still walkin’ side by side!”

With “My Road,” Bob Margolin lets us know how fortunate he’s been to be able to do what he loves for half a century.  For us, we’d just like to say “Thank you, Bob, for a lifetime of great blues!”  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Karen Lovely review…January 4, 2016…

KAREN LOVELY

TEN MILES OF BAD ROAD

KOKAKO RECORDS

LOW ROAD–COMPANY GRAVEYARD–A BETTER PLACE–IGNORANCE (IT AIN’T BLISS)–CROSS THE WATER–TEN MILES OF BAD ROAD–I WANT TO LOVE YOU–YOU STOLE MY HEART–ALWAYS LOVE YOU–BLUES VALENTINE–SAVE ME–I’M OVER GOODBYE–FRANK THE SPANK

Karen Lovely is a fantastic blues singer from the Portland, OR, area.  She draws from the classic sounds of Ma Rainey and combines it with the power and punch of Janis Joplin to create a sound as unique as she is.  Karen has just released “Ten Miles Of Bad Road” on the Kokako label, and has a stellar cast of award-winning musicians to back her up, including Tony Braunagel on drums, (who is also the set’s producer), Johnny Lee Schell and Alan Mirikitani on guitar, Reggie McBride and Hutch Hutchinson on bass, Jim Pugh on the keys, and Kim Wilson on harp.

Karen has one of those sultry, soulful deliveries, and on these cuts she takes a look at love and relationships from all possible angles.  One exception to this was the most excellent “I ain’t gonna die in a Company Graveyard,” set over that driving, freight train, “endless boogie” beat.

The set kicks off with Karen finding out that “sometime after midnight, my baby took the Low Road,” and “didn’t leave me with nothin’ but these red bloodshot eyes!”  Later, she discovers all too painfully that “Ignorance (It Ain’t Bliss),” when the inevitable happens and she finds out he’s been cheatin’, but she still “craves your honey lies, so sweet!”

The title cut is a horn-fueled look at that “smooth talker” who’s really nothing but “Ten Miles Of Bad Road!”  She looks at things thru the eyes of “the other woman” with the poignant, heartfelt, “I’m Over Goodbye,” as “stolen moments are all I get.”  And, she pays tribute to the homeless and destitute on a minor-key tale of those who seek a dry doorway on a rainy night, “Save Me.”

Our favorite closed the set, and it’s a stone rocker.  Johnny Lee Schell’s guitar lines and Jim Pugh’s barrelhouse piano are shaken and stirred by Kim Wilson’s harp on the dance-floor-burnin’ tale of “just one more shot of Frank The Spank!”

Karen Lovely is an artist who always makes the blues unique and special.  From the scorned lover to the other woman to the barroom ballbuster, she brings it all home with “Ten Miles Of Bad Road!”    Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

A sad beginning to 2016…

To all the members of our extended Blues community family:

We received the sobering news late last night that Nashville blues legend Marion James had passed away.  Marion’s Excello single, “That’s My Man,” brought her national notoriety and was featured on the compilation, “Night Train To Nashville 2,” the second installment of the “Night Train” CD’s from June, 2005,  put together by the Country Music Hall Of Fame in honor of the “Night Train” exhibit at the Hall during that time.  Marion most recently worked with the fine folks at EllerSoul Records, with her PR handled by Frank Roszak.  Marion will be missed by all of us here in Middle Tennessee as well as all her fans everywhere.  She was a tireless worker for the annual Musicians’ Reunion, a benefit to raise funds for the pioneers of Nashville blues and R & B to help them with medical expenses.

A gofundme page has been set up to raise funds to cover Marion’s funeral expenses, and the exact details are spelled out on the Facebook page of Bette Horton.  Please visit Bette’s page at Facebook.com if you would like to contribute.

 

Thanks

 

Sheryl and Don Crow