Archive for March, 2016

Harper and Midwest Kind review…March 30, 2016….

HARPER

AND MIDWEST KIND

SHOW YOUR LOVE

BLUHARP RECORDS 003

HELL YEAH–WHAT’S GOIN’ DOWN–SHOW YOUR LOVE–DRIVE BROTHER DRIVE–I CAN’T STAND THIS–IT’S ALL IN THE GAME–IT’S TIME TO GO–WE ARE IN CONTROL–LET’S MOVE–HEY WHAT YOU SAY–I LOOK AT LIFE

We’ve been fans of Peter D. Harper since his Blind Pig label days, when he was affectionately known (and deservedly so!) as the “Hendrix of the harp!”  He has just released his latest set for Bluharp Records, “Show Your Love,” eleven originals done with the aid of his touring band, Midwest Kind.

Harper hails from Australia, and, along with his inimitable harp dynamics and soulful vocals, he mixes in authentic “down under” instruments such as the djembe and didgeridoo to create a unique brand of blues fusion that is very definitely his own.  As one listens to this album, it is readily apparent that Harper  is well in tune with current events and the sorry and scary path the world is treading upon.  The use of those native instruments as well as some fine slide guitar from Will Rideoutt gives an apocalyptic touch to the groove of “Hell Yeah,” where this world “doesn’t seem to be a place for me and you!”  “What’s Goin’ Down” inspires us to press for change–“if you wanna be truthful, please don’t mess us around,” while that didgeridoo comes into play on “life just isn’t long enough for negativity,” aptly-titled “Show Your Love.”

The minor-key “I Can’t Stand This” is a deep tale of  “the lives torn” by sheer corporate greed, which features fine harp plus guitar from guests Gregg Leonard and Tyler Mac.  Harper lets his harp get downright funky tune that is either straight outta Orwell’s “1984” or from somewhere waaaay in the future, where “we have got you covered, We Are In Control!”

Harper closes the set with our favorite.  He’s looking at everyone’s future, realizing that “peace is your reward if love is in your heart,” and is titled “I Look At Life Different now,” in light of what’s happening in the world today. “Show Your Love” is Peter D. Harper’s challenge thru his harp and his music for us all to do what we can to be a positive influence on everyone around us.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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Darcy Malone and the Tangle review…March 28, 2016…

DARCY MALONE

AND THE TANGLE

STILL LIFE

BABY CAKES–STILL LIFE–MOTEL ROOM–CROSSING LINE–BE A MAN–ANOTHER LOVER–HALF MOON–TOGETHER TONIGHT–NOW I KNOW (FAKE!)–ON BARONNE–BELLY OF THE SEA–DON’T TELL

Darcy Malone and the Tangle are just that—a New Orleans-based band that plays a “tangle” of genres.’  The band members all came of age during the Renaissance of sorts that took place with the rebuilding of that city following Katrina.  Darcy is the daughter of Dave Malone, of the New Orleans Radiators, and she carries on the family tradition quite well in their latest release, “Still Life.”  These twelve originals are all rooted in the Big Easy’s melting pot of grooves, but the band has interpreted the city’s sounds in its own way, incorporating jazz, blues, funk, and good ole rock and roll, and many of these cuts would be a perfect “road trip” soundtrack!

The band uses a twin-guitar attack from Chris Boye and Glenn Newbauer, and the immense talents of keys/sax man Jagon Eldridge.  “Motel Room” jumps right outta the speakers as our hero awaits a lover who never materializes, all the while bemoaning that “you got what I need, and this room ain’t free!”  Darcy’s vocals take “Crossing Line” to that place where you can be yourself and not be afraid of the consequences, while the title cut is a punchy rocker dealing with who one really is, as opposed to what society wants them to be.  Darcy gets tough with a lover on the defiant request for him to either “Be A Man or take your sorry ass home!”  “Together Tonight” recalls the great sax-and-guitar-driven love songs of the Sixties, while “On Baronne” is the “homeless” home of our heroine, as she lost her job and is trying to get cash to buy a guitar to solve all her problems!  Jagon gets his Maceo on during a funky break at the bridge, too.

We had two favorites, too.  Jagon gets his Coltrane on during the trippy instrumental break of “Another Lover,” then gets his Big Man on over Darcy’s vocals on the leadoff tale of a modern-day Bonnie And Clyde, “Baby Cakes!”  This one, with those vocals and the sax, was tailor-made for a ragtop day!

Darcy Malone and the Tangle prefer to be six co-captains rather than have a single leader.  This “sum of the parts” mentality works very well within the context of “Still Life.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

New Blues Revolution review…March 26, 2016…

NEW BLUES REVOLUTION

TO HELLENDALE AND BACK

GIG INTERNATIONAL

SOULS ON FIRE–WHISKEY TOWN–BLACK WIDOW–BABY BLUE–SUNSET PSYCHO TWANG

Helendale is located halfway between Victorville and Barstow, CA, in the Mojave Desert.  The New Blues Revolution changed the name of this town for their latest effort, a five-song EP titled “To Hellendale And Back.”  The band describes itself as the place where Robert Johnson joins forces with Quentin Tarantino and Pink Floyd, and you can listen and draw your own conclusions!  The musicians on board are Bill Grisolia on vocals, Chap Cooper on guitars, Roger Beall on drums, and Bob Burns on the bass.  We’ll say this—it is one wild ride on the blues train!

The opening two cuts, “Souls On Fire” and “Whiskey Town”  use a haunting groove and buzzsaw guitars to convey a message of dealing with personal demons, excesses, and their consequences.  Adding to the vibe is Bill’s vocal, which sounds like the voice Robert Johnson might’ve heard down at the corner of Highway 61 and 49!  “Baby Blue” brings the surf-guitar sounds of “Pulp Fiction” into the tale of the dangerous mix of youth and lust, while the set closes with “Sunset Psycho Twang,” an eerie, wind-swept instrumental that would’ve served as a great soundtrack for Moses and the Israelites on that forty-year trek thru the Egyptian desert.

Our favorite was easy.  A song that has all the elements of every Bond film and all the episodes of “The Man From U. N.C.L.E.”  deals with that mythical, mystical, mysterious “Black Widow,” a woman “well-known from Detroit to Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur,” and our hero’s obsession with tracking her down.  Any minute, you expect OddJob’s bladed derby to come flying outta nowhere, and, obviously, this one MUST be shaken, not stirred.

New Blues Revolution is just that—this is waaaay more than three chords and a cloud of dust.  With “To Hellendale And Back,” they fulfill their credo–to hit hard, dance bravely, and paint the music bold!    Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Brothers Brown review…March 25, 2016….

BROTHERS BROWN

DUSTY ROAD

FUNKY JOINT/335 RECORDS

CUP OF TEA–LOVE SAKE–SWEET CADILLAC–WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE–CAN’T OUTRUN THE BLUES–THE RIVER–HURRICANE–NOTHIN’ BUT LOVE–THIS OLD HEART–CALIFORNIA–DRINK YOU OFF MY MIND–DUSTY ROAD

The Brothers Brown are brothers only in their love of music, even tho both are named Paul Brown.  The Los Angeles-based Paul is a two-time Grammy-winning producer, guitarist, singer and songwriter within the jazz realm.  Nashville’s Paul Brown is a Grammy-nominated producer, writer, and keyboard monster we know from his time spent with Bobby Rush.  (We can’t say for sure, but we think ol’ Bobby is singing about Paul in his classic “I Ain’t Studdin’ You”—go listen to it and make your own assumptions!)  Both these titans have combined their immense talents to create “Dusty Road,” twelve originals that delve deeply into their varied influences and makes for a fine blend of blues and soul, with  a touch of gospel and roots music.

Joining the Brothers Brown on this disc are a Nashville-based rhythm section, with David Santos on bass, and Pete Young on drums.  They kick things off with the sweet midtempo groove of the story of a girl “lookin’ mighty fine in those old blue jeans,”  “she’s my Cup Of Tea.”  “Sweet Cadillac” gets into that greasy, funky strut as the fellows reminisce about drivin’ downtown in that big ole “Daisy Duke from 1962!”  Paul’s swirling organ lines are deftly interwoven with slide guitar from Little Feat’s iconic Paul Barrere on “Hurricane,” while both “When All Is Said And Done” and “Drink You Off My Mind” have a gospel feel, altho the subject matters are vastly different, the former dealing with a love healthy and strong, while the latter is an alcohol-fueled attempt to escape from love.

We had two favorites, too.  Guitarist Paul’s leads give “This Old Heart” a solid, bluesy vibe, while keyboard Paul makes “Can’t Outrun The Blues”  a cool shot of that good ole funk-blues he and Bobby Rush are noted for.

Brothers Brown live by the credo that we are all one big, happy, extended musical family, and the grooves of “Dusty Road” represent our life experiences.  To this, we say, “Amen, Brothers!”   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow

 

Blues For Big Walter review…March 24, 2016…

VARIOUS ARTISTS

BLUES FOR BIG WALTER

ELLERSOUL RECORDS  ELL 601

SOMEDAY–SHE LOVES ANOTHER MAN–WORRIED LIFE–IF IT AIN’T ME–HARD HEARTED WOMAN–GREAT SHAKES–WE’RE GONNA MOVE TO KANSAS CITY–SUGAR RAY MEDLEY–EVENING SHUFFLE–EASY–WALKING BY MYSELF–LITTLE BOY BLUE–NEED MY BABY–EASY II–RAMBLING ON MY MIND–THINK BIG

The two “Walters,” Little Walter, (born Marion Walter Jacobs), and “Big” Walter Horton, have influenced a literal lifetime of great harp players, many still active on the contemporary scene today.  This Ellersoul compilation, “Blues For Big Walter,” pays tribute to the contributions of Horton’s many well-known songs performed by a group of the most talented players ever, both present and past.

Brought together by producer Ronnie Owens, this set is the culmination of his dream to pay homage to Big Walter, and the lineup of artists herein is stellar, to say the least.  Leading off is Kim Wilson on harp with Big Jon Atkinson on vocals on “Someday,” and is followed by one of the great “past” bluesmen, Jimmy Rogers, on vocal, with the inimitable Bob Corritore on harp for a Chicago-styled romp thru “She Loves Another Man.”  Steve Guyger is on harp and vocal on a stripped-down “If It Ain’t Me,” and comes back a bit later with a country-blues read of “Little Boy Blue.”  EllerSoul labelmate Mar Wenner of The Nighthawks has a couple of fine performances, too.  First up is a killer “Worried Life,” this one featuring Ivan Appelrouth on guitar and Clark Stern on piano.  They return later with one of our all-time favorites, “Walking By Myself,” with Gordon Harrower on bass and vocals.

There are so many outstanding cuts on this album, that everyone will have their own favorites.  We liked Li’l Ronni’s set-closer, a live recording at The Canal Room from 2009, “Think Big,” with Terry Garland on guitar, as well as Robert Jr. Lockwood with “Rambling On My Mind,” with Henry Gray on piano, and Bob Corritore on harp.  Mark Hummel on harp and Sue Foley on guitar give one of Big Walter’s best-known songs, the Sun Records original,  “Easy,” a very authentic read.  Sugar Ray Norcia comes in with the set’s centerpiece, a nineteen-minute medley of “That Ain’t It,” “Walter’s Boogie,” “Everybody’s Fishing,”  “Don’t Get Around Much Any More,” and “Blueberry Hill.”
This set is a blues-lover’s (and, especially, a harp-lover’s) dream.  The cream of the crop of today’s players are well-represented, and they bring to life the “Blues For Big Walter!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

 

 

 

 

 

Corey Dennison Band review…March 23, 2016…

COREY DENNISON BAND

GETCHA PULL!

DELMARK   DE 844

GETCHA PULL!–TUGBOAT BLUES–THE DEACON–ROOM TO BREATHE–CITY LIGHTS–SHE’S NO GOOD–AW, SNAP!–DON’T SAY YOU’RE SORRY–A FOOL’S GOODBYE–JASPER’S HOP–SHAME ON ME–STRANGE THINGS HAPPENING–GOOD ENUFF

The fine folks at Delmark Records certainly have their collective fingers on the pulse of what’s going on in contemporary blues.  Witness the recent set from Guy King, “Truth,” and now, add to that, another young blueshound, Corey Dennison, with his dazzling Delmark debut, “Getcha Pull!”

Born in Chattanooga, TN, Corey learned the basics of guitar from an uncle.  He spent eight years playing behind Carl Weathersby, where he honed his passion for that deep soul-blues that permeates the thirteen cuts on this set, all originals written by Corey and Gerry Hundt.  Corey is on guitar and vocals, Gerry is on guitar and organ, with Nik Skilnik on bass and Joel Baer on drums.

This party starts with the country-meets-the-city groove of the title cut, which refers to Tennessee’s favorite “tax-free libation,” from a Mason jar, “Getcha Pull!”  “The Deacon” throbs with the pulse of the West Side, as does the strutting funk of “City Lights.”  “Jasper’s Hop” is a blistering slice of guitar boogie instrumental, while the set closes with another example of why we love Chicago blues so much, the call-and-response of “every day I ask the same question–am I ever Good Enuff!”

We had several favorites, too.  Slow, low-down blues are well-represented with the story of a lover who’s got her own agenda, and Corey finally gives her “A Fool’s Goodbye.”  He injects a cold shot of humor with “Aw, Snap!,”  done in tribute to Carl Weathersby and Albert Collins, and deals with the daily trials of a bluesman who just can’t seem to catch a break.  And, in the fine tradition of Theodore Roosevelt “Hound Dog” Taylor and Magic Slim, there’s the pile-driving rockin’ boogie of “She’s No Good.”

On Corey Dennison’s closer, he asks “am I Good Enuff?”  To that, we say “Hell yeah!!”  You’ll say it, too, when you “Getcha Pull” of this one!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

Sandy Carroll review…March 21, 2016….

SANDY CARROLL

LAST SOUTHERN BELLE

CATFOOD RECORDS CFR–023

DRIVING TOWARD THE SUN–HEADIN’ OUT ON EMPTY–LAST SOUTHERN BELLE–SOUTHLAND RULES–SOUTHERN WOMAN–FAMILY REUNION DAY–TATTOO (THAT I CAN’T UNDO)–THE NOTHING IN YOUR EYES–HALLELUJAH HILL–WATER RUN DEEP–BOYS OF SHILOH

We’ve been fans of Sandy Carroll for quite some time, and with a voice that goes down as smooth as a swig of mint julep on Derby Day, we’re sure you’ll love her, too.  A true woman of the South, Sandy grew up not all that far away from us, down in West Tennessee.  She’s just released her third album for Catfood Records, “Last Southern Belle,” and it is eleven originals that paint a vivid picture of the Southland she’s been a part of for all her life.  This one also was produced by her multi-Grammy-winning husband, Jim Gaines, and it is one of her strongest albums to date.

A broken relationship where “we both tried, and nobody won,” has her “Driving Toward The Sun” looking for redemption, while “Headin’ Out On Empty” is her only means of escaping an abusive lover.  Both feature sweet guitar from Will McFarlane.

Traditional Southern themes are addressed herein, too.  The humorous “Southland Rules” such as being sure to “put your hand over your heart every time they play Dixie” has a New Orleans spin, thanks to Mark Narmore’s piano.  “Family Reunion Day” brings back a flood of wistful memories, and the power of the church in the South is well-represented by “Water Run Deep,” and the brooding, percussive “road to righteousness” that leads to the zenith of “Hallelujah Hill.”

We had two favorites, too.  Excellent guitar paces Sandy’s vocal on the tale of mistakes made due to youthful lust, the “Tattoo (That I Can’t Undo)”.  The set closes on a haunting note as Thelton Vanderford’s banjo and Glen Harrell’s fiddle add to the other-worldly vibe of Sandy’s whispered vocal in “The Boys Of Shiloh, dressed in the Blue and the Gray.”  That battlefield is located not far from Sandy’s homeland, also.

Sandy Carroll is the epitome’ of today’s Southern woman.  “Last Southern Belle” stands firm on her beliefs and truths that she has upheld her entire life, and us music fans are much the richer for it!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.