Archive for March, 2016

Lizanne Knott review…March 14, 2016….

LIZANNE KNOTT

EXCELLENT DAY

COME FOR THE KILL–WHY YOU WANNA BREAK MY HEART–GOODBYE–IT AIN’T NECESSARILY SO–RAINBOW CROW–TENNESSEE–NOT THIS TIME–LAY MY BURDEN DOWN–STOLEN CAR–SOMEDAY LOVE–SOMETIMES–EXCELLENT DAY

One cannot help but be drawn in by the enticing, smoky-sultry vocal style of Lizanne Knott.  A true world traveler, she has put her musical stamp not only here in Music City, but in Philly and over in the UK as well.  Her latest album, “Excellent Day,” has her delivering twelve originals dealing with love, loss, and redemption at the end of the day.

She begs the question, “what drives a cheating man” in “Why You Wanna Break My Heart?,” and defiantly takes a stand against another cruel lover, vowing “Not This Time” for any more of his transgressions.  It features excellent piano from John Conahan, and banjo from Glenn Barratt.

That buttery-smooth vocal breathes life into the Biblically-themed characters of “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” done with a cool Peggy Lee vibe.  The wistful “Tennessee” features Tom Hampton on pedal steel and dobro.  The upbeat positivity of “Someday Love” recalls that vintage Nashville “countrypolitan” sound, and she closes the set with a Meters-inspired, jazzy shot of New Orleans strut, warning us all, “don’t mess with my Excellent Day!”

We had two favorites, too.  That’s Steve Martin on banjo on the gospel sweetness of “goin’ home, Lord, and Lay My Burden Down.”  And, one of the most powerful break-up songs you’ll ever hear is Lizanne’s poignant “you’re mine no more, Goodbye.”  Adding to the ambience of this cut is muted trumpet from Josh Lawrence.

Lizanne Knott is quite a creative songwriter who can easily transport the listener into the world inhabited by her characters.  Add in her stellar vocal reads, and “Excellent Day” is a brilliant outing from a very talented lady!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jason Paulson review…March 12, 2016…

JASON PAULSON

CROW RIVER RAMBLE

BAD HABITS–I DON’T WANNA GO HOME–CAN’T GET ENOUGH–HOME TO YOU–CLOSE YOUR EYES–COLD IN CALIFORNIA–LONELY–LOVE–THE TRAIN–LONG WAY TO RUN–MYSTERIOUS–LOVE THAT YOU LEAVE BEHIND

It has been our great pleasure to review recent releases from well-known artists who have taken their music back to its roots.  Evidence our reviews on Peter Karp and Luther Dickinson, whose latest sets contain material that goes back to the beginning of their careers.  We will now add Jason Paulson to that list, with his latest, “Crow River Ramble.”  He is based in Minneapolis, and is known for his incendiary, ‘lectrified live shows.  But, for this set, he composed several of the twelve cuts on his ol’ reliable Martin acoustic.  He also uses mandolin and banjo throughout this album, and writes songs dealing with blue-collar, hard-working folks who always seem to be pulled in by man’s constant struggle against good and evil.  Just like the poor soul in the leadoff cut, as he “works three jobs just to live in debt,” and “wonders what comes next–Bad Habits or bad checks.”  Then there are those folks that really have a tough time with right and wrong, like the hero of “The Devil just lost a one-way fight, and I Don’t Wanna Go Home,” and that fellow who “hears someone calling for you” in “Lonely,” but “I don’t wanna dance with the Devil tonite!”  The guitar is outstanding here, with cool slide in the left channel, and a punchy acoustic guitar in the right channel, reminiscent of Django Reinhardt.

There’s always a light of redemption and salvation at the end of the tunnel, tho.  We loved Jason’s lyric that teaches us to “let all you do be done in Love,” and he closes the set with some of his finest guitar work on a song that defines a man’s maturity, when he realizes that “it’s not what you have, but The Love That You Leave Behind.”

Our favorite was easy.  “Mysterious” deals with perhaps the most famous denizen down on Highway 61–the one where “you don’t find him–he finds you,” likely down at the Crossroads!  It has a sweet Delta groove with some mighty well-placed slide.

Jason Paulson has crafted a rootsy set that is sure to add to his growing fan base.  “Crow River Ramble” is pure and honest–exactly the way Jason wrote ’em!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Jon Spear Band review….March 11, 2016…

JON SPEAR BAND

LIVE MUSIC IS BETTER

SELF-RELEASED

DEVIL’S HIGHWAY–NOTHING TO NOBODY–SHAKE YOUR BOOGIE–BEFORE THE BULLETS FLY–CISSY STRUT–HAVE YOU EVER LOVED A WOMAN–BLUES ABOUT YOU BABY–I LOVE MY SKIN–PAID IN FULL–BEGINNER AT THE BLUES–LIVE MUSIC IS BETTER

The Jon Spear Band consists of some of central Virginia’s finest players, and last year released their debut, “Old Soul,” to high praise.  (Reviewed elsewhere within this forum.)  Appearing before a raucous “hometown crowd,” at the Southern Cafe’ And Music Hall in Charlottesville, they have just released “Live Music Is Better.”  It is twelve cuts that mix clever originals and well-chosen covers that definitely pleased this crowd.

The core band remains constant–Jon Spear on guitar and vocals, Dara James on vocals, guitar, and harp, John Stubblefield on drums, and Andy Burdetsky on bass.  For this affair, Adrian Duke joins the fun on keys, and Haywood Giles is on sax.

The party starts literally down at the Crossroads with one of the band’s best numbers–a tale of the gypsy woman and her magic powder and the caveat that “if you ride the Devil’s Highway, you gotta pay the Devil’s toll!”  They turn up the heat with some smooth soul-flavored blues with Dara’s read on the Michael McDonald/Robben Ford nugget, “Nothing To Nobody,” and again on the poignant original tale of a cheatin’ lover that leads Dara to declare that “the heartache that I owed is Paid In Full.”  This one features Jon on acoustic guitar.

Adrian Duke is on piano and lead vocal on the Big Easy-inspired tale of tolerance, “I Love My Skin,” and the set closes with a houserockin’ shot of true advice for us all–“Live Music Is Better,”  featuring Haywood on the sax.

We had two favorites, too.  The fellows lay down a sweet Chicago-styled blues groove as Jon takes lead vocal and Dara blows some serious harp on “Shake Your Boogie!”  And, the highlight of the set, for us, belonged to Dara James and his slow-burnin’ blues guitar lines on the classic “Have You Ever Loved A Woman.”

During the program, Jon Spear introduces the band, and declares himself the luckiest man alive to be associated with such a stellar group of players.  They bring an imaginative style that lends itself well to a live setting, and the good times sho’ nuff rolled on “Live Music Is Better!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

David M’ore review…March 11, 2016…

DAVID M’ORE

PASSION, SOUL AND FIRE

THE DEVIL’S LAND–LOVE AGAIN–STRONGER THAN I REALIZE–JOHAN SEBASTIAN BLUES–YOU SAID YOU LOVE ME–SWEET LITTLE BABY–THE 12 SONG–COLD BLOODED–EVERY TIME I THINK OF YOU–FUNKY IT UP–LIER–MISTREATED

Born in Argentina, David M’ore got a guitar for his eighth birthday and hasn’t looked back.  Drawn to the blues-rockin’ sounds of Hendrix, Ritchie Blackmore, Albert King, Johnny Winter and many others, he was mesmerized by not only their mad skills, but the pyrotechnical aspect of their artistry as well.  His latest album, “Passion, Soul, And Fire” takes those techniques to a whole ‘nother level with these twelve cuts.  With a vocal delivery that falls somewhere between Tom Waits,  Billy Gibbons, and ol’ Chester Arthur Burnett himself, David concocts a deep and varied collection of danceable blues and cuts suitable for listening and reflecting.  Leading off is a stone shot of the former, “The Devil’s Land,” with a sweet Double Trouble vibe.    A “love song” of sorts uses wah-wah guitar to create a sonic ode to a lover whose hold on David is much “Stronger Than I Realize,” while “You Said You Love Me” takes a look at the other side of love’s coin, as this lover has her own agenda.  “The 12 Song” is a soulful shot of redemption, as “you set me free–you sanctified me!”

We had three favorites, two of which had strong Delta ties.  A Son House influence is out there on the acoustic intro to “Sweet Little Baby,” which soon gives way to more of David’s freaky-fiery runs, as he extols the virtues of his fine female.  “Cold Blooded” uses David’s Resonator licks to come at you pounding like a thunderstorm on a sticky Mississippi night, giving way to a sweet electrified riff that rides this one to its explosive climax.  And, the set’s most unique cut is an instrumental entitled “Johan Sebastian Blues.”  It comes across as a killer combination of sorts of Mac’s “Oh Well” and “Hocus Pocus” from Focus, waaaay back in the day!

Now living in Marin County, CA, David M’ore treats the Bay Area fans to his dazzling blues-rock talents.  He’s mastered the art of learning various guitar tones and forging his own original compositions around them.  Want a shot of “Passion, Soul, And Fire?”  Then this one’s for you!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

John Mayall live at The City Winery, March 8, 2016….

JOHN MAYALL

LIVE AT THE CITY WINERY

MARCH 8, 2016

Sometimes you just get incredibly lucky.  We walked into Nashville’s City Winery on March 8, 2016, about an hour before showtime for John Mayall, and, lo and behold, there he sat–the Godfather Of British Blues was sitting at the merchandise table, and, for the moment, he was alone.  We went up to him, introduced ourselves and congratulated him on his upcoming induction into the Blues Hall Of Fame.  Sheryl worked the camera, and I had to ask him about his current band lineup–Rocky Athas on lead guitar, Greg Rzab on bass, and Jay Davenport on drums.  John is so enamored of these men and their passion for not only his music, but the blues as a whole, that he touts them as his favorite band of all those he’s worked with, which includes Clapton, Peter Green, John Mcvie, and many others.

Promising us some “‘old ones, some new ones, and some old ones done up in a new way,” the fellows did not disappoint over the 90-minute set.  Starting with “The Bear,” from one of his earliest albums, he showed his prowess on the harp, playing keyboards with his right hand and blowing harp with his left.  Next up was a jazzy read of a Curtis Salgado tune, “Sum Of Somethin,” then a slow-burning “Dirty Water,” which featured John and Rocky in a note-for-note “duel” on guitars.  John paid tribute to Chicago bluesman Sonny Boy Williamson, blowing a mean harp on “Help Me,” before returning to the keys for a mighty romp thru J. B. Lenoir’s “Voodoo Music.”  He went back to his early-Seventies works for a socially-conscious look at the environment with “Nature’s Disappearing,” before closing with an original from his very first album, the Diddley-beat of “Chicago Line.”  This one featured a solo from everyone, and band introductions.

At 82, John Mayall is just like those bottles of his namesake Cabernet Sauvignon that went on sale immediately after the show.  Potent, powerful, and colorful, just like John Mayall, built to only get better with age!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

 

Mark Cameron review…March 6, 2016…

MARK CAMERON

PLAYING ROUGH

COP RECORDS

DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE–SOMEWHERE DOWN THE LINE–ALMOST–RUSTY OLD MODEL-T–BLUESMAN’S LULLABY–MORNING AFTER–DONE ME WRONG–TOGETHER–HAMMERED BY THE BLUES–PLAYING ROUGH–CLOSE MY EYES–BORROWED TIME

Mark Cameron is based in Minnesota, and his musical career started during the folk movement of the Seventies.  He turned his attention to the blues full-time in 2009, and hasn’t looked back.  He’s got a strikingly-clear baritone vocal delivery, and is world-class on electric and acoustic guitar.  As for songwriting, he aims for honesty, with strong lyrics and instrumentation that lends itself well to serious “butt shaking!”  You get all that and more on “Playing Rough,” his latest set for COP Records.  It is twelve originals that take you from Memphis down to the Delta and back again.  Joining in on the fun are his rock-solid backing band of Sheri Cameron on flute, , Bill Keyes on harp, Scott Landberg on bass, Dan Schroeder on drums, and Jason Craft on keys.

That rump-shakin’ credo kicks things off, with the furious, Sun-inspired pace of “the blues is goin’ around,” “Doctor In The House.”  He keeps the Sun vibe shining on a plaintive story of a love affair that never quite got off the ground, where “Almost is miles away from being there!”  “Close My Eyes” is a haunting, gospel-tinged, a capella blues, with only foot stomps and rattling chains as background.  Mark’s Resonator and Bill’s harp drive another story of two quarrelsome lovers who have no intention of breaking up, and use automobiles as metaphors in “Rusty Old Model-T!”  This one has a smooth Delta richness throughout.

We had three favorites, too.  That “Killer” harp is the driving force behind a man sho’ nuff “Hammered By The Blues,” and, when your woman starts to get that “wandering eye,” you know you are on “Borrowed Time.”  Flautist Sheri Cameron adds an eerie, ethereal, smoky essence to this one.  And, the set’s centerpiece, “Bluesman’s Lullaby,” is done in tribute to B. B. King.  A bluesman “might slow down, but he never retires” from his life’s passion, and Mark’s guitar lines are sparkling herein.

Mark Cameron melds several styles on “Playing Rough,” and does so with ease.  He and his seasoned backing players make this one go down as smooth as a shot of good Tennessee corn!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

 

Guy King review…March 4, 2016….

GUY KING

TRUTH

DELMARK RECORDS   DE-843

THE SAME THING THAT CAN MAKE YOU LAUGH (CAN MAKE YOU CRY)–TRUTH–MY HAPPINESS–IT’S ABOUT THE DOLLAR BILL–A DAY IN THE LIFE WITH THE BLUES–COOKIN’ IN STYLE–SEE SAW–HEY NOW–I GOTTA RIGHT TO SING THE BLUES–THERE MUST BE A BETTER WORLD SOMEWHERE–KING THING–BAD CASE OF LOVE–SOMETHING’S WRONG–IF THE WASHING DON’T GET YOU THE RINSING WILL–ONE HUNDRED WAYS

Guy King was born and raised in a small town in Israel.  As a young man, he came to the States, blazing guitar in tow, determined to make it as a bluesman.  After spending his youth listening to and absorbing everything he could from virtually every great guitarist, he’s taken what he’s learned and put it together with his own distinctive guitar style and soulful vocal delivery to proudly present, “Truth,” his latest release and debut for Delmark Records.  A clever mix of covers and originals that showcase his ease at handling various styles, Guy gives us shots of blues, soul, funk, and jazz over these fifteen cuts.

You can hear the Charlie Christian/George Benson influences on cuts such as the blistering instrumental, “King Thing,” and the original “My Happiness,” co-written with David Ritz, and presented here as a playful duet with Sarah Marie Young.  He touches on classic soul with a sweet read of Cropper and Covay’s “See Saw,’ and closes on a more contemporary note with a touching take on James Ingram’s “(Love Her) One Hundred Ways.”

He’s got some mighty fine blues swagger, too.  His vocals recall Ray Charles on the swingin’ “Cookin’ In Style,” “Hey Now,” and, another cool original, “A Day In The Life With The Blues.”

We had three favorites, too.  His ultra-funky guitar is a real mother for ya on a killer read of Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s “It’s About The Dollar Bill,” while he brings the heat Chicago style on a cut that is sage advice for us all about what goes around coming back around, “If The Washing Don’t Get You, The Rinsing Sure Will.”  And, his penchant for a good, solid, slow-blues is featured in his version of the Doc Pomus/Dr. John classic, “There Must Be A Better World Somewhere,” Guy’s stinging,  poignant guitar lines becoming the light and the hope this song is all about.

Buddy Guy himself plainly puts it thusly–“Guy King is a BAD MAN!”  And, for us, all we’ll add is this–The “Truth” will sho’ nuff set you free!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.