Archive for March, 2016

Jeff Chaz review…March 18, 2016…

JEFF CHAZ

SOUNDS LIKE THE BLUES TO ME

JCP RECORDS  JCPX 1062

SOUNDS LIKE THE BLUES TO ME–MAKE LOVE TO YOU IN THE SAND–HITCHHIKING IN THE RAIN–I AM THE BLUES–YOU LOOK SO GOOD TO ME–MYSTERIOUS, EXOTIC LADY–I’M GOING AFTER MOBY DICK IN A ROWBOAT–FOUR IN THE MORNING–WILL YOU BE MINE–WALKIN’ WITH MY BABY–THE MT. VERNON BLUES–YOU’RE BOUND TO GET US BOTH HUNG

Jeff Chaz was born in Louisiana, and spent part of his youth in California.  Drawn to the sounds of blues guitar, he made a pilgrimage to Memphis to absorb all he could before going to New Orleans to stay.  That fluid, potent guitar is at the epicenter of his latest album, “Sounds Like The Blues To Me,” for JCP Records.  Coupled with his soulful, crystal-clear vocals, this set of twelve of Jeff’s originals takes a look at life and love, often with a touch of humor, and always with his credo of bringing to you the best in blues.

That age-old cheatin’ game, where “two plus one equals three” makes it so that everything “Sounds Like The Blues To Me.”  The horn section pushes the straight-up funk of Jeff’s tale of someone who’s “always there when you need to express yourself,” one way or the other–“I Am The Blues.”  He gets right down to brass tacks on the Mardi Gras-themed good times of “Make Love To You In The Sand,” and his wit and sense of humor is on full display as he aims to be a “big star,” and is hell-bent on “Goin’ After Moby Dick In A Rowboat–and I’m bringin’ the tartar sauce!!”  “The Mt. Vernon Blues” is a swingin’  instrumental, and Jeff closes the set as it began–with another good ole cheatin’ tale.  This time, Jeff is in on the fix, as he and the “other woman” are buckin’ to get caught, so much so that “You’re Bound To Get Us Both Hung!”  This one is eight minutes of slow-burnin’ bliss,  with Jeff’s lead runs bringing the emotion to this cut.

Our favorite was easy.  “You Look Good To Me” again uses the horn section and John Autin’s B-3 to drive this jump-blures tune, with Jeff’s guitar sounding sweetly like that of vintage B. B. King.

Jeff Chaz was invited to play “Amazing Grace” a capella at the dedication of the Civil Rights Museum on the site of the old Lorraine Motel in Memphis.  He’s been a fixture in New Orleans for several years, and the good times of “Sounds Like The Blues To Me” is sure to add to his  legacy!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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Shari Puorto review…March 17, 2016…

SHARI PUORTO

MY OBSESSION

LITTLE LIGHTNING PRODUCTIONS

IT’S A DAMN SHAME–HOME OF THE BLUES–SIX MONTHS SOBER–SUGAR DADDY–MY OBSESSION–OLD SILO ROAD–WORKIN’ THE ROOM–BETTER LEFT UNSAID–WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH THE WORLD–ALL ABOUT YOU–TURNED TO STONE–WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN

Current Los Angeles resident Shari Puorto has one of “those” voices–one that can go from sultry-sexy to funky to bluesy and back again, without missing a stroke.  She got her inclination to sing from her dad’s classic soul and blues record collection, and her latest album,  “My Obsession,” features eleven originals that let her mighty voice shine thru!

The backing band ain’t no slouch, either.  Tony Braunagel doubles down as drummer and producer, and his Phantom Blues partner, Mike Finnigan, is on B-3 and piano, as are Barry Goldberg and Jim Pugh.  On guitars we have Johnny Lee Schell, Jimmy Vivino, Steve Fister, and Johnny Hawthorn, with Bob Glaub on the bass.

Mike’s organ intro kicks off the scratchy groove of “It’s A Damn Shame,” as Shari laments a lover who “couldn’t get outta your own way!”  Johnny Hawthorn lays down some mean slide on Shari’s tale of proudly being “Six Months Sober and no longer addicted to YOU!”  She wistfully looks back on life and love along the “Old Silo Road,” and closes the set with a sanctified read of “When A Man Loves A Woman.”

We had a ton of favorites, starting with the title cut.  As one can easily glean from a look at the CD cover,  Shari’s “My Obsession” would be SHOES, the higher the heel the better!  This one was co-written by Jimmy Vivino, and he’s on that strong guitar throughout.  “Sugar Daddy” is four minutes of pure carnal pleasure, as Shari’s sexy voice weaves its spell.   “Workin’ The Room” follows a similar theme, but this one rocks the house, thanks in part to Barry Goldberg on the 88’s!  And, a slide-fueled tale of “seven rooms of misery and seven rooms of gloom” welcome you into the “Home Of The Blues!”

Shari Puorto and her soulful and impassioned vocals bring this material to life, and her backing corps of musicians are sure to make “My Obsession” your obsession when you give it a spin!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Blind Lemon Pledge review…March 17, 2016…

BLIND LEMON PLEDGE

PLEDGE DRIVE

OFEH RECORDS

RUN JOHN RUN–MOON MADNESS–NAG NAG NAG–CORA LEE–BIRMINGHAM WALK–5 WEEKS OF HEAVEN–SHE BROKE THE TEN COMMANDMENTS–YOU CAN’T GET THERE FROM HERE–O KATRINA–YOU KNOW YOU REALLY GOT THE BLUES–KOKOMO–RAILROAD MAMA

Born James Byfield, the blues world knows him as Blind Lemon Pledge, a name he trademarked in 2015.  A multi-instrumentalist, he also produced his latest set for OFEH Records, “Pledge Drive.”  Over the course of these twelve originals, “BLP” (for short) takes the listener on a musical journey that covers blues, Fifties’-styled  R & B, New Orleans jazz, and just about anything else you can think of.

This party starts in the post-Civil War South.  Set over a dark, driving, Diddley beat, “Run John Run” chronicles a runaway slave with the “Night Riders on the way!”  “Moon Madness” takes stalking to an even darker level, and features “cat-on-the-prowl” harp from Jenny Reed.”  “Birmingham Walk” uses a cool Little Feat vibe to convey the tribulations of the oppressed during the Civil Rights movement of the Jim Crow South.

Jenny Reed shows up again on the harp in the brooding story of a soured love affair–“She Broke The Ten Commandments and then she broke my heart!”  BLP’s hellhound-slide guitar rides over the harp lines, making this one feel as if it came straight up from the Delta.  Stone country-blues closes the set, as BLP hearkens back to his jug band roots, utilizing spoons, washtub, and banjo in the good-timey “Railroad Mama.”

We had two favorites, too, and they both rocked the joint.  “Nag Nag Nag” uses piano and horns over BLP’s N’Awlins-styled groove about a man who’s stuck with a lover who does nothing but “rag rag rag ’til half-past late at night”  Rick LeCompte adds to the vintage sound with a wailin’ sax.  And, a balls-to-the-wall rocker reminiscent of classic Stones tells the story of a lovesick man who ends up with a “lifetime of misery”  all for “5 Weeks Of Heaven!!”

We said this was a varied and eclectic outing, and, as you can see, this one covers many styles and situations.  Blind Lemon Pledge is a monster player of many instruments, and makes “Pledge Drive” a sho’ nuff sweet ride, indeed!    Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

 

 

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.