Archive for April, 2016

In Layman Terms review..April 17, 2016….

IN LAYMAN TERMS

TANGLED

IN LAYMAN TERMS RECORDS

TANGLED–FAKE IT TIL I MAKE IT–DON’T EVEN TRY–HEARTBROKEN–I’M NOT READY–SMOKESTACK LIGHTNING–WON’T LET IT–KARMA–MOVE OVER

It has been our pleasure in recent weeks to carry the torch for the youth in contemporary blues, by posting reviews elsewhere in this forum for the likes off Lauren Anderson, Danielle Nicole, and several others.  We proudly add to that list siblings Cole and Logan Layman, billed as In Layman Terms, and their killer debut, “Tangled.”  They wrote five of these nine cuts, with Cole on guitars and Logan on bass and vocals.

That’s the impressive thing about this band–Logan has a natural maturity in her voice that belies her youth, and Cole is a firestorm on guitar.  And, they are equally as compelling as a duo, trio, or in a big-band format, as several cuts herein utilize a full horn section!  That sound leads off in the title cut, as the horns lend a Stax-style groove as Logan sings to a lover,  “I’d rather be Tangled up than free in a world without you!”  She passes on to all of us a lesson well-learned in the slow-blues of “Fake It Til I Make It,” where you “laugh and the world laughs with you, cry, and you cry alone.”  This one has some sweet B-3 from Brian Kloppenburg, and young Cole channels his inner Buddy Guy on a real mother of a solo.  He nails that killer riff on acoustic guitar as sis howls like the Wolf himself on a raw, primitive “Smokestack Lightning,” capturing the core of what this song is all about.  “Won’t Let It” is a swingin’ dance floor shuffle, and Cole rocks the cigar box guitar on the snarl and growl of “Karma is a bitch!”  They close the set with Logan bringin’ the soul on a sweet read of Janis Joplin’s “Move Over,” with shimmering slide from Cole.

Our favorite was one of the things that make these young folks so special.  Logan goes into full-on defiance mode as Cole paints the sonic picture in “Heartbroken,’ where she tells a worthless lover, plain and simple, “to Hell with you, too!”

In Layman Terms love playing the blues, and love entertaining folks.  Logan and Cole’s youthful exuberance is all over “Tangled,” and it’ll rub off on you—it’s contagious!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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Too Slim And The Taildraggers review…April 14, 2016…

TOO SLIM AND THE TAILDRAGGERS

BLOOD MOON

UNDERWORLD RECORDS  UND 0025

EVIL MIND–BLOOD MOON–TWISTED RAILS–GET YOUR GOIN’ OUT ON–GYPSY–MY BODY–DREAM–LETTER–GOOD GUYS WIN–TWISTED RAILS (SLIGHT RETURN)

Originally from Spokane, WA, Tim “Too Slim” Langford relocated to our fair city a few years ago, making this already musically-rich community even more so.  A monster guitarist, he and his band, The Taildraggers, have released twenty albums over the course of a thirty-year career, all on his own Underworld Records label.  His latest is “Blood Moon,” another fine shot of blues-rock, consisting of ten originals.

Tim is on guitar and vocals, and employs a couple more of Nashville’s finest to round out the trio–Robert Kearns on bass and vocals, and Jeff Fowlkes on drums and vocals.

Tim has a myriad of influences, from Lightnin’ Hopkins all the way thru the British Invasion guys, and brings them all to the table on this cutting-edge set.  His guitar lines snarl and growl on the leadoff tale of those folks who are always looking to “kick someone when they’re down, ” “you got an Evil Mind.”  The title cut has some killer psychedelic twang, and is a story of putting the past behind and “don’t ever look back.”  A strong shot of that Texas-styled boogie drives the houserockin’ tale of “thankin’ all my friends for thinking about me,” entitled “Letter.”

The Grim Reaper comes callin’ on a couple of cuts.  Coming to Tim in a “Dream,” he’s not ready to go, as he’s got an angel looking over him, and she declares “I won’t let you leave unless it’s with me!”  A country-blues-ish cut is similar in nature, as this time Tim “don’t want no wood box wrapped around my bones,” and begs to “burn My Body and set my ashes free.”  You can almost feel the Crossroads beckoning on both of these…..

Our favorite was easy. Admit it, fellas–we’ve all had to wait on our women while they get ready to go out.  Even tho “she might be my little Dixie cup, I wish she’d hurry up and Get Your Goin’ Out On!”  This one has a Sixties-era Stones feel, especially in the guitar hooks.

There’s always been a spiritual connection between the primal sounds of Robert Johnson and the British bluesmen, all the way thru the psychedelia of Hendrix.  Too Slim And The Taildraggers channel this vibe with this sweet set of original blues-rock.  “Blood Moon” has something for everyone’s tastes!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Jeff Jensen review…April 13, 2016…

JEFF JENSEN

LIVE—THE RIVER CITY SESSIONS

SWINGSUIT RECORDS

INTRO–T BONE SHUFFLE–MAKE IT THROUGH–EMPTY BOTTLES–JJ BOOGIE–FIND MYSELF ALL ALONE–BRUNETTE WOMAN–ELEPHANT BLUE–HEART ATTACK AND VINE–CAN’T BELIEVE WE’RE THROUGH–BAND INTRO–ASH AND BONE–ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER

When one of the most inspired and exciting bluesmen on the planet finds himself in a studio full of his biggest fans, you KNOW something special is about to go down.  That’s precisely what occurred at the iconic Ardent Studios down in Memphis on December 15, 2015, as Jeff Jensen  played an intimate set of eight originals and three covers that comprise his latest release, “Live—The River City Sessions.”  Jeff is a whirling dervish of a guitarist and vocalist, going all in for every performance, and this one was sho’ nuff a hot one.

Joining Jeff are Robinson Bridgeforth on drums and Bill Ruffino on bass and vocals.  They waste no time in getting on with gittin’ down, leading off with a torrid “T Bone Shuffle.”  “Make It Through,” a strong cut dealing with triumph and redemption, keeps things rockin’, and Jeff shows his incredible guitar chops on two sparkling instrumentals, the Sun-inspired rockabilly of  “JJ Boogie,” and “Elephant Walk.”  He closes the set with nine minutes of guitar-fueled bliss with a dynamite read of “All Along The Watchtower.”

We had two favorites, too, both of which were real crowd-pleasers.  A raucous band original is the loping story of “Empty Bottles,” where “it’s hard to stand for something when you can’t stand at all!”  And, everybody knows somebody down at the corner of “Heart Attack And Vine.”  On this one, Jeff pulls out all the guitar pyrotechnics he knows, and includes a cool “megaphone” vocal on the last verse.

Jeff Jensen continues to be one of the most energetic players in all of blues.  “Live–The River City Sessions” shows just what magic can occur when a powerful player in the midst of his biggest fans lets loose!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

 

Josh Harty review…April 12, 2016…

JOSH HARTY

HOLDING ON

INDEPENDENT RELEASE

HOLDING ON–THE KIND–ROUND AND ROUND–WIRED–LEARN TO FIGHT–BALLAD FOR A FRIEND–RUNNING–YOU AND THE ROAD–SHIVER IN THE DARK–ENGLISH RAIN

Josh Harty is a product of the flourishing Americana and roots scene up ’round Madison WI.  He’s been at it long enough to have four albums to his credit, and his fifth, “Holding on,” may just be his best.  Over the last five or so years, he’s literally been like Hank Snow’s mythical character that’s “been everywhere, man,”  touring 41 states, much of Europe, and the UK.  He writes about life’s experiences, both his and the folks he’s met along his many travels.

That’s the cohesive spirit that permeates this album.  Josh’s expressive, evocative vocals and equally-impressive guitar lines bring these songs to life, and we all know folks like the ones he sings about.  Take “Round and Round” for example.  Josh knows what we all know—the world is going to Hell in a hand basket, and if we don’t change, ‘we’ll all fall down in the end.”

The title cut deals with life being spent on the road for an extended period, and features harmonies from Kelley McRae and Matt Castelein, with mandolin from Chris Wagoner and harp from Ben Brookes Belcher.  The set-closer is the opposite of “Holding On,” as Josh uses the backdrop of “English Rain” to convey his thoughts of homesickness after four years on the road.

We had two favorites, too.  “Ballad For A Friend” has a dark, decidedly-bluesy feel, and is based on a true account of three young friends, one of whom is killed by the other two over a girlfriend, going to that dark place where “dying is easier than life,” with Chris Wagoner on that hellhound-on-my-trail dobro.  And, an uptempo look at why we are the way we are is explained by Josh as “apparently, it’s the way i’m Wired,” again with Chris on mandolin and lap steel.

Josh Harty is one of those artists who enjoys interactions with his fans on his many journeys.  He turns those experiences into songs, and “Holding On” is the well-crafted result!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Cornflower Blue review…April 11, 2016…

CORNFLOWER BLUE

INVINCIBLE

CATHERINE–LONG WALK HOME–AROUND MY HEART–SNOWED IN–WAY DOWN TOWN–THE BALLAD OF DON RICH AND BUCK OWENS–COLD SNAP–INVINCIBLE–MARY JOSEPH/MARY JOE–REASON TO SMILE–WRONG–ELMDALE

The folks that are the heart and soul of Cornflower Blue come from Ottawa, Ontario, and, as you listen to their latest album, “Invincible,” you’ll hear elements of classic country, rock, and folk, conjuring up memories of Johnny and June, Gram and Emmylou, and, even Buck and Don.  They use the occurrences of everyday life, along with all its hopes and dreams, heartbreaks and victories, as elements on which to build their original songs, and combine searing guitars right next to the fiddles to achieve their desired sounds.

Cornflower Blue are Theresa McInerney and Trevor May on guitar and vocals, with Deanna McDougall on the fiddle, Dasha Korycan on bass, and Robbie (Vegas) MacLeod on drums.  We can only imagine how cold an Ottawa winter must be, and the band uses that bitter cold  as the backdrop for several of the cuts herein.  Theresa’s poignant lyrics of the homeless who live “Way Down Town” are punctuated by somber guitars and fiddle lines in keeping with the subject matter.  “Cold Snap” rides a freight-train beat, as our heroine bemoans “water frozen in the toilet bowl,” and “a cold cup of coffee that reminds me of you!”

The leadoff cut has Trevor turning to the bottle for help with “Catherine,” realizing his mistakes and asking for “a second chance.”  And, the exuberance and pure joy of youth is addressed thru the eyes of a child with “Pokemon and Picachu cards” in his pocket, and is thus “Invincible on the playground today,” set over an equally-playful arrangement.

We had two favorites, too.  That snowy cold comes back into play as Theresa portrays the lover given the kiss-off from a guy looking to “make the most of his life’s story,” making for a “Long Walk Home.”  And, “fast cars, cowboy boots, loud guitars and Nudie suits” serve as the theme for the ode to Bakersfield’s favorite sons, “The Ballad Of Don Rich And Buck Owens.”  Astute listeners (over 50, probably!) can’t help but notice a chorus of “Buckaroo” at the break!

Cornflower Blue are extremely talented musicians and writers.  They have a sweet grasp of classic sounds, and know how to bring a contemporary spin to everything, making “Invincible” a set to which we can all relate!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Blind Lemon Peel review…April 9, 2016…

BLIND LEMON PEEL

DON’T TEAR MY CLOTHES

WEAR WHAT I PLEASE–MY DOG–NO TIME OFF (FOR GOOD BEHAVIOR)–I’M SO HORNY (THE CRACK OF DAWN AIN’T SAFE!)–DON’T TEAR MY CLOTHES–SHAKE YOUR LOVE THANG–CAN’T GET UP (OFFA THAT MUCH LOVE)–MARRY MY MONEY–BOOGIE MAN OF LOVE–!!!! EVERYBODY

Blind Lemon Peel is the alter-ego of vocalist David Hale, and the band also features Steve Burgh on guitars, Joel Diamond on keys, Hugh McDonald on bass, and Richard Crooks on drums.  To describe their sound, you gotta think outta the box.  Add in some funk from James Brown and Johnny Guitar  Watson, some country-fied blues from Elvin Bishop, the humor and vocal delivery of Rick Estrin, and, shall we say, the irreverence of Wynonie Harris, and you’ll get a fairly good idea of what’s going on in the ten cuts that comprise “Don’t Tear My Clothes.”  One thing is for sure—it’s a stone party from the git-go!

Peel plays the slacker part to the hilt on the leadoff cut, wanting to “live the life of ease, and Wear What I Please,” built around a sweet midtempo groove with Joel offering up a fine N’Awlins-style piano solo.  Peel name-checks just ’bout every breed of dog on a cool cover of Elvin’s “My Dog,” who “don’t chase chickens, cats, or other women!”  A good slow-blues is the story of a lover with a few screws loose,  who gives our hero “No Time Off (For Good Behavior),” because “she wants me when I want her, and even when I don’t!”  Speaking of slow-blues, the title cut is as good as it gets, with Steve’s lead lines gettin’ down ‘n’ dirty, while the females in the backing chorus really have a good time with this one, too!

Peel has some “divorce issues” with an ex in the swingin’ stop-time boogie woogie of  “Marry My Money again,” and closes the set with the ultimate kiss-off to all his naysayers, “!!!! Everybody,” and, trust us, it is NOT for the faint of heart or conservatives!

Our favorites were easy.  Mark Granville’s harp over Steve’s deep slide give a Delta-fied vibe to Peel’s declaration that he’s “The Boogie Man Of Love!”  And, you can’t deny the danceable groove of “Shake Your Love Thang,” with a cool “Saturday Night Fish Fry” stamp on it!

Blind Lemon Peel and “Don’t Tear My Clothes” keeps things fun, funky, and real.  Infectious grooves, good slow-bluesers and a party attitude make this one not to be missed!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Debbie Bond review…April 7, 2016…

DEBBIE BOND

ENJOY THE RIDE

BLUES ROOT PRODUCTIONS  BRP–1601

ENJOY THE RIDE–RAINBOW–LOVE VIBRATION–LEFT ME IN THE DARK–FIND A WAY–I AM THE BLUES–HUMBLE PIE–WISHBONE–REMEDY–START WITH LOVE–TRAIN SONG

Debbie Bond has been a major force on the Alabama blues scene for some thirty years, mentoring with that state’s legends, including Johnny Shines, Willie King, and Jody Williams, among others.  Completely immersed in the soulful sounds of the Muscle Shoals region, her latest album is a reflection of her career as a ‘Bama blueswoman, entitled “Enjoy The Ride,” featuring eleven tracks, six written by Debbie and her musical and life partner, Rick Asherson.

Adding to the festivities are a long list of Debbie’s friends, including Will McFarlane on guitar, Spooner Oldham on organ, and Rachel and Carla Edwards on backing vocals.  Throughout, we are treated to Debbie’s soulful, lilting vocals and guitar, and Rick’s fiery harp and keyboard bass.

Opening the show is the title cut–Debbie’s childhood memories of advice given her by her father, that “it ain’t about the destination–you’ve got to Enjoy The Ride!”  She turns up the heat in this one with some killer slide playing, also.  A couple of different looks at love follow, with the tale of a lover who can’t commit.  Debbie lets him go, hoping he’ll find his “Rainbow.”  Another cool minor-key cut was written by Jody Williams and is an ode to cheatin’ lovers everywhere, as Debbie wonders why “You Left Me In The Dark.”

There’s plenty more good times, too.  A good ol’  punchy horn section adds to that famous “Muscle Shoals Sound” in the gospel-inflected “Find A Way to love again,” while Rick’s Excello-riffic harp riffs give a swampy vibe to Debbie’s proclamation that “I Am The Blues.”  She and Rick close the set on a country-blues note, as his harp lines add to the ambience of Debbie’s moanin’, lost-lover vocals on “Train Song.”

Our favorite was easy.  The good-time combo of piano and harp give “I got a Wishbone where my backbone should be” a sweet New Orleans feel, as Debbie laments another questionable choice of lovers!

Debbie Bond continues to serve up some mighty fine Southern soul and blues, and all us fans are much the richer for it.  Everybody come along, and let’s all “Enjoy The Ride!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.