Archive for May, 2016

Michael McDermott review…May 30, 2016…

MICHAEL MCDERMOTT

WILLOW SPRINGS

PAUPER SKY RECORDS

WILLOW SPRINGS–THESE LAST FEW DAYS–GETAWAY CAR–SOLDIERS OF THE SAME WAR–BUTTERFLY–HALF EMPTY KINDA GUY–ONE MINUS ONE–FOLKSINGER–LET A LITTLE LIGHT IN–SHADOW IN THE WINDOW–WILLIE RAIN–WHAT DREAMS MAY COME

‘Bout twenty years ago, Michael McDermott was playing Chicago coffeehouses and had a major record deal and a hit album, “620 W.  Surf,” and was all set to be the “Next Big Thing.”  Then, life began to get in the way.  His personal demons nearly devoured him, but he overcame and persevered, to the point that now he’s ten albums into his career.  With the release of “Willow Springs,” he addresses all his hopes and failures,  loves and losses, and copes with his own shortcomings and ultimate redemption.

Michael is on vocals and a host of other instruments, and among several other players, there is his wife, Heather Horton, on backing vocals and fiddle, and Will Kimbrough on guitars, mandolin, and banjo.  We try to shy away from outright comparisons, but, as one listens to these songs,  you would be hard-pressed NOT to conjure up thoughts of Dylan or Springsteen.  Check out the opening title cut–it’s the story of a tortured soul who “wanders the wasteland for 40 days and 40 nights,” only to realize that “maybe it was you all along” he was seeking.  Michael adds plaintive harp to the story of “no ordinary dime-store crook” on his last ride in his Paradise-bound “Getaway Car,” with perhaps a nod to “Johnny 99” in its lyrics.

Whether struggling with PTSD or any addiction, the only sure thing is “We are Soldiers In The Same War,” and have been “for a thousand years.”   And, a lover from Michael’s youth makes poor choices and pays the ultimate price in “Butterfly,” finally realizing she is free.  Michael realizes he made the same choices and wonders himself, “I don’t know how I made it out alive!”

We had two favorites, too.  Coping with the loss of his father is the powerful draw of “The Shadow In The Window that’s missing.”  And, becoming a father to his little girl, “Willie Rain,” is the most blues-oriented cut on the set, featuring playful dobro and mandolin lines throughout.

Michael McDermott’s overnight success story only took twenty years, but he’s coped with whatever life has thrown at him.  Now clean and sober, he’s living the country life, down in “Willow Springs.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne review…May 29, 2016…

KENNY “BLUES BOSS” WAYNE

JUMPIN’ AND BOPPIN’

STONY PLAIN RECORDS  SPCD 1389

BLUES BOSS SHUFFLE–BANKRUPTED BLUES–JUMPIN’ AND BOPPIN’–BLUES STEW–YOU DON’T KNOW ME–BLACKMAIL BLUES–LOOK OUT! THERE’S A TRAIN COMING–I NEED YOUR LOVIN’–CIAO, CIAO BABY–BACK TO SQUARE ONE–I’M COMIN’ HOME–ROCK, ROCK, LITTLE GIRL–BOOGIE TO GLORYLAND

The ol’ “Blues Boss” himself, Kenny Wayne, is back with another stellar set of jump-blues and boogie that is guaranteed to have you puttin’ on your dancin’ shoes!  Kenny won the 2015 Living Blues Most Outstanding Musician (Keyboard), and “Jumpin’ And Boppin” is a fine testimony to his chops.  Kenny’s on keys and vocals, with Duke Robillard and Charlie Jacobson rockin’ the guitars, Russell Jackson on bass, and Joey DiMarco on drums.  There’s also a cool horn section that gives the whole thing a vintage, Louis Jordan vibe.

He kicks off with a piano-and-horn call-and-response instrumental, “Blues Boss Shuffle.”  The title cut has him “playin’ my boogie like a son of a gun,” while a cool tale of a fast-driving woman who miraculously survives a crash is called “Look Out! There’s A Train Coming,” and it fairly bubbles with “Caldonia-like” enthusiasm.  “Back To Square One” chronicles a man seeking that “perfect match” in a lover, and it rides a slow, jazzy, “After Hours” groove.  He sincerely nails the set’s sole cover, a tender read of the country classic, “You Don’t Know Me.”  Kenny lets the boogie woogie roll as the set closes as it began on the instrumental “Boogie To Gloryland.”

We had two favorites, too.  A sweet, stop-time, sixteen-bar story of gettin’ in debt too far and too fast is the ultra-cool “Bankrupted Blues.”  And, “if you don’t know how to rock, you sho’ can’t roll,” is the message of the amped-up “Rock, Rock Little Girl.”

Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne is still bringing the boogie with a left hand that’s as lethal as Joe Louis,’ and “Jumpin’ And Boppin” is tailor-made for everybody to do the mess around!   Hoy hoy hoy!  Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Mark May review…May 27, 2016…

MARK MAY BAND

AND THE SOUL SATYR HORNS

BLUES HEAVEN

CONNOR RAY MUSIC   CRM-1601

BOOM BOOM–MONEY–SHE’S A KEEPER–BLUES HEAVEN–PUT DOWN THAT POISON–LEAVING HOUSTON–BOOMERANG–I’M HER FOOL–GULF COAST WOMAN–ALL I EVER DO–GARDEN OF TRUTH–KIND OF GIRL–ALMOST LIKE A SUICIDE

Columbus, Ohio-based guitarist Mark May got interested in playing guitar from his older brother, and when he heard B. B.’s “Live In Cook County Jail” at age eleven, he was hooked on the blues.  Perhaps some of his most formidable years were spent around the turn of the century playing with Dickey Betts and Great Southern.  He’s just released his sixth album, “Blues Heaven,” for Connor Ray Music.  It’s thirteen cuts that explore Mark’s celebrations of good times and the realization that life’s journey does include stones in your passway.  It also encompasses several shades of blues, too.  And, the Soul Satyr Horns add just the right touch of spice to an already heady brew.

A stone-cold shot of funk kicks off the festivities, talkin’ ’bout those girls we all know–“Boom Boom” refers to “those hips” that speak volumes without saying a word!  It has a strong, struttin’ Albert Collins vibe throughout.  “Money” uses a Chicago-styled, stop-time, minor-key groove to convey why it’s sho’ nuff “the root of all evil,” and another cool tune about life’s ups and downs and  reaping what you sow is “Boomerang.”

We really enjoyed his uptempo, party anthems, tho.  “She’s A Keeper”  features slide guitar from Kentucky Headhunter Greg Martin, while Hadden Sayers adds lead guitar on “All I Ever Do is sing the blues!”  And, rhythm guitar man Dave Absalom takes lead vocal on a cut about more of those “questionable women”–“she’s a Kind Girl–the kind that’ll give you the blues!”

Our favorite was the title cut.  A slow-blues piece with smooth sax from Eric Demmer, Mark ponders the eternal question of what it’ll be like “if I ever get to Blues Heaven–will I see all my old friends?”

Mark May’s playing and singing are as sharp as ever, and this batch of material in “Blues Heaven”  adds to his growing legacy as a composer!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

Paul Reddick review…May 26, 2016…

PAUL REDDICK

RIDE THE ONE

STONY PLAIN RECORDS  SPCD 1388

SHADOWS–CELEBRATE–MOURNING DOVE–GOTTA FIND A…–IT GOES WITH YOU–WATERSMOOTH–DIAMONDS–LIVING IN ANOTHER WORLD–I TRIED TO TELL YOU–LOVE AND NEVER KNOW–MOON AND STAR

Paul Reddick has been on our radar since his days with The Sidemen back in the Nineties.  Always one to emphasize the song first, this versatile singer/writer/harpman is affectionately known as the “Unofficial Poet Laureate of the Blues in Canada,” and his latest album is entitled “Ride The One,” referencing the deep, passionate grooves contained herein.  Another fellow countryman also influenced by Reddick is Monkeyjunk frontman Steve Marriner,  who adds guitar and keys throughout.

Paul Reddick uses the time-honored blues traditions of love, loss, and salvation as recurring themes throughout the set, as well as how readily adaptable the themes are in regard to a rock-music background.  The gritty tale of how “Shadows overtook me, I saw the lights go down,” leads off, giving way to the rolling riff that drives “Celebrate your voice, celebrate and rejoice!”  Derek Downham is on talk-box guitar on the raucous romp that is “It Goes With You,” while an ode to a potential lover is the rapid-rhyme pattern of “Watersmooth–you’re so fine, I’ll see you somewhere down the line!”  The set closes on a pure country-blues note–just Paul’s vocal and harp on “Moon And Star,” channeling Sonny Boy Williamson.

Our favorite leaned decidedly to Paul’s rockin’ side.  “I’m Livin’ In Another World, where there ain’t no misery, and I never ever dream of you” brims with the good times that come with the realization of redemption after a period of struggle.

Paul Reddick has always had a keen eye for the histories and myths of the blues and how to put them into words.  He also sponsors the Cobalt Prize, urging folks to write blues songs, to ensure the future of Canadian blues.  “Ride The One” has all the elements of a well-written and well-played set!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Jordan Patterson Band review…May 26, 2016…

THE JORDAN PATTERSON BAND

THE BACK ON TRACK RECORDING PROJECT

FLAMINGCHEESE RECORDS

FAVOURITE BOY–CAN WE FALL IN LOVE AGAIN–SHE’S COOL–YOU’RE MY GIRL–LIVING WITHOUT YOUR LOVE–PLAY MY SONG (REVISITED)–IF YOU’D HELP ME PLEASE (REVISITED)–DO YOU BELIEVE–HEARTBREAKER (REVISITED)–DON’T TAKE ME DOWN (REVISITED)

Way back in 1996, Ontario-born harp-blaster Jordan Patterson recorded his debut album, “Give Me A Chance,” down in Jackson, MS, after mentoring with guitarist Bobby Parker and Bobby Rush.  That led to extensive touring, and a spot on U. P. Wilson’s JSP album, “Whirlwind.”  Just as quickly, Jordan decided to pack it all in and go back home to be a concert promoter.

Nearly fifteen years later, a friend urged him to prove his earlier successes were no flash in the pan.  Jordan began playing live shows in 2014, and he has now released his aptly-titled follow-up, “The Back On Track Recording Project,” ten cuts that show where his musical tastes lie—from straight-blues to funk to good ole rock and roll throughout.

The youngest of nine children, one of his sisters gave him a harp, and he made the most of it.  A strong player with the blues-rock leanings of Peter Harper plus the funk he learned from Bobby Rush, Jordan opens the set with a fiery biographical tune, using his “new toy” to grow up and “be your momma’s Favourite Boy!” “Living Without Your Love makes life a long, long road,” has a rocked-up, Lenny Kravitz or even Prince feel, while he closes the set with harp blasting away on “Don’t Take Me Down–Revisited,” as he cuts a lover off at the knees who “plays me for a fool.”

We had two favorites, too.  More sweet harp fuels the fire of “my baby, who looks extra-sweet,” entitled “She’s Cool–she’s wild, outta sight!”  And, in a nod to Jordan’s strong blues-rock passions, there’s “Can We Fall In Love Again and find that good, kind love,” with a Chris Robinson-Black Crowes vibe goin’ on.

Jordan Patterson proves with “The Back On Track Recording Project,” that he didn’t miss a stroke in a nearly two-decade absence from the contemporary scene. Here’s hoping his next project is MUCH sooner!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

KALO review…May 24, 2016….

KALO

DEAR JOHN

SELF-RELEASED

DEAR JOHN–TREAT ME BAD–MARCH TO THE LIGHT–MARIE–HEARTBREAK–OH FATHER–DOWN DOWN DOWN–BLUE CHEVY–LOOKING FOR ME–ONCE I HAD A HEART–GOODBYE–LIKE IT OR NOT (COVER)–TENDER LOVE–CAN’T SLEEP AT NIGHT

As a youngster, Israeli-born Bat-Or Kalo got a Hendrix cassette(!) and an electric guitar, and that, as us old folks say, was all she wrote.  After high school and a two-year hitch in the Israeli Defense Forces, she came to Oklahoma City U. to study music.  There, she met up with bassist Mack McKinney, and, altho it took a while, both ended up back together around 2012 in Mississippi, as Kalo wanted to see first-hand where the blues originated.

Her debut album, released in the fall of 2013, is titled “Dear John,” and there are fourteen mostly original cuts full of the passion and verve to which she has dedicated herself along this blues journey.  For this set, Kalo and McKinney use Erin Nelson as the predominate drummer, and some guest musicians we’ll get to in a bit.  The band bills itself as KALO, and parlayed a semi-finalist run in the 2016 IBC’s into a free campaign from Blind Raccoon’s uber-publicist, Betsie Brown.

Kalo is a powerful young player brimming with chops and the attitude to succeed.  As a bonus, growing up in Israel and then studying the blues literally down at the Crossroads gives her a unique perspective on just exactly what happened when that ol’ deal went down.

She starts off in a strong Hill-Country vibe, her guitar wailing and drums pounding out “Dear John, please don’t leave me tonight,” while pleading in the next cut for a lover to “Treat Me Bad.”  Another paramour becomes her “drug” of choice, but, inevitably is good for nothing except more “Heartbreak,” as her guitar lines bespeak her pain in this one.  Fiddle and banjo from John Knudson add to the country-blues of Kalo’s dobro in “Looking For Me,” and she closes on an acoustic note, trying to get past a departed lover, but “there’s a voice in my head, and I Can’t Sleep At Night.’

We had two favorites, too.  She defiantly fires off deep dobro runs thru the field-holler style blues of “March To The Light,” as “I don’t  give a damn if I go to Hell.”  And, as sure as Sunday morning follows Saturday night, she asks for cleansing repentance in “Oh Father, will you save a wretch like me?”

Turns out that Bat-Or Kalo is quite a student of the blues.  She’s got that eternal give-and-take with good vs. evil down pat, and “Dear John” is a mighty fine debut!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Mighty Orq review…May 23, 2016…

MIGHTY ORQ

LOVE IN A HURRICANE

CONNOR RAY MUSIC  CRM 1602

SWEET IN BETWEEN–FALLING DOWN–PACK IT UP–SAY IT WITH SILENCE–LOVE IN A HURRICANE–THE POSSUM SONG–CARRY ME HOME–YOU’RE IN LOVE (THAT’S ALRIGHT)–BIG BOAT–LET ME HAVE MY FUN–DEATH LETTER BLUES–CANNON BALL

Born Josh Davidson and raised in Houston, he was given the nickname “Mighty Orq” by fellow Texas bluesman Tony Vega.  Mighty, he is, indeed–he’s been on the scene for ’bout thirteen years, with six albums and an instructional DVD for slide guitar under his belt, and made it all the way to the finals of the 2016 IBC’s in Memphis.

Hot on the heels of that finish, he has just released “Love In A Hurricane,” showcasing both his maturity as a composer as well as his passion for blues, roots, and gospel.  His regular band is along for the ride, including Jimmy Rose on drums and mandolin, Terry Dry on bass, and Barry Seelen on keys and squeeze box.  He blasts outta the Delta night with his slide blazing, searching for “my Sweet In Between.”  He pays tribute to another great Texas bluesman, Freddie King, with the struttin’ “Pack It Up,” as his ex gets the heave-ho and is told “I’m gonna put you right outta my life!”  The title cut is a nice slice of Americana that traces the lives of a couple who fall in love as youngsters and weather all of life’s storms, “Love In A Hurricane.”  The sadder end of that spectrum is the poignant tale of unwise choices made and their lethal consequences, “Falling Down.”  Barry’s B-3 work is exemplary here, giving this one a strong blues-rock edge.

The set closes with another unique pair of tunes.  An eerie guitar thread adds to the feel of Orq’s take on Son House’s tale of “Judgement Day” and a deceased lover “layin’ n that coolin’ board,” “Death Letter Blues.”  To close the set outright, Orq uses a Weissenborn guitar for the quietly-pastoral instrumental, “Cannon Ball.”

We had two favorites, too.  His “Saturday night” leanings show up on the roadhouse boogie ’bout a good woman who’ll always “Let Me Have My Fun,” punctuated by Barry’s piano.  Moving into “Sunday morning,” there’s the Biblically-themed, surprisingly-funky message to be spread that “hope floats,” so “get on the Big Boat to get to the other side!”

It’s easy to see why Mighty Orq fared so well in the IBC’s.  He’s got versatile, original material, guitar and vocal chops second to none, and now,  a fine set, “Love In A Hurricane,” to back it up!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.