Archive for May, 2016

Big Jon Atkinson and Bob Corritore review…May 21, 2016…

BIG JON ATKINSON AND BOB CORRITORE

HOUSE PARTY AT BIG JON’S

DELTA GROOVE MUSIC  DGPCD  172

GOIN’ BACK TO TENNESSEE–HERE COMES MY BABY–IT WASN’T EASY–SHE’S MY CRAZY LITTLE BABY–AT THE MEETING–MOJO HAND–MOJO IN MY BREAD–MAD ABOUT IT–EMPTY BEDROOM–I’M GONNA MISS YOU LIKE THE DEVIL–YOU WANT ME TO TRUST YOU–MISSISSIPPI PLOW–EL CENTRO–I’M A KING BEE–SOMEBODY DONE CHANGED THE LOCK ON MY DOOR–MY FEELINGS WON’T BE HURT

Big Jon Atkinson is another of those young powerhouse West Coast blues guitarists who know what this music is all about, as he spent some time mentoring with Kim Wilson.  It’s no surprise that the name of Jon’s home-based studio in San Diego is Big Tone, because he sho’ nuff coaxes a huge tone outta that guitar.  His latest set for Delta Groove teams him with harp icon Bob Corritore as well as several of the best blues singers from Chicago to Cali, making “House Party At Big Jon’s” play out like one of those old-school Blues Caravans where everybody adds to the fun.  To add to the vibe of this cool mix of covers and originals, Jon laid down all the tracks on vintage equipment.  Also, we have Danny Michel on second guitar, Troy Sandow on bass, and a trio of drummers–Malachi Johnson, Brian Fahey, and Marty Dodson.

The set kicks off with Jon telling a lover “we didn’t do the things we should, and I’m Goin’ Back To Tennessee.”  Bob blows the reeds outta his big ol’ chromatic on his original, “Here Comes My Baby, with the butterscotch skin!”  Alabama Mike rocks the house lookin’ for that “Mojo Hand,” and comes back a bit later for a scorchin’ slow-blueser, “Somebody Done Changed The Lock On My Door.”  Big Jon and Willie Buck rock out on a couple of Slim Harpo’s Excello hits—Big Jon on lead vocal on the “sorry that you’re gone” song, “I’m Gonna Miss You Like The Devil,” while Willie Buck busts out that stinger on “I’m A King Bee, I can buzz all night long!”  Tomcat Courtney’s original is the story of a woman so mean, :she put Mojo In My Cornbread and turnip greens!”  Jon’s sparse guitar leads put a decidedly-Delta stamp on this one.

We had two favorites, too.  We’ve always liked Lightnin’ Slim’s “She’s My Crazy Little Baby,” and Big Jon and Bob let everybody know “the whole state knows she’s fine!”  And, Dave Riley absolutely takes us all to Blues Church with a powerful, heartfelt read of “seeing my momma in Heaven one day,” “At The Meeting.”

Ever lay in bed at night as a youngster with your transistor radio tuned in to WLAC?  As you listen to “House Party At Big Jon’s,”  you’ll swear the Hossman is about to tell you what a huge talent Big Jon Atkinson really is, and, without saying a word, Bob Corritore’s harp is his perfect foil!!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

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Eric Bibb review…May 20, 2016…

ERIC BIBB

AND NORTH COUNTRY FAR

AND DANNY THOMPSON

THE HAPPIEST MAN IN THE WORLD

STONY PLAIN RECORDS CD  SPCD  1390

THE HAPPIEST MAN IN THE WORLD–TOOLIN’ DOWN THE ROAD–I’LL FARM FOR YOU–TOSSIN’ AND TURNIN’–CREOLE CAFE–BORN TO BE YOUR MAN–PRISON OF TIME–KING SIZE BED–ON THE PORCH–1912 SKIING DISASTER–TELL OL’ BILL–WISH I COULD HOLD YOU NOW–BLUEBERRY BOY (INST.)–YOU REALLY GOT ME W/KING SIZE BED (INST.)

For his latest Stony Plain album, world-renowned troubadour Eric Bibb has teamed up with an all-acoustic band billed as North Country Far—the Finnish Haavisto brothers–Janne on drums, and Olli on dobro and pedal steel.  Add in Petri Hakala on mandola and mandolin, and this became a formidable outfit, indeed.  However, it was missing one piece.  The final member for this project became famed upright bassist Danny Thompson, and this core created  Eric’s “The Happiest Man In The World.”  The fourteen cuts feature Eric on vocals, six-string banjo and guitars, and he and the fellows turn in a sweet set of country-blues, perfect for a picnic or just hangin’ out.

Eric looks at love and maturing gracefully over the course of these tunes.  He leads off with the title cut, an ode to his lover and how she makes him feel.  Everyone takes a solo, and Eric rides that vein, literally, in the next cut, as “there’s few things I adore more than Toolin’ Down The Road with my good gal at the wheel!”  Petri’s mandolin is a perfect complement within the context of this one, too.  Eric’s banjo riff rides all the way thru the poignant tale of two lovers growing old gracefully, as they sit predominantly in silence, “On The Porch.”  Olli’s pedal steel fits in nicely alongside the banjo.  The set closes with a strong, stripped-down take on Ray Davies’ and The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me,” and features a hidden track at the end of the vocal—an instrumental version of “King Size Bed.”

We had two favorites, too.  A love affair that begins with missing a day of work turns into a lifetime for a couple who “bought a place in the country,” where, “down at the Creole Cafe, she serves the gumbo, and I serve the blues!”  And, just as sure as “Babe Ruth was born to swing that bat, and Dr. King was born to do what’s right, I Was Born To Be Your Man!”

Eric Bibb continues to be one of the most versatile and eclectic players on the contemporary scene today.  Joining forces with North Country Far and Danny Thompson makes “The Happiest Man In The World” a fine addition to any fan’s collection!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

Markey Blue review…May 20, 2016…

MARKEY BLUE

THE BLUES ARE KNOCKIN’

SOUL O SOUND RECORDS

I’LL WAIT FOR YOU–THAT AIN’T GOOD ENOUGH–COLD OUTSIDE–CASH IS ALWAYS KING–THE BLUES ARE KNOCKIN’–BE MY TRAIN (LITTLE MILTON TRIBUTE)–LAY DOWN LUCILLE (B B KING TRIBUTE)–NOBODY’S FOOL–ME MISSING YOU–WORRIES

It’s been our great pleasure to know Markey Blue and Ric Latina for several years now.  They are mainstays on the local jam scene, and, you can bet, just like the song says, “if they show up, they’re gonna show out!”  For their latest set for Soul O Sound Records, “The Blues Are Knockin,” Markey and Ric (with help from Bill Bois on the leadoff cut) combine their talents for ten songs that are full of the down-to-your-soul-blues we’ve come to expect from them.

Markey’s got one of those big, bold voices that can go from purring to powerful in one note!  Ric’s guitar is sounding better than ever, and he busts out that down-to-the-Crossroads slide on the foot-stompin,’ Hill-Country blues of “I’ll Wait For You.”  Markey uses all her feminine wiles to coax a lover to “let me in, it’s Cold Outside,” this minor-key groover punched up by the sweet horn section.  The title cut finds her in a pensive, reflective mood, getting that “middle of the night, the way it used to feel” pining for a lover, and knows, sho’ nuff, that “The Blues Are Knockin, and I still love you more than you’ll ever know.”  Ric’s leads and a hot solo seem to understand Markey’s pain on this one.  The set closes with some serious slow-blues, as Markey has “so many Worries, I swear I got worries up ahead of me!”

We had two favorites, too.  Ric and the horns bust out the uptown funk on a tribute to Little Milton Campbell, “Be My Train, roll your love down my track!”  And, Markey name-checks many of B. B.’s best-known tunes and albums as she urges that mighty Gibson to “Lay Down Lucille–in your heart he’ll always stay!”

Everything is coming up sevens and elevens for Markey Blue.  They’ve signed a TV publishing deal, and had a song featured in the movie “Turbulence And Love.  Add to that this great set, “The Blues Are Knockin,” and their future looks bright, indeed!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

John Long review…May 19, 2016….

JOHN LONG

STAND YOUR GROUND

DELTA GROOVE MUSIC  DGPCD  173

BABY PLEASE SET A DATE–RED HAWK–THINGS CAN’T BE DOWN ALWAYS–STAND YOUR GROUND–WELCOME MAT–NO FLOWERS FOR ME–ONE EARTH, MANY COLORS–HEALIN’ TOUCH–I KNOW HIS BLOOD CAN MAKE ME WHOLE–MOP, BUCKET, AND A BROOM–CLIMBING HIGH MOUNTAINS–PRECIOUS LORD, TAKE MY HAND–SUITCASE STOMP

Born in 1950 in St. Louis, John Long was influenced by his brother, Claude, already an established blues guitar player.  John soon followed in his brother’s footsteps and took his guitar and headed to Chicago in the Seventies.  There, he was mentored by Homesick James (Williamson) and enamored by Muddy.   Fast-forward to 2006, when John Long was nominated for a Blues Award for his first Delta Groove release, “Lost And Found.”  The oft-reclusive and vastly-under-recorded Long returns on May 20 with “Stand Your Ground,” an album of eight originals and five covers that show why many revere Long as a “national treasure.”

In the traditions of Son House, Bukka White, and the ole deal-maker himself, Robert Johnson, Long’s playing and singing evokes memories of the legends while forging a sound that is pleasantly and uniquely his own.  For this set, he bends the rules slightly, using an amplified acoustic as well as a wooden Resonator.  Bill Stuve is on bass for five cuts, as is Fred Kaplan on piano, and jazz drummer Washington Rucker.  That amplified action leads off, with that unmistakable riff that rides over “Baby Please Set A Date,” with Rucker’s trademark brush-stroked drums and Kaplan’s barrelhouse piano adding the flavor.

John takes a tough stance with some low-down, dirty women, too.  He busts out the neck-rack harp on “Tings Can’t Be Down Always,” and warns another one that she’s “on thin ice” after “she took advantage of my kindness,” titled “Welcome Mat.”  The title cut, done in a modified rhumba pattern, reminds us that “when the Devil comes ’round in sheep’s clothing,” always “Stand Your Ground.”  John begs those who love him not to buy “No Flowers For Me when I’m gone,” but, rather, donate to find a cure for Parkinson’s disease.

As good as John Long is as a blues player, we loved his gospel tunes.  That Resonator slide tells the story of a lost soul “touching the hem of His garment, and I Know His Blood Can Make Me Whole.”  Poignant harp lines and Rucker’s brush work paint the whole picture as John begs, “Precious Lord, Take My Hand,” and, our favorite, takes a  look at the state of the world today, pleading for us to “open up your heart and mind” and realize there’s “One Earth, Many Colors, one humankind.”

This music is timeless, and John Long is a staunch purveyor in the preservation of classic, pre-WWII blues in the style in which they were originally written and meant to be heard.  “Stand Your Ground” shows just what a powerful player he is, and this set is highly recommended!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Clint Morgan review…May 17, 2016….

CLINT MORGAN

SCOFFLAW

LOST CAUSE RECORDS  LC130

THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE–WACO–WILD ONE–I GOT A GUN–I DON’T KNOW WHERE TO TURN (WITH DIUNNA GREENLEAF)–EASTHAM FARM (WITH DIUNNA GREENLEAF)–D. B. COOPER BLUES–I LOVE ROBBING BANKS–BAD MAN BLUES–THIEF IN THE NIGHT–WANTED MAN–THE FACE IN THE MIRROR–A SACKFUL OF CASH–SEND ME TO THE ‘LECTRIC CHAIR (WITH DIUNNA GREENLEAF)–SOFTLY AND TENDERLY JESUS IS CALLING (WITH MARIA MULDAUR)–I REMEMBERED YOU–I DONE MADE UP MY MIND (WITH MARIA MULDAUR)–THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE–I GOT A GUN (ALTERNATE TAKE)

Clint Morgan is an accomplished pianist/vocalist/composer from Washington state, whose day job is as an attorney.  Undoubtedly, he’s seen his share of lawbreakers, and his latest album, aptly-titled “Scofflaw,” uses music to take a look at what makes these folks turn bad.  The cuts range from blues to folk to gospel, and Clint brings in some stellar players to round out this set.  They include Kenny Vaughn on guitar, Dave Roe on bass, and guest vocals from Diunna Greenleaf and Maria Muldaur.

We divided the set into four parts–the first part deals with the Old West outlaws, the second with the Depression-Era baddies, and the third with those of the modern day.  The fourth division features a couple of gospel tunes, as these desperate men seek salvation before Judgement Day.  The set begins with Clint’s ominous original, “Waco,” and “bein’ baptized in that muddy water.”  Fiddle from Jonathan Yudkins adds fire to the story of a man who puts a “.44 slug in the gut” of his boss, “I Got A Gun.”  Jim Hoke is on the harp on a swingin’ duet with Diunna Greenleaf, “I Don’t Know Where To Turn,” and all return on the next cut, a mournful ode to “five long years on Eastham Farm.”

One can easily picture John Dillinger driving down the road from job to job singing the Berry-fied punch of “I Love Robbing Banks!”  Clint gives a classic, droning read of Dylan’s “Wanted Man,” with stripped-down, echo-effect vocals and hand claps.  The set closes with a gospel intonation, featuring a sweet duet of redemption with Maria Muldaur on “Softly And Tenderly Jesus Is Calling.”

We had two favorites, too.  Diunna plays the lover who gets her throat cut, as both she and Clint plea for the judge to “Send Me To The “Lectric Chair.”  Hoke’s clarinet gives this morbidly-humorous Bessie Smith chestnut a ragtime feel.  And, Clint reworks the Blue Yodeler’s “California Blues” as the story of the hijacking parachutist who’s never been found, “D. B. Cooper Blues.”

Clint Morgan, thru the material contained in “Scofflaw,” looks at the psyche’ of the American criminal and makes a strong musical case for why they do what they do.  Excellent musicianship makes this one blues history lesson we know you’ll enjoy!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

Janiva Magness review…May 15, 2016…

JANIVA MAGNESS

LOVE WINS AGAIN

BLUE ELAN’ RECORDS BER 1017

LOVE WINS AGAIN–REAL SLOW–WHEN YOU HOLD ME–SAY YOU WILL–DOORWAY–MOTH TO A FLAME–YOUR HOUSE IS BURNIN’–JUST ANOTHER LESSON–RAIN DOWN–LONG AS I CAN SEE THE LIGHT–WHO WILL COME FOR ME

Take just a moment to savor these stats—a seven-time Blues Music Award winner, five of ’em for Best Contemporary Female Blues Artist, and one of them is the biggest prize of all–Entertainer of the Year, only the second female to bring it home.    Of course, we are talking about Janiva Magness, possessor of one of the most powerful, evocative voices in all of contemporary blues.  She has just released her latest set, “Love Wins Again,” and that voice rings out the truth on ten originals and one dynamite cover.

This set marks her fifth collaboration with producer Dave Darling, and he takes her performances to new heights throughout these cuts, and love in all its glories and many permutations is the underlying theme.  After a long day, where it seems as if time goes at breakneck speed,  Janiva appreciates that special lover who’ll “take your time, Real Slow,” and, especially, “When You Hold Me it makes everything feel right.”  Both of these utilize a horn section, adding to the overall seductiveness Janiva brings to the table.

Acoustic guitar adds to the story of redemption in a relationship, as Janiva vows to “stand in your Doorway until all the fear is gone.”  A punchy, James Brown-ish horn arrangement lights the gospel fire beneath “Your House Is Burnin,” as she warns us all to “get to work, before it’s too late” to make the world a better place.

The set closes with our two favorites.  Janiva turns in an exemplary read of John Fogerty’s tale of that ol’ “travelin’ bone,” “Long As I Can See The Light.”  Then, she gives a bittersweet read into a poignant glimpse of our own mortality, as she ponders, “when all my youth is spent/I can’t see where it went/Who Will Come For Me?”

“Love Wins Again” further solidifies Janiva Magness as the standard-bearer for female vocalists in contemporary blues.  Her voice is as strong as ever, and these songs are sure to soothe your spirit and satisfy your soul!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

The Hitman Blues Band review…May 12, 2016…

THE HITMAN BLUES BAND

THE WORLD MOVES ON

NERUS RECORDS  NR 4491

BAD BAD MAN–THAT’S WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE A MAN–DON’T YOU TEMPT ME–MOVING ON–TWO-MINUTE WARNING–THE WORLD MOVES ON–HAMMER DOWN–TWO TRAINS RUNNING–CATCH-22 BLUES–ANGEL IN THE SHADOWS–JENNY GOODBYE–I’M ALL ABOUT YOU–HOOCHIE COOCHIE MAN

The Hitman Blues Band, based out of New York, play what they like to call “modern blues,” and they certainly do come at you with an abundance of energy.  We particularly like the way they meld the traditional sounds of the Delta with the uptown Stax sound thru the addition of a horn section.

That’s the story on their latest set, “The World Moves On.”  Russell “Hitman” Alexander is on guitar (a monster slide man, indeed!) and vocals, and wrote or co-wrote all the cuts ‘cept one.  Five tunes are originals that have been remixed and remastered, and now feature the Hitnan Horns.  “Bad Bad Man” leads off, with the Hitman’s hellhound slide hammereing out the blues ’bout a man with a lifetime of poor choices following him.  “Moving On” features drums from Bernard “Pretty” Purdie and a fine keys solo from Bobby Forrester.

Hitman takes a few unique looks at love and coping with and without it.  The minor-key story of a sad affair on the skids has just reached the “Two-Minute Warning before goodbye.”  The horns give this one a vintage soul feel, and do so again on the poignant look at the ultimate loss, where “The World Moves On, but my center is gone.”

There are timely touches of humor, too, to balance things out.  Hitman uses the analogies of chocolate, champagne, and even a mattress to describe to all the ladies just “What It’s Like To Be A Man,” on this slyly-sexy midtempo groover.  And, a man who dreams of being with a lover involved with another man is the twisted tale of those “Catch-22 Blues,” featuring a cool touch of jazz, courtesy of Ray Alexander on the vibes!

Our favorite was a chooglin’ harp-fueled (from Neil Alexander) endless-boogie journey straight down to the corner of Mississippi Hwy. 49 and 61.  It’s called “Two Trains Running,” and, just like Robert Johnson, you KNOW what’s gonna happen–one train “pulls into the station, the other ain’t never comin’ back.”  Which one will YOU be on?

The Hitman Blues Band has brought the blues into the 21ST Century by combining its base elements that are most appealing to the fans–the Delta-meets-Stax sound is alive and well on “The World Moves On.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.