Archive for June, 2016

Travis Green review…June 29, 2016…

TRAVIS GREEN

A LITTLE TOO LATE

SELF-RELEASED

A LITTLE TOO LATE–PLEASE DON’T CRY–EVERYBODY KNOWS–THE ONLY LOVE–KEEP YOU OFF MY MIND–DAMAGE DONE–CAROLINE–ROAD RUNS COLD–SALT AND SAND–DON’T FORGET

Austin-based roots-rocker Travis Green had a batch of songs written and ready to record for what would ultimately become his latest album, “A Little Too Late,” but was having trouble getting the right studio with the right players.  A few of his friends suggested West Coast guru Kid Andersen and the Greaseland Studio out in San Jose.  The two made it happen, and Travis even wrote a few more songs on his way to Cali, and this fine set is the result.

Travis is on vocals, with Kid on guitars and pedal steel.  Jim Pugh is on keys, Randy Bermudes is on bass, Jason Hansen is on drums, Nancy Wright is on sax, with backing vocals from Courtney Knott and Lisa Leuschner Andersen.  Altho Travis is from Texas and this set was created in San Jose, the ten original cuts take the listener all over the musical map.  Things kick off with the sweet, rockabilly-tinged two-step of the title cut, featuring fine honky-tonk piano from Jim.  Travis revisits that theme a bit later of wanting a lover he can never have, and tries everything to “Keep You Off My Mind.”  The plaintive “Damage Done” is a tale of “having no more love to show” in a relationship, and asking for ultimate forgiveness, with Kid’s pedal steel the perfect foil.

Travis’ favorite song on this album deals with taking that last ride “over to the other side,” “Please Don’t Cry For Me when I’m gone!”  It features haunting two-part harmony from Lisa Leuschner Andersen, adding to this song’s ambience.  And, “Caroline,” (sung throughout as “Caro-LEAN), is a stone rocker with the theme of a musician trying to make a long-distance relationship work.

We had two favorites, too.  “Everybody Knows” how evil his lover is in this one, and the horn and keys give it a good ole greasy, Memphis-Stax groove. And, you can’t help but hear the B. B. King influence in the guitar lines of the Fifties-influenced balladry of “The Only Love.”

Travis Green states that he does some of his best songwriting when he is either at the beginning or at the end of a relationship.  “A Little Too Late” is full of his musings on life and love, and Kid and this stellar band pulls it all together!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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Jim Suhler And Monkey Beat review…June 27, 2016….

JIM SUHLER

AND MONKEY BEAT

LIVE AT THE KESSLER

UNDERWORLD RECORDS  UND 0027

INTRO BY ERIC NADEL–I DECLARE–ACROSS THE BRAZOS–DOIN’ THE BEST I CAN–TIJUANA BIBLE–MY MORNING PRAYER–DEJA BLUE–TEXASSIPPI–REVERIE–SUNDAY DRUNK–DEVIL IN ME–PANTHER BURN–SCATTERGUN–PO’ LIGHTNIN–PRAYIN’ FOR RAIN–RESTLESS SOUL–

We saw Jim Suhler at his other well-known gig, as lead guitarist for George Thorogood And The Destroyers, at the historic Ryman Auditorium on March 7, 2016, as part of their “Badder Than Ever” tour.  He’s played with George since 1999, and, in his time off, fronts his own solid blues outfit, the Dallas-based Monkey Beat.  Their latest set, for Underworld Records, is “Live At The Kessler.”  Jim chose that venue for its pristine acoustics, and the cuts, aside from two new songs, come from four of his previous studio albums.

This one is Texas-styled boogie-blues at its best, fans–live and loud, raw and proud, in front of a highly-appreciative crowd!  Jim is on guitar and vocals,  and he is joined by Chris Alexander on bass, Shawn Phares on keys, Beau Chadwell on drums, and special guests Tim Alexander on keys, and Tex Lovera on cigar-box guitar.

The roadhouse shuffle of “I Declare” kicks things off, gettin’ everyone in a party mood.  Another furious rocker finds Jim trying to drink a lover off his mind, having “sour mash for breakfast, and beer in the afternoon,” looking for a good ol’ “Sunday Drunk again!”   The melting pot of sounds from the Gulf Coast mixed in with the blues of the Lone Star State is the theme of the breezy, reverent, “Texassippi,” while “Po’ Lightnin, dead and gone, left me here to sing this song” is a downright funky tribute to one of Jim’s Texas blues heroes, Lightnin’ Hopkins.

We had two favorites, too, and slide guitar runs rampant thru the both of ’em.  First up is the stop-time jive of “Scattergun,” and one of the new songs has JIm explaining that “I can’t play like B. B. King, but I’m Doin’ The Best I Can!”

Jim Suhler And Monkey Beat have been together for over twenty years, and they just keep getting better.  “Live At The Kessler” is the perfect showcase for their 200-proof brand of Texas boogie-woogie!    Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

The Bob Lanza Blues Band review…June 24, 2016…

THE BOB LANZA BLUES BAND

FROM HERO TO ZERO

CONNOR RAY MUSIC    CRM 2420

FOR LOVING YOU–ALL OVER AGAIN–LOVE AND KINDNESS–FROM HERO TO ZERO–AIN’T NOBODY’S BUSINESS–I WOULDN’T TREAT A DOG–MY HOME IS A PRISON–IT AIN’T ABOUT ME–EVIL WORLD

Connor Ray Music has been on quite a roll of late.  We have had the esteemed privilege to have reviewed excellent sets recently from guitarists The Mighty Orq and Mark May.  We now add to that list a killer collection from The Bob Lanza Blues Band.  Hailing from north New Jersey, Bob plays a mean blues guitar reminiscent of the Chicago legends with a touch of Texas, by way of Freddie King and SRV.  That new album is entitled “From Hero To Zero,” with nine cuts that feature Bob’s full band, with everybody hittin’ on all 8 to bring a mix of roadhouse boogies, slow-burners, and a poignant, socially-conscious cut to the table.

If you are in a party mood, tho, you have sho’ nuff come to the right place!  Bob kicks the whole thing off Elmore James-style, with the down-home slide boogie tale of a bad love affair.  “That’s what I get For Loving You” leads him right into a case of the “Hong Kong Flu!”  The title cut features harp from Steve Krase, and modifies the rhum-boogie beat as Bob laments another sour affair, goin’  “From Hero To Zero in six short years!”

Bob pours us a wicked shot of slow-blues with the classic “Ain’t Nobody’s Business if we do,”  and closes out with a predominantly-acoustic shot of pure Delta blues, “Evil World,” where, sometimes, the best thing to do is just  “go get your friends and have a drink!”

We had two favorites, too.  This whole crazy world could use plenty more “Love And Kindness,” ’cause “you can’t have one without the other.”  This one is especially on-point, given the sorry state of national current events.  And, Bob takes ol’ Lonesome Sundown’s Excello hit from ’57, “My Home Is A Prison,” and turns it into seven minutes of pure, slow-burnin’ blues bliss, complete with a sanctified, testifyin’ climax!

Note for note and song for song,  “From Hero To Zero” from The Bob Lanza Blues Band is a heavyweight set from a real-deal veteran of the contemporary scene.  We guarantee you’ll put this one in heavy rotation in your playlist the moment you give it a spin!  Until necxt time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Katy Guillen And The Girls review…June 24, 2016….

KATY GUILLEN AND THE GIRLS

HEAVY DAYS

KGG–VIZZTONE RECORDS  VT-KGG-03

DRIVING TO WAKE UP–HEAVY DAYS–WAKING UP FROM YOU–DON’T NEED ANYONE–THE LOAD–HUMBUCKER–COLD WAS THE NIGHT–CAN’T LIVE HERE ANY MORE–BABY, PLEASE DON’T GO–PULLING UP FROM THE GROOVES

Katy Guillen And The Girls have become one of Kansas City’s hottest commodities following a successful run with Joe Bonamassa’s Keeping The Blues Alive At Sea cruise, and a Finalist spot in the 2014 IBC’s down in Memphis.  They play a spirited blend of blues-rock that owes as much to today’s contemporary bands as it does Jimi or Muddy.  Katy is on vocals and guitar, with Claire Adams on bass and vocals, and  Stephanie Williams on drums for their  latest set for Vizztone, “Heavy Days.”  Over these ten cuts, the young women struggle with balancing relationships with the rigors of everyday life, translating their hopes and fears into these grooves.  Remember when love was new, just like a “shiny new toy?”  That’s the theme of the title cut, as Katy allows herself to “fall back into the open.”  Finding just the right person to “take The Load off my shoulders” comes with a perilous caveat—“the load will make you older,” as all of this is set over a driving, bass-heavy groove, fueled with the ferocity of this song’s intent.

We had two favorites.  The bittersweet love story of “Waking Up From You” has overtones of classic girl-group pop from the Sixties.  At the other end of this band’s versatility spectrum,  Katy channels her inner Muddy and Big Joe Williams, as she begs her lover, “Baby, Please Don’t Go.”  And, after hearing her pleadings, what man could leave her?  This one fairly bristles with a fiery electricity that builds to a thundering finish.

The women of Katy Guillen And The Girls were born of a generation that believes they can do whatever they choose, and that credo permeates their music.  No sophomore slump here—“Heavy Days” strikes a deep vein of pulsating blues-rock!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

The Royal Southern Brotherhood review…June 23, 2016….

THE ROYAL SOUTHERN BROTHERHOOD

THE ROYAL GOSPEL

RUF RECORDS  RUF CD 1232

WHERE THERE’S SMOKE, THERE’S FIRE–I’VE SEEN ENOUGH TO KNOW–BLOOD IS THICKER THAN WATER–I WONDER WHY–I’M COMIN’ HOME–EVERYBODY PAYS SOME DUES–FACE OF LOVE–LAND OF BROKEN HEARTS–SPIRIT MAN–HOOKED ON THE PLASTIC–CAN’T WASTE TIME–STAND UP

The Royal Southern Brotherhood continues to make a mighty tasty gumbo of swampy-blues mixed with strong doses of funk, R & B, and, on their latest release for Ruf Records, entitled “The Royal Gospel,” even some sanctified sounds!

Evolution has been kind to the Brotherhood.  Cyril Neville is still the driving force, but the other band members are encouraged to contribute to the songwriting aspect throughout.  On guitars and vocals, we have Nashville’s own Bart Walker as well as Tyrone Vaughn, the son of Jimmie Vaughn.  Darrell Phillips is on bass, with Norman Caesar on B-3.  Yonrico Scott is on drums and percussion, and Cyril also is on percussion.

Cyril proudly proclaims that the late Allen Toussaint “wrote the soundtrack to my life,” and you can sense those influences all over this set.  Leading off is the in-your-face, grungy guitars of “Where There’s Smoke, There’s (usually) Fire,” as Cyril worships a lover with “the face of an angel, and a body that’s divine!”  Killer slide guitar runs throughout the autobiography of this band and their lives spent on the road, looking ever-forward to “I’m Comin’ Home.”

The band has always been about making a joyful noise, but they are acutely aware of what’s goin’ on in society, and use their music as a forum to bring this to light.  Check out the scratchy funk of the tale of things we all have to deal with on a daily basis, “Everybody Pays Some Dues.”  Cyril strikes a deep chord on “I’ve Seen Enough To Know  I’ve seen too much,” with people “sellin’ their souls for that piece of the rock!”  Another stone shot of funk has a party-anthem beat with a strong underlying message.  If you’re “Hooked On The Plastic,” you’ll likely “do somethin’ drastic” when it’s time to pay the piper!

The set closes with our favorite.  Cyril comes at ya like a hell-fire-and-brimstone preacher, urging us all to “come together and Stand Up” to make a difference!

The Royal Southern Brotherhood have crafted a down-home sermon that preaches love for one another,  forgiveness, tolerance,  and standing up to right things that are wrong.  “The Royal Gospel” brings it all full-circle!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Omar Coleman Live At Rosa’s review…June 21, 2016….

OMAR COLEMAN

LIVE AT ROSA’S LOUNGE

DELMARK RECORDS  DE 846

SNATCH IT BACK AND HOLD IT/WALL TO WALL–I’M READY–BORN AND RAISED–SLOW DOWN BABY/JODY’S GOT YOUR GIRL AND GONE–RASPBERRY WINE–LUCKY MAN–ONE REQUEST–GIVE ME THE GREEN LIGHT–TWO HEADED WOMAN

Omar Coleman burst onto the scene like a bolt of thunder and a streak of heat with his 2015  Delmark debut, “Born And Raised,” fusing the flash of Junior Wells and the funk of Bobby Rush with the showmanship of the both of ’em.  It’s not surprising that Delmark wanted to get him in front of a live audience with the tapes rolling, so “Live At Rosa’s Lounge” does just that.  These ten cuts are a mix of originals and classic crowd-pleasers that prove what a powerhouse vocalist and harp-blaster Omar is.

Joining Omar is some of Chi-Town’s best, too.  Pete Galanis is on guitar, Neal O’Hara on keys, Marty Binder on drums, and Dave Forte on bass for the first five cuts, and Ari Seder on the second five.  Omar kicks off this funk-a-thon with one of our all-time favorites from Junior Wells’ “Hoodoo Man Blues” album, “Snatch It Back And Hold It,” which slides right into Johnnie Taylor’s git-down party anthem, “Wall To Wall and front to back,” with Pete’s chicken-scratchin’ licks reminiscent of vintage Jimmy Nolen from the heyday of James Brown.  Up next is a swaggering “I’m Ready,” with a fine piano groove from Neal.  He gets his funk on, Bobby Rush style, with “Sit Down,” which segues’ straight into another crowd-pleaser,  “Jody’s Got Your Girl And Gone.”  Everybody gets a good swig of that stop-time, jazzy swing of “Raspberry Wine,” and Omar closes out with a stone country-blues read of another of Junior’s cuts, that “Two Headed Woman that knows everything I do!”  Pete gets in some sweet, extended solos over Omar’s harp on this one.

Omar played some straight rock and roll up in Rosa’s for our favorite.  “Slow Down Baby, you’re too fast for me,” is an original, pedal-to-the-metal dance floor burner that’ll sho’ nuff get you moving!

Omar Coleman turned ’em out for “Live At Rosa’s Lounge,” giving that home crowd just what it needed—one of Chicago’s best players serving up some down-home blues the way they were meant to be played!  Omar, we love you, man!    Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

JD Malone And The Experts review…June 19, 2016…

JD MALONE AND THE EXPERTS

TOWN AND COUNTRY

COURAGE UNDER FIRE–UNKNOWN SOLDIER–LIGHT WAS BORN–TOWN AND COUNTRY–MY OWN PARADISE–THE WEIGHT OF THE WORLD–GAMMA MAN

JD Malone has been making music for over a quarter of a century, and he continues to write songs his own way and at his own pace.  He writes of things in his world, and also societal topics of the day.  He’s come up with a tremendous set of looks at his universe which comprise his latest album, “Town And Country.”

JD is on vocals and acoustic guitar, and The Experts consist of Avery Coffee on ‘lectric guitar, Jim Miades on bass, Tommy Geddes on drums, Nate Gonzalez on keys and accordion, Tom Hampton on lap steel, and Michael G. Ronstadt on cello.  These fine players come together for an eclectic and dazzling mix of original rockers and ballads that are at once riveting and thought-provoking.

Leading off is the anthemic, heartland rocker with a “carpe diem” theme.  It encourages us to “show a little Courage Under Fire, and take this moment and make it yours.”  “Town And Country” rings loud and proud during these times of social upheaval in our nation, preaching a message of tolerance and looking at people for who they are rather than society’s hashtags and prejudice.  “The Weight Of The World” seemingly isgoes by one grain of sand at a time–“lover’s engaged, killers enraged,” and, when the whole thing gets too hard to bear, remember that the “bittersweet memories” of “My Own Paradise are only a moment away.”

Our favorite was another powerful-yet-painful reminder of the days in which we live.  The “Unknown Soldier,”  cut down in the prime of his life, longs for “somedays that never come” and begs not to have “died in vain.”  It follows a modified marching beat, with Ronstadt’s cello the perfect complement.

JD Malone And The Experts have crafted a career-defining album with “Town And Country.”  JD is extremely happy with the way it’s played out, and, for this band,  the best is indeed yet to come!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.