Archive for June, 2016

Sammy Eubanks review…June 18, 2016…

SAMMY EUBANKS

SUGAR ME

UNDERWORLD RECORDS  UND 0026

IT’S ALL BLUES TO ME–STOP THAT GRINNIN’–BLUES ALL MORNIN–I JUST WANNA MAKE LOVE TO YOU–MY BABY’S GONE–SUGAR ME–NO EXCUSE FOR THE BLUES–BORN TO LOVE YOU–IT’S MY LIFE BABY–I’M GONNA LEAVE YOU

Sammy Eubanks was born in California, spent some time in Idaho and in Spokane, WA, before finally moving here to Music City to record his latest set, “Sugar Me,” for Tim “Too Slim” and Nancy Langford’s (themselves transplanted Northwesterners!) Underworld Records.  With one foot in the blues and the other in untry, Sammy fits right in here in Nashville, and you can feel it in these grooves.  He has a tremendous group of backing players, as well.  Along with Sammy, who’s on guitar and vocals, there’s Darren Theriault on bass, Chris Kimmerer on drums, Bob Britt and Matt Hauer on guitars, and the iconic Reese Wynans on keys, with Scott Saunders on keys on “My Baby’s Gone.”

The party starts with the autobiographical Southern soul of “It’s All Blues To Me,” as Sammy recounts growing up in a house filled with B. B., Elvis, Jerry Lee, and Brother Ray.  “I Just Wanna Make Love To You” is stripped-down into a Hill-Country stomper, with slide guitar ridin’ this one all the way to Clarksdale and back!  Reese’s honky-tonk piano adds that down-home feel to the tale of a man who’s got “No Excuse For The Blues,” while “Born To Love You” takes that vibe a step further, and is sure to please his country fans.

Sammy gets plumb down’n’dirty on the Bobby “Blue” Bland soul classic, It’s My Life, Baby,” recorded here in tribute to his friend, the late Nick Curran.  Reese gets in some more of that lowdown piano, too!  Sammy closes with an original, a true break-up song if ever there was one.  “I’m Gonna Leave You if you don’t come back” has a cool, vintage-Stones vibe.

Our favorite was easy.  That unmistakable Elmore James opening slide riff drives Sammy’s raucous  take on Skeeter Brandon and Highway 61’s “Stop That Grinnin’ and drop some linen, and let’s get it on!”  The subject matter and the dual guitars give this one a genuine Southern-fried boogie rush!

Sammy Eubanks is a great fit for Music City.  Killer vocal and guitar chops, plus his ability to interpret several styles with ease make him a valuable commodity, and “Sugar Me” is the icing on the cake!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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AG Weinberger review…June 16, 2016…

AG WEINBERGER

MIGHTY BUSINESS

BIGFOOT RECORDS  BFCD 0072015

BABY PLEASE DON’T GO–TRY TO GET INTO THE MIDDLE OF THE REAL–I CAN’T GET ENOUGH–MOTHER BLUES–CISSY STRUT–SWEET LITTLE NUMBER–STANDIN’ AROUND CRYIN’–BILLIE’S BOUNCE–THE BLUES HAD A BABY AND THEY NAMED IT ROCK AND ROLL–AIN’T NOBODY’S BUSINESS–TAKE ME TO THE HIGHWAY

When we think of Transylvania, we are conditioned to see Hollywood’s perception of it–dark, brooding, and sho’ nuff NOT a place where you’d likely find a world-class guitar monster of a bluesman.  But, we’d like to introduce you to one AG Weinberger, likely Transylvania’s best ambassador for the blues.  A bear of a man at six-foot-five and 255 pounds with a voice to match, he’s been the recipient of the President’s Medal–the highest honor in Romania for Arts, Music, and Cultural recognition.

His latest set is a live one, from Bucharest, entitled “Mighty Business.”  The crowd is really into it, and AG turns it up and turns it-a loose over eleven cuts that mix traditional blues and jazz with his own contemporary originals, led by his wailing guitar.

He loves Muddy, as do we, and he shouts out to him on three occasions.  He kicks things off with the ‘lectrified stomp of “Baby Please Don’t Go,” sand comes back a little later for a downright funky read of “The Blues Had A Baby And They Named It Rock And Roll,” cleverly mixing it with the title cut, “the blues is a Mighty Business.”  And, he busts out the slide for a slash-and-burn trip down to the Delta for “Standin’ Around Cryin.”

Showing his flair for the contemporary is his original, “Try To Get To The Middle Of The Real,” which nods to both Jimi and Buddy Guy.  He’s got some jazz in his soul, too, as evidenced by a just-too-dang-short take on The Meters’ “Cissy Strut,” and a solidly-swingin’ “Billie’s Bounce,”  his fluid and smooth guitar lines wrapping themselves around these melodies with ease.

We had two favorites, too.  “I Can’t Get Enough” is a stone slab of Southern rockin’ boogie bemoaning the sorry state of today’s economy, while “Sweet Little Number” is a dance floor ode to those party girls you just can’t help but love!

AG Weinberger is truly a Transylvanian troubadour who is bent on spreading the message of the blues to a world-wide audience.  With a set as strong as “Mighty Business” that’s something you can “count” on!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Little Charlie Baty review….June 15, 2016….

LITTLE CHARLIE BATY

AND ORGAN GRINDER SWING

SKRONKY TONK

ELLERSOUL RECORDS ELL 1605

SKRONKY  TONK–HOW HIGH THE MOON–RECEITA DE SAMBA–NUAGES–PENNIES FROM HEAVEN–GERONTOLOGY–DJANGO–SWING TO BOP–BROADWAY–UM A ZERO–COBALT BLUES–MISTY–FLYIN’ HOME

Little Charlie Baty is one of the most inventive and expressive guitarists of our generation.  He and vocalist/harpman Rick Estrin were the backbone of Little Charlie And The Nightcats, one of the most prolific and successful blues bands of the last quarter-century or so.

Charlie’s always had a thing for the jazz players, tho.  During his days with the Nightcats, he always played some swing or jazz pieces, and almost released a jazz record while with Alligator Records, and again four years later, in France.  The record biz is a fickle mistress, tho, and, for various reasons, neither of these sets were ever released.  Now, thanks to the efforts of Watkins Ellerson of EllerSoul Records, the third time is indeed the charm, as Charlie has just relerased “Skronky Tonk,” thirteen instrumental interpretations of originals and classics, all ably backed by Organ Grinder Swing.  They are Lorenzo Farrell on  Hammond organ, and J. Hansen on drums.

As you listen, you’ll be captivated not only by Charlie’s fluid, swingin’ guitar lines, but also by the way Lorenzo deftly uses the Hammond for the bass parts, while Hansen keeps everything in perfect order.  Charlie’s versatility is on full display, too.  He opens with his bluesy original title cut, then flows effortlessly into the Latin touches of “Receita de Samba.”  He does Django Reinhardt proud, with the subtleties of “Nuages,” and again with “Django,” written by John Lewis.

He gets his swing on, too.  There’s Charlie Christian’s “Swing To Bop,” and the breezy set-closing vamp of “Flyin’ Home.”

We had two favorites, too.  Charlie sho’ nuff nails that killer riff of the Les Paul chestnut, “How High The Moon,”  with Hansen’s staccato drumming right on time.   And, Lorenzo gets in some fine Hammond work alongside Charlie on Erroll Garner’s timeless “Misty.”

It’s great to see Little Charlie Baty realize his dream of releasing this album.  Never straying far from his blues roots, “Skronky Tonk” shows the true caliber of player he really is!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

 

 

Stony Plain 40 Years box set review…June 12, 2016…

VARIOUS ARTISTS

STONY PLAIN 40 YEARS

SPCD 1400

CD ONE: SINGERS, SONGWRITERS, AND MUCH MORE:–COLIN LINDEN–NO MORE CHEAP WINE   SPIRIT OF THE WEST–THE CRAWL  CORB LUND–I WANNA BE IN THE CAVALRY  DOUG SAHM–LOUIS RIEL  HARRY MANX AND KEVIN BREIT–DO NOT STAND AT MY GRAVE AND WEEP  EMMYLOU HARRIS–WHERE WILL I BE  JAMES BURTON, ALBERT LEE, AMOS GARRETT, DAVID WILCOX–THAT’S ALL RIGHT MAMA  NEW GUITAR SUMMIT–FLYING HOME  RODNEY CROWELL–FUNKY AND THE FARMBOY  VALDY AND GARY FJELLGAARD–VLT  JR. GONE WILD–POET’S HIGHWAY  TIM HUS–WILD ROSE WALTZ  IAN TYSON–COTTONWOOD CANYON  JENNIFER WARNES–BLUE MOUNTAINS OF MEXICO  STEVE EARLE–RIVERS OF BABYLON  ERIC BIBB–NEEDED TIME (FEAT.  TAJ MAHAL, THE BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA, AND RUTHIE FOSTER)

CD TWO:  BLUES, R&B, GOSPEL, SWING, JAZZ, AND EVEN MORE–KENNY “BLUES BOSS” WAYNE–BANKRUPTED BLUES  JOE LOUIS WALKER–EYES LIKE A CAT–ROSCO GORDON–SIT RIGHT HERE  RONNIE EARL AND THE BROADCASTERS–IT TAKES TIME  MARIA MULDAUR–SOUL OF A MAN (FEAT. TAJ MAHAL)  LONG JOHN BALDRY–MIDNIGHT SPECIAL  PAUL REDDICK–MOURNING DOVE  MONKEYJUNK–MOTHER’S CRYING  JAY MCSHANN–GOING TO CHICAGO  JEFF HEALEY–HONG KONG BLUES  BILLY BOY ARNOLD–BAD LUCK BLUES  RORY BLOCK–CANDY MAN  BIG DAVE MCLEAN–ATLANTA MOAN  RUTHIE FOSTER–KEEP YOUR BIG MOUTH CLOSED  SONNY RHODES–MEET ME AT THE 10TH STREET INN  JIM BYRNES–WRAPPED UP, TIED UP  AMOS GARRETT–LOST LOVE  ELLEN MCILWAINE–ALL TO YOU  KING BISCUIT BOY–BLUE LIGHT BOOGIE

CD THREE: RARITIES AND PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED MATERIAL–DUKE ROBILLARD–AIN’T GONNA DO IT–REHAB  ERIC BIBB–SHINGLE BY SHIINGLE– WAYFARING STRANGER   MARIA MULDAUR–IN MY GIRLISH DAYS–I BELONG TO THE BAND  DAVID WILCOX–UPTOWN BUMP  SAM CHATMON AND HIS BARBEQUE BOYS–ALL NIGHT LONG–I HATE THAT TRAIN  BOB CARPENTER–SATAN’S GOLDEN CHAIN–MISTER BLUE  WALTER “SHAKEY” HORTON WITH HOT COTTAGE–SHAKEY’S EDMONTON BLUES

For the 40th anniversary of Stony Plain Records, label president Holger Petersen presents a three-CD box set, each one uniquely different, showcasing the various artists and styles that have been associated with this label since 1976.  Based in Alberta, Canada, this label boasts many legendary bluesmen as well as several contemporary artists releasing viable sets quite recently.  Noted Canadian publicist Richard Flohil adds a brilliant timeline to go along with Holger’s extensive liner notes, making this one a blues “history lesson” as well.

There’s a lot to savor, so let’s get with it.  CD One is entitled “Singers, Songwriters,And Much More.  Highlights include “No More Cheap Wine” from Colin Linden’s 2015 “Rich In Love” album; a live cut from Emmylou Harris, the beautifully-charming “Where Will I Be”; the surprisingly-bluesy “Funky And The Farmboy” from Rodney Crowell; and Jennifer Warnes’ beautiful tribute to Ian Tyson, “Blue Mountains Of Mexico.”

CD Two is entitled “Blues, R & B, Gospel, Swing, Jazz, And Even More,” and it is just that–it runs the gamut from the jumpin’ opener from Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne, “Bankrupted Blues,” and rolls on thru the Django-flavored jazz guitar of Jeff Healey and “Hong Kong Blues.”  The women get in on the fun, too, with Rory Blocks playfully-sexy “Candy Man,” and Ruthie Foster’s ode to Memphis Minnie, “Keep Your Big Mouth Closed.”

If this set had ended right there, it would still be an awesome collection.  However, Holger went a huge step further to give us fans something we could really cherish–CD Three is entitled “Rarities And Previously Unreleased Material,” and it is a collector’s dream.  Over the course of these thirteen cuts, you get a real glimpse of the history of this label.  Duke Robillard hits a home run with a killer instrumental of Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab,” and things only get better.  Eric Bibb seamlessly melds blues and gospel with “Shingle By Shingle” and “Wayfaring Stranger.”  And, Doc MacLean and a nineteen-year old Colin Linden, billing themselves as The Barbeque Boys,  play alongside the iconic Sam Chatmon–he of Mississippi Sheiks fame–for two 1979 recordings, “I Hate That Train” and “All Night Long.”

This is an irresistibly-strong overview of Stony Plain Records’ first 40 years.  We’d like to say a hearty “Thank you,” Holger, for your leadership of this label, and look forward to many more years of the best in roots and blues!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

Little Boys Blue review…June 11, 2016…

LITTLE BOYS BLUE

TENNISSIPPI

JAXON/VIZZTONE  VT–LBB16

TENNISSIPPI–LIGHTS ON–PACK IT UP BABY–IF ID’A KNOWN–35 YEARS–CHITLINS CON CARNE–DO YOU NO WRONG–SMOKE RINGS–HEALTH INSURANCE BLUES–WANNA BE YOUR LOVING MAN–BIG PIMPIN SUGAR DADDY ROMEO–JACKSON

We’ve always been partial to bands with fine harp players, and Little Boys Blue sho’ nuff have a good one fronting them.  JD Taylor on harp and Steve Patterson on guitar started this band some twenty years ago in Jackson, TN, backing up Sun Records touring artists, including Carl Perkins.  Their distinctive, unique brand of blues, soul, and rockabilly garnered them a third-place finish in the 1997 IBC’s, and they have just released “Tennissippi,” twelve cuts that mix all their influences, and this one takes you from Carl Perkins’ hometown down to 706 Union, and on down to the Crossroads, and everywhere in between!  This one also has some sweet touches of soul, courtesy of the Alabama Horns.

Whaddaya get when you cross a “Tennessee hippie with a Tupelo girl?”  Well, you get a “girl in a Volunteer mood with some Rebel pride,” the theme of the title cut, which ends up down there where “Mr. Johnson sang his song.”  It rides a stompin’ groove over JD’s harp.  “Lights On” and “Smoke Rings” are deep,  Muscle Shoals-flavored soul (hey–part of this set was done at Fame Studios!), and the keyboard work adds a sanctifyin’ feel to the latter.

“If Id’A Known” has JD wonderin’ what coulda been in a love affair, and it has a really smooth, Jimmy Reed-ish vibe.  The classic instrumental,  “Chitlins Con Carne,” is done up rhumba-style, and added to the mix is a cool muted trumpet.  The set closes on another instrumental note, as JD rocks us all back home to “Jackson.”

We had two favorites, too.  When you get sick and get turned away from the doc’s office, you know you got them “Health Insurance Blues.”  It’s all-acoustic, country-blues at its best.  And, the raucous call-and-response tale of “pink Cadillacs, diamond rings” and a cheatin’ lover is told to “Pack It Up, Baby, and bring it on home to me!”

Little Boys Blue are the real deal, fans.  JD and the fellows give everybody just what they want–a down-home, dern good time, and “Tennissippi” is where it’s at!  Until next time..Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

The Reverend Freakchild review…June 10, 2016…

REVEREND FREAKCHILD

ILLOGICAL OPTIMISM

TREATEDANDRELEASED RECORDS  TR 007

CD 1–ODDS ENDS AND OTHER AMAZINGNESS:  IMAGINE–HEY POCKY A-WAY–I STILL HAVE JOY–CRYING HOLY UNTO THE LORD–WHO DO YOU LOVE–ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER–SHARK BOOGIE–PRETTY BOY FLOYD–SWEET SWEET YOU–SEE THAT MY GRAVE IS KEPT CLEAN–BIG MOUTH BLUES–HELL HOUND ON MY TRAIL–YER BLUES–DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY–PLASTIC JESUS/WORKING ON A BUILDING

CD 2–EVERYTHING IS NOW:  ONCE UPON A TIME CALLED RIGHT NOW–ALL I GOT IS NOW–ALL WE GOT IS–ALL I GOT IS NOW–ALLA GOTTA NA’–ALL I WANT IS NOW!–THE BARDO OF THIS LIFE–ICH HAB NUR DIESEN AUGENBLICK (GERMAN VERSION)–TOUT CE QUE J’AI C’EST MAINTENANT (FRENCH VERSION)–ALL IS NOW–EVERYTHING IS NOW…–NOW?

CD 3–KAIROS  RAMBLIN’ JENNINGS: SAFE IN THE STORM–I SAW A WHEEL–PLEASE SEND ME–SINNER BLUES–LIVIN AND DYIN–SILVER SANDALS–JOHN THE REVELATOR–LAST TRAIN BLUES

The Reverend Freakchild’s latest set is indeed an opus.  Three CD’s of some fantastic music from this avant-garde bluesman and one of his special friends make up “Illogical Optimism.”  The first CD consists of cuts recorded with New York’s Hugh Pool, the set’s co-producer and harmonica ace.  Joining on drums is the renowned Chris Parker.  These fifteen cuts go all over the musical map, starting with Lennon’s “Imagine” and The Meters’ “Hey Pocky A-Way” both done up New Orleans style.  He tackles straight gospel with a sweet backing chorus on “I Still Have Joy” and “Cryin’ Holy Unto The Lord.”  Hooker’s “endless boogie” smokes the tires on “Shark Boogie,” and he goes down to the Crossroads for some acoustic blues, “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” and “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean.”  Our favorite, tho, was a brilliant, reggae-fied take on Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower.”

Disc Two is just as unique.  It is built around the Rev’s “Everything Is Now,” where “yesterday is history, and tomorrows are a misery!”  No less than twelve versions of this song are presented, including a funk version that sounds as if it were dropped outta George Clinton’s Mothership.  There’s a hillbilly version with Hugh’s harp, and French and German versions as well!

Disc Three is entitled “Kairos,” and is an excellent example of the Rev’s “do unto others,” philanthropic side.  It consists of eight gospel-influenced blues cuts from Ramblin’ Jennings, a former preacher who’s found his calling singing these gospel blues on the streets of South Beach.  Highlights here are the vocals-and-harp only of “Sinner Blues,” and a chilling a cappella take on “John The Revelator.”

The Reverend Freakchild may be a tad on the “irreverent” side, but he’s got a good heart tucked away inside that bluesman’s soul.  “Illogical Optimism” lets his true passions for the blues, in all their many permutations, shine like a beacon!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Diana Rein review…June 8, 2016…

DIANA REIN

LONG ROAD

RUDE MOOD RECORDS

LONG ROAD-WILD ONE–LIVIN’ LOUD–GREEN LIGHT–REBEL WITH A CAUSE–THE REAL THING–DONE ME DIRTY–DON’T WALK AWAY–COME BACK HOME–WICKED–DOWN DOWN DOWN–PEACE

From our studies of mythology, the Sirens were women with such beautiful voices that sailors were lured to their deaths on the rocky coast that protected their home after hearing them sing.  And, on a more contemporary note, they dang near did away with George Clooney and his band of chain gang escapees in “O Brother Where Art Thou?”  So, let us introduce the “Six String Siren of the Blues,” Diana Rein.  Sultry vocals and killer guitar ain’t the half of it, folks.  On her second album, “Long Road,” she wrote the songs, sings, plays lead, rhythm, bass AND drums!  She is sho’ nuff the whole package!

Born In Romania and raised in Chicago, she fell right in with the local jam scene, and everyone was captivated by her strong vocals and over-the-top playing, and you will be, too.  She leads off with an ode to ultimate redemption in the powerful tale of “Long Road,” where she learns that forgiveness and time are the great healers.  A chugging riff that hits you right in the gut is the key to her biography of sorts, “I’m a Wild One, and my main man is Stevie Ray Vaughn.”  She gives a rockin’ shout-out to Doyle Bramhall, Jr,’s “Green Light Girl” with her uptempo tale of youthful lust, “Green Light–I’m gonna take you home tonite and I won’t put up a fight!”

The set closes on a somber, pastoral note.  “Peace” is a lilting, “Little Wing”-ish instrumental Diana wrote after the passing of her beloved dog Zoe.

We had two favorites, too.  First up, she gets downright playful and funky with the sassy strut of “The Real Thing,” telling a lover over a modified Diddley-beat that “I ain’t no fantasy!”  The antithesis of that cut was our other favorite.  She gets back at a cheatin’ dog of a lover in the wickedest kinda way with “I’ll tell your next lady that you are so shady, ’cause you Done Me Dirty!”

Diana Rein bares her soul on this set, and “Long Road” is poised to bring her the recognition a talent of her magnitude so richly deserves!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.