Archive for July, 2016

Eddie Turner Live review…July 14, 2016…

EDDIE TURNER AND

TROUBLE TWINS

NAKED…IN YOUR FACE

7-14 PRODUCTIONS

JODY–MISTREATED–SO MANY ROADS–RISE–BURIED ALIVE IN THE BLUES–BLUES FALL DOWN LIKE RAIN–DON’T LET ME BE MISUNDERSTOOD–DANGEROUS–SECRET

Guitarist Eddie Turner has been on our radar for a number of years.  He spent several years with Tracy Nelson and Mother Earth back in the day, and, more recently, as Otis Taylor’s guitarist of choice, as well as a robust solo career.  Thru it all, Eddie has never released a live album, tho.  Enlisting the aid of the Trouble Twins—bassist/vocalist Anna Lisa Hughes and drummer/vocalist  Kelly Kruse, “Naked…In Your Face” lets this power trio unleash all its blues fury on a very appreciative audience at the Blues Can in Calgary, Alberta, last August 22nd.

They start off with a good ole funky read of the age-old story of “Jody,” altho, this time, Eddie gladly “sends you to Jody,  so I can  live my life a righteous kind of man!”  Anna Lisa takes the vocal on her original, the powerful “Mistreated,” with Eddie’s gritty, stinging guitar sounding as if he were sitting in a West Side club in Chi-town rather than live on stage in Canada.  Anna Lisa returns a bit later for the vocal on “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” turning this chestnut into a sultry, breathy torch song, as she plays the “girl who’s intentions are good” to the hilt.

Eddie’s original, “So Many Roads,” evokes memories of his days pushing the blues-rock boundary with Otis Taylor’s band, while the pulsating drone of “Rise” comes from his 2005 album of the same name.

We had two favorites, too–one cover and one original.  Eddie’s original, “Dangerous,” is pure Chicago swagger, as Eddie struts and proclaims himself the proverbial “rollin’ stone” with a “juju bone in my pocket!”  Our other was a playfully-funky duet between Eddie and Anna Lisa on Nick Gravenites’  iconifc “Buried Alive In The Blues.”

Eddie Turner and the Trouble Twins, with “Naked…In Your Face,” does exactly what a great live album is supposed to do.  It makes you wanna shout, dance, and, as a great man once wrote, just “forget about life for a while.”  Eddie’s in great form vocally and strings-wise, and this one is highly-recommended listening!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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The Lucky Losers review…July 10, 2016….

THE LUCKY LOSERS

WITH CATHY LEMONS AND

PHIL BERKOWITZ

IN ANY TOWN

DIRTY CAT RECORDS  DCR 1505

SO HIGH–IT AIN’T ENOUGH–JACKSON–DON’T LET ‘EM SEE YOU CRY–BLIND MAN IN THE DARK–I CAN’T CHANGE YA–STILL ENOUGH TIME TO CRY–GIVE ME A SIGN–IN ANY TOWN–DEVIL’S DREAM–SMALL TOWN TALK

Last year, San Fran-based Cathy Lemons and Phil Berkowitz certainly drew “A Winning Hand” with their stellar debut of the same name.  This time, the world-class duo of Cathy on vocals and Phil on vocals and harp take a look at the darker side of the Great American Dream with nine originals and two covers that comprise “In Any Town.”  Joining them for this set are Marvin Greene on guitars, Chris Burns on keys, Tim Wagar on bass, and Robi Bean on drums.  Special guests include Kid Andersen (who is also producer), Terry Hanck, Jeff Jensen, and Frank “Paris Slim” Goldwasser.

Also, as one listens to this album, you can’t help but enjoy the duets between Cathy and Phil, something that has become a lost art on the contemporary scene for a long time.  That’s how things begin, on a soulful note, as Cathy and Phil compare their endearing love for one another as two adolescents experiencing love for the first time, “So High!”  Cathy’s original, “It Ain’t Enough,” has strong gospel overtures as she tells the tale of dealing with one’s imperfections and shortcomings.  She gains a measure of redemption a few cuts later, as she reminds us to be strong no matter what, and “Don’t Let ‘Em See You Cry.”  This one is done as a good, old-school R & B rave-up, and Marvin lays down some mighty B. B.-inspired guitar licks around Phil’s chromatic harp work.

That darker side of things is explored thru Cathy’s interpretation of the title cut, lamenting what might have been, “In Any Town.”  And, Phil and writing partner  Danny Caron provide one of the set’s highlights.  Acoustic and electric guitars over Phil’s vocals take the listener on a haunting trip down “at the gallows and to the Crossroads” to do battle with one’s personal demons, the “Devil’s Dream.”

We really enjoyed the duets of Cathy and Phil, and the two most playful ones served as our favorites.  First up was a waaay-cool read of Johnny and June Cash’s “Jackson.”  And, they play lovers who love each other in spite of their efforts to change the other, set over a freight-train, country-blues arrangement, “I Can’t Change Ya!”

The rough-hewn vocal delivery of Cathy Lemons paired with the suave hipness of Phil Berkowitz’s make these two perfect for each other, and for us fans, too.  “In Any Town” is a fine sophomore effort, with strong vocals, material, and musicianship that guarantees  something for everyone!    Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

A. G. Weinberger “Calling Nashville” review…July 10, 2016…

A G WEINBERGER

CALLING NASHVILLE

BIGFOOT RECORDS

YOUR GOOD MAN’S GONE–LOVE DOCTOR–BREAK THE MAN–DOWN ON YOU–DON’T KILL THE MELODY IN ME–NOT NO MORE–THE POINT OF NO RETURN–THE PAIN OF LOSING YOU–ELVIS BEATLES DYLAN STONES–NOTHING BUT BLUE–LYING IN BED–BRING A LITTLE SMILE TO ME

Not long ago, we had the great pleasure to review A. G. Weinberger’s “Mighty Business,” (on June 16, 2016, elsewhere in this forum).  A. G. has now graciously provided us with his July, 2006, set, very aptly-titled “Nashville Calling.”  It features more of his varied and eclectic blues as heard thru the ears and seen thru the eyes of a man who calls the Romanian region of Transylvania his home.

A. G. has taken care of his homework as far as learning the various styles of blues,  and one can readily hear this after listening to these cuts.  And, he’s assembled a tremendous backing band that includes Pat Buchanan on guitar, Tony Harrell on keys, Tommy McDonald on ‘lectric bass, Glen Worf on the stand-up bass, (y’all old-schoolers might recall Glen on bass with the Bobby Bradford Blues Band with Kenny Greenberg on guitar, waaay back in the day!), uber-drummer Tom Hambridge, and an ultra-cool horn section.

The horns help kick things off, with a strong soul-blues cut, “what you gonna do when Your Good Man’s Gone?”  where “when your phone don’t ring, you know it’s me!”  He revisits that kiss-off vibe a bit later, but, this time, literally shreds the guitar strings in the blues-grunge of “Down On You.”  “Point Of No Return”  again uses the horns in this cut, giving it a Latin tinge.  Tom’s brush-stroked drums and the sanctified keyboard work of Tony gives a Brother Ray feel to the jazzy “Don’t Kill The Melody In Me.”  And, the set closes on a pure Sunday morning call to rejoice, with “Bring A Little Smile To Me.”

We had two favorites, too.  A smooth shot of braggadocio is the suavely-cool tale of “The Love Doctor who never went to doctor school,” and, ladies, he’s ready and willing to “kiss it where it hurts!”  And, that’s ol’ Glen on the doghouse bass on the Sun-swept rockabilly of “Not No More,” as A. G. laments having to slow down from the wilder days of his youth!

One of our readers of this humble forum left a comment after our review of “Mighty Business,” proudly proclaiming that A. G. Weinberger is THE voice of the blues in Romania.  He’s got the passion and the fire in his belly for this music, and you can sho’ nuff hear it in “Calling Nashville!”   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Mike Sponza review…July 9, 2016…

MIKE SPONZA

WITH IAN SIEGAL

FEAT. DANA GILLESPIE

ERGO SUM

EPOPS MUSIC

MODUS IN REBUS–CARPE DIEM–PENELOPE–THE THIN LINE (FEAT. DANA GILLESPIE)–SEE HOW THE MAN–POOR BOY–KISS ME–PRISONER OF JEALOUSY

Guitarist Mike Sponza is based in Italy, and he has been a part of some of the finest world-wide collaborations in the entire blues idiom.  One of those, the “Continental Shuffle,” brought together players from all over Europe to exchange ideas and write music.

His latest effort, tho, may be his most aggressively-ambitious one yet.  Entitled “Ergo Sum,” (Latin for “Therefore, I Am”), Mike uses his blues to make a bold statement that players such as Willie Dixon, Muddy, Dylan, and Robert Johnson were all “kindred spirits,” as it were, with the classical philosophers and poets such as Catullus, Horatius, and Juvenalis.  Add in the fact that the whole shootin’ match was recorded at Abbey Road, and, iconic British vocalist Dana Gillespie co-wrote and adds vocals on one cut, and this becomes a very special set, indeed.  Joining Mike, who’s on guitar and vocals, is Ian Siegal  on guitar and vocals, Mauro Tolot on bass,  Dean Ross on keys, and Moreno Buttinar on drums.

As you listen to these cuts, you get a good idea where Mike is going with this project.  He and Ian use their guitars to present expressive sonic palettes, and several cuts play out like five-minute morality plays.  A fine example is the leadoff “Modus In Rebus,” a lesson in greed and the evils of excesses.  A stomping, Hill-Country beat drives the tale of remembering that “life is too short, so, pour the wine,” entitled “Carpe Diem.”  A punchy horn section gives a jazzy feel to the story of those “senators and deputies” who’d “gladly sell your mother” to further their own agenda, “See How The Man.”

Dana Gillespie’s cut was our favorite.  The legendary singer bemoans the unpredictability of relationships in “The Thin Line between love and hate!”

Mike Sponza’s philosophy for “Ergo Sum” is that man will inherently never change.  He will always have love and loss, trials and tribulations, and, hopefully, redemption, and uses his blues to compare those same beliefs from the ancient writers.  Excellent musicianship and strong songs make this one a sweet listen!!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

The Terry Hanck Band Live review…July 7, 2016….

THE TERRY HANCK BAND

FROM ROADHOUSE TO YOUR HOUSE LIVE!

VIZZTONE RECORDS  VT-TVR-406

GOOD GOOD ROCKIN’ GOIN’ ON–FLATFOOT SAM–JUNIOR’S WALK–WHATCHA GONNA DO WHEN YOUR BABY LEAVES YOU–SMILIN’ THROUGH MY TEARS–I DON’T LOVE YOU NO MORE (I DON’T CARE ABOUT YOU)–AIN’T THAT JUST LIKE A WOMAN–CAN I CHANGE MY MIND–OCTAVATE’N–LIVE TO LOVE–PEACE OF MIND–SLIP AWAY–CUPID MUST BE STUPID

He just won the Blues Award for Best Horn two months ago in Memphis, to go along with his numerous other accolades.  He spent ten years in Elvin Bishop’s band, and has led his own crew for nearly thirty years!  Of course, we are talkin’ ’bout none other than  sax legend Terry Hanck, who’s back with a scorching live set from the 2015 California State Fair, entitled “From Roadhouse To Your House–Live,”  on the Vizztone label.

Over these thirteen tracks, Terry mixes originals and covers, and his own vocals with impressive solo breaks throughout.  His backing crew includes Johnny “Cat” Soubrand on guitar, Tim Wagar on bass, Butch Cousins on drums, and very special guest Jimmy Pugh on the keys.  They don’t waste any time “pluggin’ into the socket just like Davy Crockett” on the leadoff original, “Good Good Rockin’ Goin’ On,” featuring a strong solo from everybody.  Terry and the fellows lay down some sweet soul music with most excellent takes on “Can I Change My Mind,” and Clarence Carter’s classic cheatin’ song, “Slip Away.”  Terry’s got that perfect vocal style that punctuates these two perfectly.  They work six minutes of pure jazzy bliss in the form of Dave Specter’s instrumental, “Octavate’n,” and close the set with a shot of Fifties-inspired jump-blues, “Cupid Must Be Stupid.”

We had two favorites, too—one original and one cover.  The original is Terry’s awesome tribute to Junior Walker, gettin’ everyone in tune with “Junior’s Walk,” a sho’ nuff old-school Motown rave-up!  And, an extended intro breaks down into a real barn-burner, the “historical ” tale of Eve, Lot’s wife, Delilah and others, “Ain’t That Just Like A Woman!”

Terry Hanck has been on the scene since the halcyon days of the Bay Area blues-rock beginnings, and continues to blow like Hell in today’s contemporary arena.  He’s at his best in front of a crowd, and “From Roadhouse To Your House–Live!” shows you what good sax is all about!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

 

Mick Kolassa review…July 2, 2016….

MICK KOLASSA

TAYLOR MADE BLUES

SWING SUIT RECORDS  MMK 032016

BABY FACED LOUISE–TAYLOR MADE BLUES–PRISON SONG–I’M GETTING LATE–IN THE DAY–WITH FRIENDS LIKE MINE–LUNGS–KEEP A GOIN–LEFT TOO SOON–CAN’T GET NEXT TO YOU–MY HURRY DONE BROKE–RAUL WAS MY FRIEND

In a relatively short period of time, Mick Kolassa has become one of our favorite artists in contemporary blues.  Not ashamed of his age or his laid-back lifestyle, he’s got that innate knack to put a bluesman’s perspective on things we might take for granted in everyday life.  His latest set, for Swing Suit Records, is titled “Taylor Made Blues,” an allusion to his home in Taylor, MS.  And, just about everybody who is anybody in the circle of Memphis blues players is along for this ride.

Mick is on vocals and acoustic guitar, with Jeff Jensen on electric and acoustic guitars, Bill Ruffino on bass, James Cunningham on drums,  and Chris Stephenson on keys.  Stellar special guests abound, including Colin John, Long Tall Deb Landolt, Eric Hughes, Reba Russell, Vic Wainwright, Castro Coleman and Tullie Brae.

Mick is right at home with country blues, electric blues, funk, and even gospel on these twelve cuts.  He starts off with the down-home stomp of “my woman, Baby Faced Louise,” with Beale Street alumni Eric Hughes on the harp.  That slowed-down lifestyle is the theme of the title cut, where Mick knows, “my ramblin’ days are over!”  He revisits this theme a little later on the humorous “My Hurry Done Broke,” where, no matter how fast people want him to go, he’s “movin’ at my own pace!”

“Left Too Soon” and “Raul Was My Friend” deal with the pain of loss, and hearkens back to something ol’ Mr. Johnson once said–“If you got a good friend, you’d best give him all your spare time.”

We had three favorites, too.  “I’m Gettin’ Late” is another touch of humor reminding us that “I started out good, but now I ain’t that great!”  It has mighty fine piano from Victor Wainwright.  “In The Day” is a topical cut that is Mick at his funkiest.  It deals with folks that long for the “good old days,” but, as Frank alludes to the “four dead in Ohio” at Kent State University in April of 1970, those days weren’t really all that different from today.  And, Mick adds music to Frank Stanton’s timeless poem, “Keep A Goin,” and turns it into a Sunday-morning footstomper with a vocal solo from Long Tall Deb Landolt, and Colin John all over the Resonator slide guitar.

Ever the philanthropist, Mick’s “HART” is in the right place, too–100% of the proceeds from “Taylor Made Blues” is earmarked to be split between the Blues Foundation’s HART Fund and Generation Blues.  Just another of the many reasons to love Mick Kolassa!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Tribute To Louis Armstrong review, July 1, 2016…

THE SACKVILLE ALL-STARS

TRIBUTE TO LOUIS ARMSTRONG

SACKVILLE CD  2-3042

SONG OF THE ISLANDS–YOU RASCAL YOU–SAVE IT PRETTY MAMA–ON THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET–WILLIE THE WEEPER–I GOT A RIGHT TO SING THE BLUES–A KISS TO BUILD A DREAM ON–BIG BUTTER AND EGG MAN–PENNIES FROM HEAVEN–KEEPIN’ OUT OF MISCHIEF NOW–SWEETHEARTS ON PARADE

The Sackville All-Stars Christmas album was one of our highlights from the winter of 2014.  As such, we couldn’t wait to give a listen to their “Tribute To Louis Armstrong,” for which we humbly thank Kevin Johnson and the good folks at Delmark for providing us a review copy.  These sessions came from 1988, and The All-Stars chose some material that was a bit more obscure from Satchmo, and draws from virtually every period of his storied career, with perhaps the earliest being his original “Big Butter And Egg Man,” from the Hot Five era.

The coolest and most unique thing about these sessions is that there is nary a trumpet to be heard!  Nope–everything is arranged for the sax stylings of Jim Galloway, with Ralph Sutton on piano, Milt Hinton on bass, and Gus Johnson on drums.  These players were literally “household names” in the jazz world for many years with their own or other groups, and their versatility on these samples from Armstrong’s vast canon is superb.

Johnson’s speedy drumming drives the jumpin’ jive of “I’ll be glad when you’re dead, You Rascal You,” and again on the double-time tempo of the set-closing “Sweethearts On Parade,” with Jim’s sax leading the charge!  “Save It Pretty Mama” and “Keepin’ Out Of Mischief Now” both follow a similar pattern.  On each one, Ralph kicks off with his signature stride piano licks before giving way to Jim’s sax to finish out the melody.

We had two favorites, too, each among some of Satchmo’s best-known works.  “On The Sunny Side Of The Street” begins with just sax and bass for a verse, before everyone joins the party.  “Pennies From Heaven” is beautifully done here, played in a slowed tempo.

Louis Armstrong was a world-wide ambassador for jazz with a vast catalogue.  The Sackville All-Stars tribute to this icon pulls from all aspects of his career, and these great players make this one quite an enjoyable listen!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.