Archive for August, 2016

Mary Jo Curry review…August 18, 2016…

MARY JO CURRY

MARY JO CURRY

GUITAR ANGELS RECORDS

OOOOO WEEEE–HUSBAND #2–LITTLE BY LITTLE–WRAPPED AROUND MY HEART–STEPPIN–VOODOO WOMAN–WHEN A WOMAN’S HAD ENOUGH–HOMEWRECKER–SMELLIN’

Mary Jo Curry is quite the entertaining chanteuse of the blues, based out of Central Illinois.  She studied voice and theater performance in college,  and parlayed that into a stint with a major touring troupe.  ‘Bout five years ago, she fell in love with the blues, and, after you hear her self-titled debut, you’ll love her, too!

Over these nine cuts, Mary Jo wrote two, her husband and guitarist Michael Rapier wrote two, and she covers five songs that are inspirations for her from other well-known artists and writers.  The other guitarist in this band is the incomparable James Armstrong.  (After you finish reading this review, go over to YouTube and check out his version of “Take It To The Limit”).

Fellows, y’all better do right by Mary Jo, ’cause she sho’ nuff won’t take no mess!  Check out her original cut, the opening salvo where a no-good man finally leaves, and she’s so relieved she shouts “Ooooo Weeee, I’m finally free!”  The horn section has some fun with this one, too.  And, to all you chumps that are into making a woman “feel like a fool,” Mary Jo’s more than happy to start “looking for Husband #2!”  And, the set closes on a good “gotcha” note,  Michael’s original tale of a man who’s supposed to be out good-timin’ with his buddies, but, instead, he “comes home Smellin’ like sex again!”  Michael’s slide wails like that ole hellhound all thru this one, too!

We had three favorites, too.  Mary Jo’s vocal is as brash and sassy as you can get as she proudly proclaims “they call me the Voodoo Woman–I look thru water and spy dry land!”  Her original, “Homewrecker,” bumps-and-grinds as she calls out the “other woman” to “own up to what you done!”  And, “Steppin” finds Mary Jo temporarily fooled by another low-down dog who soon finds out “your steppin days are over!”  James busts out some mean slide on this one.

Great singers make a review like this one a real pleasure.  Mary Jo Curry is a confident, strong vocalist mixing outstanding material with a killer backing band.  She has sho’ nuff got it goin’ on with this set!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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Owen Campbell review…August 17, 2016…

OWEN CAMPBELL

BREATHING BULLETS

ROC RECORDS  ROCCD 0005

BREATHING BULLETS–ON MY KNEES–HOWLING–RATTLIN’ ROUND–EAGLE MAN–KEEP ON WALKIN’–SOLDIERS OF FORTUNE–RISE–STRUGGLE TOWN–COMING HOME TO YOU

Owen Campbell hails from waaay down under in Canberra, Australia.  He got his first guitar as a gift from his musician father at the age of nine.  He cut his teeth on folks such as Dylan and Van Morrison, enamored with the Celtic sounds they often incorporated within their music.  He made it all the way to the Finals of the “Australia’s Got Talent” TV show. Great talent always seems to find a way, and soon Owen was under the “producer’s eye” of Devon Allman.  Devon brought Owen to Memphis to the High/Low Studios to record “Breathing Bullets,” for Roc Records.

His comfortable-as-a-glass-of-Scotch voice is perfect for his storyteller’s vision of the ten songs on this set.  He’s on vocals, guitar, and harp, with a backing corps that includes Landon Moore on bass, Ben Isackson on drums, and Rick Steff on keys.  The plaintive title cut leads off, as he recounts the tale of “scratchin’ out a living off of dirty pavement,” also an allusion to his days spent busking on the streets of his homeland.  The acoustic-themed “Howling” is Owen’s plea to a lover, begging “won’t you let me in,” and comparing himself to a “Baskerville hound” in the process!  On “Rise,” he has us all take a long look at ourselves, as, sometimes, we are our own worst enemies.  However, by song’s end, he indeed “rises” to gain redemption.

We had two favorites, too.  The percussion-heavy story of the Indian warrior who meets a horrific and untimely demise teaches us to be satisfied with who we are and what we have and not end up like the “Eagle Man.”  And, the set closes on a bluesy, good-time note.  As much as Owen enjoys the traveling troubadour’s life, sometimes there’s nothin’ better than to “crack the wine–I’m on the midnight train, Comin’ Home To You!”

With an engaging voice, command of his guitar and harp, and ease in telling a story-in-song, it is no wonder that Owen Campbell won over so many Australian fans on their national TV.  With a strong set such as “Breathing Bullets” and upcoming Stateside dates with Devon and Andy McKee,  he’s going to make a legion of fans in this country as well!     Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Al Basile review…August 16, 2016….

AL BASILE

MID-CENTURY MODERN

SWEETSPOT RECORDS  SST 9752

KEEP YOUR LOVE, WHERE’S MY MONEY?–LIKE YOU OR DESPISE YOU–MIDNIGHT BLUE PERSUASION–TICKLE MY MULE–I’VE GOT TO HAVE MEAT (WITH EVERY MEAL)–LIKE A WOMAN, LIKE A MAN–BLANK DOG–CARRY THESE BLUES–NO TRUTH TO THE RUMOR–LISTEN TO THE ELDERS–NIGHT CROSSING–BIG TREES FALLING–LIE UNDER THE HOUSE WITH ME

There are probably very few, if any, readers of this humble forum who have never had the urge to reminisce about “the good ole days” when we were all younger and looked at things in a different perspective.  Al Basile, the man known as “The Bard Of The Blues,” has done just that on his latest set for Sweetspot Records, “Mid-Century Modern.”   A founding member of Roomful Of Blues, Al wrote this batch of songs after thinking about all the classic R & B-flavored blues his old group was famous for playing.  As such, several of those players are also along for the ride, including Rich Lataille and Doug James on saxes, Bruce Bears on keys, Mark Teixeira on drums,  and Monster Mike Welch on guitar, along with the venerable Duke Robillard on guitar for two cuts.

A classic love story is the suave tale of a late-night encounter just for two who are about to embark on a little “Midnight Blue Persuasion.”  At the other end of that love spectrum, sort of, is that, if there’s no spark to start with, “there’ll be no ridin’ unless you Tickle My Mule!”  This one features some fine piano from Bruce, too.

Health concerns be damned in another sweet  shot of vintage Roomful-flavored jump-blues, as Al makes it plain that “I’ve Got To Have Meat With Every Meal!”  The Little Milton-inspired vocal of “Like A Woman, Like A Man” features a fine solo from the Duke, who solos again on the set-closer, a clever coming-of-age tale of youthful innocence, “Lie Under The House With Me!”

Our favorite was easy.  Following that loping, Otis-and-Carla groove, “Like You Or Despise You” is a lesson in how some folks are really adept at hiding their true feelings.

No wonder Al Basile is an award-winning poet.  He wrote these songs over just fourteen days last September.  They capture and convey the true spirit of vintage R & B and that wonderful Roomful sound, making “Mid-Century Modern” a must-hear for all blues fans!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

35TH And Taylor review…August 13, 2016…

35TH AND TAYLOR

I KNOW YOU’RE TROUBLE

HOMESLICE ARTIST MANAGEMENT

HARD TIMES–NEW RELIGION–I KNOW YOU’RE TROUBLE–UNTIL THE END–NIGHT TERRORS–AIN’T COMING DOWN–RED LETTER–CUT YOU DOWN–FIGURE IT OUT–SOLDIERS

The talent pool of today’s youth is downright amazing.  Recent releases from Nick Schnebelen, Samantha Fish, and JL Fulks, just to name a few, show that the young’uns sho’ nuff know what they’re doing.  The four members who comprise Iowa’s 35TH And Taylor are ALL under twenty years old!  Lead singer Anna Taylor, with one of those soulfully-powerful voices reminiscent of Grace Potter or Joss Stone, got her baptism of fire as a participant in Season Six of “The Voice,” at the ripe old age of fifteen!  With that experience and exposure, the band has just completed their latest album, “I Know You’re Trouble,” with Anna on vocals and piano.  Joining her on this fine collection is original band member Evan Kaler on guitar, and new members Max Miller on drums and Jack Osborn on the bass.  The whole shootin’ match was recorded about 20 miles from us over in Franklin, with J. Hall at the helm.  As such, these ten cuts have a predominantly blues-rock vibe with a bit of an alternative bite.

Leading off, Anna’s emotions are torn in the tale of “Hard Times,” as, every time she tries to leave a lover, “something forces me to stay!” At the other end of that spectrum is the title cut, as Anna realizes “I Know You’re Trouble, but I don’t care–it just feels right.”  “Red Letter” is a song of empowerment and standing up strong, ’cause “mama didn’t raise no fool!”  Evan’s guitar wails all over this tale of the “day of reckoning!”

We had two favorites, too.  Perhaps the set’s most straight-blues-oriented track is the grungy take-down of a “thief and a black-hearted boy” who broke Anna’s heart, and now, “I’m gonna Cut You Down!” Evan’s guitar takes on a devil-at-the-Crossroads feel as Anna exacts her measure of revenge.  The set’s most powerful piece features only Anna’s voice and her piano, as she is haunted by memories of a long-gone lover, leaving her to deal with her “Night Terrors.”

35Th And Taylor look to reach a much wider audience with the release of “I Know You’re Trouble.”  They are passionate for their music, and love touring wherever and whenever they can.  For these young folks, the sky’s the limit!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

JL Fulks review…August 11, 2016…

JL FULKS

ON DOWN THE ROAD—EP

JL FULKS ENTERPRISES

THE RIVER–ON DOWN THE ROAD (FEAT. MATT SCHOFIELD)–I BELIEVE IN LOVE–HONEY, AIN’T THAT LOVE–PHRYGIAN DANCE

JL Fulks, born in Greenville, SC, in 1990, is another one of those mighty fine young’uns that are taking the blues to all-time new heights.  An accomplished guitarist, he honed his chops down on Beale Street after landing a gig as Brandon Santini’s lead guitar man, playing stages everywhere you can name.  He just released his debut EP,  “On Down The Road,” produced by Eddie Perez at Trunoyz Studios.  Along with JL on guitar and vocals, there is Ken Burgner on bass, Ian Jones on drums, and special guest Matt Schofield on guitar on one track.  JL wrote all five cuts, and it turns out to be quite a mixed blues bag, indeed.

Leading off is a powerful trip “down to The River,” to “wash all my blues away,” including those caused by a hoodoo woman “with a black cat bone!”  Ian Jones gets in some fine stix work on the title cut, which also features Matt Schofield on lead guitar.  They drive ol’ JL “On Down The Road” of life as a bluesman, as “that’s my only home!”

Alright, fellas.  We all know at LEAST one, or two (or three or 20!) women that, no matter what you do or how good you treat ’em,  “we still hear you sob!”  It’s a clever, mid-tempo shuffle that sho’ nuff tells it like it REALLY is, “Honey, Ain’t That Love!”  The set closes on a spectacular note.  “Phrygian Dance” is a five-minute instrumental that takes a little Texas guitar boogie and mixes it with a shot of Django’s gypsy jive, and chases it all with some deep Far-Eastern mantras!

Our favorite was JL’s sweet, slow-blues jam, “I Believe In Love, and I know it’s gonna find me one sunny day!”  He unleashes a volley of red-hot  guitar lines during the course of this one.

JL Fulks has a passion for blues guitar that only comes with youth.  “On Down The Road” shows his feet are planted firmly on the ground as he reaches for the stars of the blues galaxy!  Ride on, young man!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Smoky Greenwell review…August 9, 2016…

SMOKY GREENWELL

SOUTH LOUISIANA BLUES

GREENWELL RECORDS  GR102

ANIMAL ANGELS–LET’S WORK TOGETHER–BOOGIE TWIST–LONESOME LONELY BLUES–YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU–PICK IT UP–I HAD A DREAM LAST NIGHT–I’M GLAD SHE’S MINE–TWO HEADED WOMAN–THE HUNCH–DIRT ROAD BLUES–WALKING WITH MR. LEE

Smoky Greenwell is a brilliant, well-rounded musician, composer, and vocalist, who has made a career  playing music in the blues clubs in and around New Orleans for decades.  His latest album, “South Louisiana Blues,” is a tribute not only to his deceased parents for their life-long support, but to the music, spirit, and heritage that permeates the various styles played in this region.  There are four band originals and eight covers that draw from writers as diverse as Dylan to Willie Dixon.  Joining Smoky, who’s on harp, sax, and vocals throughout, is his group of “usual suspects,” Jack Kolb on guitar, and David Hyde on bass.  There are also a few special guests that we’ll address in a bit.

The set kicks off with a thumpin, “endless boogie” band original, “Animal Angels,” where “life’s a journey–let’s enjoy the ride,” as   Smoky’s harp blows strong  over  some nasty slide guitar from Jack.  Smoky has a lotta fun with Wilbert Harrison’s iconic “Let’s Work Together,” featuring Johnny Neel on piano, and backing vocals from Lynn Drury and Dana Abbott.

Remember the days when instrumentals ruled the airwaves?  Smoky and the band have got ’em in spades.  There’s a mighty funky original, “Pick It Up,” which has Joe Krown on B-3, as well as a sweet “Boogie Twist,” and a guitar-laced Jack Kolb original, “The Hunch.”

We had three favorites, too.  Smoky and his harp offer up some sage advice for us all.  “You don’t need a lotta money to be happy, ’cause You Can’t Take It With You When You Go,” another solid original.  Dylan’s “Dirt Road Blues” takes on a country-blues feel over Pete Addish’s “walkin’ beat” drums, and the set closes on a killer note.  One of our all-time favorite instrumentals has always been Lee Allen’s “Walkin’ With Mr. Lee,” and Smoky’s sax along with Johnny Neel’s call-and-response B-3 made this one swing from git-go!

Smoky Greenwell and his band have developed a fantastic working chemistry over the years they have played together.  You can hear how they trade off one another and bring it all together throughout the grooves of “South Louisiana Blues!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Lee Delray review…August 8, 2016…

LEE DELRAY

BRAND NEW MAN

JAC RECORDS

MEET MY MAKER–I’LL PLAY THE BLUES FOR YOU–FIRST STRING MAN–BLUES CAME CALLING–LOVE LINE–COOKIN’ IN MY KITCHEN–HOLLAR–GOTCHA–MINE ALL MINE–YESTERDAY’S TEARS–GRINNIN’ IN YOUR FACE

It’s not every day that a bluesman gets a glowing endorsement from Alligator Records prez Bruce Iglauer, but that was indeed the case for Lee Delray with his debut album back in 2013, “570-BLUES.”  Bruce loved it, as did fans and critics everywhere.  It’s no surprise that Lee has brought that same intensity and firepower to his latest recording, “Brand New Man.”

Lee Delray was born deep down in South Florida, but was raised up in New York City.  As such, he has incorporated many of his varied influences into this recording.  Things start off with the foot-stompin’ beat of “Meet My Maker,” where Lee and his Crossroads-influenced slide “wait on St. Peter to call my name,” where “you can cleanse your soul,” but not “until you leave your body behind.”  He brings his slide back to the table a little later on a boogie-fied shout-out to a lover, “Hollar, ’til you say I do!”

His more contemporary fans will enjoy a reworked “I’ll Play The Blues For You,” with a spoken-word passage at the break.  And, Lee shouts out to the famed Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood and incorporates a rap chorus from Young Chizz and a turntable break from Deejay Nogood on “First String Man.”

His Southern influences are on display in the breezy, Allman-esque “Love Line,” “Mine All Mine,” and “Yesterday’s Tears.”  The latter features some fine country-blues harp from Mike Smith.

We enjoyed his straight, no-chaser blues the best.  Scorching guitar lines drive “Blues Came Calling,” and, each time they come, the consequences are greater than the time before.  The swingin’ “Gotcha” gives a lover “foolin’ around all over town” her walkin’ papers, and the set closes with a cool a cappella  version of “don’t you mind people Grinnin’ In Your Face.”

Our favorite was another of those good ‘ol slow-burnin’ “she done me wrong” songs.  You can hear the influence of B. B. and Lucille throughout the tale of “someone else Cookin’ In My Kitchen” and “my big ol’ broken heart!”

Lee Delray has made an album that will appeal to a broad fan base.  “Brand New Man” is a set full of a young man’s fire and soul!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.