Archive for October, 2016

Roger Hoover review…October 31, 2016….

ROGER HOOVER

PASTURES

LAST CHANCE RECORDS  LCR 047

GIVE WHAT YOU GET BACK–OH HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED–DUST JUST A LITTLE–ALWAYS ON MY MIND–THERE;S SOMETHING IN MY HEART–ST. JOHN–DEVIL IN THE END–COOL BLUE STARTER–PASTURES–LIFE WE CREATE

For Roger Hoover, the keys to his success in the folk/Americana arena lie within his songs.  His latest album, “Pastures,” embraces the ideology that, as a society, we must create a life for those we leave behind that is infinitely greater than life in the now.  His hardscrabble, working-class characters embody this sentiment throughout.  The hero of the leadoff cut, “Give What You Get Back,” is undoubtedly a product of Roger’s Midwestern upbringing, and is a man who will “work the hills and mills as long as I am able.”  There’s the tale of the man who “goes to work every day,” but “Just A Little” bit of him is a “little boy at heart,” longing for a simpler time.  This cut and the love story of a “steamboat man” with a penchant for card-playing in Escanaba, Michigan, “Always On My Mind,” will bring to mind John Prine thru the descriptions of the characters and their daily struggles to get by.  The title cut deals with doing what we can to change our “Pastures,” to make the world a better place.

Our favorite closes the set.  Deep, Delta-fried slide and honky-tonk piano paints a bluesy picture of the “Life We Create,” including “listening to Leadbelly songs on the back porch with a glass of dandelion wine!”  This one is a message of hope for the future, and is pure, good ole gut-bucket blues!

That’s the fun thing with Roger Hoover and “Pastures.”  He’s not gonna be pigeon-holed, and he’s never afraid to take a musical risk.  And, us fans reap the benefits!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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The Allen-Lamun Band review…October 30, 2016…

ALLEN-LAMUN BAND

MAYBE IT’S A GOOD THING

MAD LEFT MUSIC  MLM 215

HALF OF ME–MAYBE IT’S A GOOD THING–I DON’T LOVE MY BABY–STILL TOO SOON-THIS AIN’T A GAME–BREATH OF FRESH AIR–I DON’T GET THE BLUES–I’M A GOOD MAN–I LOVE YOU PRETTY BABY–HIGHTAILIN’ IT–GOOD NEWS CHANNEL–SANTA ALL YEAR

The Allen-Lamun Band–Dave Allen on vocals, drums, and harp, and “Little Laura” Lamun on vocals–are two more of the many reasons we love being a part of the Nashville Blues Society.  This great duo has just released “Maybe It’s A Good Thing” for Mad Left Music.  The twelve originals feature lots of  harmony singing from both these dynamite players, and they are backed by some of this town’s finest musicians, also.

These cuts are excellent examples of good ole blues-rock and blues with a touch of soul in the vein of Delaney And Bonnie.  Most of ’em deal with the struggles of every day life, especially when it comes to the minefield that is male-female relationships.  Leading off is the story of a couple with serious fidelity issues regarding each other, so much so that “Half Of Me wants to run, and the other half wants to stay!”  Steve Boynton is all over the guitar here, with a blistering solo at the two-minute mark.  Those same lovers perfunctorily declare their “un-love” for each other in one of the more swingin’ affairs on the set, “I Don’t Love My Baby,” with Dave getting in a cool harp break mid-song.  Laura plays the forlorn lover torn between two in “Still Too Soon,” this one featuring our good friend Larry van Loon on keys.  The double-time romp of “Hightailin’ It” details the band heading home after a long time on the road, while Laura’s lilting voice  goes into gospel mode on our favorite, as she urges us all to “change to make things better” and “be a Good News Channel today!”

The Allen-Lamun Band and “Maybe It’s A Good Thing” has been nominated for Album Of The Year in the NIMA’s–the Nashville Industry Music Awards–and our Society is supporting them in the upcoming IBC’s in Memphis.  This set brims with old-school blues and soul,  tight harmonies,  excellent musicianship, and clever songwriting.  Best of luck, guys!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

The McKee Brothers review…October 28, 2016….

THE MCKEE BROTHERS

ENJOY IT WHILE YOU CAN

MBE  2016   1

ONE OF US GOTS TA GO–CHANGE–GUARANTEED–A LITTLE BIT OF SOUL–ENJOY IT WHILE YOU CAN–A LONG WAY BACK HOME–CONNECTIONS–RIGHT THERE–QUALIFIED–SLIDE–DESPERATE SITUATION–MODERN FRAUD WOMAN–IT ALL WENT DOWN THE DRAIN–UP TO THE MOUNTAIN

As one listens to the McKee Brothers–Dennis and Ralph–and their strong core of musicians from Michigan and Los Angeles, you can hear a myriad of influences.  The fourteen cuts that comprise “Enjoy It While You Can” draw from Brother Ray, James Brown, the classic Stax/Hi Memphis sound, Average White Band, George Clinton’s Mothership, Tower Of Power, and probably a bunch more.  But, you get the picture–this is a stone party on a platter, with the emphasis on the songs and the danceable grooves throughout!

This one also comes at you like one of those old-school traveling R & B package shows popular in our youth, with several band members tackling the lead vocals.  And, horn man Lee Thornburg, himself a member of that famed Tower Of Power horn section, keeps the arrangements fresh and hopping!

Vocalist Bob Schultz leads off with the story of a love affair going downhill in a hurry, ’cause “One Of Us Gots Ta Go!”  Additional guitar here is from Eli Fletcher, and Bobby West on keys adds to Bob’s tale of a man who’s been around long enough to know that “nothin’ in this world is Guaranteed!”  Larry McCray is on guitar and lead vocal on Dennis’ original, an invitation to “the funky side of town,” “A Little Bit Of Soul.”  Bob’s vocal on Bobby West’s original, “A Long Way Back Home,” is a fine, slow, jazzy shot of soul with a nod to Ray Charles, and he hits a N’ Awlins groove on Mac Rebennack’s “Qualified,” with some mighty qualified slide from Stan Budzynski.  The set closes on a gospel-fueled note, courtesy of the soaring vocals of Melissa McKee on Patti Griffin’s poignant “Up To The Mountain.”

This is a sweet set of tunes that shows you can’t deny the power of the groove.  Dance your blues away to the McKee Brothers and “Enjoy It While You Can!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Mitch Kashmar review…October 27, 2016…

MITCH KASHMAR

WEST COAST TOAST

DELTA GROOVE MUSIC  DGPCD  174

EAST OF 82ND STREET–TOO MANY COOKS–YOUNG GIRL–THE PETROLEUM BLUES–MOOD INDICA–DON’T STAY OUT ALL NIGHT–MY LI’L STUMPTOWN SHACK–MAKIN BACON–ALCOHOL BLUES–LOVE GROWS COLD–CANOODLIN

The “West Coast” blues sound might best be described as a swingin’, jumped-up hybrid of Chicago blues, popularized by players such as George “Harmonica” Smith and T-Bone Walker.  The “new” generation of those players include Kim Wilson, Rod Piazza,  San Pedro Slim and Mitch Kashmar.  Mitch has just released his latest set for Delta Groove,  “West Coast Toast.”  Along with Mitch on vocals and all harps, he has an All-Star backing core of sidemen behind him.  You got Junior Watson on guitar, Fred Kaplan on keys, Bill Stuve on the doghouse bass, and Marty Dodson on drums.

This one features cool covers interspersed with Mitch’s own uniquely-clever way with an original blues tune.  He bolts outta the gate strong, with a killer instrumental, “East Of 82ND Street.”  The band sets up a tight groove behind Mitch’s vocal on “Young Girl,”  with cool organ from Fred.  They all get their “swing” on with Mitch givin’ a mighty soulful read of Billy Boy Arnold’s “Don’t  Want No Woman who likes to stay out all night long!”  He gets into a vintage Chess mode on the sparsely-arranged “My Little Stumptown Shack,” and pays tribute to another West Coast legend, Lowell Fulson, on the rhumba-rockin’ “Love Grows Cold.”

We had two favorites, too, one original and one cover.  Whisky and wimmin’ don’t necessarily mix on Mitch’s down-home-styled cover of John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson’s “Alcohol Blues,” while his original tells it like it is–“the price goes up, the price goes down,” but we all got them “Petroleum Blues!”  It flat-out rocks from the git-go!

Mitch Kashmar and “West Coast Toast”  continues to carry on the strong tradition of jazzy, jumpin’ harp players, all on a mission to keep the beat groovin’ and your feet movin’!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

Sugar Ray And The Bluetones review…October 24, 2016…

SUGAR RAY AND THE BLUETONES

SEEING IS BELIEVING

SEVERN RECORDS  0068

SWEET BABY–SEEING IS BELIEVING–NOONTIME BELL–KEEP ON SAILING–BLIND DATE–YOU KNOW I LOVE YOU–MISSES BLUES–IT AIN’T FUNNY–NOT ME–GOT A GAL–TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS TOO  LONG–IT’S BEEN A LONG TIME

A new album from another of our long-time favorite bands, Sugar Ray And The Bluetones, is always a cause for celebration around the Crow house.  “Seeing Is Believing” is their seventh album for Severn Records, and is a more-than-worthy follow-up to their 2014 set, “Living Tear To Tear.”  Ray is on harp and vocals, and The Bluetones are Monster Mike Welch on guitars, Anthony Geraci on keys, Neil Gouvin on drums, and Michael Ward on bass.  These guys have a near-telepathic approach to the blues, as they’ve just marked their 35th anniversary as a band, with Mike Welch the “youngster,” with “only” sixteen years in as guitarist!

Things kick off right with the Mississippi shuffle of “Sweet Baby,” with Ray’s signature growl in the vocal mix.  The title cut deals with the stark reality of a cheatin’ lover, with a blistering, extended solo from Mike at the two-minute mark.  Ray revisits that melancholy vibe a bit later with “Not Me,” another tale of “this time my baby’s really gone!”

For the rest of the set, tho, the good times roll.  Check out the Muddy-inspired slow-blues of a man who stayed at the racetrack ’bout “Two Hundred Dollars Too Long,” and the swingin’ band original, “It’s Been A Long Time,” which closes the set.

We had three favorites, too.  It’s impossible to “miss” the point on the clever play on words that is “Misses Blues.”  Ray’s look at the journeys of life, “Keep On Sailing,” begins with only Ray’s vocal and harp, before the Bluetones join in mid-song for a rousing finish.  And, Mike Welch turns in an instrumental tour-de-force on a stirring tribute to B. B. King,  “You Know I Love You.”  Mike captures the tone, spirit, and vibrancy of the original, and we know Riley would be proud!

Sugar Ray Norcia And The Bluetones  have a common goal as a band–to have some fun!  And, “Seeing Is Believing” does just that.  In fact, if you’re not having fun listening to this set, you’re doing something wrong!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Little G Weevil review…October 23, 2016….

LITTLE G WEEVIL

THREE CHORDS TOO MANY

XLNT RECORDS 1602

APPLE PICKER–DAD’S STORY–YOU’RE THE ONE–GOING BACK SOUTH–PLACE A DOLLAR IN MY HAND–THE TALE OF CAPTAIN SIEGAL–ONE LITTLE CUP–WEALTHY MAN–OUTDATED CITIZEN–SUNSHINE BLUES–MEET ME IN THE CITY–SAVING A MARRIAGE

IBC winner and world-renowned acoustic bluesman Little G Weevil, based out of Atlanta, GA,  sho’ nuff put on his travelin’ shoes during the completion of his latest set for XLNT Records, “Three Chords Too Many.”  The first five tracks were laid down at bassist Paul Niehaus’ studio in St. Louis, and G was so enamored of them–calling them some of the most spontaneous blues he’d ever done–he journeyed all the way to his homeland of Budapest, Hungary, to complete the album.

An all-acoustic affair throughout,  we loved the opening cut, the tale of “The Apple Picker,” full of juicy double-entendres’ everywhere!  “Dad’s Story” is perhaps his family biography, and has a country-gospel feel.  “Going Back South” is Delta blues at its core, as G is “leaving in the morning on that Memphis Queen.”

The latter cuts, with his “home” band, feature more instrumentation, but stay true to the album’s vision and roots of pre-WWII blues.  First up is the lively reel of “The Tale Of Captain Siegal,” who once “rode a fifty-foot humpback whale,” and utilizes country fiddle from Zsolt Pinter.  G’s had it up to here with numerous bills and payments due, because “there’s only so much water you can pour in One Little Cup.”  This one swings profusely, propelled by honky-tonk piano from Jambalaya Nemes, and harp from Champ Pribojski.  They keep that bluesy groove percolatin’ with a cautionary tale about “women in high heels with low standards”  when on the prowl for a “Wealthy Man!”  The set closes with a cool spoken-word story of a drunken reveler at a Finnish hotel where G and the band were staying, and how they ended up “Saving A Marriage.”

Little G Weevil is a consummate musician, storyteller, and all-around world-traveling troubadour!  Enjoy some authentic acoustic blues with “Three Chords Too Many!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Dave Keller review…October 22, 2016….

DAVE KELLER

RIGHT BACK ATCHA

TASTEE-TONE RECORDS  TT-3043

IT’S TIME YOU MADE UP YOUR MIND–2 AM TALKS–RIGHT BACK ATCHA–DEEPER THAN THE EYE CAN SEE–FOREVER SUMMER–SLOW TRAIN–CIRCLES–SHE’S JUST KATIE–URGENT (I’LL GIVE IT ALL)–WHAT’S IT GONNA TAKE?–WILLING TO LEARN–YOU MAKE IT EASY

For those who think that classic soul music is a thing of the past, fortunately there’s Dave Keller.  We’ve been fans of Dave since his 2011 release, “Where I’m Coming From,” with a great read of Clarence Carter’s “Too Weak To Fight.”  Well, Dave is back and in superb form with his latest, “Right Back Atcha.”  This time around, he kept the home-court advantage, recording this set in his home state of Vermont, with his regular band.  Dave’s on guitar and vocals, with Ira Freidman on keys, Gary Lotspeich on bass, and Brett Hoffman on drums.  To spice things up, the Mo’ Sax Horns appear throughout, with a string section on three cuts.  All but one of the twelve cuts were written or co-written by Dave, and most everything herein deals with things he’s seen or experienced in his own life.  And, like the soul classics, these songs speak the truth.

Leading off is the lone cover, Willie Clayton’s “It’s Time You Made Up Your Mind, and set your other man free!”  It is set over a killer, funky arrangement,  pulsed by the keys and horns. He and a potential lover have a playful give-and-take on each other’s virtues in “Right Back Atcha,” while those same lovers reach the Crossroads, wondering “What’s It Gonna Take” to co-exist!

We had two favorites, too.  A scratchin’, Jimmy Nolen-inspired riff kicks off those “2 AM Talks, to save this love we got,” before Dave ramps up the heat mid-song with a furious solo.  And, if you grew up in the South, as did we, you’ll feel a big Delbert influence on the tale of two lovers trying to recapture that feeling of youthful first love on the wistful, breezy, “Forever Summer.”

That passionate voice, which many have compared to Otis Redding-meets  Van Morrison., carries the torch for vintage soul on “Right Back Atcha.”    This one has something for every fan to enjoy!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.