Archive for October, 2016

Toronzo Cannon review…October 21, 2016…

TORONZO CANNON

THE CHICAGO WAY

ALLIGATOR RECORDS  ALCD  4969

THE PAIN AROUND ME–BAD CONTRACT–WALK IT OFF–FINE SEASONED WOMAN–JEALOUS LOVE–MIDLIFE CRISIS–CHICKENS COME HOME TO ROOST–STRENGTH TO SURVIVE–WHEN WILL YOU TELL HIM ABOUT ME–MRS. FROM MISSISSIPPI–I AM

Toronzo Cannon grew up in the shadows of Theresa’s Lounge on the tough South Side of Chicago.  As a youngster, he’d stand outside that iconic club to catch a glimpse of the legends who played there, and with whom he would one day join.  His Alligator Records debut, “The Chicago Way,” is full of his blistering guitar, gritty vocals, and original songs, eleven to be exact, that are written from things he’s seen in his everyday working life as a sho’ nuff Chicago Transit Authority city bus driver!  The stories within his songs could be about any of us, and that’s a part of his appeal for bus.

Leading off is a poignant minor-key story of the plight of the inner city.  Everywhere he goes, he sees “The Pain Around Me,”  with “thugs, drugs, and prostitutes on every corner.”  The set closes in a similar vein, with a cool acoustic guitar intro giving way to Toronzo’s burning leads on “I Am,” where society’s shortcomings are spelled out while “the Devil is laughing while God is reachin’ out to you!”

Toronzo has a lot of fun on here, too.  “Bad Contract” is where the funk hits the fan, after a soured marriage ends with him “signing the line and only gettin’ half back!”  His preference for the more mature females is the theme of the horn-heavy “Fine Seasoned Woman,” while he flat-out rocks the juke joint  extolling the virtues of his mighty fine “Mrs. From Mississippi.”

Our favorite was easy.  The slow groove of the stop-time story of a man faced with one challenge after another has to “Walk It Off, before I do something wrong!”  The guitar is blazing throughout this one, too!

Toronzo Cannon will tell you straight up that there ain’t but the one way to play the real-deal blues–“The Chicago Way!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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Lady A review…October 18, 2016…

LADY A

LOVED, BLESSED, AND BLUES

LOVED, BLESSED, AND BLUES–HONEY HUSH–DON’T LET YOUR BLUES BECOME A CRIME–IF YOU DON’T WANT IT, DON’T WASTE IT–TIRED TOO–LOVE CALLIN’–TROUBLE ON MY MIND–HAPPY–TAKE ME BACK TO SEATTLE–SOMEBODY HERE NEEDS YOU LORD

Altho she was born and raised in Seattle, WA, Lady A has a stone-cold grip on what we affectionately refer to here in Tennessee as good ole Southern soul.  Her latest set is ten prime cuts of nothin’ but a good time, “Loved, Blessed, And Blues.”  It was produced by Deep Rush guitarist/vocalist Dexter Allen, who duets with Lady A on one cut.  The whole shootin’ match was recorded down at JRob Studio in Jackson, MS.

Lady A has been singing since the age of five, and, within the first thirty seconds of the leadoff title cut, you know this is gonna be a real party!  She name-checks the funk of Bobby Rush, Johnnie Taylor’s “Somebody’s Gettin’ It,” and Denise LaSalle’s “Pay Before You Pump,” letting everybody know that “the blues ain’t always as bad as it seems!” But, she knows, as we all do, that “the blues will test your heart, and ain’t nothin’ but a good man on a bad day,” preachin’ to us all, “Don’t Let Your Blues Become A Crime!”  She closes the set on an uplifting, sanctified note, testifying that, in today’s society, whether it be at “the old folks home, the jail cells,” or any where else, “Somebody Here Needs You Lord.”

There are good times a-plenty, too.  She brings the Wicked Pickett’s “Don’t Knock My Love” into the 21st Century with a tale of a man who’s “doin’ somebody else,” so she tells everybody, “If You Don’t Want It, Don’t Waste It–somebody else might want to taste it!”  She shouts out an answer from the ladies’ point of view to Dexter Allen’s “Tired,” proclaiming “I’m Tired, Too”—of all your low-down ways!  This one is set over a very danceable groove all thru it.

Our favorite was easy.  During her stay in Jackson during this session, she was reminded of something her grandma always said–“when you’re mad enough to cuss and fuss, well then, Honey Hush!”  This one is driven by a pulsating beat and Dexter’s punchy keyboard lines.

It is no wonder that her live shows are compared to Chaka Khan, Tina Turner, and other classic female soul-shouters.  Lady A sho’  nuff has the goods, and knows how to use ’em!  “Loved, Blessed, And Blues” brims with soul, fire and passion!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Peach and the Almost Blues Band review…October 17, 2016…

PEACH AND THE

ALMOST BLUES BAND

A NIGHT IN COPENHAGEN

DB  616003

TONIGHT I’LL BE STAYING HERE WITH YOU–NEVER MAKE YOUR MOVE TOO SOON–LITTLE BY LITTLE–LOVE-ITIS–TELL ME YOU LOVE ME–COME UP AND SEE ME–SAME AS I’M OVER YOU–AIN’T GOT NO MONEY

Back in February, blueswoman Peach Reasoner journeyed to one of her favorite spots, the Cafe Bartof  over in Copenhagen, Denmark.  Now, at that time of the year, the weather is dark and cold.  But, Peach made sure the blues was sho’ nuff hot in that intimate venue.  She assembled a monster group of players affectionately dubbed the Almost Blues Band.  Peach rocked the vocals and guitar, with Michael Ronnow on second guitar, Helge Solberg on bass, Niclas Campagnol on drums, and special guest Ken Stange all over the keys.  The result was the blistering live album, “A Night In Copenhagen.”

Peach’s vocals are as rich and sweet as that proverbial honey in the rock, and she leads off with a playful read on Dylan’s “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You.”  A cool, country-blues harp from Ken adds a special touch here as well.  The doctor “ain’t got no prescription to fit the description” when “Love-Itis” gets hold of you, and this one is embellished by Ken’s honky-tonk piano.  They hit on that winning groove again a bit later on with  “Come Up And See Me,” this time with Ken’s organ solo in the mix.  Peach closes the set with another hot blues-rocker, a feisty take on Frankie Miller’s “I Ain’t Got No Money, but I sure got a whole lotta love!”

Peach made our favorite an easy choice.  With that funky tale of  “Vegas,” “keno cards,” and “lost dogs that come up found,”  she really gets in the groove on B. B.’s “Never Make Your Move Too Soon!”

Aside from her singing, playing, composing, and producing skills, Peach Reasoner is ever the philanthropist.  Her fund-raising efforts thru the Los Angeles-area blues community has aided stem-cell research for Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.  And, on “A Night In Copenhagen,” she and the Almost Blues Band certainly created a magical set!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Colin James review…October 15, 2016…

COLIN JAMES

BLUE HIGHWAYS

TRUE NORTH RECORDS  TND 630

BOOGIE FUNK–WATCH OUT–BIG ROAD BLUES–BAD BAD WHISKEY–GOING DOWN–GYPSY WOMAN–GOIN’ AWAY–LONESOME–HOODOO MAN BLUES–RIDING IN THE MOONLIGHT/MR. LUCK–DON’T MISS YOUR WATER–AIN’T LONG FOR DAY–LAST FAIR DEAL

The Juno Awards are Canada’s version of our Grammys,  and guitarist/vocalist Colin James has won six of ’em.  He is also in the Canadian Music Hall Of Fame, and, after his “Hearts On Fire” tour wrapped up in the spring of 2015, he believed the  time was right to hit the studio and record an album.  And, not just any album–Colin wanted to record some of his favorite blues tracks from some of the greatest legends of the genre’.  The result is “Blue Highways,” thirteen of the songs that influenced his musical career in one way or another.

This is one mighty fine blues road trip!  Colin is a master guitar man, and you can tell from the grooves laid down that everybody involved had a helluva time making this one!  Leading off is Colin’s fiery fretwork on the chooglin’ Freddie King instrumental, “Boogie Funk.”  The groove is augmented by harp from Monkeyjunk frontman Steve Marriner on harp, and organ from Simon Kendall.  They bring back that deep Texas blues groove a bit later with a scintillating take on a song King helped make famous, Don Nix’s “Going Down.”   Jesse O’Brien’s piano adds to the ferocious heat of this one, too.  Peter Chatman’s “Lonesome” is turned into a swingin’, jump-blues affair that we only wish could’ve been longer, and Peter Green’s “Watch Out” gets a jazzy treatment with organ again from Simon Kendall.  Colin lets his slide guitar wail on Tommy Johnson’s “Big Road Blues,” and again on a rumblin’ read of Jimmy Rogers’ “Goin’ Away.”

We had two favorites, too.  You can feel the ghost of Muddy down in the Delta as Colin’s guitar and Steve’s harp conjure up that ol’ “Gypsy Woman,” knowin’ “there’ll be trouble after a while!”  And, by now, probably everyone is familiar with the story of Buddy Guy on Junior Wells’ “Hoodoo Man Blues.”  Legend has it that Buddy’s amp blew just before that Delmark session, and he improvised by plugging his guitar into a Leslie organ speaker, giving it that now-iconic “distorted” sound.  Well, Colin re-creates that sound on this version, and it most righteously rocks!

Colin James and this fantastic backing crew have created an album not only of his favorites, but songs that shaped him as a musician, and served him throughout his career.  Another of those sets that we wish had been more extensive, blues fans should embrace and revel in this trip down “Blue Highways!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Jason Elmore And Hoodoo Witch review…October 4, 2016…

JASON ELMORE

AND HOODOO WITCH

CHAMPAGNE VELVET

UNDERWORLD RECORDS  UND 0028

HOUSE ROCKIN’ BOOGIE #7–DOUBLE MY MONEY–MIDNIGHT IN MEMPHIS–MAYBE–SHINE YOUR LIGHT–CROSS-EYED WOMAN–LAMENT FOR EVELYN MCHALE–RIGHT AS RAIN–WISH–LAND OF PLENTY–CHAMPAGNE VELVET–THE PROMISE–GREEN TO GONE–MARY JANE

Jason Elmore And Hoodoo Witch are Jason on guitars and vocals, Brandon Katona on bass, and Mike Talbot on drums.  They lay down a mighty mean blend of blues-rock that owes much to Memphis and Texas, and everywhere in between.  All fourteen originals on their latest set, “Champagne Velvet,” fit this format, and featured a nod to a more soulful side of the band than on their previous albums.

You know you are in for a good time when the pre-song banter on the leadoff cut has everyone saying, “we ain’t drunk–we’re just drinkin,” before launching into a Sun-splashed shot of rockabilly blues, “House Rockin’ Boogie #7, till the break of day!”  A sweet shot of Southern-fried soul-blues deals with the loss of a lover “down on Riverside,” and is called “Midnight In Memphis.”  The slow-blues groove of the instrumental, “Lament For Evelyn McHale” features dual-guitar intensity, and recalls vintage Allman Brothers.

These are all good, but we love it when Jason made sure we all had our dancin’ shoes on.  The hilarious, double-time jump of “Cross-Eyed Woman” deals with a lover that “always gets along, but we never see eye to eye!” The loping groove of “Land Of Plenty” has our hero “starving to death” at the hands of women, gambling, and alcohol, and who’s always looking for that one big break!  And, the set closes with another sweet tremolo-and-twang fest, as Jason’s on the hunt for that elusive “good girl, Mary Jane!”  It’s full of every conceivable double-entendre’, set over a frenetic boogie-guitar reminiscent of Gene Vincent.

Jason Elmore And Hoodoo Witch dedicated “Champagne Velvet” to the late Texas bluesman Smokin’ Joe Kubek.  We know Joe would be proud, as these guys are sho’ nuff all about lettin’ the good times roll!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Katherine Rondeau review…October 13, 2016…

KATHERINE RONDEAU

NEW HOPE CHATEAU

RAISE UP YOUR HAND–BROKEN BIRD–AGAIN–TURTLE BLUES–LONG AGO, FAR AWAY–WHAT WOULD YOU DO–HIT OR MISS–THE TIDE  HAS TURNED–LEFTOVER WINE–BOYISH CHARMS–WHEN I’M WITH YOU–OFF THE RAILS

Katherine Rondeau has gotten rave reviews from the folks that matter most–her legion of loyal fans!  Their response to her live shows of authentic folk music blended with blues, protest songs, and love songs has led to the release of “New Hope Chateau,” eight of her originals, and four covers that showcase her warm, inviting  vocals and composing skills.  This set was produced by Glenn Barratt (see our review for Gina Sicilia’s latest EP, also produced by Glenn, elsewhere in this forum.)

The program begins with a strong message of empowerment in today’s “broke down” society, “Raise  Up Your Hand.”  Glenn adds acoustic guitar and Ross Bellenoit is on dobro and mandolin on the haunting tale of the “Broken Bird,” a child growing up without its birth mother who is taken in by another to impart life’s lessons, especially, “the love you give comes back to you.”

Katherine gets downright bluesy in the sassy Janis Joplin cover, “Turtle Blues,” featuring Ron Jennings on guitar and John Conahan on organ.  She has a sho’ nuff funky side, too, rocking Odetta’s tale of “I got to be me, Hit Or Miss,” and not be “like everybody else!”

We had two favorites, too.  Ross Bellenoit is on slide guitar as Katherine recounts Dylan’s tale of “muddy graves” and “that man hangin’ on a cross,” “Long Ago, Far Away.”   One of her originals, “Again,” deals with the perceptions of love thru the eyes of two ex-lovers.  They come to grips with aging  and the sobering thoughts of living out their lives alone, and pondering “what might’ve been.”

Katherine Rondeau has played the Philadelphia Folk Festival, World Cafe Live, and our own iconic Bluebird Cafe.  The diversity of the material within “New Hope Chateau” shows that her fans have spoken, and know precisely what they wanted from her, and she righteously delivers!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

A note of thanks…

We would like to take this opportunity to offer up a great big THANK YOU to Mr. Bruce Iglauer, Mr. Marc Lipkin, and all the good folks over at Alligator Records for making us privy to their latest releases for review within the pages of this humble forum.  Over the coming weeks,  we will be reviewing “the best in genuine houserockin’ music since 1971,” including the latest from Curtis Salgado, Toronzo Cannon, Moreland And Arbuckle, Li’l Ed And The Blues Imperials, and the 45TH Anniversary collection from this iconic label.

We look forward to listening and reviewing these and future releases, and once again offer our sincerest thanks!

Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.