Archive for November, 2016

Moreland And Arbuckle review…

MORELAND AND ARBUCKLE

PROMISED LAND OR BUST

ALLIGATOR RECORDS

TAKE ME WITH YOU WHEN YOU GO–MEAN AND EVIL–HANNAH–WHEN THE LIGHTS ARE BURNING LOW–WOMAN DOWN IN ARKANSAS–MOUNT COMFORT–LONG DID I HIDE IT–WACO AVENUE–I’M A KING BEE–LONG WAY HOME–WHY’D SHE HAVE TO GO AND LET ME DOWN

Guitarist Aaron Moreland, harpman/vocalist Dustin  Arbuckle, and drummer Kendall Newby are the members of roots/blues band Moreland and Arbuckle, based in Kansas.  This power trio bring a fiery, raw urgency to their blues,  with an edge borne from Aaron’s punk music background, and Dustin’s love for blues-rock.  Their latest Alligator release is called “Promised Land Or Bust,” fusing elements of Delta and Hill-country blues with a contemporary bite.  Adding to the edgy feel of this record is the production stamp of Matt Bayles, who has worked with metal bands such as Mastodon and The Sword.

The band wastes no time in getting down to bidness with the title cut, in the form of “Take Me With You When You Go,” detailing a modern-day Moses” looking for  a God that I can trust,” and the signpost up ahead reads, “Promised Land Or Bust.”  “Long Way Home” brims with powerful slide guitar as Dustin sings of a “little slice of Heaven that’ll drag you down to Hell.”  “Hannah” is dark and brooding, a “love story” of sorts, who, “when she gets high, she gets mean,” and now “sleeps twelve feet under the old olive tree.”

We had two favorites, too.  The loping, harp-driven sway of “Woman Down In Arkansas” is pure joy, while the set closes on a “lonesome” note, as it seems all of Dustin’s love interests always manage  to disappoint, the tale of careless love entitled “Why’d She Have To Go And Let Me Down.”

Moreland And Arbuckle have matured into one of the most exciting trios in contemporary blues.  Strong material and dazzling instrumentation make “Promised Land Or Bust” a mighty fine listen!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Mississippi Heat review…November 28, 2016…

MISSISSIPPI HEAT

CAB DRIVING MAN

DELMARK RECORDS  DE-848        CUPID BOUND–CAB DRIVING MAN–THAT LATE NIGHT STUFF–FLOWERS ON MY TOMBSTONE–ICY BLUE–THE LAST GO ROUND–LIFE IS TOO SHORT–DON’T MESS UP A GOOD THING–ROSALIE–LUCK OF THE DRAW–MAMA KAILA–MUSIC IS MY LIFE–LONELY EYES–SMOOTH OPERATOR–CAN’T GET ME NO TRACTION–HEY PIPO!

One of Chicago’s tightest and most versatile bands has to be Mississippi Heat, led by powerhouse harp man Pierre Lacocque (pronounced la-COKE).  He writes songs that mirror the things he has seen over his last twenty-five years as a bandleader, and “Cab Driving Man” marks the band’s twelfth album and sixth for Delmark.  Pierre got the harp bug after seeing Big Walter Horton at the University Of Chicago back in 1969, forever changing his musical life.  Alongside Pierre for this sweet sixteen cuts of prime blues is  topnotch vocalist Inetta Visor, Michael Dotson on guitar and vocals, Brian Quinn on bass, and Terence Williams on drums, with a few exceptional special guests.

The title cut has a jazzy, Cotton Club-blues feel, and is a nod to the iconic Cab Calloway.  Inetta’s vocals get the point across, as her “Cab Driving Man rides all the time!”  Sax Gordon’s horn parts also mesh perfectly with Pierre’s harp.  Michael has the lead vocal on one of his originals, the good-time party blues of a man who lives for Friday nights and “That Late Night Stuff,” well-done over a cha-cha beat.

There are some hot-button issues addressed by Pierre herein, too.  Domestic abuse is the underlying theme of the deep Delta-inspired blues of “Flowers On My Tombstone.”  “Icy Blue” details what can happen if one partner in a relationship has a chance to pull up stakes to better themselves.  The guitar from Giles Corey fairly blisters on this one, too.  And, family discord is addressed thru the actions of “Mama Kaila.”

Corey and Inetta get down to duet bidness with a peppy read of “Don’t Mess Up A Good Thing,” done up in the spirit of the Fontella Bass-Bobby McClure original.  Dave Specter lays down some lowdown guitar licks over Inetta’s proclamation that she got “an honest man” thru the “Luck Of The Draw!”  And, the set closes with Pierre blowin’ long and strong on the swingin’ instrumental, “Hey Pipo!”

Pierre Lacocque himself states in the album’s liner notes that “everything I do has a story,” and the versatility of the material in “Cab Driving Man” surely attests to this fact.  He and Mississippi Heat continue to thrive in the tough Chicago blues community, bringin’ a swingin’ groove to everything they do!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

The Jimmys review…November 27, 2016..

THE JIMMYS

LIVE FROM TRANSYLVANIA

AT THE  SIGHISOARA BLUES FESTIVAL

BROWN COW PRODUCTIONS   BCP 004

The Jimmys are a high-octane blues band from Wisconsin that employ a full horn section and come at you like vintage Motown, and, for us, more in the vein of Louis Jordan at his rowdiest.  Jimmy Voegeli is the leader, on keys and vocals, with Perry Weber on vocals and guitar,  John Wartenweiler on bass, Mauro Magellan on drums, Darren Sterud on trombone, and Pete Ross on sax.   These guys went deep in the heart of Romania to the Sighisoara Blues Festival on March 28, 2015, to record a killer live show, aptly-titled “Live From Transylvania.”  Six band originals and four covers make up the ten cuts, and everybody had a helluva good time laying this one down!

These guys have won multiple Wisconsin Music Awards, and sure know how to work a crowd.  They lead off with an introductory instrumental, “Jacqui Juice,” and everyone takes a solo, with Perry  getting in some fine B. B.-inspired licks.  “Love Will Find A Way” is a Fifties-ish rocker driven by Jimmy’s piano and the horns, and the band hits a Stax groove on Sir Mack Rice’s “Cold Women With Warm Hearts.”  Perry turns Freddie King’s “Lonesome Whistle Blues” into a smoldering, seven-minute slow-blues burner over Jimmy’s vocals, and they close the proceedings with another perennial favorite, a rousing “Ophelia.”

We had two favorites, too.  “You Can’t Hurt Me Anymore” was written by an old friend of Pete’s, Jim Liban, and its pace is decidedly frenetic and the guitar work is, well, “Berry-licious!”  And, another band original rocks just as hard, set over a rhum-boid boogie beat, “I Gotta Lose That Woman before I lose my mind!”

The Jimmys dedicated this set to Candye Kane.  She played one night earlier, and put on a monster show, even tho her body was ravaged by the cancer to which she would sadly succumb on May 6, 2016.  The fellows were captivated by her spirit, and “Live From Transylvania” remembers her joyful contributions to blues music and her fans all over the world.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

 

John Weeks Band review…November 26, 2016…

JOHN WEEKS BAND

DARK ANGEL

THE HOLE–THE BLUES JUST GOT MORE BLUE–CLOSER TO HOME–HOW CAN YOU LOVE ME–DEVIL IN MY HOUSE–IMPOSSIBLE–WHAT DOES IT TAKE–SIDE NUMBER–THE ONE–DARK ANGEL

John Weeks was born in France, and got his start playing guitar and singing in clubs in Paris.  Keyboard man Danny Haynes is a veteran of the Austin scene who spent some time in Australia.  Vocalist Stacey Turpenoff is a dynamite singer from St. Louis, and Stephen Whitfield, from Ohio, is on bass, and New Yorker Robert Fiorino is on the drums.  This eclectic and well-traveled unit is the John Weeks Band, now based out of Denver.  Their latest set is “Datk Angel,” and several of the ten originals herein were played live by the band during the selection process for the Colorado Blues Society, which has propelled them to Memphis and the IBC’s in a scant few months.

These cuts are pretty much an equal split of duets between John and Stacey, or with each of them taking the lead vocal.   And, the subject matter predominantly deals with the fragility and ups and downs of male-female relationships, which makes for some quite interesting music for us fans.

The set starts in a most bizarre fashion, as Stacey’s vocals spin the deadly tale of putting her abusive spouse’s body in the back seat of her car, destined for “The Hole with your name on it, way down South in Mexico!”  John’s snarling guitar and Danny’s organ take on a definite voodoo chile vibe in this one!  Tracey’s torchy vocal is strong and sultry on a powerful story of a good lover “leaving much too soon,” as “The Blues Just Got More Blue.”  John and Tracey strike a swampy, Excello-fied groove on “Devil In My House,” and hit on a mellow, Buckingham-Nicks vibe on the acoustic tale of two forlorn lovers, “Impossible.”  The jumpin’ blues of “Side Number” is John’s humorous look at what happens when Lover #1 meets up with Lover # 2!

The set closed with our favorite.  Tracey’s heartfelt, poignant vocals reach down and grab your soul in “Dark Angel,” a tune that allows listeners to make their own interpretation of the subject matter.

Strong musicianship and deep original material are just what the IBC judges look for.  As such, we wish the John Weeks Band and “Dark Angel” the best of luck come January!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Josh Swensen review…November 25, 2016…

JOSH SWENSEN

I’LL CALL YOU WHEN I REACH TWO HARBORS

CAMPERVAN RECORDS

ANN MARIE–AWAKE MY HEART–TAIL LIGHTS DOWN THE STREET–I’M COMING HOME–PALOMINO ROSE–MINNESOTA PINES–SHE LOOKS GOOD

It wasn’t that long ago that Josh Swensen was a high school senior who had just released his debut EP.  Now, as a young man heading into adulthood, his life has already undergone some major changes, not all of them positive.  But, he has used his music as a fountain for healing, and that feeling of perseverance is prevalent throughout his latest album, seven original cuts that comprise “I’ll Call You When I Reach Two Harbors,” on Campervan Records.

His Minnesota upbringing is also a big part of the sound on this set, full of Americana, folk, and alt-country influences.  The set came about when Josh took an impromptu trip to the Upper Peninsula of Minnesota, with Lake Superior as the backdrop.  He pays tribute to some of his favorite writers, including Jeff Tweedy and Jason Isbell, and we heard a few of our favorites within the mix, namely Johnny Cash and another famous Minnesotan, Bob Dylan.

At times somber and poignant, and, at others, humorous and irreverent, these songs are quite eclectic.  Leading off is a song with a “letter from home” vibe, “Ann Marie,” then bends into a good alt-country mode with the Cash-infused chugging beat of “Awake My Heart and let me sing my song to you.”  Michael Cervony adds some sweet slide to the tale of a man seeking redemption and perhaps escape from a life in the “Minnesota Pines.”

The set closes with our favorite.  It’s a rockabilly rave-up that owes much to the current “selfie” craze, as, with his latest lover, “She Looks Good with the filter on!”

Josh Swenson’s father suffered a debilitating injury in a car accident, but recovered sufficiently to serve as producer on “I’ll Call You When I Reach Two Harbors.”  It is a set  that shows Josh’s ability to let his music pave his future’s path for him.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Ray Fuller And The Bluesrockers review…November 22, 2016…

RAY FULLER AND THE BLUESROCKERS

LONG BLACK TRAIN

AZURETONE RECORDS

BURN ME UP–DEVIL’S DEN–VOODOO MAMA–HIP SHAKIN MAMA–COLD DAY IN HELL–LONG BLACK TRAIN–LOUISIANA WOMAN–LET’S GET DIRTY–SOMETHIN’ SHAKIN’–NEW TATTOO–WHISKEY DRINKING WOMAN–PIPELINE BLUES–EVIL ON YOUR MIND–YOU’VE GOT THE BLUES

Ray Fuller And The Bluesrockers have been around in some capacity since 1978.  He’s sho’ nuff got a sweet gig for now, as one of the regular Saturday headliners at Buddy Guy’s Legends club, and his live album from that venue in 2014 is well-worth checking out.  His latest release for Azuretone Records is titled “Long Black Train,” and these fourteen original cuts bound all over the musical map.  Ray is a monster slide guitar player and vocalist, and these cuts have elements of Texas, Chicago, the Delta and the swamp all the way thru.  Backing Ray is Myke Rock on bass, Darrell Jumper on drums, and Doc Malone on harp.

If you are a fan of tough, gritty, hard-nosed blues-rock, “Long Black Train” is for you.  He jumps outta the chute with a slab of Texas “endless boogie,” “your love Burns Me Up.”  A slow-blues dealing with a no-good lover gets told it’ll be a “Cold Day In Hell before I take you back.”  The title cut is a fierce rocker about that legendary “Long Black Train that got my baby and gone,” while Ray busts out some mean, Delta-fried slide over the walkin’ beat of those “Pipeline Blues, 30 feet down, digging in a lonesome cave!”

We had two favorites, too.  A swampy groove rides over the story of “The Devil’s Den,” and that infamous deal that went down at the “table covered in a rattlesnake hide.”  And, the set closes with a man who’s had nothing but a raw deal, and finds that, “when you hit rock bottom, you got nothing to lose, and that’s when You Got The Blues!”   The harp-guitar work on this one flat-out rocks!

Ray Fuller And The Bluesrockers don’t hold anything back, on record or on stage.  Get yourself a ticket on that “Long Black Train” for one sweet blues road trip!  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow.

Michael Hornbuckle review…November 20, 2016…

MICHAEL HORNBUCKLE

SOUL REPO

SWEAT–BABY ROCK–ME AND MELODY–ONE NIGHT–RISIN SUN–CANDLE FOR MARY–SOUL REPO (LIVE)–HIT ME UP (W/LIONEL YOUNG)–WISHIN’ WELL–ANGEL–BACKSEAT (LIVE)

Bluesman Michael Hornbuckle is the son of legendary Mile High City player extrordinaire Bobby Hornbuckle, carrying on his dad’s blues-rock tradition proudly since his dad’s passing in 1996.  With brother Brian on bass, Andras “AC” Csapo on keys and harp, as well as a host of other outstanding musicians, Michael has just  released his latest album, “Soul Repo,” eleven solid original cuts that show listeners the strong interrelation between rock and roll and blues. With a vocal delivery reminiscent of a cross between Tommy Castro and Tab Benoit, he rips into this set with the tale of a superficial lover, hell-bent on spending all his money and guaranteed to make him “Sweat.”  It’s punctuated by unique echo-effects and harp from ol’ AC.  The mythical “daughter of Fire and Water” is a true “devil in disguise” in the love story that is “Baby Rock.”  Funky guitars and stutter-step percussion are  the order of the day as Michael grabs Dad’s “335 outta the trunk” and lights up a story of dance-floor lust, “One Night.”  The somber, poignant, piano-driven tale of lighting a” Candle For Mary” is a symbolic song to remember those who are left behind when the ravages of war claim a loved one.  And,as is true with many of us, “I know I’m only breathing because the music is my friend,” a fine shot of contemporary blues entitled “Me And Melody.”

We had two favorites, too.  Michael tells a lover that, when she’s down, to “Hit Me Up.”  This one is country-blues at its core, with AC on harp and guest Lionel Young on fiddle.  And, the set closes with a killer houserockin’ honky-tonker, this time with AC on the 88’s as Michael tells society as a whole that  “no matter which way you choose, it all takes a Backseat to the blues!”

The music on “Soul Repo” is gritty, passionate, and powerful, and Michael Hornbuckle strikes a deep chord for blues-rock.  The natch’l fact is, “this groove makes you feel at home!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.