Archive for November, 2016

Trudy Lynn review…November 16, 2016…

TRUDY LYNN

I’LL SING THE BLUES FOR YOU

CONNOR RAY MUSIC

ALRIGHT BABY–BLACK NIGHT–THRU CHASIN’ YOU–HONKY TONK SONG–WORLD OF TROUBLE–RAMBLIN’ BLUES–STILL MY ANGEL CHILD–IF IT’S NEWS TO YOU–KISSIN’ IN THE DARK–DOWN ON BENDED KNEE

The title of Houston-born Trudy Lynn’s twelfth album just happens to be the inscription on all her business cards, given to her by her daughter—“I’ll Sing The Blues For You.”  This one is a veritable gold mine of great blues, with Trudy’s interpretations of songs from Johnny “Clyde” Copeland, Memphis Minnie, and Lowell Fulsom mixed in with a catchy, clever original.  The best description for these cuts might be something Koko Taylor used to say—“we’re going waaaay back in the alley” for this set of honest, real-deal blues.  With Trudy’s soulful growl at the fore, the backing corps consist of Steve Krase on harp, David Carter on guitar, Terry Dry on bass, Randy Wall on keys, and Matt Johnson on drums.

The killer instrumentation mixed with Trudy’s vocals give this whole affair a down-home, juke joint feel.  Trudy wanted to do material from artists she’d been inspired by over the course of her career, and she’s picked some good ‘uns.  You gotta love that call-and-response harp over her vocal on “Black Night,” and the Texas boogie-woogie of “Honky Tonk Song.”  Her original, a tale of a no-good lover gettin’ the boot, is a stone slice of funk, as he finds out “I’m Thru Chasin’ You–I’m replacin’ you!”  This one is destined to be a dance-floor burner, highlighted by Randy’s extended organ workout.

“Still My Angel Child” has a rhumba-rockin’ groove, and she closes out with a Johnny Copeland original, as Trudy begs forgiveness from a lover, “Down On Bended Knee.”

We had two favorites, too.  She and the band have a lot of fun with the playful bounce of “Kissin’ In The Dark.”  And, the leadoff cut sets the tone for the rest of the album, with the hi-octane, harp-driven blues of Trudy’s lover who’s “like a jockey–he really knows how to ride,” “Alright Baby!”

Trudy Lynn wants everyone to know that each song on “I’ll Sing The Blues For You” has a special meaning to her.  Whether it’s about good times or bad men, she can bring the heat with the best of ’em!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

 

The Joey Gilmore Band review…November 14, 2016…

THE JOEY GILMORE BAND

RESPECT THE BLUES

MOSHER ST. RECORDS

MAN OF MY WORD–CAN’T KILL NOTHIN’–BROWNSKIN WOMAN–LIVIN’ A LIE–A LITTLE LOVE (ALWAYS MAKES IT BETTAH)–BREAKIN’ UP SOMEBODY’S HOME–THIS TIME I’M GONE FOR GOOD–CHAIN OF FOOLS–ROOM 244–SOUL SURVIVOR–NIGHT TIME IS THE RIGHT TIME

The Joey Gilmore Band has been tearin’ up the blues down in South Florida for quite a while, and Joey’s got that deep, soul-blues vibe down pat.  Along with his resonant, from-the-heart vocals, he’s got a huge guitar tone, kinda like a cross between Son Seals and Magic Slim.  His latest set, for Mosher St. Records, “Respect The Blues,” traces the many folks that have influenced him throughout his career.

Another cool thing about this set is that Joey and the fellows come at ya just like one of those old-school R & B revue shows that utilize different vocalists and musicians alongside the core band.  Check out the leadoff cut, as Joey gets off on the good foot with a heartfelt plea to a lover to never make a promise he can’t keep, ’cause “I’m A Man Of My Word.”  Rockin’ Jake is on harp on the minor-key slow-blues of “Brownskin Woman,” as Joey is left to ponder “why you had to go.”  He keeps that soulful groove cookin’ “on a rainy night like this,” wishin;’ he was “Breakin’ Up Somebody’s Home!”  Joey and Edlene Hart pay a sweet tribute to Don Covay, with cool duet-medley of “Chain Of Fools” and “See-Saw,” before Joey heads over to the No-Tell Motel and the goings-on in “Room 244.”

We had two favorites, too.  Joey rocks the joint with a dynamite take on William Bell’s tale of nothing but bad luck, when you “Can’t Kill Nothin’, and won’t nothin’ die!”  And, the set closes on a high note.  Joey and Edlene have a helluva lot of fun on their playful read of a song popularized by Brother Ray, “The Night Time Is The Right Time!”  Their call-and-response, gospel-shoutin’ vocals  was a mighty way to end this set!

Joey Gilmore continues to keep the traditions of the great soul-blues men alive in his music.  He is sho’ nuff a man of his word, because he will always “Respect The Blues!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Mitch Hayes review…November 13, 2016…

MITCH HAYES

HEROES

LOOK AT YOU–THE HARDEST THING–ALL MY HEROES–HAND OF THE DEVIL–ALL FALL DOWN–HOME AGAIN–HELPING HAND–ASHES AND DUST (ERIN’S SONG)–A PEACEFUL REVOLUTION–LIFE GOES ON–SOMETHING DEEP WITHIN–HOME AGAIN (REPRISE)

To begin, let us say that Mitch Hayes’ latest album, “Heroes,” is not a blues album.  But, it is a fine collection of music for troubling times–there’s folk, Americana, and even a spate of country–that documents the hopes, dreams, and fears of a man who is still able to put his words into music after overcoming some serious health issues.  That’s part of  the beauty of this album—thus far, he is completely free of throat cancer–and, on some cuts, his vocals are crystal-clear, and on others, he has a bit of a rasp, but it simply adds to his honesty, and–take it from a writer who’s survived open-heart surgery two times–we can wear these scars as our badges of honor.

The music is no less honest.  His voice has that Springsteen-ish quality on the opening cut, “Look At You–I can feel your love, and you make my rhyme.”  When the affair is over, tho, “The Hardest Thing” is the letting-go process.  This one has fine pedal steel from Eric Lovell, giving the song a good, alt-country vibe.  “The Hand Of The Devil” takes that premise one step further.  With old-time fiddle and banjo, this is classic story-in-song country at its best.  It details an aging shootist who meets his demise at the hands of a younger gun, prompting the line, “I’m an old man in a young man’s game!”  A man who’s like a lot of us who grew up in the Sixties, wondering aloud where is “the goodness of man?”  It’s a powerful story entitled “All Fall Down,” asking us all to spread love, not hate.  That vibe continues with the reggae-fied call for unity, “A Peaceful Revolution.”

We had two favorites, too.  An ode to Mitch’s musical influences a a young man–Elvis, Lennon, Jimi, and Janis–those who “changed the world”–is “All My Heroes.”  And, a man’s journey thru life from age 17 to 83 is the poignant memoir that is “Life Goes On.”

In times of strife, this nation has often turned to music to help in the healing process.  With Mitch Hayes and “Heroes,” this is a powerful poultice for your soul.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Aryk Crowder EP review…November 12, 206…

ARYK CROWDER

2 X 4, VOL. 2

WHAT YOU WANT–FEELS LIKE HOME–TONIGHT, TONIGHT–BROOKLYN–MORE THAN ORDINARY

Aryk Crowder has been a long-time member of the Chicago musical community, appearing in a variety of bands, including a hip-hop group, before embarking on a successful solo career.  All his influences are on display throughout his latest collection, a five-cut EP , the second volume of his “2 X 4” series.  It combines elements of his past with a decidedly-forward-looking set of blues-influenced soul.

Aryk takes a poignant, heartfelt look at love, loss, and redemption throughout these songs.  His guitar work is spot-on  and always just the right amount that’s needed to make a statement.  Leading off is an ode to a lover whose demands are overwhelming, “What You Want,” where he tells her “I can’t be your everything,” and “what you want, I can’t give.”  It’s set over harmonizing guitar interplay.  A departed lover brings Aryk to the conclusion that “two souls are meant to hold each other’s hands” in “Feels Like Home,” while perhaps the edgiest cut on the set is the keyboard-heavy story of another lover done gone, this time headin’ for “Brooklyn,” never “bothering to call and check on me to see how I’m doing.”

Our favorite was a stripped-down version of the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight, Tonight,” with Aryk’s quiet vocal leading the way over a sweet arrangement of violins and cellos.  The added instrumentation captures the core element of this song and gives Aryk room to let the song stand on its own.

On “2 X 4, Vol. 2,” Aryk Crowder crafts a strong album of life’s experiences to which we can all relate.  His voice is comfortable amidst these songs, and they resonate with depth and passion.  More, please!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Donald Ray Johnson and Gas Blues Band review…November 10, 2016…

DONALD RAY JOHNSON

AND GAS BLUES BAND

BLUESIN’ AROUND

BAD LUCK–BLUESIFYIN–AIN’T SUPERSTITIOUS–NINETY PROOF–SHE’S FRENCH–BIG REAR WINDOW–DISTANT–SHE’S DRESSING TRASHY–WATCHING YOU–SHOULD’VE BEEN GONE–YOU’RE THE ONE FOR ME

Donald Ray Johnson, born in Texas and now residing in Canada, is a sho’ nuff Grammy-winning drummer.  Yup–as a member of the disco group A Taste Of Honey, they hit it big in 1978 with “Boogie Oogie Oogie,” and won the Grammy the next year as Best New Artist.  Lately, Donald Ray has been embracing the blues as lead vocalist for the Gas Blues Band, founded by guitarist Gaspard Ossikian.  Their latest set is a bouncy bunch of originals and favorite covers they’ve played in front of festival and club crowds over the last five years.  Simply titled “Bluesin Around,”  Johnson, Gaspard, and company combine elements of Muddy, B. B. and T-Bone Walker over the course of this set, which is built for a rockin’ good time!

Up first is a jump-blues romp, and one of B. B.’s early hits, “Bad Luck is falling down like rain,” built around crisp guitar and a sharp, stop-time horn arrangement.  Donald Ray goes “Bluesifyin” on Joe Louis Walker’s tale of the greats, as Donald name-checks Lightnin’ Hopkins, Howlin’ Wolf, Hooker, Eddie Taylor, and a host of others.  The band gets down in a Texas groove with Donald Ray talkin’ ’bout that woman with a “Big Rear Window with the shutters open wide!”  Donald Ray’s original, “Should’ve Been Gone,” is a funky shot of contemporary blues with killer sax from Samuel Dumont.  The set closes as it began, with another swingin’ tune, this one written by Lucky Peterson,  “You’re The One For Me!”

We had two favorites, too.  Donald Ray gets his slow groove burning strong with the deep-blues of a man whose lover has long gone, and he’s got “Ninety Proof Evidence” that he’s doin’ just fine without her!  And, another cool rocker finds Donald raving about a  lover who’s “Dressing Trashy,” “cause “she’s been at home much too long!”

Gaspard and the other players are world-class talents, and Donald Ray Johnson brings a true soul man’s perspective to this material.  It makes for a sweet ride for us fans, whenever you’re ready to do a little “Bluesin’ Around!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Big Dave McLean review…November 8, 2016…

BIG DAVE MCLEAN

BETTER THE DEVIL YOU KNOW

BLACK HEN MUSIC  BHCD 0081

LIFE ON THE ROAD–YOU CAN’T LOSE WHAT YOU NEVER HAD–YOU’LL NEED SOMEBODY ON YOUR BOND–ANGELINE–I NEED YOU–WHERE THE MUSIC COMES FROM–OLD TIME RELIGION–SWINGIN’ ON HEAVEN’S GATE–DELIVER ME–DEEP DOWN IN FLORIDA–THE SIDE OF THE ROAD–TALK ABOUT A  REVELATION–PET RABBIT

For his latest album, “Better The Devil You Know,” Big Dave McLean journeyed  to our fair city, specifically to Steve Dawson’s Henhouse Studio, for a cool thirteen-track affair that features several of Dave’s originals and zesty covers that capture his inimitable style as a purveyor of the style of the classic pre-WWII masters.

Big Dave is on harp, acoustic guitar, and vocals, and a housefull of fine players round out the backing corps.  Steve is on most all other things stringed, Kevin McKendree is on keys, Gary Craig on drums, Jon Dymond on bass, and special guests Fats Kaplin on fiddle, and sisters Ann and Regina McCrary on harmony vocals.

The set begins with one of Dave’s originals regarding a “Life On The Road” as a bluesman, full of “late-night shows” and searching for “a good cup of Joe,” and it features honky-tonkin’ piano from Kevin.  Ann and Regina kick off the traditional country-blues of “You’ll Need Somebody On Your Bond,” with Dave on harp and Fats sawing away on the fiddle.  Another of Dave’s originals follows a similar country-blues path, as Dave and his harp tell the story of a great lover, “I Need You like a glove needs a hand.”

Dave brings out some sweet gospel-themed cuts on this set, all done in his storyteller’s style.  There’s the steel guitar-driven cover of Jonathan Millsap’s “Old Time Religion,” a bouncy “Swingin’ On Heaven’s Gate,” with Fats on the mandolin, and a song that seeks the “day there’s an end to war,” aptly-titled “Talk About A Revelation.”

Our favorite closed the set.  Jack White owns Third Man Records here in town, and he also has a vintage recording booth  there.  The traditional “Pet Rabbit,” with all its double-entendres’  features Dave accompanied only by his guitar.  This one has all the ticks and pops one would associate with a vintage 78 RPM!

Big Dave McLean continues in the vein of his last album, “Faded But Not Gone,” with “Better The Devil You Know.”  It affords him the opportunity to meld Delta blues, Chicago blues, and country-styled gospel on a set that has something for everyone!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Teresa James And The Rhythm Tramps review…November 6, 2016…

TERESA JAMES

AND THE RHYTHM TRAMPS

BONAFIDE

JESI-LU  1016

I LIKE IT LIKE THAT–BONAFIDE–SPIT IT OUT–THE POWER OF NEED–HOLLYWOOD WAY–MY GOD IS BETTER THAN YOURS–YOU ALWAYS PICK ME UP–WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS–TOO BIG TO FAIL–FUNNY LIKE THAT–NO REGRETS–YOU WANT IT WHEN YOU WANT IT–HAVE A LITTLE FAITH IN ME

Teresa James is originally from Houston, and she and The Rhythm Tramps now call L. A, their home base.  She’s got what we like to refer to as a “soulfully-sophisticated” vocal style that easily adapts to a wide range of material.  That’s what fans are in store for with her ninth release, “Bonafide.”  It’s thirteen cuts, most written by band member Terry Wilson, that run the gamut from blues, to soul, R & B, and good ole rock and roll.

Joining Teresa on this fine set include the likes of Tony Braunagel, Mike Finnigan, Ron Dzuibla, and a host of others.  But, folks, when she wraps those velvety pipes around a song, you can’t help but dig it!  The title cut has Teresa giving a lover the heave-ho, the “Bonafide, certified truth!”  Teresa is on piano here, and Billy Watts lays down some cool tremelo-ish guitar.  “The Power Of Need” is classic soul, the horns adding the spice to Mike Finnigan’s piano, as Teresa plays the lover who’s “fallen off the deep end” in love!”Funny Like That” follows a breezy pattern, as Teresa recounts the little nuances of being in love that make it so unpredictable.  She closes the set with one of her fan favorites, a powerful read of John Hiatt’s ode to someone who will always have your back, “Have A Little Faith In Me.”

We had two favorites, too.  “Hollywood Way” has Terry Wilson and Billy Watts engaging in a cool wah-wah and slide guitar duel.  And, Teresa gets her Wanda Jackson groove on in the leadoff cut, a rousing cover of The Five Royales’ “I Like It Like That.”  Teresa jumps the boogie-woogie on the 88’s here, and this one sho’ nuff gets your attention!

A high-quality singer who will make you sit up and take notice, Teresa James And The Rhythm Tramps are a “Bonafide” blues force to be reckoned with!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Robert Finley review…November 6, 2016…

ROBERT FINLEY

AGE DON’T MEAN A THING

BIG LEGAL MESS RECORDS BLM 0534

I JUST WANT TO TELL YOU–AGE DON’T MEAN A THING–LET ME BE YOUR EVERYTHING–IT’S TOO LATE–SNAKE IN THE GRASS–COME ON–MAKE IT WITH YOU–YOU MAKE ME WANT TO DANCE–IS IT POSSIBLE TO LOVE TWO PEOPLE?

Robert Finley, hailing from Bernice, LA, has been playing guitar since age eleven, when he spent money his father had given him to buy shoes on a guitar.  He served in the Army as a guitarist and bandleader, and learned carpentry as a trade from his father to fall back on after his Army discharge.  His latest release, “Age Don’t Mean A Thing,” is the kind of album that has become darn near a “lost art,” as it were, because these nine cuts are the deepest, purest form of soul music one can imagine.  Robert has a passionate voice reminiscent of O. V. Wright, and, in our own Society here locally, guys such as Nick Nixon and Wigg Walker.

Robert is on guitar and vocals, and the backing corps of musicians is quite an incredible line-up.  Jimbo Mathus, the set’s producer, is all over this one, as is Stuart Cole, Howard Grimes, Reba Russell, and a host of others.  The set starts with a horn-and-keys-driven ode to a lover, “I Just Want To Tell You what your love has done for me.”  The title cut has some fine single-note guitar leads over a slow-jam groove, as Robert pleads his case to a younger lover, vowing to “get the job done.”  The quintessential “back door man” is the subject of “Snake In The Grass,” and Robert is the man torn between “my woman and my wife” in the poignant set-closer, “Is It Possible To Love Two People?”

We had two favorites, too.  With a horn section straight outta Fred Wesley’s and Maceo Parker’s playbook, and scratchin’ guitar licks that’d make Jimmy Nolen proud, we give you the dance-floor burner, “Come On.”  Robert really gets loose and has some fun with this party cut.  And, he puts a tremendously from-the-heart stamp on David Gates’ iconic “Make It With You.”

There ain’t no drum loops or “samples” on this one–there’s enough of that mess on what passes for contemporary R & B today.  Perhaps ole Muddy said it best–“if you need meat, go to the butcher/If you need bread, try the bakery.”  But, if you want some down-home blues the way it’s meant to be played, don’t go no further than Robert Finley, ’cause “Age Don’t Mean A Thing!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Cris Jacobs review…November 5, 2016…

CRIS JACOBS

DUST TO GOLD

AMERICAN SHOWPLACE MUSIC  ASM  2229

THE DEVIL OR JESSE JAMES–KIND WOMAN–HALLELUJAH HUSTLER–JACK THE WHISTLE AND THE HAMMER–COLD CAROLINA–BONE DIGGER–DELIVERY MAN–TURN INTO GOLD–LITTLE DREAMER–BREAK YOUR FALL–SHINE YOUR WEARY LIGHT–LEAVING CHARM CITY

For his second solo album, Cris Jacobs continues his crusade to win over listeners with exceptional guitar work, masterful songwriting, and a voice as comfortable as your favorite slippers that is equally at home singing blues, folk, gospel, or even the Greater Nashville phone directory and making them all sound fantastic!  This album is twelve more of his originals dealing with love’s pain and triumph, and the daily struggles and victories we all endure.  It is called “Dust To Gold,” and it is a gold mine indeed of fine music.

Along with Cris on vocals and guitars, Todd Herrington is on bass, Dusty Ray Simmons is on drums, and our good friend John Ginty is all over the keys.  A man trying to escape his past thru the change of identities is the leadoff story of “The Devil Or Jesse James,” climaxing with a quirky, blast of psychedelic guitars.  The laid-back, front-porch vibe that drives Cris’ tale of a “Kind Woman” is fueled by some mighty strong dobro work, while the poignant “Little Dreamer” is a song Cris and his wife Kat, who is on backing vocals, gently sing to their unborn child a song dealing with the frailties of life.  John Ginty’s acoustic piano brings that ol’ “Hallelujah Hustler” into focus, reiterating that “we only have a moment ’til we’re gone.”

It’s no wonder that Sturgill Simpson and Steve Winwood  hand-picked Cris Jacobs to open for them on their latest tours.  His fans love his spontaneity, and “Dust To Gold” will add to his growing legion of fans!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

The Charlie Wheeler Band review…November 4, 2016…

CHARLIE WHEELER BAND

BLUES KARMA AND

THE KITCHEN SINK

SELF-RELEASED

PEOPLE KEEP ON TALKIN’–SHIVER–CHOIR OF 1000 ANGELS–ONE OF THESE DAYS–FLICKER AWAY–NEVER CAN TELL–DARLENE–PROMISE OF DAYLIGHT–LOVE GETS IN THE WAY–LOVE YOU THE SAME–FOLLOW ME DOWN–BUTTERFLY

This power trio hails from northern Pennsylvania, and consists of Charlie Wheeler on guitar and vocals, Dave Fink on bass and backing vocals, and Rad Akers on drums.  Their fourth album, “Blues Karma And The Kitchen Sink,” is twelve of Charlie’s originals, with nods to blues-rock, Southern rock,  The Black Crowes, and even to guys like Eddie Vedder and Hendrix.

Two things jump out at you as you listen to these grooves.  First, this trio has a huge sound, that appears to be more like a five-or six-piece outfit.  And, if you separate the songs from the instrumentation, you’d have a helluva dozen cuts that could stand on their own merits anywhere.

Leading off is the rough-hewn rocker dealing with with folks who tend to mind everybody’s bidness but their own, “People Keep On Talkin.”  Shimmering guitar lines bring the “Choir Of 1000 Angels” into sharp focus, with an unmistakable Chris Robinson vibe.  The fellows get their “Voodoo Chile” groove on in the Doomsday-rock of “Flicker Away,” awash with one searing solo by Charlie after another.

We had two favorites, too.  The breezy ode to the journeys of life, “We Never Can Tell what tomorrow’s gonna bring,” is a fine blast of Southern rock.  “Love Gets In The Way” is the funkiest, struttin-est tale in the set, with Rad’s drumming playing a powerful role.

The Charlie Wheeler Band bring a harder-edged vibe to their blues, bringing the “power of the Mississippi River after a springtime rain” to “Blues Karma And The Kitchen Sink.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.