Archive for November, 2016

Lil’ Ed And The Blues Imperials review…November 19, 2016…

LIL’ ED AND THE BLUES IMPERIALS

THE BIG SOUND OF LIL’ ED AND THE BLUES IMPERIALS

ALLIGATOR RECORDS

GIVING UP ON YOUR LOVE–RAINING IN PARIS–POOR MAN’S SONG–SHY VOICE–BLACK DIAMOND LOVE–WHISKEY FLAVORED TEARS–I’LL CRY TOMORROW–IS IT YOU?–I’M DONE–DEEP IN MY SOUL–I WANT IT ALL–I LIKE MY HOT SAUCE COLD

The date was Friday, June 17, 1994, and Lil’ Ed And The Blues Imperials played in Nashville at the (sadly) now-defunct Boardwalk Cafe in South Nashville.  We’d taken off work ’bout a half-hour early to get front-row seats for this fine band out of Chicago.  The date is notable as that is the night that OJ Simpson led police on the now-famous “Bronco chase,” which was on every TV in the bar.  But, good blues won out, and Ed and the fellows really rocked the joint that night.

Now, twenty-two years further on up the road, they are still houserockin’ everywhere they go.  Their latest album, “Thh Big Sound Of Lil’ Ed And The Blues Imperials,” carries on the rough-and-rowdy good-time blues tradition that Ed learned from his uncle, Chicago legend and slide master J. B. Hutto.

Ed really has some fun on this set, and listeners will, too.  “Raining In Paris” and “I Like My Hot Sauce Cold” are as “scrump-dilly-icious” as ever, while he can break down a minor-key slow-blues with the best of ’em.  Check out the tale of a love gone wrong that is “I’ll Cry Tomorrow,” while he comes to grips with “a hard time tryin’ to make it on my own” in “The Poor Man’s Song.”

We had two favorites, too.  Ed’s the man who spent the night “drinkin’ and cryin,” and now wakes up with “Whiskey Flavored Tears on my pillow.”  This one rocks hard throughout.  And, at the other end of the spectrum, Ed takes a hard look at the direction in which this country seems to be heading with the somber story of “the economy going down,” amid a struggling society, aptly-titled “Troubled World.”

Alligator Records has been bringing us the best in genuine houserockin’ music for the last 45 years.  That credo is front and center with one of their finest bands, Lil’ Ed And The Blues Imperials, and their “Big Sound!”    Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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The Smoke Wagon Blues Band review…November 18, 2016…

THE SMOKE WAGON BLUES BAND

CIGAR STORE

SMBBCD 06

WALKING CANE–MUST’VE READ IT WRONG–I TRIED–HOODOO WOMAN–PUT THE QUILT OUT TO DRY–DIRECTLY UNDER HER THUMB–CIGAR STORE–WHITE MULE–SET ME FREE–MEAN OLD LADY–I CAN’T CHANGE–QUARTER MILE–YOU’VE BEEN A GOOD OLD WAGON

With the release of “Cigar Store,” The Smoke Wagon Blues Band mark a milestone twentieth anniversary as a band.  They formed in 1996 in Hamilton, Ontario’s Hess Village, a veritable “blues Mecca” in Canada, and have six critically-acclaimed albums under their belt.  Along with the soulful vocals and harp of frontman Corey Lueck, we have Mike Stubbs on guitar, Nick Succi on keys, Gordon Aeichele on the sax, Jason Colavecchia on bass, Tibor Lukacs on drums, and Steve Sherman also on organ and bass.

The cool thing about this band is their unique versatility and flexibility in playing various styles of blues, and this set is full of ’em.  The sax and keys work make for some fine funk and soul-blues cuts, and you can find those in the leadoff tale of a man who’s had all he can take, “somebody hand me my Walking Cane!”  The fellows revisit that funk later on, as Corey bemoans his “Mean Old Lady with a heart of stone,” but, “I just can’t leave her alone!”  Jump-blues driven by piano and horn is the theme of a lover who’s definitely the “queen bee,” and has Corey “Directly Under Her Thumb.”  And, the set closes on a ragtime-y note, as Corey gives a lover the real bad news, “You’ve Been A Good Old Wagon, but you done broke down!”

In between all these, we had several favorites, again done in varying styles.  The Biblical healing power  of “going down to the river to wash my hands of sin” is the message of the somber, powerful, “Set Me Free.”  Equally as impressive is a Delta-blues-inspired tale of the Civil War and the Underground Railroad, where to “Put The Quilt Out To Dry in the window sill” was a sign of a safe haven.  And, back on a humorous note, Corey’s the man who learned a lot from “a bathroom stall” and “girlie magazines,” but, sadly, “Must’ve Read It Wrong!”

The Smoke Wagon Blues Band are known for their red-hot live shows—just ask the folks last January down at Club 152 on Beale during the IBC”s.  You can get a good grasp of what they’re all about by giving a listen to “Cigar Store!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

The Kentucky Headhunters review…November 17, 2016…

THE KENTUCKY HEADHUNTERS

ON SAFARI

PLOWBOY RECORDS PLO–CD–1037

BEAVER CREEK MANSION–DEEP SOUTH BLUES AGAIN–I AM THE HUNTER–CAUGHT IN A DREAM–CRAZY JIM–BIG TIME–LOWDOWN MEMPHIS TOWN BLUES–RAINBOW SHINE–WAY DOWN YONDER–JUKEBOX FULL OF BLUES–GOD LOVES A ROLLING STONE–GOVERNORS CUP

The Kentucky Headhunters got their start back in 1968, when brothers Richard and Fred Young and two of their cousins formed the core of the band.  The cousins later departed, and the band took on ts current lineup.  They hit it big with their 1989 debut, “Pickin’ On Nashville,” and have never looked back.  They play a mighty fine brand of blues, Southern rock, and country, and have just released their twelfth album, “On Safari,” for Plowboy Records.”

Richard Young is on guitar, Doug Phelps is on bass, Greg Martin is on guitar, and Fred K. Young is one of the best drummers on the planet in any genre.’  These songs have somewhat of a harder edge than some of t”The ‘Heads” earlier works.  This is undoubtedly an offshoot of the passing of  James Young, the father of Richard and Fred, just three days before this set was to be recorded.

Leaning on the mantra that “what makes you weak also makes you stronger,” this is an excellent batch of songs.  First up is the slide-heavy anthem, “Beaver Creek Mansion,” which details all things good about Kentucky, including “barbecue and Derby pie!”  The swampy groove of  “Deep South Blues Again” touts more good things about the South, this time naming “frog legs, Dr. John, and crawfish boils,”  among many others!   A man who learns a hard lesson about lost love is the theme of not being “ready for the Big Time,” while the fellows dig deep into their roots for the gospel-themed  “God Loves A Rolling Stone.”

We had two favorites, too.  “Crazy Jim” is a morality play of sorts, about a gentle, eccentric soul who “gave away rocks as gifts” and “came from a place where they never learned to hate.”  And, the juke joint rocks from dusk to dawn thanks to the “Jukebox Full Of Blues,” that plays everything from “Suzie Q” to “Maybellene” and everything in between!  Honorary Headhunter Kevin McKendree busts out a mean left hand on the Johnnie Johnson-inspired 88’s on this one.

It’s been a long time since we all went “down to Dumas Walker’s,” but The Kentucky Headhunters keep on strokin.’  “On Safari” shows their perseverance thru tough times, and their strong southern values.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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.