Archive for December, 2016

Knickerbocker All-Stars review…December 31, 2016…

KNICKERBOCKER ALL-STARS

TEXAS RHODY BLUES

JP CADILLAC RECORDS  JPS1003

TEXAS CADILLAC–YOU’VE GOT ME LICKED–RESPIRATOR BLUES–GOING TO THE COUNTRY–I HAVE NEWS FOR YOU–I STILL LOVE YOU BABY–I GOT NEWS FOR YOU–I TRUSTED YOU BABY–BLOOD STAINS ON THE WALL–AIN’T THAT DANDY–REAP WHAT YOU SOW–T BONE SPEAKS–TELL ME WHAT’S THE REASON

“Texas Rhody Blues” is the third collaboration from the Knickerbocker All-Stars, and it is a fine one, indeed.  With both Duke Robillard and Jimmie Vaughan on board here, the concept was to show just how the connection grew between the blues players of Texas and those of Rhode Island and blossomed into a world-wide “friendship” for blues lovers everywhere!  It also features members of Duke’s legendary Roomful Of Blues outfit, and guest vocalists Sugar Ray Rayford, Brian Templeton, Willie J. Laws, and Duke himself.

It’s the horns of plenty and Monster Mike Welch’s guitar over Sugar Ray’s vocal that drive that jumpin’ tale of  the “Texas Cadillac, goin’ all the way to Ft. Worth!”  Ray comes back a little later with the West Coast-flavored, stop-time , “I Still Love You Baby,” again featuring Mike on guitar.

We had three favorites, and Jimmie and Duke are on all of ’em.  First up is the walkin’ blues of “Going To The Country,” with Jimmie on an extended solo.  They swing from first note on Roy Milton and the Solid Senders’ “I Have News For You,” and dig way down deep into some slow blues with “Blood Stains On The Wall,” with fine acoustic piano from Bruce Bears.

Of historical note is a sixty-three second spoken-word from Aaron “T-Bone” Walker himself.  It recounts how he got his nickname, his grandmother’s Cherokee heritage, and how he ended up playing the blues!  It is a refreshing interlude  here, for sure.

The proceeds from “Texas Rhody Blues” will benefit the Knickerbocker Music Center in Westerly, RI, that provides instruction and training in blues, jazz, and other genres.’  This set makes it easy to see how the Texas players and the East Coast players got it all together for literally forty years of great blues!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

Mike Zito review…December 30, 2016…

MIKE ZITO

MAKE BLUES NOT WAR

RUF RECORDS  1238

HIGHWAY MAMA–WASTED TIME–REDBIRD–CRAZY LEGS–MAKE BLUES NOT WAR–ON THE ROAD–BAD NEWS IS COMING–ONE  MORE TRAIN–GIRL BACK HOME–CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK–ROAD DOG–ROUTE 90

 

Mike Zito has been on our radar for several years now, with his own solo career as well as a productive stint with the Royal Southern Brotherhood.  He’d always wanted to make a fun, guitar-centric blues-rock album, and what better place to do it than right here in Nashville with drummer, composer, and producer extraordinaire Tom Hambridge at the helm.  The result is the blistering twelve cuts that remind us to “Make Blues Not War,” on the Ruf label.

Let’s get right to the music.  Leading off is the tale of that “Highway Mama” who’ll  “make your motor run wild!” Zito’s all over the guitar here, as is special guest Walter Trout on additional guitar.  The biographical story of Mike’s son, Zach, is the theme of “Chip Off The Old Block,” who was “bangin’ on my guitar before he could walk!”  Zach’s come full-circle, too, as he’s the featured guitarist on this one.

“Road Dog” is perhaps the set’s most poignant cut.  It details the loneliness of life on the road thru Mike’s eyes, where “all I ever do is leave.”  “Redbird” is full of Hendrixian psychedelia (and is perhaps Mike’s answer to “Little Wing”), and “Crazy Legs” choogles along at a breakneck pace and deals with those “tight red skirts” and other things you”ll see at your neighborhood bar!

We had two favorites, too.  The title cit is a good ole slide-guitar fest with down-home harp from guest Jason Ricci as Mike prefers to “pass around the peace pipe”  instead of fighting!  And, the set closes with an absolute rockin’ road trip along “Route 0,” name-checking everywhere from San Antone to Katy to Beaumont on the way down to the Land Of Dreams!  Kevin McKendree’s piano wraps a big ole bow on the whole thing!

With “Make Blues Not War” Mike Zito has hit on an album that is pure fun, and serves as his reminder to himself and us fans why he enjoys playing guitar!  Peace out, Mike!  Sheryl and Don Crow, the Nashville Blues Society.

Landon Spradlin review…December 26, 2016…

LANDON SPRADLIN

NO MORE BLUE MONDAYS

KLE-TOI RECORDS

I’VE NEVER BEEN TO SEMINARY–NO MORE BLUE MONDAYS–FIRST FRUITS–DRIFT AWAY–I GOT JESUS NAME–MY GOD–HE IS THERE–MY FRIEND JESUS–MY HELP

Landon Spradlin is a big-voiced singer and sharp guitarist with a message to deliver and a story to tell.  His latest album is actually a re-release of a set recorded in Britain some twenty years ago.  It is entitled “No More Blue Mondays,” and has Landon and Norman Barratt on guitars, Dave Markee on bass, Henry Spinetti on drums, and Dan Cutrona on keys.  If some of those names sound familiar, it’s because most of them recorded with Eric Clapton for several years.  (Our favorite from that era was Clapton’s live “Just One Night” album, sho’nuff a good one!)

Now for the caveat.  If anyone reading this is offended or otherwise put-upon by the beliefs, messages, or teachings of Christianity,  consider yourselves warned.  Landon Spradlin is a born again, bought by the Blood, receiver of the Holy Word, and acceptor of Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior.  It just so happens that he uses the core structures of the blues patterns to help spread the gospel, odd as it may sound on the surface.

You gotta listen to these blues to get the gist of what Landon is doing here.  Starting off is a cover of Dan Smith’s “I’ve Never Been To Seminary, but I’ve been to Calvary,” recounting the story of the Crucifixion and subsequent rebirth and redemption.  Landon’s personal touch adds a new perspective to Dobie Gray’s iconic “Drift Away,” and features a sweet gospel backing chorus.

Landon has some fun with the rockabilly groove of “I Got Jesus Name,” even tho “I ain’t got no money/I ain’t got no fame,” while Dan’s piano paints a somber sonic portrait as Landon proclaims that, no matter if  “all is well, or I make my bed in Hell,” “He Is There.”  The set closes on a purely-joyous Sunday-morning stomp, with Dan’s organ and James Gosney on the tambourine, as Landon proclaims “My Help comes from the Lord!”

Our favorite was the title cut.  It is a monster slow-blues jam that traces the reason he has “No More Blue Mondays”–it’s because he’s been “down to the river, to receive His Holy Word!”

This was a refreshing release, indeed, coming at a time when this country desperately needs some spiritual guidance.  Landon Spradlin uses his musical gift of “No More Blue Mondays” in a very positive way to show how his life has been changed so much for the better.  It earns a resounding “AMEN!!”   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

The Georgia Flood review…December 24, 2016…

THE  GEORGIA FLOOD

PEOPLE LIKE OURSELVES

HUBBUB! MUSIC

TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT–BETTER NT TOGETHER–SLEEPLESS NIGHTS–WHISTLE KING–JAILHOUSE–PASSPORT–THE RACE

We have been fans of the young men who make up The Georgia Flood for a while now.  We first heard them when they were a fledgling blues-oriented band, but on their latest EP, “People Like Ourselves,” they strike a decidedly-alt-rock chord over the course of these seven originals.  Brothers Brooks Mason and Lane Kelly have been playing together since their early teens, and they get their rock groove on with this set.

They kick off with a heavy groove, in the tale of a lover, who begs the question, “as she turns around and locks the door, Tell Me What You Want, tell me where you need it.”  When that relationship hits the skids, tho, you find yourself asking, “where do we go from here?”  It’s entitled, “Better Not Together,” and the staccato guitar lines and cool harmonies keep this one flowing.  The fellows get downright Dylan-esque with the acoustic leanings of “Jailhouse,” which asks the moral question, “is it ever enough when you have too much?”

Our favorite closed the set.   You might be able to take the brothers out of the blues, but you can’t take the blues outta the brothers.  This is evident in the blues-rock cut, “ThehRace I race, I don’t always win–been down on the bottom since I don’t know when!”

Already a staple on stations such as KROQ in LA,  Q101 in Chicago, and 99X down in th’ ATL, The Georgia Flood have matured into insightful lyricists with outstanding guitar chops, making “People Like Ourselves” well-worth checking out!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Tom Letizia review…December 23, 2016…

GAETANO LETIZIA

AND THE UNDERWORLD BLUES BAND

RESURRECTION

TOM LETIZIA RECORDS

RESURRECTION–OLD GUITAR PLAYER–HOT AND COLD WOMAN–STANDING BY THE DOOR–NOTHIN TO ME–THREE HEARTS–PURGATORY–MR. BAD LUCK–SYLVESTER LOVED THE LADIES–LAUGH IN THE DARK–HAVE A LITTLE PARTY–TALK TO YOURSELF–HEAVEN OR HELL–ASCENSION

Gaetano “Tom” Letizia hails from Aurora, OH, in the Cleveland area.  He’s had private guitar lessons from George Benson and Pat Martino, and studied the styles of B. B., Clapton, and Hendrix.  He has fronted a jazz and a blues trio, along with a solo career that has spanned over 40 years.  For his latest album, and tenth overall, (dating back to 1981), he combines his jazz and blues influences with some rock, reggae, funk, and Latin flavors to create “Resurrection.”  Tom describes the album’s concept as a rebirth of the time before drum machines and other creations  ruined the aesthetic value of pure music.

This set also utilizes a horn section to spice up several of these cuts.  The set starts with the title cut, an instrumental with a Santana-esque intro that gives way to a full-on slide guitar rumble.  New Orleans rhythm patterns wrap around the musings of an “Old Guitar Player” who tells everyone who asks that “we’re not in Kansas any more!”  The horns give a kick to the amped-up funk of that species of female  whom you can never fully count on, a “Hot And Cold Woman.”

Male-female relationships get more play, with the story of a stalker groupie who meets Tom’s lover,who’s “Nothin To Me.”  But, if you get wrapped up in that cheatin’ game, look out for the “Three Hearts” about to be broken!  Tom offers up some sage advice for all of us, too.   If you’re having a bad day, let Tom’s guitar lines wash over you,  and just “Have A Little Party” ’til things get better!  And, sometimes, nothing makes better sense than to just “Talk To Yourself to get out of these blues!”  This one is set over a reggae-fied beat, with Tom’s wah-wah guitar all over the solo!

We had two favorites, too, both taken from a “theologian” point of view, if you will.  A “dream sequence” song has Tom face-to-face with St.  Peter.  Trouble is,  “I can’t let you in–you ain’t been real good, but you ain’t been too bad,” so, welcome to “Purgatory!”  And, a wise man tells him that you can make “Heaven Or Hell every day of your life,” echoing the choices we all must make.

As you listen to Tom Letizia and the Underworld Blues Band and “Resurrection,” do yourself a favor and listen to the songs in the order in which they are sequenced.  That way, you will get Tom’s intention for the album to be a continuous musical “conversation” of sorts, conveying his message  of music written as a soundtrack to life’s adventures for all of us!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

The Alligator Records 45TH Anniversary Collection review…December 22, 2016…

VARIOUS ARTISTS

ALLIGATOR RECORDS 45TH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION

ALLIGATOR RECORDS

CD 1:  HOLD THAT TRAIN–COTTON PICKING BLUES–DEVIL’S HAND–CAN’T EVEN DO WRONG RIGHT–BAD CONTRACT–THE WELL–THE TATTOOED LADY AND THE ALLIGATOR MAN–COMMON GROUND–THE ROAD IS SO LONG–VOODOO WOMAN–DON’T CALL NO AMBULANCE–CALLIN’ ALL FOOLS–TOO DRUNK TO DRIVE DRUNK–CRAZY WHEN SHE DRINKS–TAKE ME WITH YOU WHEN YOU GO–YOUR TURN TO CRY–GIVIN’ IT UP FOR YOUR LOVE–TAKE FIVE–LET IT GO–WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN

CD 2:  COTTON MOUTH MAN–IF TROUBLE WAS MONEY–99 SHADES OF CRAZY–I REFUSE TO LOSE–EMPTY PROMISES–TURN IT ON, TURN IT UP–RAINING IN MY HEART–SHAKE YOUR MONEYMAKER–WALK A MILE IN MY BLUES–STUMBLIN’–I AIN’T GOT YOU–GONNA STOP YOU FROM GIVING ME THE BLUES–FREEZER BURN–I’M GONNA LEAVE YOU–SHE’S FINE–WILL IT EVER CHANGE–AMAZING GRACE

Back in 1971, Bruce Iglauer founded Alligator Records in Chicago mainly to showcase his favorite band, (Theodore Roosevelt) Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers,  at the time virtual unknowns outside of the South and West sides of Chicago.  He took all the cash he could muster to press 1000 copies of t their debut, and Alligator was born.  Now, 45 years further on up the road, Alligator boasts a library of nearly 300 albums, all created with the idea that “Genuine HouseRockin’ Music” was to be the order of the day!  As such, the 45th Anniversary Collection boasts 37 cuts over two CD’s that trace the beginnings of the label up thru the most recent releases.

Folks, this is an unbelievable set.  Many artists were well-known when they joined the label, such as Johnny Winter, represented here by a blazin’ “Shake Your Moneymaker,” and Elvin Bishop with the humorous “Can’t Even Do Wrong Right.”  There are several cuts that showcase the “homegrown” aspect of the label, thru artists that were cultivated by the label.  There’s the aforementioned Houserockers with “Take Five,” Frank “Son” Seals with “Cotton Picking Blues,” and one of our favorites, Li’l Ed (Williams) And The Blues Imperials with “Hold That Train.”  And, Alligator is always on the hunt for new blood to carry the Chicago traditions forward.  As such, we are treated to fine blues from Toronzo Cannon, signin’ that “Bad Contract” when he got hitched, the “endless boogie” of Selwyn Birchwood and “Don’t Call No Ambulance,” and Jarekus Singleton and “I Refuse To Lose.”

We were overjoyed when we were offered the opportunity to review this album.  We would like to humbly thank Mr. Bruce Iglauer, Marc Lipkin, and everyone associated with Alligator Records for their contributions, not only to this forum, but to the world-wide blues community as a whole.  As for the 45th Anniversary Collection, here’s to 45 more!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Jon Gindick review…December 20, 2016….

JON GINDICK

WHEN WE DIE WE ALL COME BACK AS MUSIC

OLD CHIMNEY RECORDS

WHEN WE DIE WE ALL COME BACK AS MUSIC–WISHING WELL–BIRD ON A WIRE–GHOST DANCE–SCHOOL–MAXINE–I LOVE YOU MORE–MYSTERY–JEALOUS KIND OF GUY–EASY COME, EASY GO

Harmonica master Jon Gindick  is not only a great player, but also a great teacher of harp technique.  He’s written books on the subject  to inspire others to play the harp.  Jon’s Blues Harmonica Band Camps, held several times a year in Clarksdale, MS, and Ventura, CA, take players, no matter what their skill level, and teach them to play, write songs, and sing in front of a band.

Jon’s debut release, of all-original material, is entitled, “When We Die, We All Come Back As Music.”  It is produced by multi-talented Ralph Carter, who plays several instruments herein, and they are joined by a fine group of renowned musicians to round out the ensemble.

This set touches on several variations of the blues, and would serve as a fine tool for his students to learn from.  The set opens with the jazzy swing of the title cut.  Alongside Jon’s harp there is a kicky horn section that drives this tale of harmonic reincarnation, where “your soul’s vibration makes a beautiful sound!”  That lonely “Bird On A Wire” with his mournful song of “Nevermore,” betrays Jon’s decree of “never again will I fall in love!”  This one features Mr. Carter on acoustic piano, and a sweet backing chorus.  “Maxine” is one of those girls who “walks like Bo Diddley plays guitar,” and knows what to do “when the rent comes due!”  Porn-flick wah-wah guitar from Brad Rabuchin just adds to the fun!  Jon gets his Chicago groove on with the Willie Dixon-esque tale of what makes a man and a woman click, always trying to solve that “Mystery!”  And, the set closes with a brooding, B-minor, third-position harp song that explains the lot of many a blues man, “Easy Come, Easy Go.”

We had two favorites, too.  “Ghost Dance” begs us to “dance to the life you still have left,” and is set over a rhumba-meets John Lee Hooker boogie, with Jon working that stop-time beat to perfection.  And, a funky, Excello-fied romp sets up an adolescent young boy’s worst nightmares come to life–“I was there, you were there, we were all there—School.”

Jon Gindick’s harp skills and original material shows why he is such an in-demand instructor.  With a dazzling debut such as “When We Die, We All Come Back As Music,” every fan can see what his students already know!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.