Archive for January, 2017

Dave Fields review…January 30, 2017…

DAVE FIELDS

UNLEASHED

FMI RECORDS

ANTICIPATING YOU–GOING DOWN–CHILD OF THE WORLD–MY MAMA’S GOT THE BLUES–THE BOY WANTS TO PLAY–JAGGED LINE PART 1–JAGGED LINE PART 2–BETTER BE GOOD–HOW AM I DOING?–POCKET FULL OF DUST–HEY JOE–THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER/HEY JOE (REPRISE)–NEW YORK CITY NIGHTS–L. E. S. HOEDOWN

New York-raised blues-rocker Dave Fields is a perennial favorite of ours, because you never know in which unique direction his music may take you.  His latest set, “Unleashed,” is no different, boasting fourteen cuts, a Duke’s mix of strong originals and ultra-cool covers.

Dave is the son of famed composer, producer, and arranger Sammy “Forever” Fields, and young Dave was influenced by the steady stream of big names that frequented dad’s studio.  Dave studied at Berklee College of Music, and is proficient on numerous instruments.  Natch’l fact is, on Dave’s ode to all things good about the Big Apple, the jazzy “New York City Nights,” Dave plays EVERY instrument except for violin, courtesy of Gary Oleyar!

That’s the fun of “Unleashed,” folks.  The set starts with a jazzed-up instrumental, “Anticipating You,” and closes with another one that might best be described as “blues-grass.”  It’s a rapid-fire twang fest entitled “L. E. S. Hoedown,” with Vlad Barsky on piano.

In between, it’s blues as blues can get.  Check out the autobiographical “The Boy Who Wants To Play,” full of blistering buzzsaw runs and an extended solo.  Dave’s favorites on the set were the two parts of “Jagged Edge,” the perfect blend of blues and rock, mirroring how Dave has grown as an artist.

We had a spate of favorites as well.  He blisters the strings into submission on fantastic covers of Don Nix’s “Going Down,” Jimi’s “Hey Joe,,” and a Woodstock-ish “Star Spangled Banner,” all done in various live settings.  On his studio cuts, you simply cannot go wrong with the seven minutes of slow-blues bliss that is “Pocket Full Of Dust,” and the humorous “My Mama’s Got The Blues, and I’m about to get ’em, too.”  Everybody has a lotta fun with this one, and it features JT Lauritsen on harp.

Dave Fields and “Unleashed” also sends a universal message of love in the form of “Child Of The World,” written in response to the Paris terrorist attacks, and he’s truly on “a love crusade!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Peter Karp review…January 27, 2017…

PETER KARP

ALABAMA TOWN

ROSE COTTAGE RECORDS

ALABAMA TOWN–TILL YOU GET HOME–THAT’S HOW I LIKE IT–BLUES IN MIND–I’M NOT GIVING UP–HER AND MY BLUES–THE PROPHET–KISS THE BRIDE–NOBODY REALLY KNOWS–LOST HIGHWAY–Y’ALL BE LOOKIN’–I WALK ALONE–BEAUTIFUL GIRL

Peter Karp was born in New Jersey, just across the river from Manhattan Island.  Early on, his mom took him to see the Beatles, Stones, James Brown, and a host of others.  In 1966, his dad got shipped out to Fort Rucker, AL, and Peter spent the rest of his formative years in Enterprise, AL.  Young Peter turned that culture shock into what has become his unbridled passion for the soul-infused blues that he was exposed to thru the sounds of the deep-South landscape.  That push-pull of North and South has led to some of the most honest and powerful songs of an already-impressive career with the thirteen originals that comprise “Alabama Town.”

Backing Peter, who is on guitars, piano, and vocals, are some of his best friends, including Mick Taylor, Paul Carbonara, and Peter’s son, James, on guitar, Garth Hudson on the accordion, and Dennis Gruenling on the harp.  These cuts are equal parts deep blues and songs of reflection on everyday life and love, to which we can all relate.

Leading off is Peter’s ode to that small-town life in the South, from “grampa’s out back with his bottle of Jack,” while the kids  “put pennies on the railroad track” in this “Alabama Town.”  He tackles love and relationships with the Fifties-inspired soulful balladry of “I’m Not Giving Up  on you,” and takes a tongue-in-cheek look at Southern weddings, where it’s “Kiss The Bride, and cut the cake,” featuring John Zarra on mandolin.

We had two favorites, too.  Dennis is on the harp, and Peter’s son, James, is on guitar, as they all lay down a mean country-blues groove  on the tale of a man who’s mission in life is “to tell you what yours is all about,” “The Prophet.”  And, straight, no-chaser Chicago blues sets the tone for a cool song about coming to grips with things, especially when “your mama calls you redneck and the milkman calls you son!”  Then, “you got the Blues In Mind!”

Peter Karp has dedicated “Alabama Town” to his stepmom, Ruth, who passed in October, 2016.  It’s a sweet set that verifies the fact that, down here in the South, everybody’s got a story to  tell!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

John Mayall review…January 26, 2017….

JOHN MAYALL

TALK ABOUT THAT

FORTY BELOW RECORDS  FBR 015

TALK ABOUT THAT–IT’S HARD GOING UP–THE DEVIL MUST BE LAUGHING–GIMME SOME OF THAT GUMBO–GOIN AWAY BABY–CARDS ON THE TABLE–I DIDN’T MEAN TO HURT YOU–DON’T DENY ME–BLUE MIDNIGHT–ACROSS THE COUNTY LINE–YOU NEVER KNOW

British blues legend John Mayall is back  with another stellar set of contemporary blues brought to us from a man who’s seen it all in a career that goes back, for us, anyways, to his Bluesbreakers days of the Sixties, when he employed guitarists the likes of Clapton, Peter Green, and Mick Taylor.  On “Talk About That,”  on Forty Below Records, John is on vocals, keys, harp,  and guitar, with  the core band from his last spate of Forty Below releases backing him,  including Rocky Athas on guitar, Greg Rzab on bass, and Jay Davenport on drums.  Another cool thing about this set is that it also features Joe Walsh on guitar on two cuts,  completing an item on his “bucket list” to play with Mayall.

John Mayall is always one to speak his mind musically, and this album is no different.  Leading off is the title cut,  John’s spit-in-the-face to getting old, and, basically, anything that might bring you down–“throw me a curve, and I’ll get my damn bat—Talk About That!”  Greg lays down a funky bass line here, allowing John’s keyboard to take front and center.

John tackles some fine vintage soul, adding a three-piece horn section to the swingin’, acoustic-piano-driven request of a lover to “Don’t Deny Me of my love for you.”  They dig a little deeper on a tale that serves as sage advice for us all–“It’s Hard Going Up, but twice as hard comin’ down.”

We had two favorites, too.  Everyone has a lot of fun with the Mardi Gras-flavored second-line strut of “Gimme Some Of That Gumbo.”  And, John treats us to another of those songs he’s long been noted for, dealing with topical issues and social injustices.  Joe Walsh’s guitar adds the fervor to the minor-key ode to “so many dying, those fanatics are killing innocents all around,” aptly-titled “The Devil Must Be Laughing.”

John Mayall continues to turn out some of the finest music of his illustrious career.  Add in the contributions of Joe Walsh, and “Talk About That” is one sweet blues ride, indeed!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

The Songs Of Blind Willie Johnson review…January 23, 2017….

VARIOUS ARTISTS

GOD DON’T NEVER CHANGE:

THE SONGS OF BLIND WILLIE JOHNSON

ALLIGATOR RECORDS

THE SOUL OF A MAN–TOM WAITS    IT’S  NOBODY’S FAULT BUT MINE–LUCINDA WILLIAMS     KEEP YOUR LAMP TRIMMED AND BURNING–DEREK TRUCKS/SUSAN TEDESCHI    JESUS IS COMING SOON–COWBOY JUNKIES   MOTHER’S CHILDREN HAVE A HARD TIME–THE BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA     TROUBLE WILL SOON BE OVER–SINEAD O’CONNOR   BYE AND BYE I’M GOING TO SEE THE KING—LUTHER DICKINSON FEAT.  THE RISING STAR FIFE AND DRUM BAND   GOD DON’T NEVER CHANGE–LUCINDA WILLIAMS   JOHN THE REVELATOR–TOM WAITS   LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE ON ME–MARIA MCKEE   DARK WAS THE NIGHT, COLD WAS THE GROUND–RICKIE LEE JONES

On January 25, 2017, Texas-born gospel-bluesman Blind Willie Johnson would have turned 120 years old.  Although his total recorded catalog was sparse–thirty songs in total–these sessions have stood the test of time, and have influenced countless other performers, even some seventy years following his death in 1945.

In 2016, Alligator Records released “God Don’t Never Change,”  and, with this milestone birthday upon us, we humbly offer our thoughts on this outstanding compilation.  It brings together players from  the blues, gospel, Americana, and contemporary popular music to show how Johnson’s music channeled the explosiveness of the blues into powerful religious messages.

The North Mississippi Hill Country vibe is prevalent on two cuts.  First up, Luther Dickinson’s  slide guitar rambles over the breezy “Bye And Bye I’m Going To See The King,” and he is backed by members of the Rising Star Fife And Drum Band, championed for many years by the late Otha Turner.   And, the droning beat of “Trouble Will Soon Be Over” drives the righteous cries of Sinead O’Connor as she declares, “someday I’ll rest with Jesus.”

Maria Mckee gives a spirited read of “Let Your Light Shine On Me,” and captures the true Sunday-morning feel of this song with a version that would be right at home in your own neighborhood church.  Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi also stay true to Willie’s original interpretation of “Keep Your Lamp Trimmed And Burning,” while Lucinda  Williams’ slide guitar rides the blinds on Willie’s tale of redemption–“when I die, if my soul be lost, It’s Nobody’s Fault But Mine.”

We had two favorites, too.  The Cowboy  Junkies’ arrangement of “Jesus Is Coming Soon” uses sound bytes from Willie’s original as lead singer Margo Timmins’ haunting vocal re-affirms “God done warned us—Jesus Is Coming Soon.”  And, Tom Waits channels the very soul of Johnson himself with a Doomsday-is-coming spin on the powerful “John The Revelator,” detailing the fall of Adam.

“God Don’t Never Change” shows how the music of Blind Willie Johnson not only used blues to convey a spiritual message, but how this music influenced generations of players from many diverse backgrounds.  This set brings it all together–joy, pain, love, life, death, and eventual resurrection!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

John Latini review…January 22, 2017….

JOHN LATINI

THE BLUES JUST MAKES ME FEEL GOOD

SMOKIN SLEDDOG RECORDS

BLACK-EYED BLUES–LORD MADE ME A WEAK MAN–THREE AM–WOODCHUCK BLUES–PULL ME UP–RUTABAGA CHEESECAKE–THE BLUES JUST MAKES ME FEEL GOOD–BROKEN MAN–MY TOWN’S GOT A RIVER AND A TRAIN–GOTTA HAVE MY BABIES–TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE–HARD WALKIN’ WOMAN–I WILL BE HAUNTING YOU

John Latini is a guitar-playing blues singer with a really incredibly deep, baritone vocal delivery.  He’s a three-time winner of the Detroit Blues Challenge in the Solo category, and he has just released his latest CD, featuring a title to which we can all relate–“The Blues Just Makes Me Feel Good,”  for Michigan-based Smokin’ Sleddog Records.  Comprised of thirteen cuts, eleven of them are John’s originals, and there are two sweet covers.

Aside from that killer vocal style, John also has the guitar chops that we like to call “Johnny B. Goode style.”  His tone is fat, crisp, and clear, and his runs and lines are as clean as that ol’ boy who could play just like ringin’ a bell!

The party starts with a sly-and-sexy ode to a red-hot lover with that innate ability to “stand me up to my full height” as they enjoy those “Black-Eyed Blues!”  The swampy, tremolo-twanged groove of the lover who’s long gone has John begging her to come back and make some more of that “Rutabaga Cheesecake,” while a cool ode to his home state follows that same vibe and is described as “if Michigan is the necklace, then Ypsilanti is the jewel,” on “My Town’s Got A River And A Train.”

Favorites were all over this one.  One of the covers is an all-out slide fest, the tale of Elvis, a big black Olds, and an unfortunate woodchuck and his ultimate revenge, “Woodchuck Blues!”  John and the horn section get their Jimmy Reed groove on with the Chicago-styled blues of a “Hard Walkin’ Woman” who’s “big, but not that tall!”  And, John pays tribute to his many girlfriends and their myriad of attributes in the loping swing of “Gotta Have My Babies, and my babies’ gotta have me!”

John Latini is a true triple threat— an excellent musician, , witty and humorous songwriter,  with a voice that was born to sing the blues.  “The Blues Just Makes Me Feel Good,” and so will you, after listening to this set!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

John Ginty review…January 21, 2017…

JOHN GINTY

FEAT. ASTER PHEONYX

ROCKERS

AMERICAN SHOWPLACE MUSIC

THE SHARK–LUCKY 13–BELIEVE IN SMOKE–TARGET ON THE GROUND–CAPTAIN HOOK–MOUNTAINS HAVE MY NAME–MR. BLUES–WKYA (FEAT. REGGIE NOBLE)–PRISCILLA–ELECTRIC–MAYBE IF YOU CATCH ME–ROCKERS

Jersey native John Ginty can play the Hell outta anything with a keyboard.  We’ve known him for ’bout five years now, and we’ve watched his career take several turns along the way.  He’s toured with the Dixie Chicks, rapped with Redman, played alongside Santana , Robert Randolph, and countless others, as well as releasing three highly-acclaimed solo albums.  His latest outing  finds him teamed with female vocalist Aster Pheonyx, whom he heard on stage at the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park.  Their outstanding collaboration is entitled “Rockers,” twelve original cuts that further exemplify John’s versatility in adapting his keyboard skills to work within any genre.’  “Rockers” is just that—Aster’s big voice  can go from a Joan Jett-meets-Janis Joplin growl to a Dusty Springfield purr in one note, and these cuts  give both ample room to shine.

John leads off with a stone slab of funk in the tradition of vintage Graham Central Station, the bass-and-keys-driven instrumental strut of “The Shark,” then closes the set  with  the similarly-themed title cut.   In between, John and Aster work their magic on varying degrees of rock interspersed with a bit of blues.

We enjoyed “Mr. Blues,” (wondering  about whom it might have been written), as Aster sings of the man who’s “judge, jury, and executioner,” and who vows to “show them righteous the door!”   John makes good use of his acoustic piano on the somber “Priscilla,” and again over a soulful, testifyin’ vocal from Aster on “The Mountains Have My Name,” giving way to a gospel-inflected organ solo from John at the bridge.

John Ginty remains one of the premier keyboard men on the planet, and is a favorite of ours.  Combining his talents with those of singer Aster Pheonyx makes  perfect sense, and makes “Rockers” a dynamite listen, indeed!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

Tim Mahoney review…January 19, 2017….

TIM MAHONEY

BROOKLYN

BROOKLYN–HAPPENIN–71–HOLD ON TO YOUR HEART–UNDERSTAND–BILL’S SONG

Astute listeners may recall Tim Mahoney as one of the contestants  back on the very first season  of “The Voice.”  His latest EP, “Brooklyn,” finds him taking an introspective look at his life thru the lyrics and music within these six originals.

Written from his own life experiences, Tim puts his feelings front and center on this set.  The emotions set forth in the leadoff “Brooklyn” finds Tim hopelessly in love, looking for that one person “to stay with me forever.”  The breezy, upbeat “Happenin” is all about that love  so strong  that “time doesn’t mean a thing,” while the somber “Hold On To Your Heart” was written for a friend battling a difficult time in her life, and is set over a sparse piano and strings arrangement.  “Understand” is an uplifting, spiritually-charged reminder to us all to “howl at the moon” and continue to believe in our dreams no matter what, and he closes with “Bill’s Song,” where our hero comes to grips  with “everything turning out wrong, so I give you this song.”

Ever the philanthropist, one of Tim Mahoney’s great passions is the charity work he does for the Gillette Children’s Hospital.  He channels the feelings of love and sympathy throughout the grooves within “Brooklyn,” and looks to the future with a positive attitude, feeling this EP to be the start of something great!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.