Archive for January, 2017

Cary Morin review…January 13, 2017…

CARY MORIN

CRADLE TO THE GRAVE

MAPLE STREET MUSIC AGENCY

CRADLE TO THE GRAVE–LAID BACK–DAWN’S EARLY LIGHT–LAY BABY LAY–MISHAWAKA–MISSISSIPPI BLUES–GHOST DOG–TRUST–BACK ON THE  TRAIN–NOTHING COMPARES 2 U–WATCH OVER ME

Bluesman Cary Morin is Native American, specifically a member of the Crow tribe.  He was born in Billings, MT, and spent his formative years honing his guitar chops in Great Falls.  Touring with bands such as The Atoll and the Pura Fe’ Trio, as well as his solo career, has led to his becoming  one of the premier acoustic fingerpickers on the scene today.  His latest set is entitled “Cradle To The Grave,” and here he fuses folk, the blues, and sounds of his heritage over the course of these eleven songs, eight originals and three excellent covers.

Along with his incredible guitar stylings, Cary possesses a quietly-unassuming yet passionate vocal style.  The set leads off with the title cut, a poignant reminder of both the frailty and brevity of life, and closes with a continuation of that theme, with “Watch Over Me,” bringing the album full-circle.  It’s Cary’s plea to a higher power to “watch over me, for I am only a child” as he travels life’s highway.

Cary’s “protest song”  on this set deals with the efforts of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe regarding treaties and promises made by the government throughout history.  He urges them all to “Stand up and fight ’til the Dawn’s Early Light” for their freedoms.  He has a lot of fun with the Delta feel of Willie Brown’s “Mississippi Blues,” and its tales of “moonshine whiskey” and “my old-time used-to-be!”  He takes Phish’s “Back On The Train” and Prince Rogers Nelson’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” and breaks them down to their bare essentials, turning each into acoustic, blues-oriented delights!

Cary Morin has toured all over the world, and continues to wow audiences everywhere  with his deft picking and unique, passionate lyrics.  “Cradle To The Grave” powerfully carries on the traditions of his native ancestors as well as the Delta masters!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Kenny Neal review…January 12, 2017…

KENNY NEAL

BLOODLINE

CLEOPATRA BLUES MUSIC

AIN’T GON’ LET THE BLUES DIE–BLOODLINE–PLAIN OLD COMMON SENSE–FUNNY HOW TIME SLIPS AWAY–KEEP ON MOVING–I GO BY FEEL–I’M SO HAPPY–BLUES MOBILE–I CAN’T WAIT–REAL FRIEND–THANK YOU B. B. KING

For Kenny Neal, the roots of the blues run deep, indeed.  His legendary father was Louisiana blues legend Raful Neal, and Kenny proudly carries on the family tradition with perhaps the best album of his career, “Bloodline.”  Produced by Tom Hambridge, the eleven cuts herein detail Kenny’s strong ties to his family as well as his incredible love for the blues.

Kenny’s on guitar and harp throughout, and he features eight family members playing various instruments.  Kenny comes at you right out of the gate just like a fire-and-brimstone Baptist preacher on Sunday morning with “Ain’t Gon’ Let The Blues Die,” name-checking many of the greats who have passed on and vowing to carry this bidness on!  A midtempo groover that offers up some sage advice  and reminds us all to “think twice and speak once” and just use some “Plain Old Common Sense before you jump the fence!”  The poignant minor-key ode to a blind friend from Kenny’s youth who lived his life by this mantra–“I Go By Feel”–is heart-tugging for sure.  And, at the other end of the spectrum is Kenny’s vow to “live my life to the fullest,” “I’m So Happy!”  He’ll be cruisin’ and bluesin’ down life’s highway in a big  ol’ “Blues Mobile,” too,  headin’ up 61 from Louisiana to the Crossroads at 49, then on out west along Route 66!  This one is a righteous boogie, fueled by Kenny’s harp wailin’ away!

We had two favorites, too.  The swampy feel and laid-back groove of the title cut has Kenny recounting tales from his childhood, knowing full well that “the Bloodline runs thru me!”  Closing the set is an all-out, rompin’ and stompin’ tribute to the King of the Blues–“Thank You B. B. King, for paving the way for me!”

Kenny Neal is a member of the Louisiana Music Hall Of Fame, and, on February 12, he may become Grammy winner, as “Bloodline” is one of the five nominees for Best Contemporary Blues Album.  Best of luck, Kenny, and thanks for a fantastic set!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Eight O’ Five Jive review…January 9, 2017….

EIGHT O’ FIVE JIVE

SWING SET

RED RUDY TOO TUNES  RRI  1003

MAKE MINE A DOUBLE–RAGGED–GET AWAY–PUT IT BACK–NEVER–I WON’T WEAR FLATS TO YOUR FUNERAL–ONE MORE GLASS OF WINE–MY MUMBLIN’ BABY–WATCH OUT FOR THEIR WIVES–BACK OF MY HAND–A LITTLE BIT OF BOURBON

In the tradition of Louis Jordan and Roy Milton And His Solid Senders, Nashville’s Eight O’ Five Jive are the epitome’ of cool, especially when it comes to laying down vintage blues and R & B that jumps, jives, and wails right outta your speakers directly into your soul! Vocalist Lee Shropshire is as brassy, sassy, and classy as they come, with Andy Scheinman on guitar, Bill Bois on bass, Duane Spencer on drums, and Pat Mosser on sax.  On January 27, 2017, they will release their sophomore CD, aptly-entitled “Swing Set,” with ten band originals and one rarely-heard cover, showcasing just what a  tight-knit group they are, easily capturing the intricacies of vintage jump-blues groups popular in the years immediately following WWII.

Letting the good times roll is easily the theme of this platter that matters, with several “drinkin” songs, as well as a few where Lee calls out some skirt-chasing guys, defiantly standing her ground.  And, there are a few that allow time for reflection, and just plain ol’ getting away from the grind for a while.  “Ragged” tackles a lover who’s a bit too possessive, and Lee reminds him that “sometimes I need time to be alone!”   The rapid-fire bursts of sax and guitar fuel the stop-time request of Lee to just “Get Away, to any place but here!”  “Never” has Lee being totally disinterested in a lothario, because “I’ll never wear your ring/we’ll never be a “thing!”

The set’s lone cover is a sho’ nuff hoot, and it’s always a crowd-pleaser at their live shows.  Rudy Green originally recorded “My Mumblin’ Baby” for Excello waaaay back in the day, and Lee  captures that tricky, staccato stutter-step vocal perfectly.  Add to that Pat’s sax, which goes into overdrive on an extended solo at the bridge!

We had two favorites, too, and they open and close the party.  On “Make Mine A Double,” Lee name-checks every drink from a Bloody Mary to a Tom Collins, and, “if you add rum, I’m so much more fun!”  The good-time vibe of this one also has Lee’s witty allusion to Shirley Ellis’ “The Name Game” for good measure! They turn the lights out with a rousing story of Lee leaning heavily on her “coping mechanism”–“A Little Bit Of Bourbon makes everything better–good thing I’ve got a lot!”

For the second year in a row, Eight O’ Five Jive will be representin’ the Nashville Blues Society at the 33RD IBC’s in Memphis later this month.  The judges better be ready to dance, because the grooves they lay down in “Swing Set” are simply irresistible!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Starlite Campbell Band review…January 7, 2017…

STARLITE CAMPBELL BAND

BLUEBERRY PIE

SUPERTONE RECORDS  STR 06–CD

WALKIN OUT THE DOOR=–I NEED A LIGHT–YOU’RE SO GOOD FOR ME–CRY OVER YOU–SAY WHAT YOU WANT–BLUEBERRY PIE–GUILTY–EMPIRE–DON’T GET ME WRONG–SHIMMY–THRILL YOU

The Starlite Campbell Band consists of Suzy Starlite on bass and vocals, with Simon Campbell on guitars, vocals, and percussion.  For their release of all-original material, “Blueberry Pie,” they are ably joined by Steve Gibson on drums, Jonny  Henderson on keys, and Danny Boy Sanchez on the harp.

Recorded in Spain for Supertone Records, this is a set with something for every taste.  The grooves run from stone classic Memphis grease to  Chicago blues, even a touch of folk, with Simon’s acoustic guitar over the couple’s duet vocals on the  title cut.  It chronicles the fact that, even tho “times have changed,” it’s the simpler things that are always constant, such as that unmistakable “taste of Grandma’s Blueberry Pie!”

Suzy takes the lead vocal on “Guilty,” a Dusty Springfield-ish, soul-filled cut punctuated by fine B-3 from Jonny.  “Shimmy” is a sweet, Sixties-inspired instrumental, and the set closes with Simon’s jazzy promise to “say goodbye to yesterday and Thrill You!”  His guitar lines are reminiscent of B. B., and this one is really sweet.

Suzy and Simon had a lot of fun on our favorites.  With all the bluster and swagger of Muddy’s “I’m Ready,” check out “Say What You Want, but don’t you mess around with me!”  This Chicago-edged killer has mighty fine harp from Danny Boy Sanchez.  And, the set opens with a hypnotic, wah-wah infused groove that’s straight outta 926 E. McLemore down in Memphis, the greasy groove of the goodbye to a lover, “Walkin’ Out The Door!”

Thanks to Suzy and Simon for sharing this one with us.  A refreshing blast of good, solid blues, it’s as sweet as a slice of that “Blueberry Pie!”   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Reverend Freakchild review..January 6, 2017….

REVEREND FREAKCHILD

PREACHIN BLUES

TREATEDANDRELEASED RECORDS  TR 008

HOLY BREATHING BLUES–PREACHIN ABOUT THE ANCESTORS–SEE THAT MY GRAVE IS KEPT CLEAN–PREACHIN ABOUT LIFE AND DEATH–IN MY TIME OF DYIN–PREACHIN ABOUT THE SILVER LINING–PREACHIN BLUES–PREACHIN ABOUT THE PHILOSOPHICAL INVESTIGATION–KISS–PREACHIN ABOUT LUXURY PROBLEMS–ALL I GOT IS NOW–PREACHIN ABOUT TIME–WISH I WAS IN HEAVEN SITTING DOWN–PREACHIN ABOUT ENJOYING YOUR TIME ON PLANET EARTH–IT’S GONNA BE ALRIGHT–GRINNIN IN YOUR FACE

Reverend Freakchild has rapidly become one of our favorite artists, not only because of his primo guitar skills and clever songs, but also because we never know in which direction his next project will take him.  His latest is entitled “Preachin’ Blues,” and it came about in a typically-unique (for the Reverend, anyways!) manner.

Seems that, on a recent excursion to San Francisco, all his gear was stolen.  He bought another National Resonator guitar and ended up in the studios of KBOO in Portland, OR, where these acoustic tracks were laid down in July of 2016.

Using just the Resonator, his harp, and voice, the Reverend tackles versions of songs made popular by some of the pre-WWII Delta masters, as well as a few of his own compositions, and  a couple of unusual ones.  The between-song banter, consisting of the Rev’s take on life, death, spirituality, and other things, is priceless as well as entertaining.

Highlights for us included his version of a song done “in honor of the Ancestors who came before,” a chilling version of Blind Lemon Jefferson’s “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean,” Son House’s “Preachin’ Blues,” which follows his take on the “silver lining” of finding this Resonator guitar, and a more contemporary tune, R. L. Burnside’s “Wish I Was In Heaven Sitting Down.” The Rev’s guitar-pullin’ is in top form here.

We still had two favorites.  the set closes with a strictly a capella version of “Grinnin In Your Face” done live at a Berlin blues club in 2013 in front of a very appreciative audience!  And, it is surprising to find  out the number of contemporary artists who have been influenced by Prince Rogers Nelson.  As such, the Rev. takes “Kiss” and breaks it down to its bare, bluesy essence, thus turning it into a stone juke joint romp!

The Reverend Freakchild urges us all to enjoy the time we have here on Planet Earth.  His sage looks at everything will make you smile as well as philosophize about things in general.  All of this is set over a sweet one-man acoustic blues soundtrack that only he could pull off!  As you enjoy “Preachin’ Blues,” please also take time to listen to his essay included on this enhanced CD, which ties in the concept of transcendence with music, entitled “Buddha And  The Blues!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

International Blues Challenge #32 review…January 4, 2017…

VARIOUS ARTISTS

INTERNATIONAL BLUES CHALLENGE #32

FRANK ROSZAK PRODUCTIONS/THE BLUES FOUNDATION

I’M YOUR MAN–THE PAUL DESLAURIERS BAND  HOUND DOG–INNERVISION  YOU MAKE ALL MY BLUES COME TRUE–SONNY MOORMAN  NORMAN’S BLUES–THE NORMAN JACKSON BAND  WHEN THE MONEY RUNS OUT–TREY JOHNSON AND JASON WILLMON  TALL GLASS OF WHISKEY–HECTOR ANCHONDO BAND  DRINKIN AND DRIVIN–BING FUTCH  CAN’T MOVE ON–DAVE MUSKETT  BLACK SHEEP MOAN–BEN HUNTER AND JOE SEAMONS

When the International Blues Challenge began back in 1984, there were only a handful of acts, and, in 2016, there were a whopping 257 acts.   Likely there’ll be that many and more  rocking Beale Street on January 31 thru February 4, 2017 when the next IBC convenes.  It’s a chance for blues lovers to meet and be entertained by representatives from blues societies just like ours from every corner of the world!

Thru the tireless efforts of one of our dearest friends, Frank Roszak, and The Blues Foundation, we offer our review of the nine-cut compilation live CD garnered from various performances during last year’s Solo/Acoustic and Band competitions.  It is entitled “International Blues Challenge #32,” and Frank and Co.  did one helluva job in picking something from virtually every style of blues offered during IBC Week.

One of our favorite groups leads off.  The Paul Deslauriers Band brings forth a song borne of the Delta and baptized in muddy waters, as Paul boasts to a lover,  “I’ll put you right–I’m Your Man!”  Sonny Moorman, representing the Solo/Acoustic side, brings his deep slide guitar to his ode to a lover who “Made All My Blues Come True.”  The traditional harp-guitar duo  of Trey Johnson and Jason Willmon offer  all us guys a sage lesson in life—“When The Money Runs Out, she will, too!”  The set closes on another fine acoustic note, this time with a cool collaboration from Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons with “Black Sheep Moan.”

Our favorite was born alongside that baby the blues had that they named rock and roll.  Innervision and “Hound Dog” is sly, sexy, and rocks from the Berry-fied intro to the stop-time climax, showing just how much fun the blues can be!

If you want to be immersed in the blues, the whole blues, and nothin’ but the blues,  get on down to Beale Street in Memphis in about three weeks, and just soak it all in.  If you can’t make it, tho, take a listen to “International Blues Challenge #32” to see what it’s all about!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

 

Josh Preston review…January 3, 2017….

JOSH PRESTON

JOSH PRESTON

ME AND THE MACHINE RECORDS

I’LL BE AROUND–BEEN SO LOW–THE HUMAN CONDITION–THE EVENING THE WORLD WAS FILLED WITH LOVE–BEST YEARS OF MY LIFE–LUCKIEST OF LOSERS–WHEN THE INTERNET GOES OUT–WHITE TRASH WEDDING VOWS

Guitarist, vocalist, and composer Josh Preston is known for his more folk-oriented albums, but his latest, self-titled effort is surprisingly-soulful, featuring eight witty and clever songs guaranteed to make you smile as you ponder his looks at life.

Josh leads off with a “love story” of sorts, reassuring a lover that, even when “your deal with the Devil has been approved, I’ll Be Around.”  Next up, he echoes the feelings of many of us in 2016—“I’ve Been So Low for so long, it;s about time I got high!”  Astute listeners might pick up on the Garcia-esque guitar break around the two-minute mark.  He tackles the drudgery of dead-end jobs in “Best Years Of My Life,” and closes the set with a tongue-in-cheek look at love and marriage, “White Trash Wedding Vows,” where “if you break my heart, I’ll break your neck!”

Our favorite was a humorous look at the world’s religions, with a message of hope for us all.  Taking a jab at everyone from Zeus to L. Ron Hubbard, it’s all about “The Evening The World Was Filled With Love!”

Josh Preston recently played the Bluebird Cafe and The Music City Roots After Show in Franklin, with stops in Memphis at the Hard Rock and the Blue Canoe in Tupelo.  This is a strong set full of fine musicianship and clever, well-crafted songs!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Popa Chubby review…January 2, 2017…

POPA CHUBBY

THE CATFISH

POPA CHUBBY PRODUCTIONS

GOING DOWNTOWN TO SEE MY OLD GAL SUE–GOOD THING–BYE BYE LOVE–CRY TILL IT’S A DULL ACHE–WES IS MORE–MOTORHEAD SAVED MY LIFE–BLUES FOR CHARLIE–DIRTY DIESEL–SLOW DOWN SUGAR–PUT A GROWN MAN TO SHAME–THE CATFISH–C’MON IN MY KITCHEN

We’ve been fans of Popa Chubby, born Ted Horowitz in The Bronx, NY, since his Blind Pig recording days back ’round the turn of the century.  A monster guitarist who’s been playing since his teens, he’s back with twelve cuts that show why he’s still one of the baddest blues-rockers on the scene today.  The album is called “The Catfish,” and Popa’s on guitars, bass, percussion and vocals, with Dave Keyes on the keys, Dave Moore and Rich Monica on drums, Matt Lapham on bass, and Tipitina Horowitz  on trumpet on two cuts.

The set starts with an old-school funk party, as Popa’s “Going Downtown To See My Old Gal Sue,” who “knows just what to do!”  The call-and-response with the band adds to the party vibe here.  More screamin’ guitar drives the tale of a broken  five-year love affair that “hits like an earthquake,” and you just “Cry Till It’s A Dull Ache.”

Popa breaks out three really cool and varied instrumentals here, too.  First up is a “reggae-mon” version of the Everly’s “Bye Bye Love.”  “Blues For Charlie” is a six-minute, minor-key, slow-blues jam that finds Popa pulling out all the stops, while “Wes Is More” is a pure, jazzy break with brush-stroked drums, and Dave’s acoustic piano given ample room to stretch out.

“The Catfish” lets everybody know who the “mack daddy” of the river is, and Popa’s chooglin’ tribute to the late Lemmy Kilmister and “live fast ’til you die” is “Motorhead Saved My Life!”

We had two favorites, too.  The story of a strong woman who definitely don’t take no mess is the “lady who put a Grown Man To Shame!”  And, the set closes on a straight-blues note, as Popa busts out his acoustic guitar for a Delta-fused, testifyin’ version of Robert Johnson’s “C’mon In My Kitchen.”

On  “The Catfish,” Popa Chubby tells us that his fans are the reason he plays, and finds inspiration from them.  He’s back, and, like all the rest of us, a little older, and definitely wiser, louder, and stronger!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Sharon Lewis And Texas Fire review…January 1, 2017…

SHARON LEWIS AND TEXAS FIRE

GROWN ASS WOMAN

DELMARK RECORDS  DE-849

CAN’T DO IT LIKE WE DO–HELL YEAH–CHICAGO WOMAN–THEY’RE LYING–DON’T TRY TO JUDGE ME–OLD MAN’S BABY–GROWN ASS WOMAN–WALK WITH ME–FREEDOM–CALL HOME–HOME FREE BLUES–HIGH ROAD–WHY I SING THE BLUES–SOUL SHINE

Sharon Lewis busted out big with er 2011 debut, “The Real Deal,” and the follow-up is now released, and it’s sho’ nuff well-worth the wait!  Sharon is back with a defiant statement of female empowerment entitled “Grown Ass Woman.”  Sharon and guitarist Steve Bramer wrote most of the fourteen cuts herein, and she cuts loose with some fine straight-and soul-blues that backs up her belief that the blues is all about what’s REALLY going on in the world today.

She kicks off with a blistering, fun-filled ode to the blues as an extension of black culture and her ancestors who shaped the genre,’ “They Can’t Do It Like We Do!”  It’s hot as Hell, and has Billy Branch blowin’ up a storm on harp!  The stone party anthem, “Hell Yeah,” decrees something another famous bluesman once said–“we ain’t gon’ play no rock and roll–just the blues and a whole lotta soul!”  It has a fun horn section to add the spice for the dancers!

Chicago slide legend Joanna Connor blisters the strings on two cuts.  First up is the story of a tough gal who “won’t be denied,” that “Chicago Woman!”  And, she adds the fuel to the fire as Sharon sings “Freedom,” a song detailing the tenuous relationships between authority figures and today’s society.

Sharon touches on vintage soul with “Call Home,” and the poignant tale of a woman who’s been the victim of wagging tongues all over the ‘hood, but, trouble is, “They’re Lying.”  The set closes with two mighty fine covers.  Steve Bramer’s guitar rides that powerhouse groove of B. B.’s “Why I Sing The Blues,” while the last cut is a definite note of upbeat positivity, as Sharon “reaches out and touches our hearts” with a sweet read of Warren Haynes’ “Soul Shine.”

Our favorite was a sly number that deals with the differences in some men, the jumpin’ “I’d rather be an Old Man’s Baby than a young man’s fool!”  Steve Bell, sounding a whole lot like his iconic father, Carey, is galloping all over the harp on this one!

Sharon Lewis And Texas Fire will tell you from jump in the title cut that “I’m a Grown Ass Woman, there’s nothin’ fake about me!”  It’s all true, and this is a dynamite set from one of Chicago’s hottest players!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.