Archive for February, 2017

Big Bill Morganfield review…February 27, 2017…

BIG BILL MORGANFIELD

BLOODSTAINS ON THE WALL

BLACK SHUCK RECORDS  BS 103

LOST WITHOUT LOVE–I DON’T KNOW WHY–WHEN YOU LOSE SOMEONE YOU LOVE–TOO MUCH–HELP SOMEONE–BLOOD STAINS ON THE WALL–CAN’T CALL HER NAME–WAKE UP BABY–KEEP ON LOVING ME–I AM THE BLUES–HELP THE BEAR–BONUS TRACK FROM FOX TV SERIES, “SHOTS FIRED”–HOLD ME BABY

If you have ever listened to the blues as played by the iconic Muddy Waters, then you will be amazed at the similarities to the vocals of his son,  Big Bill Morganfield.  Not only does he possess that rootsy, robust baritone delivery, but his slide and guitar are also front and center on his latest set for Black Shuck Records, “Bloodstains On The Wall.”

There are four originals along with eight covers that are comprised of some deep, borne-of-the-Delta blues, some Chess-styled offerings, and some good-time jump-blues, too.  Bill brought in an A-;list of special guests on this one, too, to go along with his Mofo Party Band.  The guests include guitarists Bob Margolin, Chuck Cotton, Colin James, and Eddie Taylor, Jr., with Mookie Brill on bass, Doc Malone and Steve Guyger on harp, Augie Meyers on piano, and Jim Horn on sax.

Leading off is Big Bill’s brooding, echo-laden take on the Excello chestnut, “like a bird without its feathers, I’m Lost Without Your Love.”  The fellows change gears for the next cut, the rompin’, stompin’ Chicago-styled “I Don’t Know Why,” with Steve on harp and Steady Rollin’ Bob on guitar.  Bill keeps that rollicking mojo workin’ with his original, partly spoken-word tune to remind us to “Help Someone–you might need help yourself one day!”  And, he covers Jimmy McCracklin’s humorous tale of swagger and braggadocio, “if you see me in a bear fight, don’t help me, Help The Bear!”

Our favorites were polar opposites of each other.  Bill pays a solemn, slide-heavy tribute to his loving, late mother on “When You Lose Someone You Love.”  Bill has also had the good fortune to have been asked to compose music for the Fox TV series, “Shots Fired,” and included herein is the bonus track that closes the set.  It’s a Delta blues-meets-hip hop cut entitled “Hold Me Baby,” produced by Da Honorable C-Note.  It fuses the blues with an urban urgency, intended to reach out to established fans and the younger listeners as well.

Muddy always wanted someone to “carry this bidness on” after he passed.  Big Bill won the Handy Award (now the Blues Music Award) in 2000 for Best New Artist, and continues to carry on his Pop’s legacy and forge new fans as well, thru excellent sets such as “Bloodstains On The Wall.”  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Vanessa Collier review…February 25, 2017….

VANESSA COLLIER

MEETING MY SHADOW

RUF RECORDS  1239

POISONED THE WELL–DIG A LITTLE DEEPER–WHEN IT DON’T COME EASY–TWO PARTS SUGAR, ONE PART LIME–WHEN LOVE COMES TO TOWN–YOU’RE GONNA MAKE ME CRY–WHISKEY AND WOMEN–MEET ME WHERE I’M AT–CRY OUT–UP ABOVE MY HEAD, I HEAR MUSIC IN THE AIR–DEVIL’S ON THE DOWNSLIDE

Maryland singer/songwriter/sax player Vanessa Collier went to school at Berklee in Boston, but got her “honorary degree” in the blues with several years of touring with iconic West Coast bluesman Joe Louis Walker.  Her sophomore release is titled “Meeting My Shadow,” and it’s the set her fans have been clamoring for.  She brings he free-spirited vocals and that horn ‘o’ plenty to the table for eight originals and three classic covers that showcase her maturing talents as a writer and  major player on the contemporary scene today.

These cuts will empower you, lift your spirits, and make you wanna get up and dance.  She writes songs that everyone can relate to.  Leading off is Vanessa’s ode to those who would let you down, but, in the end, you stand strong and overcome whenever someone “Poisoned The Well.”  It has a foreboding groove, accentuated by her ghostly flute in the background.  “Dig A Little Deeper” follows a similar theme, but this one is set over a funky, danceable groove, as she can’t be hurt on he surface any more, and is “tired of people who don’t celebrate you!”  She turns in a high-spirited, uplifting version of Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s “Up Above My Head,” featuring a dazzling sax break, and closes the set with a bit of “barroom preachin,” down at “Snake And Jake’s Bar” on the human condition with “Devil’s On The Downslide.”  She adds her own Wurlitzer on this one, too.

We had two favorites, too.  “Two Parts Sugar, One Part Lime”  is an all-out juke joint rocker, while Josh Roberts’ slide guitar ramps up the vibe on Vanessa’s version of the BB/U2 classic, “When Love Comes To Town.”

Vanessa Collier has paid her dues on the road with JLW, and steps to the fore with a set that shows what a rising star she is.  Enjoy the sax-infused blues of “Meeting My Shadow!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Thorbjorn Risager And The Black Tornado review…February 25, 2017….

THORBJORN RISAGER

AND THE BLACK TORNADO

CHANGE MY GAME

RUF RECORDS  1240

I USED TO LOVE YOU–DREAMLAND–CHANGE MY GAME–HOLLER ‘N’ MOAN–HARD TIME–LONG GONE–HOLD MY LOVER TIGHT–MAYBE IT’S ALRIGHT–TRAIN–LAY MY BURDEN DOWN–CITY OF LOVE

Talk about staying power in a fickle business–Thorbjorn Risager And The Black Tornado indeed have it, and much more.  Formed in 2003, this eight-piece group has only changed two members over their time together, and they won a Danish Grammy two years running.

Obviously, you don’t make those kinds of strides by resting on your laurels or reading your press clippings.  Their last album, “Too Many Roads,” from 2014, brought critical acclaim to these guys, as well as numerous festival appearances and shows in 21 countries.  And, instead of kickin’ back, along comes their latest on Ruf Records, “Change My Game.”  Not just the album’s title, it is literally the band’s credo, as these guys strive to make each album better and more diverse than the last.

So it is with “Change My Game.”  That title cut sets the tone as Thorbjorn’s big voice hits a deep groove on  the story of a man who realizes that he can no longer “keep on burnin’ my candle at both ends.”  The horn section glues it all together, too.  “Holler “N” Moan” further shows the band’s eclecticism, as Thorbjorn lays down a stompin’ country-blues beat that conjures up stories of those “rollin’ stones” over killer slide guitar.  “Dreamland” and “Hold My Lover Tight” show the sheer force of this band with driving, in-your-face blues-rock at its hardest.  And, at the other end of the spectrum, the Great Dane strikes a melancholy chord with the piano-heavy, emotional ballad of those “shadows of the past that haunt my memories,” the plaintive “Lay My Burden Down.”

Our favorite was easy.  The band has a sweet knack for traditional blues, and “Train” is a classic.  It begins with Thorbjorm on acoustic guitar and vocal, singing of that “train to bring back my restless soul,” before giving way to a full-on, amped up climax, fueled by tasty ivory-tickling from Emil Balsgaard!

Thorbjorn Risager And The Black Tornado all joined forces to self-produce “Change My Game.”  The result is a huge sound and some of the best songs of their career.  They continue to resist pigeonholing, and are one of our favorite bands!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Eliza Neals review…February 24, 2017…

ELIZA NEALS

10000 FEET BELOW

E-H RECORDS 191061112297

CLEOTUS–ANOTHER LIFETIME–BURN THE TENT DOWN–10000 FEET BELOW–YOU AIN’T MY DOG NO MORE–COLD COLD NIGHT (FEAT. PAUL NELSON)–HARD KILLING FLOOR–CALL ME MOONSHINE (FEAT. HOWARD GLAZER)–DOWNHILL ON A ROCKET–MERLE DIXON–AT THE CROSSROADS (FEAT. BILLY DAVIS)

Detroit lady of the blues Eliza Neals absolutely blew us away a few years back with her last album, “Breaking And Entering,” featuring her powerful vocals that have “The Four J’s” all over them–that is, Janis Joplin and Joan Jett!  Eliza’s back with another fine set of soul-searing blues, this one entitled  “100000 Feet Below.”  The ten originals feature cuts written by Eliza herself, with collaborations from HJ Neals as well as fellow Detroiter and our favorite “Liquor Store Legend,” Howard Glazer, who doubles on guitar.

These cuts will take you on a journey inside your soul as Eliza works her magic on tales from the deepest recesses of the blues.  She gets down to business with the leadoff tale of every neighborhood’s resident pimp, “Cleotus,” who drives “that long black car with a gun in his hand.”  It has fine Delta slide from Howard, set over a brooding, sparse arrangement.  Another stone blues-rock party is “Burn The Tent Down,” with the story of a big ol’ “barbecue down South!”

The single released a few months back is included, as Eliza tells a no-good lover that “You Ain’t My Dog No More,” with “no more treats and no more rubbin’ your feets!”  Howard’s slide guitar adds to the ferocity on this one, too.  Another soul-searcher is the blistering title cut, where, at “10000 Feet Below,” Eliza reminds us we “reap what we sow” and urges us all to repent!  That vibe also closes the set,  and that tune served as our favorite.  Billy Davis is on guitar, and Eliza is on piano.  Altho she doesn’t call ’em out by name, you can feel the presence of the denizens who live down “At The Crossroads.”  Yep–there, the “birds are swimming and the fish are flying,” and you KNOW who else is there–that “shadowed man in the long black coat”  who is “reaching out his hand” for souls looking to make that last deal!  The piano and Davis’ Hell-hound-ish  guitar adds to that spooky,  “full moon down at the corner of Highway 61 and 49”  vibe of this one.

Eliza Neals pays tribute to one of her mentors and one of Detroit’s best singers–the ol’ “Money–That’s What I Want” man himself, Barrett Strong.  in the liner notes of “100000 Feet Below.”  For us, it serves as  the strongest set of er career!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

 

Vin Mott review…February 23, 2017…

VIN MOTT

QUIT THE WOMEN FOR THE BLUES

SELF-RELEASED

QUIT THE WOMEN (FOR THE BLUES)–MAKE UP YOUR MIND–DON’T MAKE ME LAUGH–I’M A FILTHY MAN–THE FACTORY–FREIGHT TRAIN–I WANNA GET RUFF WITH YOU–OL’ GREASY BLUES–LIVING THE BLUES–HOTT MOTT’S THEME

Vin Mott is a 27-year old New Jersey native who fell in love with the blues while in high school, using the Internet as a tool to help him learn the harp.  He went on to formally study music at Berklee in Boston, graduating in 2011 with a degree in songwriting.  He’s honed his chops in every place imaginable, not only at home in Jersey, but over in eastern Pennsylvania as well.

With a sound as raw as Howlin’ Wolf’s and a no-holds-barred attitude, he has just released his first solo effort, “Quit The Women For The Blues.”  He’s on harp and vocals,  with Sean Ronan on guitar, Dean Shot on bass, Phil Silverberg on keys, and Andrei Koribanics on drums.

Fans, Vin uses these ten originals to trace the roots of his heroes, the spirits of whom you can find in the hallowed halls of 706 Union Avenue in Memphis, down in the Delta, and on up north to 2120 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago.  Yep, the influences of Muddy, Junior Wells, Junior Parker, Cotton, and the Wolf are all over Vin’s compositions, and he puts his own flair and contemporary spin on the whole shootin’ match!

Vin puts on his rockin’ daddy shoes, and Sean is all over that chicken-pickin’ riff that rides over the title cut, where Vin has sho’ nuff done up and “Quit The Women For a little thing called The Blues!”  Wishy-washy women need not apply as Vin tells ’em flat-out to “Make Up Your Mind,” with Phil’s cool organ in the background on this one.  They all hit on a sweet Sun-splashed groove with the chug-chug of “Freight Train,” and bust out a  doggy-style rhumba with the clever play on words that is “I Wanna Get Ruff With You, baby, for the way you been treatin’ me!”  Sean’s guitar has traces of vintage B. B. on the solo here, too.  Vin calls out a lazy lover in “Don’t You Make Me Laugh,” where “even the couch is tired of that ass!”  You can tell that Vin and the fellows picked a few Berrys before laying this one down, as the solo has that unmistakable vibe.

We had two favorites, too.  The band gets its Elmore James shuffle on, as Sean’s slide rides over Vin’s echo-effect vocal on “I’m A Filthy Man!”  And, a poignant, minor-key blues is the perfect lament for the 99%, as Vin’s been “workin’ ’round the clock” to stay afloat, and has “been beaten down by The Factory.”

Vin Mott has taken the classic twelve-bar blues idiom and put his own fiery feel to it.  Clever lyrics, powerhouse harp and vocals, and a killer backing band will make you understand why he’s “Quit The Women For The Blues!”   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Billy T Band review…February 22, 2017…

BILLY T BAND

RECKONING

BIG H RECORDS

RECKONING–SHAME SHAME–ON YOUR OWN–SAD MAN–ONE OF THESE DAYS–GONE–IT AIN’T RIGHT–LOVE IS GONNA GET YOU–TROUBLE–I’VE BEEN A FOOL

Billy T (Troiani)  was born and raised in NYC, and moved to Oslo, Norway, in 1997, where he led the house band at the iconic Muddy Waters Blues Club located in that city.  During those years, Billy T and the band backed some of the most renowned names in the blues genre’ that traveled thru Norway, including the likes of Nappy Brown, Mitch Kashmar, and a host of others.  His fourth album, entitled “Reckoning,” is a veritable cornucopia of classic blues, soul, and R & B sounds.

Clever use of a string section gives that vintage sound to the leadoff cut.  When a love affair hits the skids and is “no longer about me and you,” then “there’s gonna be a Reckoning.”  Ian Johannessen’s slide guitar is at the epicenter of Billy’s vocal read on a tale of perseverance, “you gotta walk that lonely highway On Your Own,” while the story of a relationship reaching the breaking point is “One Of These Days, you’re gonna miss me!”  It begins as a quiet, acoustic affair, before the electric instrumentation kicks in mid-song.  He closes the set with a killer ballad,  driven by Haakon Hoeye’s organ, which gives the pleading vocal of “I’ve Been A Fool”  a  sanctified, testifyin,’ Percy Sledge vibe.

Our favorite was easy.  Billy and the fellows get their Curtis Mayfield groove on,  with the socially-conscious lyrics of the wah-wah-driven story of something we all know–“them that’s got, they get more/them that don’t, they stay poor,” and “It Ain’t Right.”

With his spot-on nods toward classic Stax and Philly soul/blues, Billy T and the band speaks to our hearts, minds, and souls with “Reckoning.”    Two big thumbs up for this one!!  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow.

Jessie Smith review…February 19, 2017….

JESSIE SMITH

LIKE THE SUN

JESSIESMITHMUSIC.COM

INTRO–LIGHTING UP THE WORLD–JUNKYARD GOD–PAY NO MIND–TROUBLE–HERE WITH YOU–SECRETS IN THE HOLLOW–LET ME COME HOME–IN THE MORNING–SITTING PRETTY–TAKE A CHANCE ON ME–BEEN IN THE STORM

Music City songstress Jessie Smith wants her fans to know that she is taking a darker approach to the dozen originals that comprise her latest album, “Like The Sun.”  Jessie finished college at Belmont here in Nashville, following a stint studying opera at Mercer, and her supple, rich voice takes this material all over the musical map, exploring classic soul, blues, Americana, and even a touch of gospel.

“In The Morning” covers Jessie’s outlook on life–“Like The Sun, I rise”–and she meets each challenge head-on  She wants us to join her in feeling the various emotions that run thru these cuts.  She wears her heart  on her sleeve on the piano-heavy ballad that is her ode to true love, “what I want is to be “Here With You.”  But, we learn quickly that nothing lasts forever, and, when it all goes south, she’s on her knees, begging to “Let Me Come Home–I got no more miles left in these worn-out shoes.”  She lets us all know that “you can’t run from Trouble–there ain’t no place that far,’ and addresses everyone’s skeletons in their closets, with the foreboding stomp of those “secrets that never stay Secrets In The Hollow.”

Our favorite was easy.  Everybody says the economy is robust, but try selling that to the folks who are still “just another face in the unemployment line,” the poignant, piano-and-slide-guitar-driven “Take A Chance On Me.

Jessie Smith uses her voice and the material in “Like The Sun” to lead us on a journey of the trials and tribulations of the human spirit.  She also knows that, if you persevere and stay true to yourself, you’ll find the light of redemption at the end of the tunnel!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.