Archive for March, 2017

Jim Gustin and Truth Jones review…March 24, 2017…

JIM GUSTIN AND TRUTH JONES

MEMPHIS

SELF-RELEASED

HALF PAST TEN–LIVE WITH YOURSELF–MEMPHIS–YOU KNOW ME TOO WELL–I LOVE WHAT I GOT–BIG HEARTED WOMAN–CRAZY LITTLE WOMAN–I AIN’T PLAYING–SLIPPING AWAY–RIGHT TIME FOR GOODBYE

Jim Gustin is a deep-voiced blues singer, guitarist, and composer from Santa Clarita, CA, and has been gigging in and around the Los Angeles area for some thirty years.  His performing partner is Truth Jones, (real name: Jeri Goldenhar), who, at over six feet in stature, possesses an equally-impressive  voice, giving them a “dyno-mite” presence as a duo.  Their latest album is “Memphis,”  ten originals that prove to be a clever mix of various genres’, all staying true to their blues roots.  Nowhere is that ideal more on display than in the leadoff cut, “when it’s half-past two, baby where are you,” you know things are ’bout to crash in a classic kiss-off song, “Half Past Ten.”

The whole group makes clever use of the second-line rhythm pattern throughout this set, too.  First up is Truth on the lead vocal over Jim’s slide as she tells the tale of a love affair beyond repair, where the best thing you can do is “Live With Yourself.”  Jim takes the lead vocal as that rhythm pattern rides his story of a man counting his blessings, ’cause “I Love What I Got.”  The third example of that teasing rhythm is a dance-floor burner, too.  “Crazy Little Woman” rocks all over the place, ’cause “she loves me ’till the break of day!”

We had two favorites, too.  The title cut finds someone asking Jim “what do you know about the blues, living in the sunshine of L. A.?”  His answer?–“I’ve never been to Memphis, but everybody gets the blues, no matter where you’re from!”  The set closes on a dazzlingly-powerful note.  Jim and Truth duet as the tortured lovers who realize that “if it’s not the right time to say I love you, then it’s The Right Time for goodbye.”

Jim Gustin and Truth Jones each have their own distinctive styles, and, when combined, indeed make  the whole greater than the sum of the parts!  See for yourself as you take a little ride down to “Memphis.”     Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Johnny Mastro review…March 23, 2017…

JOHNNY MASTRO AND MAMA’S BOYS

NEVER TRUST THE LIVING

SELF-RELEASED

SNAKE DOCTOR–WHISKEY–JUDGEMENT DAY–MONKEY MAN–DON’T BELIEVE–HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN–WALKING–NEVER TRUST THE LIVING–BUCKSNORT ANNIE–THE SAD NIGHT OWL–INDRID COLD

Johnny Mastro And Mama’s Boys have been based out of New Orleans for quite a while now, but they formed way out west at the legendary Babe’s And Ricky’s Inn in Los Angeles.  It was there that club owner “Mama” Gross encouraged them to forge their own unique sound as long as it stayed true to the roots of the blues.  Well, the fellows have done just that.  With Johnny on harp and vocals, Smoke on guitar, Dean Zucchero on bass, and Rob Lee on drums, they have just released “Never Trust The Living,” eleven cuts of originals and covers , which were laid down in the summer of 2014 at The Music Shed in New Orleans.

These songs all have a lot in common with the Big Easy, because they forge many elements of blues and rock together for a swampy-yet-futuristic sound.  You’d swear that some of these cuts were long-lost gems from the vaults of Jay Miller’s  Excello Records, thanks to the echo-laden arrangements.  Such is the case with the leadoff cut, the slide-and-harp stomp of  “Snake Doctor,” which, for us blues fans, is just what the gris-gris man ordered, climaxing with an outta-this-world slide solo!  Next up is the curious case of the girl in the “long white dress,” who’s “on the Whiskey now!”  It follows a cool, loping beat with crackling guitar-harp interplay from Smoke and Johnny.

“Don’t Believe” is some sweet slow-blues, while “Walking” has Johnny toeing that line, “straight home to you,” as Smoke rips off one slide run after another.  And, the fellows close the set on an interplanetary note, with a mythical tale from 1966, complete with a UFO and “Indrid Cold.”  It ends with some killer, frenetic harp and the sound of that spaceship landing!

We had two favorites, too.  The band puts an ominous spin on Snooky Pryor’s “Judgement Day,” where you beg “St. Peter, please open the door.”  And, for their take on “House Of The Rising Sun,” Johnny begins with a straight read on the harp, before the band kicks into the pyrotechnical stratosphere, then back down to a somber closing as it began.

Back in the day, Jay Miller at Excello or Sam Phillips at Sun would’ve signed these guys at first note. They have a sound all their own, pulling the old-school blues in with enough contemporary spunk to please today’s listeners.  Johnny Mastro And Mama’s Boys ride some sho’ nuff fine grooves in “Never Trust The Living.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Geoff Achison review…March 21, 2017…

GEOFF ACHISON

ANOTHER MILE, ANOTHER MINUTE

JUPITER II RECORDS  GRACD 19 J2

HIGH WIRE–DELTA DAVE–WORKING MY WAY BACK HOME–I’M GONNA RIDE–A NEW BAD HABIT–I WISH YOU WERE MINE–ANOTHER MILE, ANOTHER MINUTE–MAKE NO MISTAKE–DREAMING I’M AWAKE–SUM PEEPLES GOT ALL DA FONK–BABY COME BACK–I NEED HELP–MAKE MY STAND–FRONT PORCH FAREWELL

We sho’ nuff got a holiday-themed postcard back around Christmas from Australian blues man  Geoff Achison, alerting us to the March release of his first album in nearly ten years.  It’s here, fans, and it was well-worth the wait!  Over the last ten years, obviously the face of the musical landscape has changed, but Geoff has kept his fingers on the pulse of the times, so, over the course of these fourteen originals, we are treated to some fine electric and acoustic blues, soul, funk, and even a gospel-ish cut.

Geoff has won numerous awards for playing and composing, and was named one of the “Top 50 Australian Guitarists Of All Time,” and, as you listen to the varied shades of blues contained herein, you can see why.  Check out the Mississippi-style tale of ol’ “Delta Dave,” whose philanthropical side was his best asset, as he played for tips, and “took what he needed and gave the rest away,” helping any one in need until he “took his last ride in June of “99.”  Geoff gets in a mellow, soulful mood after giving up all his vices, and finds himself in dire need of “A New Bad Habit!”  He closes the set with that reverential, almost-gospel instrumental, the sweet “Front Porch Farewell.”

We had two favorites, too, both on the funky side of the fence.  First up is the mythical tale of a letter belonging to St. Peter that holds the key to “who stays in and who stays out,” and begs for a chance to do it all again, this time vowing to “Make No Mistake.”  And, speaking of funk, “Sum Peeples Got All Da Fonk” takes a tongue-in-cheek look at those of us who have got none, and name-checks Dr. John, Larry Graham, Bootsy, and ol’ Henry Roeland Byrd as great examples!

With killer guitar stylings and that seasoned, burnished vocal delivery, Geoff Achison breathes vivid life into the characters and events of “Another Mile, Another Minute,” making this one a stone groove fest, indeed!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

The Two Tracks review…March 20, 2017…

THE TWO TRACKS

POSTCARD TOWN

SELF-RELEASED

EYES ON THE ROAD–LOST IN THIS CANYON–RAIN DAY–FOUR WHEELS–SOW ‘EM ON THE MOUNTAIN–POSTCARD TOWN–OLD COYOTE MOON–CATCHING YOU–BAJA–DRAGONFLY–BACK TO MEMPHIS

The Two Tracks hail from Sheridan, WY, near the base of the Bighorn Mountains.  For their second album, they drove dang near cross-country to Music City, and, more specifically, to the Butcher Shoppe Studios, to be produced by Will Kimbrough.  The result is a solid, mesmerizing, honest look at life thru the eyes of a band who’s spent much of the last couple of years on the road, in support of their debut album.

This latest album is called “Postcard Town,” and it features eleven band originals, with Julie Szewc on vocals and guitar, David Huebner on vocals, cello, and electric guitar, Fred Serna on drums, and Russell Smith on doghouse bass, with special guest Bruce Bouton on pedal steel on a couple of cuts.  They begin this musical, emotional travelogue with Julie on lead vocal for “Eyes On The Road,” as she encourages us to explore our dreams and be true to ourselves.   David takes the lead on “Lost In This Canyon,” where one’s spirit of exploration and never “letting it all pass by” takes over, much like Henry David Thoreau and Gary Snyder, who each used poetry to seek the truth in their own ways.  David’s cello adds a unique perspective to this cut, as does Bruce’s steel play.

We had three favorites, too.  “Sow “Em On The Mountain, reap ’em in the valley,” is a sweet, old-time mountain gospel tune with the message of turning away from iniquity.  “Old Coyote Moon” is perhaps the set’s bluesiest fare, with its tales of the Great Spirit, disease, acid rains, and wars, and a longing for “the day before Columbus came.”  Will Kimbrough adds a cool touch with electric guitar on this one, too.  And, the set closes as Julie is “finally, finally free” from a controlling lover, and she leaves “the clothes out back hanging on the line” to start her life over by “driving Back To Memphis,” with Will on guitar here, too.

With “Postcard Town,” The Two Tracks reach down into our collective souls with a batch of well-crafted songs that are delivered from a storyteller’s point of view, and the musicianship and harmonies are as sweet as honey in the rock.  Their unique sounds are sure to earn them a huge fan base, and we ,look forward to hearing more from this exciting group!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Jon Zeeman review…March 19, 2017…

JON ZEEMAN

BLUE ROOM

MEMBRANE RECORDS

ALL I WANT IS YOU–HOLD ON–LOVE IN VAIN–NEXT TO YOU–STILL RAININ, STILL DREAMIN–IF I COULD MAKE YOU LOVE ME–ALL ALONE–TALKIN’ BOUT MY BABY–BLUE ROOM–NOTHING IN THE WORLD

Jon Zeeman is a guitarist with a style all his own.  While listening to his latest set, “Blue Room,” we were impressed with the impeccable tone he coaxes out of his guitar, and the ease in which he goes from song to song, even tho they are all different.

Jon played for drummer Butch Trucks in his Freight Train Band, and got invited to play guitar for the ABB at the Beacon Theater.  Jon always wanted to record with Butch, and the iconic drummer appears on two tracks herein, and, by all accounts, are the last tracks he recorded before tragically taking his own life on January 24, 2017.

On “Blue Room,” Jon is on guitar and vocals, and has quite a capable backing band with South Florida players Phil MacArthur on bass, Tom Regis and Bob Taylor on keys, and George Lilly drumming on eight cuts.  They kick things off with a driving, jazzy shuffle, “All I Want Is You,” which has an Allman Brothers feel with Butch on drums over Jon’s vocal of that girl with “the wiggle when she walks!”  And, they revisit that vibe a bit later with the loping strides of “Next To You,” also with Butch on drums.

Jon and his regular band bust out some sweet slow blues with “If I Could Make You Love Me, I’d give up everything I own,” before absolutely funking up the joint with the strut and swagger of “Talkin’ ‘Bout My Baby!”

We had two favorites which showcased Jon’s versatility in both tone and technique.  First up, he works the wah-wah on a cool cover of Jimi’a “Still Rainin, Still Dreamin,” and plays the venerable Robert Johnson’s “Love In Vain” in a pastoral, almost-reverential, country-blues manner, complete with a fine acoustic piano break.

Jon Zeeman has pledged half the royalties generated from “All I Want Is You” and “Next To You” to benefit the family of Butch Trucks and his favorite charity, The Big House Museum in Macon, GA.  “Blue Room” is an excellent set of blues from a guitarist with a big tone and a fine batch of material!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Billy Price review…March 18, 2017….

BILLY PRICE

ALIVE AND STRANGE

FEAT. BILLY PRICE BAND

VIZZTONE LABEL GROUP/NOLA BLUE  VT-NB003

IT AIN’T A JUKE JOINT WITHOUT THE BLUES–LIFESTYLES OF THE POOR AND UNKNOWN–SOMETHING STRANGE–ONE MORE DAY–NOTHING STAYS THE SAME FOREVER–NEVER GET ENOUGH–WHAT HAVE I DONE WRONG–LICKIN STICK–R. M. BLUES–MAKIN’ PLANS

Pittsburgh’s bona fide Rock And Roll Legend might be best-known to long-time fans as Roy Buchanan’s featured vocalist, going back to the Seventies.  More recently, Billy Price recorded “This Time For Real,” with Otis Clay,  released to high praise everywhere in 2015.  His latest set, for the Vizztone Group under the Nola Blue imprint, is “Alive And Strange,” recorded live at Club Cafe’ in front of an amped-up hometown crowd.  The eleven cuts are a Duke’s mix of originals and covers that come at you just like an old-school funk, blues, and R & B revue show.

Billy is backed by a topnotch group of musicians, including a monster horn section that breathes high-octane energy into this incendiary set.   Check out the horn and keys punch over Billy’s vocal on the Godfather’s “Never Get Enough of that fine foxy thing,” and his burnin’ take on Magic Sam’s West Side anthem to a lost love, “What Have I Done Wrong,” with Steve Delach breakin’ it down on guitar, and Matt Ferrrero on sax.

Billy gets into a reflective mood on the William Bell chestnut, “since you been gone, I’m livin’ the Lifestyle Of The Poor And Unknown,” and then everybody gets in a breezy mode with an uplifting cut asking a lover to “hold on for One More Day.”  The set proper closes with a cut recorded at Carnegie Mellon University School Of Music from December 2012, and it’s a killer.  “Makin Plans” finds Billy involved with the wrong girl, who, “while we were makin’ love, you were makin’ plans” for her own agenda!

We had two favorites, too.  Leading off the live show is a shout-out to blues clubs everywhere, where you might “have a crap game in the back,” but “It Ain’t A Juke Joint Without The Blues!”  And, everybody gets a solo on the live show closer, a “solid send-up” of Roy Milton’s “R. M. Blues.”

Billy Price is a powerhouse vocalist and his band can bring the heat with the best of ’em.  Enjoy them in their natural element, in a live setting, with “Alive And Strange!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Sean Chambers review..March 17, 2017….

SEAN CHAMBERS

TROUBLE AND WHISKEY

AMERICAN SHOWPLACE MUSIC  ASM  7104

I NEED YOUR LOVIN’–BOTTLE KEEPS STARING AT ME–TROUBLE AND WHISKEY–TRAVELIN’ NORTH–CUT OFF MY RIGHT ARM–BULLFROG BLUES–SWEETER THAN A HONEY BEE–HANDYMAN–BE CAREFUL WITH A FOOL–GONNA GROOVE

Sean Chambers began his blues journey some twenty years ago while serving as guitarist and bandleader for the legendary Hubert Sumlin.  During his tenure in this capacity, Britain’s “Guitarist” magazine tagged him as one of the Top 50 Guitarists Of The Last Century.  He wears that crown well, as you will hear as you listen to his latest album, and sixth overall, “Trouble And Whiskey,” on the American Showplace Music label.    Production duties were handled by Ben Elliott, known for his work with Clapton, Leslie West, and many others.

Sean is all over the guitars on this contemporary blues-rock extravaganza, with Todd Cook on bass, Michael Hensley on keys, and Kris Schnebelen on drums.  There are seven new cuts and three waaay-cool covers, and the set starts with one of those originals.  “I Need Your Lovin” has a stomping, almost Hill-Country vibe, with Sean’s bristling lead licks at the forefront of an ode to that special lover that “makes my loneliness through!”  Next up is an all-out slide fest. “That Bottle Keeps Staring At Me!”  The fellows get in a funked-up mood on “Travelin’ North,” due in part to some mighty fine B-3 from labelmate  (and our good friend) John Ginty.

Sean pays tribute to another famous slide master, Roy Buchanan, with a buzzed-out, amped-up, rapid-fire read of “Bullfrog Blues,” then slows things down a bit for the minor-key Clyde Copeland chestnut, “Cut Off My Right Arm.”

We had two favorites, too.  The swagger of “Handyman” has Sean bragging to a lover that “I’ll be your sparkplug/I’ll keep your motor runnin.” and features Jimmy Bennett on guitar.  And, in the grand tradition of B B King,  Sean gives an excellent take on the slow-blues of “Be Careful With A Fool–someday he may get smart!”

Sean Chambers continues to forge his path as one of the premier guitar-slingers on the planet today, and, coupled with his seasoned vocals and fresh material, “Trouble And Whiskey” has a triple-shot of everything a blues fan could want!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.