Archive for April, 2017

Mick Kolassa and Mark Telesca review…April 29, 2017….

MICK KOLASSA AND MARK TELESCA

YOU CAN’T DO THAT

SWING SUIT RECORDS  MMK 032017

I’LL CRY INSTEAD–CAN’T BUY ME LOVE–I FEEL FINE–FIXING A HOLE–YOU CAN’T DO THAT–GOT TO GET YOU INTO MY LIFE–LADY MADONNA–WHY DON’T WE DO IT IN THE ROAD–SHE’EAN MR. MUSTARD/POLYTHENE PAM–SHE CAME IN THROUGH THE BATHROOM WINDOW

Mick Kolassa and Mark Telesca are bluesmen through and through, and are accomplished musicians able to find  a blues thread in virtually every song they hear, and that includes some of the most revered songs of the 20TH Century–those written by Lennon and McCartney.  What began as an acoustic jam where they shared a guitar during the 2016 Blues Awards turned into this recording of acoustic blues versions of Beatles songs.  Early on, naysayers told the pair that “You Can’t Do That,” but that became the mantra to forge ahead with the project, and, subsequently, the title of the album itself.  Jeff Jensen jumped on board to produce and add guitar,  and the fellows pulled it off—in spades!

Their all-acoustic arrangements make some of these classics unrecognizable from their original forms, which is another cool thing about how they re-worked this material that most of us knew by heart.  Leading off, Mick pairs with Marc Franklin on trumpet for a jazzed-up, old-timey read of “I’ll Cry Instead.”  Memphis harp ace Eric Hughes blows the reeds as Mick gets down’n’dirty on the title cut, where a petulant lover is about to get the heave-ho.  This one is also spiced up by some sweet slide guitar.

Mark Telesca takes the listener down a somewhat-darker path on some of his lead vocals.  Evidence the minor-key influences on “Can’t Buy Me Love” and “Fixing A Hole,” before rocking the hell outta “Got To Get You Into My Life.”

Tommy Boroughs on fiddle adds a unique aura to Mick’s vocal on “Lady Madonna,” and Tommy adds mandolin on our favorite, Mick’s “blues-grass,” high-lonesome read of “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window.”

It is amazing how the genre’ of the blues can be heard in just about every aspect of popular music. When you take two musicians the caliber of Mick Kolassa and Mark Telesca,  they can extract the blues outta just about any song, even after being told, “You Can’t Do That!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Bobby Messano review…April 29, 217….

BOBBY MESSANO

BAD MOVIE

THE PRINCE FROG RECORD COMPANY

BAD MOVIE–COME TO YOUR SENSES–WHY WATER A DEAD ROSE–ROAD TO  OBLIVION–UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM–TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE–IF THE PHONE AIN’T RINGIN’, IT’S NOT ME CALLIN’–NEVER TOO LATE TO BREAK A BAD HABIT–WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE (FEAT. ALECIA ELLIOTT)–YOU LEFT ME NO CHOICE (FEAT. ALECIA ELLIOTT)–THE GIRL THAT GOT AWAY–I THOUGHT WE HAD THIS–WE NEED A BLESSING–IS IT TOO MUCH TO HOPE FOR A MIRACLE–AMERICAN SPRING

Guitarist Bobby Messano has served as the musical director for Steve Winwood, Lou Gramm, and several others, along with releasing seven albums of his own.  His vast musical contributions also earned him a well-deserved spot in the New Jersey Blues Hall Of Fame.

He teamed up with writers Jon Tiven, Larry Weiss, Steve Kalinich, and Queen legend Brian May for the fifteen cuts that comprise his latest effort, “Bad Movie.”  Over the course of this album, Bobby and his writing team take us on a musical journey thru bouts of love gone sour, a country gone to Hell in 100 days, breaking one’s bad habits, and gathering salvation through the music itself.  They had a lot to say on this album, and said it in a lot of different ways.  So, let’s get down to it!

Some Texas twang kicks off the title cut, as Bobby’s lover has gone, turning his life into one long, “Bad Movie,” and he gits while the gittin’ is good, leaving a bad lover, because “It’s Never To Late To Break A Bad Habit!”

Bobby forges some good times on this set, too.  Check out the ol’ Elias McDaniel beat on another cool left jab-right cross combination at another lover, “I don’t care who yer ballin, If The Phone Ain’t Ringin’, It’s Me Not Callin!’  And, he’s joined on two duets by Alecia Elliott, the poignant “Water Under The Bridge, and this bridge is under water now,” and the “reggae-Mon” of “You Left Me No Choice.”

Our favorites lended themselves to Bobby’s humorous side.  A stout shot of Delta slide paves the path “down the Road To Oblivion,” while a political system that was broken at best now finds itself swirling down the toilet in those oft-mentioned one hundred days, as Bobby has “Faced The Nation and Met The Press,” and begs for some “Unconventional Wisdom.”

With a little help from his friends, Bobby Messano has vowed to us he’s gonna “stick around and sing!”  And, with “Bad Movie,” us fans are the real winners!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Low Society review…April 25, 2017…

LOW SOCIETY

SANCTIFIED

REZONATE RECORDS 32017

ANGEL FROM MONTGOMERY–RACCOON SONG–THE FREEZE–SANCTIFIED–RIVER OF TEARS–NINA–DROWNING BLUES–NEW YOUR CITY BOY #3–HERE COMES THE FLOOD–I’D RATHER GO BLIND

The third album from internationally-renowned blues band Low Society is called “Sanctified,” and for a very good reason.  Lead vocalist Mandy Lemons lets her voice soar with unbridled passion over these eight originals and two covers, pushed onward by her long-time collaborator, guitarist and fellow composer Sturgis Nikides.  They’ve played the IBC’s in 2014 and 2015, and, also in 2015, they graced the stage at the prestigious  Lucerne Blues Festival in Switzerland.

They relocated from NYC to Memphis in 2012, and the recording of this project was done in two very different locales–the rhythm tracks were laid down in Roeselare, Belgium, at the Closed Session Recording Studio, while everything else happened down at the historic American Recording Studio in the Bluff City.

Starting off, Mandy gets us all in the mood for the good things to come with a fine read of John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery,” and closes the set with Sturgis’ slide guitar holding things together while Mandy holds nothin’ back as the jilted heroine of the classic “I’d Rather Go Blind.”    In between, tho, their eight originals show why they are so in-demand all over the globe.  “The Raccoon Song” has a good  Hill-Country boogie thang going on as Mandy channels her inner John Lee Hooker on the spirited vocals, with jaw-harp courtesy of Brian Hawkins.  She revisits that lover who’s “got nothing left to lose” in the poignant “River Of Tears,” where “my heart’s just an empty hole,” and Sturgis joins in for a duet on a Delta-inspired cut, his original “Drowning Blues.”

We had two favorites, too.  The title cut starts with a cool slide intro before gettin’ on the glory train where “these blues are Sanctified,” built around a Sun-drenched rockabilly groove.  And, Lucero’s legendary piano man, Rick Steff, lays down the 88’s and the accordion over a second-line pattern and Mandy’s wailin’ vocal on the Big Easy groove of “Here Comes The Flood.”

With “Sanctified,” Mandy and Sturgis empower their near-spiritual connection to the blues while delivering a set that’s sure to continue the acclaim they received from their first two sets.  And, the real winners are all us fans!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Vintage #18 review…April 24, 2017….

VINTAGE #18

GRIT

SELF-RELEASED

DIAMONDS ARE OPTIONAL–IS THIS TOO GOOD?–LOVE HANGOVER–MILLION MILES–CIRCLES–PIECES–JUST GOT BACK FROM BABY’S–POOR ME–REMEMBER–GOOD EYE–CIRCLES (DOWN HOME)

Vintage #18 is a dynamite, powerhouse soul-blues outfit primarily based out of the Northern Virginia, Maryland, and the D. C. area.  They played the IBC’s in 2016, and were a part of the Blind Raccoon Showcase earlier this year.  Their debut album is entitled “Grit,” and it was recorded shortly after that 2016 IBC performance.

With a name like Vintage #18, the players draw from a myriad of influences, including many Stax and Chess artists. The lady on lead vocal is Robbin Kapsalis, Chicago-born and Atlanta-raised.  Her aunt Ida would play Etta, Muddy, and Koko whenever young Robbin would visit, leaving a lasting impression on her.  Along for the ride on this set is Bill Holter on the (most excellent) guitars,  Mark Chandler on bass, keys, and slide guitar, and Alex Kuldell on drums.

Robbin has one of those vocal styles that has just the right touch of sass, class, brass, and sultriness.  The Caddy’s gassed up and ready to roll right down Beale with the opener, “Diamonds Are Optional,” ’cause “one kiss will do!”  That gives way to a tale of smoldering glances from a pair of “bedroom eyes,” begging our heroine to ask “Is This Too Good to be true?–are we gonna make it, me and you?”  Robbin plays “the other woman” to the hilt on “Just Got Back From Baby’s,,” where “if his lovin’ don’t kill me,  I know his wife will!”

“Poor Me” is pure classic 926 E. McLemore, while “Circles,” is presented in two versions.  First up is a gospel-infused tale of looking for that someone to “take my hand and lead me away,” ’cause “things the way they used to be.”  The set  closes with the other version, a grittier, “down home blues” read, with the authenticity supplied by slide guitar from Mark Chandler.

Our favorite was easy.  No matter how hard we may try in a relationship, sometimes one person feels as if they are “still a Million Miles from you.'”  It’s a showcase not only for that sultry side of Robbin’s vocal, but also for the considerable guitar chops of Bill Holter, who takes two dazzling, psychedelically-charged solos in this eight minutes of bliss.

Vintage #18 draws inspiration from classic Sixties and Seventies soul with a vocalist and musicians that have a deep passion for this style of blues.  Bottom line is, “Grit” has got it goin’ on!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Samantha Fish review…April 22, 2017…

SAMANTHA FISH

CHILLS AND FEVER

RUF RECORDS  RUF 1241

HE DID IT–CHILLS AND FEVER–HELLO STRANGER–IT’S YOUR VOODOO WORKING–HURT’S ALL GONE–YOU CAN’T GO–EITHER WAY I LOSE–NEVER GONNA CRY–LITTLE BABY–NEARER TO YOU–YOU’LL NEVER CHANGE–CROW JANE–SOMEBODY’S ALWAYS TRYING–I’LL COME RUNNING OVER

For her fourth album, Kansas City’s own Samantha Fish gives us an excellent return to the roots she loves the most–Delta blues, with a strong dose of Stax and Motown soul in the mix.  The thing that puts her latest for Ruf Records, “Chills And Fever,” so far over the top is the passion and conviction she brings to these fourteen cuts from the very vaults of rock and soul.  Adding to the mix is the production–Samantha ventured to Detroit to The 45 Factory , with Bobby Harlow at the helm, who also turned her on to some of these rarely-heard gems.  With Joe Mazzola on rhythm guitar throughout, Samantha leads off with the Jackie De Shannon-penned Detroit Cobras chestnut, the horn-drenched, girl-group homage to a lover long gone, “He Did It.”  An extended intro segues’ into a dreamy, inviting cover of Barbara Lewis’ “Hello Stranger,” while “It’s Your Voodoo Working” gets down and dirty into the Muddy side of her roots.  She closes the set with another nod to Sixties’ pop with the easily-danceable groove of Lulu’s “I’ll Come Running Over and give my love to you!”

We had two favorites,  which were perhaps the set’s most powerful offerings.  First up, an ominous, creepin’ sax blows over Samantha’s vocal on a tune dealing with choices posed by a cheatin’ lover, “Either Way I Lose.”  And, those fans hoping for a slide guitar, juke-joint throwdown,  get their wish on the traditional tale of “Crow Jane.”  Samantha doesn’t change the genders herein as she “buys me a pistol and 40 rounds of balls,” to “shoot Crow Jane just to see her fall.”  That grungy buzzsaw solo at the bridge and the ensuing echo-effect vocals tie this one up in a sweet package!

With “Chills And Fever,” Samantha Fish concentrates more on her vocals, but teases her fans with just enough guitar to keep them wanting more.  And, she’s introduced a batch of timeless nuggets from the beginnings of blues, rock, and soul to a whole new generation of listeners!  Until next time…..Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Guitar Slim, Jr. review for Record Store Day 2017….

GUITAR SLIM, JR.

THE STORY OF MY LIFE

ORLEANS RECORDS

TROUBLE DON’T LAST–LETTER TO MY GIRLFRIEND–THE STORY OF MY LIFE–BAD LUCK BLUES–CAN I CHANGE MY MIND–TOO WEAK TO FIGHT–REAP WHAT YOU SOW–WELL, I DONE GOT OVER IT–TURN BACK THE HANDS OF TIME–SUFFERIN’ MIND

The tenth annual Record Store Day is fast approaching, this Saturday, April 22, 2007.  There will be a spate of new vinyl releases to coincide with this day, and, one of them, Guitar Slim, Jr’s, “The Story Of My Life,” will mark the vinyl debut of this set some thirty years after its debut on CD back in 1987.

Rodney Armstrong is the son of legendary Louisiana bluesman, Eddie “Guitar Slim” Jones, and Rodney got the nickname “Slim Jr.” from another Louisiana legend, guitarist Earl King.  Jr.’s career was already moving forward when he entered the Big Easy Studios down on Paris Avenue in 1987 to record this set.  Many of that city’s best sidemen are present on this one, too.  Drummers include Shannon Powell and Kerry Brown, with Rene Coman and Charles Moore on bass, Jon Cleary on keys, and a wealth of horn players led by Milton Batiste, Jr.

Slim Jr. is quite the accomplished guitarist with a strong, soulful delivery.  These ten cuts draw on songs made popular by his father, plus some fine Atlantic and Stax-era soul-blues cuts.  He kicks off with the slow-blues punch of “I’m so glad Trouble Don’t Last always,” with the horns adding the spice.  “Well I Done Got Over It” has a decided Big Easy groove, and Cleary’s piano gets in some fine work over Slim’s guitar.

We had two favorites, too.  His take on “Too Weak To Fight” has some brilliant guitar work, and Jr. closes with a flurry of notes as he refers to his guitar as “my real old lady!”  And, “Reap What You Sow” digs down into some greasy slow-blues, and features an extended solo.

Guitar Slim, Jr., admitted to having a bit of a “wild streak” in his younger days, but credits the grace of the Good Lord for showing him the way.  He now lives a quiet life in the Washington, D. C. area, and  “The Story Of My Life” finally gets its due on vinyl.  We’ve had this CD in our collection since 1987, and it remains one of our all-time favorites, and the vinyl would be a fine addition to any fan’s collection!  Until next time..Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Monster Mike Welch and Mike Ledbetter review…April 20, 2017…

MONSTER MIKE WELCH

AND MIKE LEDBETTER

RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME

WITH SPECIAL GUEST LAURA CHAVEZ

DELTA GROOVE MUSIC  DGPCD  176

CRY FOR ME BABY–I CAN’T PLEASE YOU–I CAN’T STOP, BABY–DOWN HOME GIRL–HOW LONG CAN THIS GO ON–BIG MAMA–I’M GONNA MOVE TO ANOTHER COUNTRY–CAN’T SIT DOWN–CRYIN’ WON’T HELP YOU–GOODBYE BABY–BREWSTER AVENUE BUMP

On June 2, 2016, Monster Mike Welch, on guitar, and Mike Ledbetter, on vocals, sho’ nuff brought the house down during a tribute to Otis Rush at the Chicago Blues Festival.  Their chemistry was so incredible that an album had to be forthcoming.  And so it is, with “Right Place, Right Time,” for Delta Groove Records.  It has three Ledbetter originals and two from Mike, and these guys, along with Anthony Geraci on keys, Ronnie James Weber on bass, Marty Richards on drums, and special guest Laura Chavez on guitar on four cuts, adding a touch of yin to the fellows’ yang.

Mike Welch has been a guitar “Monster” for nearly twenty-five years, anointed as such by ol’ Elwood Blues himself, when Mike was only thirteen.  He’s appeared on sets for countless other artists, among them Sugaray Rayford and the Mannish Boys.  Mike Ledbetter spent eight years as vocalist for Nick Moss, and has an extensive background in pop, jazz, gospel, and even opera!  As you listen to this set, you will be impressed, as were we, with how easily Mike’s solid guitar tones meshed with the other Mike’s vocals, often pushing well into the upper registers.

Obviously, this set is a play on the title of Otis Rush’s legendary 1976 album, “Right Place, Wrong Time.”  The fellows get right into it, with the jumpin’ “Cry For Me Baby,” while Welch’s extended intro and the horn section of Sax Gordon and Doug James gives a decided West Side punch to “I Can’t Please You.”  Anthony has a lot of fun on piano with the loping beat of Ledbetter’s original, “Kay Marie,” while they dig down deep into classic slow-blues territory with a topical tune written by Mike Welch, “I’m Gonna Move To Another Country, maybe I can get a job.”  The set closes with a stompin’ instrumental, the Welch-penned “Brewster Avenue Bump,” featuring back-and-forth guitar interplay between Mike and Laura Chavez.

We had two favorites, too.  Mike’s rich guitar tones evoke Elmore James as Mike Ledbetter brings home the plaintive vocal on James’  “Goodbye Baby,” and they follow it up with a B. B.-inspired read of Robert Nighthawk’s “Cryin’ Won’t Help You, ’cause you been so mean to me!”

Monster Mike Welch and Mike Ledbetter play off of each other so seamlessly that this  set was downright magical.  You can bet they were both in the “Right Place, Right Time,” back in June 2016, and this album is a fine testimony to their incredible talents!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.