Archive for May, 2017

Hot Roux review…May 30, 2017….

HOT ROUX

HOMETOWN BLUES

HI HAT ENTERTAINMENT   HHE 7252

DON’T WANNA TALK ABOUT LOVE–DELLA BE MY BABY–WOMAN YOU HAUNT ME–DOWN AND OUT–MISERY MISERY–ONE MORE TRAIN–I HEAR’M TALK’N–CAN’T SEE–RENT PARTY BOOGIE–WHAT A LIE–WAKE UP SLIM

We had the great pleasure to review the debut album from Ventura, CA’s favorite sons, Hot Roux, a while back.  They are back with eleven more strong originals, this one entitled “Hometown Blues,” for Hi Hat Entertainment.

Jerry McWorter is once again on drums, vocals, and producer detail, with Brent Harding on bass.  Those two do the songwriting, and, as you listen, you can see why they named this band Hot Roux.  As with any good Louisiana roux, you gotta mix the right spices, butter, and flour.  These guys have that varied, eclectic, genre’-defying sound that literally runs from Memphis thru Stax and Sun, on deep down into the Delta,  thru the swamps of Excello to the Big Easy.

If that ain’t enough to whet your appetite, there are more guitar players on this set than you can shake a stick at, including Paris Slim Goldwasser, Ed Berghoff, Kyle Jester, Johnny Main, and Jon Lawton.  They start the ruckus off right, with a cool rocker titled “Don’t Wanna Talk About Love,” with R J Mischo on the harp.  “Della Be My Baby” has a sweet Delta-meets-the-Big-Easy groove, with slide from Paris Slim and Jerry’s second-line drumming, while “Down And Out” is pure classic Stax.

You can’t have a blues album of this stature without a “train” song and a “my baby left me” song.  Well, the sparsely-arranged “One More Train” fills that bill!  “Can’t See” is a humorous, loping slice of blues-rock that finds Jerry bemoaning his dependency on “glasses from the 99-cent store,” while R J again nails the harp on the rhumba-roll of “What A Lie.”

We had two favorites, too.  They jump all over that swampy Excello groove with a sax-filled romp called “Rent Party Boogie!”  And, there’s nothin’ quite like a good, Fifties-inspired ballad from a band who can do it right, and, “Woman You Haunt Me” woulda won the Wurlitzer prize on any jukebox from back in the day, and Carl Sonny Leyland’s honky-tonkin’ piano just adds to the authenticity.

Hot Roux are as eclectic as they come, crossing boundaries and genres’ with ease, and loving every minute of it!  “Hometown Blues” will take you on a sweet musical journey into their world, where there are no rules–just great blues!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Bridget Kelly Band review…May 29, 2017….

BRIDGET KELLY BAND

FEATURING TIM FIK

BONE RATTLER

ALPHA SUN RECORDS  2017

DISC 1:  AIN’T MISSING YOU–WHAT YOU NEED–LEVEE AND THE BRIDGE–BOOM BOOM–I RIDE AGAINST THE WIND–NO GOOD FOR ME–GOIN’ TO CHI-TOWN–LEAVIN’ ON SUNDAY–SAME BAD ATTITUDE–DEEPER THAN BLUE–DON’T BOTHER COMIN’ HOME–OUTBOUND MISSISSIPPI–GHOST TRAIN

 

DISC 2:  THE DARK NIGHT–MR. GAINES–IN MY SORROW–I’M SO TIRED–HAMBONE–BAD TORNADO–CELL PHONE BLUES–CAT’S OUT OF THE BAG–YOUR LIMOZEEN

The Bridget Kelly Band call Gainesville, Florida, their home.  They’ve been one of our favorites for some time now, and they continue to improve their sound with each successive album.  Led by the red-hot vocals of Bridget Kelly, the band plays the blues with their influences coming from Memphis, Texas, and classic blues-rock.  Along with Bridget, there’s Tim Fik on guitar and vocals, Mark Armbrecht on bass, and Alex Klausner on drums.

Their latest set is a monster, indeed.  “Bone Rattler” is twenty-two original songs spread over two CD’s that is guaranteed to, well, “rattle your bones,” as they lay it all on the table for their fans with this outstanding collection.  Brother Tim Fik has always been a mighty force on guitar, but he absolutely scorches the frets throughout both discs.  That is readily evident as the first set kicks off with a blistering, Freddie King-styled groove, as Bridget tells an ex that “I’m sleepin’ real good tonite–I Ain’t Missin’ You!”  Bridget pays tribute to the people affected by Katrina with the minor-key read of “graves without stones,” “The Levee And The Bridge.”

We’ve always enjoyed Bridget and Tim layin’ down some of that good, deep, slow-blues, and her story of “I was so good for you, baby, but you were No Good For Me” is just what the root doctor ordered!  And, they turn in a sweet duet on the slide-heavy tale of “going down to Florida” on that “OutBound Mississippi” train, with a cool “alternative” ending!

Our favorite was, hands down, Bridget’s call for us all to follow her, “Goin’ To Chi-Town,” as Tim busts out his best Elmore James licks.

The second disc boogied just as hard as the first.  It features Tim on the majority of the vocals, and he really lets his guitar do some talkin.’  He leads off with the supernatural groove of “The Dark Night,” with plenty of Johnny Winter-inspired guitar.  A bit later, he gets his Voodoo Chile on, with a cool song that was just too short, entitled “In My Sorrow.”

We had three favorites on Disc 2.  Bridget joins in on duet vocals as that “Bad Tornado” Tim sings about, on this stone rocker ’bout a woman who’ll “give you the blues!”  We loved the abstract humor of Tim’s story of a man who “has a third wife, but still sees the other two,” because, even tho he “gave up whiskey,” he just can’t quit that “Hambone!”  And, a song that could only happen in the 21st Century,  “Cell Phone Blues” finds Tim leaving a lover who’s “married to that damn cell phone,” playing out over Tim’s sizzling guitar lines.

The Bridget Kelly Band flat tore it up on stage as a part of the “Women In Blues” showcase during the 2017 IBC’s in Memphis.  Their hot streak continues, with this set, sho’ nuff a “Bone Rattler.”  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Gina Sicilia review…May 27, 2017….

GINA SICILIA

TUG OF WAR

BLUE ELAN RECORDS  BER 1023

I DON’T WANT TO BE IN LOVE–DAMAGING ME–HE CALLED ME BABY–I’LL STAND UP–NEVER GONNA END-I CRIED–THEY NEVER PAY ME–ABANDONED–TELL HIM–ALL MY LOVING–HEAVEN

We’ve been fans of Gina Sicilia since her 2007 debut, “Allow Me To Confess,” which garnered her a Blues Award nomination for Best New Artist.  She’s been a Nashville resident for a while now, and, after a well-received EP in 2016, “Sunset Avenue,” she is back with a long-awaited full-length set, “Tug Of War.”  Eight originals and three unique covers make this a sweet listen from a brilliant songstress, indeed.  Gina has that kind of a voice that, like the proverbial Siren, draws you in at first note, and, over these originals, plays the heroine eternally caught in the tog of war between good and bad, drawing on her inner strength to overcome all obstacles.

Starting off is her ode to the difficulty of a relationship that always seems to have one foot on a banana peel, “I Don’t Want To Be In Love–haven’t I cried enough?”  Dave Darling, (co-producer, along with Glenn Barratt), adds the guitar.  “Never Gonna End” deals with two lovers at odds, “growing angrier” toward each other, feeling as if they are heading over the cliff.  Ron Jennings is on the guitar here, over a sweetly-soulful, Dusty Springfield groove.

Being a strong woman in a male-dominated business brought out Gina’s fightin’ side, in the form of a plea for not only monetary gain, but, perhaps more importantly, the respect she deserves, “They Never Pay Me.”  She closes the set with a solid shot of Sunday-morning sweetness, t

he upbeat “Heaven, do you hear me calling your name,” a personal plea for salvation and “how to cross over into your land.”

We had two favorites, too. “I Cried” follows that gospel-themed fervor of “going down to the river” to cry away “the fear on my shoulders and the worry on my mind.”  And, she adds just the perfect touch of forlorn and heartfelt soul to one of Harlan Howard’s finest, “He Called Me Baby, baby, all night long.”

Gina Sicilia remains motivated by her inner desire to create good music–whether on paper, in the studio, on stage, or anywhere she can.  She is touring extensively over the remainder of this year in support of “Tug Of War,” full of her honest, emotion-packed songs of love and life.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

The Andy T. Band review…May 26, 2017….

THE ANDY T BAND

FEATURING ALABAMA MIKE

AND SPECIAL GUESTS NICK NIXON AND ANSON FUNDERBURGH

DOUBLE STRIKE

AMERICAN SHOWPLACE MUSIC  ASM 7215

I WANT YOU BAD–SOMEBODY LIKE YOU–DEEP INSIDE–SWEET THING–I FEEL SO BAD–JUANITA–MUDSLIDE–SAD TIMES–DOIN HARD TIME–DRUNK OR SOBER–I WAS GONNA LEAVE YOU–DREAM ABOUT YOU–WHERE DID OUR LOVE GO WRONG

This review may wax a bit long, and more than a bit sentimental, so please bear with us, as there is much that needs saying.  The latest album from the Andy T (Talamantez) Band is both a heartfelt look at the past,  as well as a glimpse into  a bright future.  The album is entitled “Double Strike,” for American Showplace Music, and features Andy on guitar, with guitar also from co-producer Anson Funderburgh, Larry Van Loon on keys, Johnny Bradley on bass, Jim Klingler on drums, and Greg Izor on the harp.  The Texas Horns–Kaz Kazanoff, John Mills and Al Gomez–complete the classic R & B sound for this set.

This set also is likely to be the last recordings of the legendary James “Nick” Nixon, a member of the Andy T. Band since 2011, and includes three previous, highly-acclaimed albums, all reviewed elsewhere within this forum.  Nick’s recent health issues have forced him to scale back his workload, and another member of our hugely-extensive blues family, Bob Corritore, mentioned Alabama Mike Benjamin, veteran of the Bay Area scene, to sing in Nick’s absence.  After a few trial runs, the deal was done, and Alabama Mike joined the band. For this set, Mike has lead vocal on six cuts, with Nick also having six.

Andy T’s guitar holds it all together, with his West Coast, T-Bone Walker-meets- B. B. King swing, and he lets the singers do what they do best.  Alabama Mike has a great high tenor vocal that fits well within the band’s sound, and he has a gospel background, as does Nick.  Mike kicks things off with a rousing rocker, “I Want You Bad,” then hits a sweet, soulful stride with Larry Van Loon’s original,  “I’ve been looking for Somebody Like You,” where “today wasn’t promised, and  tomorrow’s not sure.”  Mike Flanigan’s B-3 drives Mike’s read of one of Nick’s originals, a vintage “since you left me” song,  “Sad Times,” which utilizes Mike’s upper-register vocals.  And, everyone has a good time with the slow-groove of “Doin’ Hard Time,” which, as Mike puts it, is easy, when you got a warden for a woman!  He closes the set with a Kaz Kazanoff song, “Where Did Our Love Go Wrong,” which follows  that sweet, New Orleans, Fats Domino groove.

Nick’s cuts were just what we expected from our old friend.  “Deep Inside,” featuring harp from Greg Izor, has a Jimmy Reed lope, and has Nick’s signature growl!  His gospel roots show thru on the downright-churchy tale of our lovelorn hero “callin’ your name,” “Juanita.”  And, nobody can rock a rhumba like Nick Nixon can, and that’s sho’ nuff evident on his read of Goree Carter’s tale of loving a wine-headed woman, no matter if she’s “Drunk Or Sober.”

If these are indeed Nick’s last recordings, we wish to thank him for his lifetime of contributions to blues,  gospel,  and R & B, and, especially, his rich history with the vibrant Jefferson Street scene in the Fifties and Sixties.  And, Nick, thanks most of all for being our friend!  Alabama Mike, we want to welcome you into this big, extended family, and say to Andy T that, brother, you pulled it all together to make “Double Strike” a reality!  Peace and love to all….Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

The Mark Cameron Band review…May 25, 2017….

THE MARK CAMERON BAND

LIVE! AT BLUES ON THE CHIPPEWA

COP RECORDS  LPM 1678

DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE–SOMEWHERE DOWN THE LINE–DICEY–BORROWED TIME–MOJO SHUFFLE–HAMMERED BY THE BLUES–KILLIN FLOOR–PLAYING ROUGH–DONE ME WRONG–RUSTY OLD MODEL T–BACK SEAT BOOGIE

The Mark Cameron Band were about to play at Blues On The Chippewa at Memorial Park in Durand, WI, when bass man Scott Lundberg noticed the awesome equipment set-up.  Faster than Joliet Jake could say “Hit It!,” the fellows punched the REC button, and, ’bout an hour later, “Live! At Blues On The Chippewa” was a reality!  Ten originals and a hot cover of “Killin Floor” make up this record, with heavy emphasis on having a good time and pleasing crowds everywhere they go!

Mark Cameron, out of Minneapolis, is on vocals and all guitars, and does the writing.  Mr. Lundberg is on bass, Bill Reyes is on harp, Dan Schroeder is on drums, and Sheri Cameron is on flute, sax, percussion, and anything else a song might need.

The band’s hi-energy sound and Mark’s incredible guitar skills always make them festival favorites, and they get this party started with the irresistible groove of “the blues is goin’ around,” so “Is There A Doctor In The House?”  Bill gets in a fine harp run at mid-song, too.  Things get a little “Dicey” on the funked-up strut of a tune dealing with folks who “go places they ain’t supposed to go,” and “see things they ain’t supposed to see.,” with Sheri on the sax.    They get down ‘n’ dirty with the slow-blues attack of Memphis women and juke joints, and gettin’ “Hammered By The Blues.”  Mark busts out his Resonator for a slide-driven, stompin’ pull of Delta blues straight outta a Mason jar, “You Done Me Wrong,” and cranks up the boogie on the humorous tale of his lover and “puttin’ fancy chrome on a Rusty Old Model T!”

We had two favorites, too.  The set closes on a rockabilly note, as Mark’s lover vanishes and turns up later doing the “Back Seat Boogie” in another dude’s car!  And, another cool song about just what makes us click and what makes us “different from the rest–we got mojo,” with a heavy dose of the “Mojo Shuffle!’

The Mark Cameron Band possess that intangible “mojo,” if you will, that puts you in a dancin’ mood, and gives you that good feeling all over.  “Live! At Blues On The Chippewa” puts them right in their element–playing butt-rockin’ blues for a raucous crowd!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Ivor S. K. review…May 21, 2017….

IVOR S. K.

MONTSERRAT

MONTSERRAT–DON’T SAY GOODBYE–AIN’T NO CROSS–I BEEN HAD–TAKE THE GOOD WITH THE BAD–IT’S RAINING–TAKE ME BACK TO NEW ORLEANS–MURDER TONIGHT–INDIANOLA–GOOD MAWNIN JUDGE

It wasn’t that long ago that Sydney, Australia’s own, Ivor Simpson-Kennedy, hit the blues ground runnin’ with his highly-acclaimed acoustic debut EP, “Delta Pines.”  He’s back with his first full-length CD, the all-original “Montserrat,” which features Ivor on all instruments, adding to the authenticity and stripped-down simplicity of the project.

The one-man-band lays down a stomping, percussion-heavy groove with an age-old “my baby done me wrong” so “I can go wild on my own,” “Don’t Say Goodbye.”  The album’s title conjures up an island paradise, but not everything is on the up-and-up always.  Be wary of what you drink and who you hang out with, or you’ll know “I Been Had.”  This one follows a cool reggae groove, too.  Ivor digs down into his Delta bag of goodies for a sweet story of sticking things out for the hope of future gains, learning to “Take The Good With The Bad,” and later offers up another shot of Mississippi blues, this time with a sprightly instrumental tribute to B. B.’s hometown, “Indianola.”

Our favorites leaned toward Ivor’s somewhat-darker side, save for the leadoff title cut.  “Montserrat” is a swingin’ number about that Caribbean hideaway, where you can go “sip that ginger beer!”  The other two favorites did have a bit of an edge to them, but in a good way.  “Ain’t No Cross” combines a “killer, dopehead and even a banker,” who all may take your money, but Ivor reminds us “I ain’t no priest!”  And, the set closes with a cool stop-time story of tables that sho’ nuff get turned, “Good Mawnin’ Judge!”

Like a modern-day, Down Under version of Gardner McKay, Ivor S. K. takes the listener on varied adventures in blues paradise as only he can write ’em and play ’em.  Let’s get on the big boat down to “Montserrat,” y’all!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

The North Mississippi Allstars review…May 19, 2017…

THE NORTH MISSISSIPPI ALLSTARS

PRAYER FOR PEACE

SONY/LEGACY

PRAYER FOR PEACE–NEED TO BE FREE–MISS MAYBELLE–RUN RED ROOSTER–STEALIN–DEEP ELLUM–BIRD WITHOUT A FEATHER–YOU GOT TO MOVE–61 HIGHWAY–LONG HAIRED DONEY–BID YOU GOODNIGHT–P4P (REMIX)

With a career that is entering its third decade, The North Mississippi Allstars–Luther Dickinson on guitar and vocals, and Cody Dickinson on drums, piano, synth bass, and vocals–are back with one of the most powerful, topical sets of that illustrious career.  Just one look at any news outlet today and you’ll understand the album’s title, as we could all use a “Prayer For Peace.”  These twelve originals touch on hot-button, societal topics as well as a few cuts done for pure, unadulterated fun, just like they have deep down in the Hill Country.

The Dickinson fellows grew up exposed to that region’s musical legends, such as Jessie Mae Hemphill, R. L. Burnside, fife master Otha Turner, and a host of others, and they have constructed their own unique hybrid of that droning, guitar-and-percussion-heavy, foot-stompin’, juke-joint-rattlin’ blues.

You can’t deny that groove that runs thru “Miss Maybelle,” as Luther asks, “can I be your hopping frog?”  Another good “love song” of sorts has Luther “Stealin” a little love from a married woman, vowing to love her “till my easy rider comes!”  This one features not only excellent guitar work, but cool keys from Cody as well.

The music and the folks who play it down in the Hill Country have always had a strong gospel background.  The fellows bring that tradition to this album with a stirring “when the Lord gets ready, You Got To Move,” and again a bit later with the slide-and-keys-heavy “Bid You Goodnight.”

Our favorites bookended the set.  The leadoff title cut is a powerful ode to the recent violence that marred, Boston, Ferguson, Orlando, South Carolina and several other cities, which calls for a universal “Prayer For Peace,” and a fervent wish that we “could all be colorblind.”  Special guest Sharde’ Turner, Otha’s daughter, adds well-placed fife throughout.  The set closes with a remixed version of this song, done in a much darker, more foreboding tone, conveying the same message.

This album was recorded in various studios throughout the country as The North Mississippi Allstars were on their 2016 tour.  They experienced firsthand much of the nation’s unrest that fueled the material that makes “Prayer For Peace” a musical hope for unity and our future.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.