Archive for May, 2017

The Disparrows review…May 17, 2017….

THE DISPARROWS

WASTING TIME

WORLD KEEPS BURNING–BELIEVE IN ME–HIGH ON YOU–CHANGE–SET ME FREE–DYING FOR YOU–MAY BE CRAZY–SORRY–RADIO–WE ARE THE YOUNG

For their third album, blues-rockers The Disparrows continue to forge a hard-hitting sound that deals with a troubled country  and the trials and tribulations of its citizenry.  With “Wasting Time,” the band also created an album of original music that is sure to be interpreted in various ways, perhaps even from listener to listener.

With leader Daniel Weber on vocals and Vox, there are ten cuts that cover a lot of ground, letting each person form an opinion.  Check out the piano-heavy (courtesy of Grant Loosvelt) ode to a lover, as Daniel begs her to “Believe In Me, and I’ll believe in anything for you.”  He carries that theme onward with a more contemporary look at love with “I wish every day was just you and me,” entitled “High On You.”  They close the set with a strong anthem that offers up hope for the future, as “We Are The Young, we are the living.”

There are a couple of stone protest songs that served as our favorites.  Leading off is the Armageddon-a-coming story of a world that, as it “keeps on turning,” sadly also “Keeps Burning.”  And, “Set Me Free” features Grant’s acoustic piano opening as Daniel ponders the fact that   “we’ve fallen so far that we can’t look back,” due to “so much dyin’ and political lyin.”  It’s a clarion call-to-arms to a nation where “the end is somewhere near,” climaxing over a gospel-flavored backing chorus.

The Disparrows set out to make an album that would let fans just kick back, and “listen, feel, love.”  “Wasting Time” definitely fills that bill!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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Lighthouse Sweden review…May 15, 2017…

LIGHTHOUSE SWEDEN

SILENCE IN THE CITY

MOODY MARACCAS   MOM 007

LOVE CAN SERIOUSLY DAMAGE YOUR HEART–NEON SIGNS–EVERYBODY’S BEEN A FOOL–EASIER TO LIE–HOLE IN MY SOUL–SILVER AND GOLD–SILENT CITY–WE USED TO BE LOVERS–CAN’T FIND MY WAY–WINDOW TO THE SKY–ANGEL

Mats and Linda Brandemark, along with Gunnar Hofverberg, collaborated on the material in their latest release, “Silence In The City.”  Mats and Linda met, married, and have made a ton of good music along their way that will surely have a broad appeal, especially given the various styles represented within these eleven cuts.  As you listen, some of these songs would be right at home down on Beale, while others would satisfy the Saturday night crowds down on Lower Broadway, some 200 miles eastward here at home.  As for the singers, Linda possesses one of those voices that can go from sultry to soaring with ease, while Mats is sort of the yang to her yin, with a more laid-back, laconic delivery akin to fellow European bluesman Hans Theesink.

They pretty much evenly split the lead vocals and duets, and begin the proceedings with the duet full of sage advice for lovers and would-be lovers, “love is a blessing/love is a curse,” and “Love Can Seriously Damage Your Heart.”  Just a bit later, some tasty harp from Johan von Feilitzen  backs both singers as they remind us that, at least once, “Everybody’s Been A Fool.”

Linda digs deep into Americana territory as she sings of trying to break free from a bad relationship, but finds it just “Easier To Lie” than face the truth, and steel guitar adds to the cut’s authenticity.  Mats takes his turn at lead vocal on another fine Americana tune, realizing that his relationship has reached the mythical Crossroads, as “I Can’t Find My Way to your heart any more.”

Another of those kick-ass roots-rockers served as our favorite.  Both singers let loose on an Eagles-flavored romp entitled “Silver And Gold,” and again has Johan on the harp.

With “Silence In The City,”  Linda and Mats of Lighthouse  Sweden know that life is a journey and not a sprint.  Their clever, heartfelt, and unique looks at love from both sides  make this set the perfect soundtrack for lovers everywhere!  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow.

 

Micki Free review…May 13, 2017….

MICKI FREE

TATTOO BURN–REDUX

DARK IDOL MUSIC  MBR 1001

GOD IS ON THE PHONE–TATTOO BURN–GREENS AND BARBEQUE–SIX FEET DOWN IN THE BLUES–MOJO BLACK COFFEE–CO-CO-GIN–THERE’S A HOLE IN THE HEART OF THE BLUES–ANGELS IN THE ROOM–HEY BABY (THE NEW RISING SUN) (REMIX)–FIVE MINUTES TILL CHRISTMAS–SOMETIMES IN WINTER

Micki Free is a blistering guitarist, and a Grammy-winner, who has worked extensively with the group Shalamar, as well as with the varied  likes of Santana, KISS,  Prince, and a myriad of others.  He’s also a mixed-blood Comanche-Cherokee Native American, with a Voodoo Chile’s soul.  His latest set, entitled “Tattoo Burn-Redux,” and the ten originals and one sweet cover are all gritty, guitar-fueled blasts of soul, blues, funk, and all his other varied influences rolled into one package.  Micki and Howard Hewlett, from aforementioned Shalamar, get right down to the real nitty-gritty, y’all, with a scalding duet on the leadoff cut, a hellfire slab of funked-up gospel, where, no matter what your situation, just reach out, ’cause “God Is On The Phone.”  That cool “needle drop” sound kicks off the title cut, where,  with “her name burned into my body,” when the love is gone, you gotta deal with that “Tattoo Burn.”  A delicious shot of minor-key slow-blues has Micki and his guitar crying over that girl “Mama said to stay away from,” who now has him feeling “Six Feet Down In The Blues.’

Now, Micki does have that Voodoo Chile in his DNA, and you can hear it in a sizzling tribute in the form of a killer read of “Hey Baby (The New Rising Son),” and again on his original tale of those “storm clouds gathering” where “only the good Lord can make it right,” the aptly-titled, “There’s A Hole In The Heart Of The Blues.”

We had three favorites, too.  Micki channels his inner Muddy on the grindin’ story of a sure cure when you have a bit too much the night before, a potent blend of “Mojo Black Coffee,” featuring Randy Singer on the harp.  A nearly-tragic tale of a young woman who turns her life completely around after “40 days and 40 nights” of seriously flirting with “Kentucky whiskey” and “the pure black sin of the flask of Co-Co-Gin” finds her righting the ship, savin’ souls, and entering a convent!  And, is it ever too soon for a cool Yule tune?  Nope–and the Berry-lishus licks of “Five Minutes Till Christmas–did Santa forget about me?”  sho’ nuff fills the bill!

Micki Free is a musical innovator, never afraid to push the envelope when seeking the right sound.  A powerful guitar, gritty vocals, and creative songs make “Tattoo Burn–Redux” a must-listen!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Jim Roberts And The Resonants review…May 11, 2017…

JIM ROBERTS AND THE RESONANTS

BENEATH THE BLOOD MOON

KKP RECORDS

BENEATH THE BLOOD MOON–DOG DONE BIT MY BABY–TUPELO FOOL–BAYOU BEAU–MAY ALL YOUR REGRETS BE SMALL–GOLD TRAIN FEVER–RED LIPS AND HIGH HEELS–SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY–DARK DOWN IN THE DELTA–THE HELLHOUND’S DUE

Jim Roberts has been writing and performing since the Seventies.  He took some time off in the Nineties to be a father, and held down a job as police officer for a time.  But, as we all know, once the blues is in you, it’s got to come out, and he is back in full-swing with his latest set, for KKP Records, “Beneath The Blood Moon.”  Along with his band, The Resonants, listeners are treated to ten cuts that are steeped in blues, boogie, Southern-rock, and, gritty, rocked-up Americana, all punctuated by his gruff vocals and over-the-top slide and cigar-box guitar work.

Good ole Southern-fried blues-rock has always drawn from the myths and legends that are as much a part of this region as the folks themselves.  Jim conjures up a healthy dose of ’em throughout this set, too.  Everybody knows a girl like the one who “leads the choir in adoration” on Sunday, but, the night before, was on the pole at the local strip club, wearin’ those “Red Lips And High Heels,” in a song dealing with man’s eternal temptation.  “Gold Train Fever” recalls an Old West train robber who pays the ultimate price for his wages of sin, and is jacked-up by Jim’s fiery slide.  And, be wary of the Spanish moss near old River Road, which just might be a hiding place for ol’ “Bayou Beau,” with “eyes glowin’ red and the head of a toad.”

Our favorites bookended the set.  First up, Jim turns that slide a-loose on the story of slaves seeking freedom along the Underground Railroad, following “Big Muddy up to Illinois,” “Beneath The Blood Moon.”  And, the set closes down at the Crossroads, with killer acoustic slide, stompin’ percussion, and Felix Flanagan’s mournful harp preachin’ the tale of the deal that went down, and giving “The Hellhound’s Due!”

Jim Roberts And The Resonants combine excellent musicianship with powerful, down-to-earth songcrafting that will, indeed, resonate with a broad audience.  “Beneath The Blood Moon” has it all, fans!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Laura Tate review…May 10, 2017….

LAURA TATE

LET’S JUST BE REAL

811 GOLD RECORDS

NOBODY GETS HURT–IF THAT AIN’T LOVE–HITTING ON NOTHING–CAN’T SAY NO–THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN–STILL GOT THE BLUES–I’LL FIND SOMEONE WHO WILL–LET’S JUST BE REAL–I KNOW YOU LIE–I NEED A MAN–BIG TOP HAT–WILDEST DREAMS

Laura Tate has always been one of our favorite singers.  The Dallas-born-and-raised siren has spent time in New York, Los Angeles, and even here in Nashville, and those experiences make her right at home with a jazz number, a torch song, and even a kiss-off song.  You can hear elements of all these and more over the course of the eleven cuts that make up her latest set, “Let’s Just Be Real.”

A couple of would-be adulterers are the theme of the opening cut, the sultry story of what goes on “down at the corner of Disaster and Despair,” “just stay where you are and Nobody Gets Hurt.”  The horn-drenched, shimmery, summery “If That Ain’t Love,” is Laura’s proclamation of her feelings for a lover.  She revisits that classic Stax sound with the story of a long-gone lover, “if you can’t stay home with me, I’ll Find Someone Who Will.”

Laura Tate is a woman who’s not afraid to hold back to get what she wants.  Witness the title cut, where no games are allowed, this ain’t no Cinderella story, and, tonight, “Let’s Just Be Real.”  And, a torch-y, stop-time, slow-blues  has Laura coming right out and saying, “I need a special breed to fill my need–I Need A Man.”

That brings us to our favorite.  If you have the stones to do her wrong, be prepared to pay the price.  In one of the ultimate kiss-off  songs ever, Stephen Bruton’s “Big Top Hat,” Laura rides a jazzy, piano-heavy groove to tell her ex that “you can kiss my ass ’till my hat pops off, honey,” in a delicious act of defiance!

One cannot help but be captivated by the voice and talents of Laura Tate.  Easy on the ears (and on the eyes!), she begs in this set to “Let’s Just Be Real.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

 

Nick Schnebelen Live review…May 9, 2017….

NICK SCHNEBELEN

LIVE IN KANSAS CITY

VIZZTONE VT-NSB 02

FOOL–PAIN IN MY MIND–HERBERT HARPER’S FREE PRESS NEWS–YOU CALL THAT LOVE–BAD WOMAN BLUES–MEAN TOWN BLUES–JONNY CHEAT–BAD DISPOSITION–SCHOOLNIGHT–CONFORMITY BLUES

Nick Schnebelen won the prestigious Albert King Flying V Award for Best Guitarist during the 2008  IBC.  That propelled Nick and his siblings to form Trampled Under Foot, releasing two highly-acclaimed releases produced by Tony Braunagel, “Wrong Side Of The Blues,” and “Badlands.”  The latter won the Best Contemporary Blues Album award at the 2014 Blues Awards.  Nick’s on his own now, and his most recent set for Vizztone is a fiery set recorded “Live In Kansas City” at the fabled Knucklehead’s Saloon, in front of a revved-up crowd.

Nick and his power trio  run thru ten cuts, three covers and seven songs either written wholly by Nick, or in collaboration with his siblings and Tony Braunagel. Leading off is an amped-up, stop-time original from Nick, detailing  the  age-old story of that “ol other man,” where Nick realizes he’s always been “the Fool that falls for love.”  The minor-key, slow-blues story of Nick’s lover, who’s skilled in head games, is also “doin’ my best friend,” entitled “You Call That Love.”  “Bad Woman Blues” is driven by Nick’s slick slide  playing, following a slowed-down, Diddley-beat groove.  He jacks the slide playing up another notch on a  motorvatin’ cover of Johnny Winter’s “Mean Town Blues,” and closes the curtain with a dazzlingly-jazzy original instrumental, the Allman-flavored “Conformity Blues.”

We had two favorites, too.  Another tune written by the three siblings, “Jonny Cheat,” rides that “endless boogie” groove, and recalls sad times, “when you lose the one you love.”  And, one of the covers is quite unique.  The tune first appeared on Muddy’s album that you either love or you loathe, “Electric Mud.”  It’s a cool protest song, tho, and it’s message is as biting as it was back in ’68, “Herbert Harper’s Free Press News.”  Nick’s lead lines also are as stinging and passionate as the song itself.

Nick Schnebelen continues to show how the young ‘uns in the blues world are such a force in today’s blues.  His “Live In Kansas City” is, sho’ nuff, the next best thing to being there!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

Brad Stivers review…May 7, 2017…

BRAD STIVERS

TOOK YOU LONG ENOUGH

VIZZTONE RECORDS   VT-BS001

2000 MILES–YOU’RE JUST ABOUT TO LOSE YOUR CLOWN–PUT IT DOWN–TOOK YOU LONG ENOUGH–HERE WE GO AGAIN (WITH EMILY GIMBLE)–NICKEL AND A NAIL (WITH MALFORD MILLIGAN)–ONE NIGHT OF SIN–CAN’T WAIT–SAVE ME–COLD SWEAT

Guitar-slinger Brad Stivers hails from Austin, TX, and, barely in his mid-twenties, is part of the generation that is poised to carry on this blues bidness well into this century.  He’s a mighty string bender with a powerful vocal delivery who’s recently toured Italy and Switzerland, and he’s working on  a midwest-to-west tour.  His debut, for Vizztone, is aptly-titled “Took You Long Enough,” and uses the talents of fellow Austin players Bukka Allen on B-3, Emily Gimble on piano and vocals, and Malford Milligan on vocals.

Brad coaxes a huge tone out of his guitar, and, over these ten cuts, we get a taste of many of his musical mentors and influences.  He knows a little about some good ol’ Texas twang, and you can hear it for yourself in “Put It Down.”  He pays tribute to the classic instrumentals of the Fifties with a cool read of Fats’ “One Night Of Sin,” and another fine cover features Malford Milligan as guest vocalist as they absolutely burn up the grooves  with a mighty, testifyin’ throwdown of O. V. Wright’s classic, “all I had in my pocket was A Nickel And A Nail.”

Want more reasons to like Brad?  You can tell he’s listened to plenty of Brother Ray, and that is evident on a rapid-fire, double-time take on “You’re Just About To Lose Your Clown,” with a monster sax solo from Mark Wilson.  And, one of the album’s really sweet spots is a duet between Brad and Emily Gimble, who adds piano as both play the love-torn couple in “Here We Go Again.”

Those weren’t even our favorites.  Long-time readers of this humble forum know of our passion for the contribution to blues, soul, and funk from the legendary guitarist from James Brown’s band, Jimmy Nolen.  His “chicken-pickin” licks run thru everything from “Night  Train” forward,  Bad’s taken care of his homework, too, with those staccato lines all the way thru the title cut, as he finally gets a lover to come around to his way of thinking, “Took You Long Enough.”  And, he just turns the mother out on the set-closer, another strong instrumental, this time  the mighty “Cold Sweat.”

Brad Stivers easily mixes the styles and techniques of the masters into his own unique sound, and “Took You Long Enough” is a potent debut!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.