Archive for July, 2017

Scott Ellison review…July 31, 2017….

SCOTT ELLISON

GOOD MORNING MIDNIGHT

RED PARLOR RECORDS  RDP 1704

SANCTIFIED–NO MAN’S LAND–GONE FOR GOOD–LAST BREATH–HOPE AND FAITH–ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE–YOU MADE A MESS OUTTA ME–GOOD MORNING MIDNIGHT–TANGLED–WHEELHOUSE–BIG CITY–MYSTERIOUS–WHEN YOU LOVES ME LIKE THIS

We’ve been fans of Scott Ellison for ’bout ten years now, going back to his 2008 set for Michael Frank and Earwig, “Ice Storm.”  Scott goes back further than that, tho, with a career that has spanned more than thirty years.  The Tulsa-based bluesman can always be counted upon to fire up some of the hottest blues guitar one can imagine, with a powerful and soul-drenched voice.  He’s a master at playing various styles, especially jazz-tinged cuts and R & B that’s prevalent down South.

Luckily for us fans, we get a taste of all of it on his latest scorcher, “Good Morning Midnight,” for Red Parlor Records.  Most all of the original cuts are collaborations with co-producer, pianist, and fellow Tulsa legend Walt Richmond.  A percussion-heavy rhumba-rocker leads off, as Scott strikes up a Freddie King groove on guitar, as “your love has me Sanctified!”  His versatility is on display with the reggae-rock of “Hope And Faith,” and, in the tradition of “Ice Storm,” it wouldn’t be a Scott Ellison album without a killer instrumental, and you can hear his jazz influences on the swingin’ “Wheelhouse,” featuring Mike Bennett and Steve Ham on the horns.

As one can glean from these cuts, Scott is, well, “in his wheelhouse” with any style, but our favorites come from his ability to lay down a solid, Chicago-flavored shuffle, and there are three stomp-down good ‘uns up in here.  First up is the Elmo James stride of the story of a man trapped in a one-way love affair due to serious lack of funds, “Another Day In Paradise!”  The title cut has a sweet Chicago-by-way-of-the-Delta rumble, complete with harp from Jimmy Junior Markham.  Those  two close the set in similar fashion, with the Jimmy Reed-ish lope of “When You Loves Me Like This, I know you loves me real!”

A new set from Scott Ellison is cause for celebration here at the Crow manor.  We know, as the kids say, “it’s all good,” deep-down, soulful blues, and “Good Morning Midnight” has everything blues fans are looking for!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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John Pagano Band review…July 30, 2017…

JOHN PAGANO BAND

ONE MORE ROUND

MCP 1003

BOTTOMS UP–LOST IN YOU–TROUBLE ON HEELS–AIN’T MINE–RISE UP AIN’T GONNA LOSE YOU–99 PROBLEMS–O MY MIND–MAKE YOU SHOUT–BAD HABIT–CATCH THAT TRAIN

For Georgia-based indie blues group the John Pagano Band,  their latest set is their fifth overall.  They were known as the JP Blues Band on earlier efforts, but good blues by any other name would still rock just as hard.  “One More Round” does just this, plus it marks the first album under the moniker John Pagano Band, and it is the first set to use John’s Georgia bandmates—Shiloh Bloodworth on drums and Tony Hossri on bass—exclusively.

This power trio has sho’ nuff got the goods, fans.  Over these eleven cuts, the band explores their gritty, blues-rock roots, this time with the use of polyrhythmic, different-than-expected patterns, and the always-dynamite guitar from John .  He leads off with a stone solid summer party anthem, an ode to gettin’ your drink on, the pulsing, slide-drenched “Bottoms Up!,” and his best friends, “Jack and gin!”  “Ain’t Mine” explores the band’s  polyrhythmic approach to the set, as this cut follows a quasi-reggae groove.  “Rise Up” takes you right down to the Crossroads to either make your Deal or seek your redemption, while “Ain’t Gonna Lose You” is a perfect summer party groover, with a funky backbeat over a Southern-rock vibe.

Want some killer, Hendrix-ian guitar?  Then don’t go no further than a cut that pulls no punches about a man who may have “99 Problems,” but “the bitch ain’t one!”  This one grooves off into some fine Sixties-era garage-rock psychedelic guitar from John, and serves as one of our favorites.  The other?  Hey–we all know a girl like the one in this song.  Leather skirt, stilettos, tatts, and a ‘tude–Hell, she’s walkin’ “Trouble On Heels,” and ready to “take you all the way!”

With “One More Round,” the John Pagano Band adds to its growing reputation as one f the powerhouse groups out there that can lay down mean blues-rock with the best of ’em!  Killer guitars plus cool, clever lyrics make this one a must-hear!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Antry review…July 27, 2017

ANTRY

DEVIL DON’T CARE

TRES LOBOS ENTERPRISES

DEVIL DON’T CARE–ALWAYS WITH ME–HOW FAR DOWN–FISHIN–PRINCE OF PEACE–BORROWED ANGELS–DEVIL GONE FISHIN–SENDING ME ANGELS–GET UP–SPECIAL ANGEL

Lately, we have been privy to a spate of releases that offer up a uniquely-intriguing “sub-genre,” if you will, of the blues, this one presenting gospel in its mix.  OK, we know that this has been going on since the days of Blind Lemon Jefferson and Mississippi Fred McDowell,  but contemporary players such as Davis Coen, Joshua Jacobson, and now, vocalist (Steve) Antry (say ANT-tree), give this music an extra kick that makes it appealing to today’s discerning audience.

Antry has an awesome set of pipes, and he uses them well and wisely to convey his message of hope, faith, and redemption in his latest offering,  “Devil Don’t Care.”  Joining him is a fine group of A-listers, too, that include Dan Dugmore on guitar and lap steel,  guitarists Rob McNelly, Pat Buchanan, Brent Mason, and Anthony Gomes, and Shaun Murphy on backing vocals.

The set begins on a scorching blues-rock note with the title cut, an original tune from Antry and Peter Carson, where The Devil Don’t Care,, ’cause the Good Book tells me so!”   The plaintive “Always With Me” lets us know that a higher power is always looking out for us no matter what, while “Borrowed Angels” serves as a testimonial to uplift those who have suffered the loss of a child.

“Get Up” is full of the old-time spirit, and is a call to “be mindful of your blessings” and “get back on the road to truth.”  The same can be said for Leon Russell’s “Prince Of Peace,” as Antry warns us to be more tolerant of others, especially in the world today, for that person you wrongfully judge may just be that Prince returning!  It is set over a rather boisterous, Southern-rock vibe, too.

We had two favorites, too.  Antry uses Don Goodman’s “Fishin” as a parable to not only do unto others, but it also serves as a tribute to his late father.  Their water-borne experiences in Autry’s youth served him well in learning the meaning of life, love, and loyalty.  And, Anthony Gomes adds scalding guitar to a Gary Nicholson tune (with additional lyrics from Antry), “Devil Gone Fishin,” and you can sho’ nuff bet “he got all the good bait,” and  “all he’s gotta do is wait!”

Antry has vocal chops second to none.  His three-octave range breathes the fire and brimstone into this material,  as he reminds us to be steadfast in our faith, because the “Devil Don’t Care!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Joshua Jacobson review…July 27, 2017….

JOSHUA JACOBSON

GOOD LITTLE THING

FATMOUTH RECORDS FRCD 1001

BABY’S MAMA REALLY DON’T CARE–CODEPENDENT KATIE–LONG LONESOME DAY–PISTOL PACKIN’ PAPA–TWERKIN LI’L MAMA–BIPOLAR MAMA–TICKET AGENT–YOU DON’T LOVE ME–ITS A GOOD LITTLE THING–HIDE ME IN THY BOSOM–MIND BLOWIN’ BLUES–BABY IT MUST BE LOVE–CROSS THE RIVER OF JORDAN

Joshua Jacobson is a young Georgia blues man with an old-school soul.  Skilled in the Piedmont-style of blues, this fine guitarist and storyteller has taken some modern-day subjects and mixed them with his authentic style to create a sho’ nuff “Good Little Thing,” thirteen cuts fairly evenly-split between covers and Joshua’s clever originals done up in his inimitable picking style.  Plus, his backing ensemble is as good as they come.

Leading off is one of Joshua’s original, topical-themed songs, where “Daddy’s just doin’ the best he can, but Baby’s Mama Really Don’t Care,” with cool honky-tonkin’ piano from Chris Flowers.  Next up is another original, the story of ol’ “Codependent Katie,” this one featuring harp from a fellow we’ve known since his days as a bass man for Steady Rollin’ Bob Margolin, Mookie Brill.  A bit later, we are introduced to another of Joshua’s many flawed characters, this girl a stone “Bipolar Mama, much too manic for me!”

If you look at the careers of players such as Blind Willie McTell, Son House, and several others, it seems they all were aware that Judgment Day could come at any time, and they all had a bit of the Gospel in their repertoire, just in case.  So it is with Joshua, too, as we are treated to “Hide Me In Thy Bosom,” with Damon Fowler on slide guitar, and the set-closer, just Joshua, his voice, and his slide and 12-string,  “I’ve got to Cross The River Of Jordan on my own.”

We settled on two of Joshua’s originals as our favorites.  Up first, adding an electric element to the proceedings, is the legendary Dickie Betts, still pickin’ on that red guitar, as Joshua weaves the tale of a “Pistol Packin’ Papa,” who “ain’t afraid to let that hammer fall.”  And, by far the most humorous cut on the set is that sexy, “Twerkin’ Little Mama,” who “went to Congress and twerked so hard she repealed Obamacare!!”

Joshua Jacobson channels the stories common in today’s news thru the sepia tones of his authentic Piedmont sounds.  As he himself sings, he’s a “tailor-made” bluesman and “ain’t no hand-me-down,” and “Good Little Thing” is a high-spirited, fun listen!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

 

 

The Nighthawks review…July 26, 2017…

THE NIGHTHAWKS

ALL YOU GOTTA DO

ELLERSOUL RECORDS ER 1707-29

THAT’S ALL YOU GOTTA DO–WHEN I GO AWAY–BABY, I WANT TO BE LOVED–LET’S BURN DOWN THE CORNFIELD–ANOTHER DAY–VOODOO DOLL–NINETY NINE–THREE TIMES YOUR FOOL–ISN’T THAT SO–SNAKE DRIVE–BLUES FOR BROTHER JOHN–DIRTY WATER

It’s hard to believe, but we’ve been listening to The Nighthawks since the early 1980’s, and their vinyl LP’s from that era were some of our very first exposure to contemporary blues.  A lotta blue have been played since that time, and the fellows are still bringing their fans the best in blues and roots-rock.  So, let’s cue up their latest release for EllerSoul Records, “All You Gotta Do,” and get ready to party!  On this set,  four cuts are band originals, and they put their own unique stamp on eight varied covers.

Mark Wenner is on harp, Paul Bell is on guitar, Johnny Castle is on bass, and Mark Stutso is the drummer.  And, EVERYBODY sings!  The music draws from a myriad of influences, and always follows the credo of having fun while bringing this music to the masses.

It wasn’t that long ago that these guys cut a killer version of “Walkin’ After Midnight,” so it’s no stretch of the imagination for them to lead off with the title cut, a rompin’ Fifties-rocker penned by Jerry Reed  Hubbard and made popular by Brenda Lee.  They revisit that Fifties groove a bit later, this time with a ballad, “Three Times Your Fool,” with a soulful vocal from Mark Stutso.

They pay tribute to Chicago blues and Chess Records with the waaay-cool stop-time stutter-step of “Baby, I Want To Be Loved,”  and Rice Miller’s Ninety Nine,” this one with Mark Wenner on that big ‘ol twelve-holed Marine Band harp to hit that deep, lower register.

We had two favorites, too, both at opposite ends of the musical spectrum.  First up, Mark Stutso is again on vocal on a heartfelt performance of a song most closely associated with Levon Helm, as he finally lays his burdens down in the poignant farewell of “When I Go Away.”  And, the set closes with the rock-and-roll fervor Johnny Castle brings to the Standells’ chestnut, “Dirty Water,” augmented by Mark’s harp and that familiar guitar riff from Paul Bell.

The Nighthawks epitomize a hard-working blues band whose vast repertoire and ability to cross genres’ keep them fresh, relevant, and in-demand with their world-wide fan base.  And, as one can hear on “All You Gotta Do,” they intend to have some fun along the Blues Highway!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

Paradise Kings review…July 24, 2017….

PARADISE KINGS

CONTROLLED BURN

’69 CHEVY–I’D SING THE BLUES IF I HAD ‘EM–THREE STRIKES–SLOW DOWN–BUTTER ME UP (JAN INGRAM ON VOCAL)–PATIENCE–POOR ME, POOR ME, POUR ME ANOTHER DRINK–MONEY AIN’T MY FRIEND (LIVE FROM SOHO MUSIC CLUB, SANTA BARBARA)

Santa Barbara, CA, is not only a beautiful city in Southern California, it also features a vibrant live-music scene.  The Paradise Kings are a part of that club mix, and they have just released “Controlled Burn” to give fans a taste of what they are all about.  The set is predominantly highly-danceable blues-rock, and all the songs were written by drummer George Lambert, save for “Three Strikes,” penned by Gordon Jennings.  Along with George, Henry Garrett is lead vocalist, with Jeff Gring on guitar, Michael Robertson on bass, and Chris Ulep on keys.

These guys are known for their hi-octane live shows, and they bring that energy into Santa Barbara’s Orange Whip Studios for the first seven cuts.  They lead off with an extended, rockabilly-infused intro that gives way to a song about a man’s favorite car, that “69 Chevy!”  (We had one, and it’s still the best car we ever had!)  These guys have a wicked-cool sense of humor in their songs, too.  The story of a guy who always seems to end up on “Easy Street” is the man who says, “I’d Sing The Blues If I Had ‘Em,” set over a walking-beat groove.  “Slow Down” traces the pitfalls of an older guy trying to keep up with a young chick,  while “Patience” follows a similar theme, as our hero is always rarin’ to rock, but his lover’s “name is Patience,” and she sho’ nuff believes in taking her sweet time!

Our favorite closed the set.  We get a taste of what goes down at one of their live shows, this one courtesy of the good folks at the Soho Music Club in Santa Barbara.  The humorous story of a man stretchin’ himself waaay too thin to make a few bucks is “Money Ain’t My Friend,” and features a killer vocal from Henry, and two monster solos from Jeff.

Fans, the Paradise Kings play a mojo-filled brand of old-school blues with a modern feel, and deserve wider recognition.  Here’s hoping “Controlled Burn” will bring them that richly-deserved acclaim!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

The Jon Spear Band review…July 23, 2017….

THE JON SPEAR BAND

HOT SAUCE

BOTTOM OF THE BOTTLE–GEOGRAPHICAL CURE–REALLY GREAT GIG–HOT SAUCE–NOAH’S BLUES–PIERRE JOURDAN–HIT THE QUARTER–BUTT-DIAL KYLE–WINTERTIME–BLUES FOR A SOLDIER–CHEAP WHISKEY AND STALE CIGARETTES–NATCHEZ BURNING

Just about any food served down South comes with a side of “Hot Sauce,” intent on bringing out the flavor of most any dish you’d care to eat.  And, for a lotta folks, the hotter the better.  If that’s how you like your blues, then you’ll love the latest offering  from the Jon Spear Band, with that flavorful title.  Like a good hot sauce, this set of twelve strong cuts offers up blues, party songs, and a good dose of socially-topical cuts, served up as only this band can do.

Dara James is on vocals, lead guitar, and harp, Jon Spear is on guitars and vocals, and the rhythm section of drummer John Stubblefield and bassist Andy Burdetsky add backing vocals throughout.  Dara is on the slide guitar and vocal on the leadoff  story that deals with the exuberance of youth, and the relative ease in which one can find trouble at “The Bottom Of The Bottle.”  Ron Holloway’s sax gives the spicy flavor to the title cut, as Dara asks a potential paramour for “a little shake from your bottle, baby,” and to be his “Hot Sauce for tonight!”

Two cuts hit home on the socially-conscious front.  “Wintertime” is a torch-blues song sung by Dara regarding the plight of the homeless and those down on their luck, while the stinging guitar lines of “Blues For A Soldier” pull no punches in going all-in to support those who give all in defense of our freedoms.

The set has some lighter moments, too.  “Really Great Gig” is the story of a gig that ends up with cops everywhere, and follows a jumpin’ blues-a-billy beat.  And, everyone knows a “Butt-Dial Kyle” who hasn’t quite mastered the art of working a cell phone!

Our favorites were two of the band’s signature “stories-in-songs” and their respective characters.  First up is the story of a New Orleans gambler named “Pierre Jourdan” who “bet it all, but the other guy won,” and  his subsequent sad end.  The set closes on a somber, almost dirge-like note, with the story of “Natchez Burning,” a dobro-laden acoustic account of the deaths of 209 club patrons and all but two of the band, Walter Barnes And His Royal Creolians, trapped inside the burning Rhythm Club after owners sealed off the exits to prevent gate-crashing on April 23, 1940.  Following the acoustic portion of the song, there is a short pause, then 100 seconds or so of pure electric guitar fury in remembrance of this tragedy.

With the Jon Spear Band, you can always bet your last money that the music will be excellent, and the songs built either for the dance floor or to make you think.  Everything goes good with “Hot Sauce!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.