Archive for September, 2017

Cassie Keenum and Rick Randlett review….September 30, 2017….

CASSIE KEENUM AND RICK RANDLETT

HAUNTINGS

FR 1017

SEVENTH DAY–ONE MORE LAST TIME–WON’T MAKE THAT MISTAKE AGAIN–ALL ALONG–HALLELUJAH–SHE’S GONE–EARLY IN THE MORNING–GET LIT–MINUTE MAN–BORN WITH WINGS–HOW LONG

The blues, as an art form, lends itself to varied forms of expression.  With their latest release, “Hauntings,”  Florida-based duo Cassie Keenum and Rick Randlett are the principle players, and their arrangements on the majority of these eleven originals and covers take a “less is more” approach.  Cassie is on acoustic guitar and vocals, with Rick on lap steel, electric, slide, and acoustic guitars.   Also featured is Little Mike (always one of our favorites!) on the harp, Nicole Wagner on bass, Rusty Valentine on drums, and Mitch Rogers on keys.

Cassie has one of those deep, sultry, sexy voices that you can’t help but enjoy, and Rick gets a huge, fat tone out of all his guitars, and their styles mesh well.  They lead things off with a brooding, Doomsday tune dealing with the eternal pull between the Devil, Woman, and her “Holy flower,” entitled “Seventh Day.”   Little Mike adds harp to the Chicago-flavored blues of the heated story of two ill-fated lovers who can never have it all, with our heroine always looking for that “One More Last Time before you go.”

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and Cassie plays her to the hilt, asking her no-good lover “why weren’t you there for me, All Along.”  Mike’s back on harp for the Hill-Country stomp of “Early In The Morning,” with Rick laying down some mean slide, while, a bit later, Cassie vows to just “Get Lit” as fast as she can to put yet another cheatin’ dog in her rear-view mirror,  “cause I just can’t do it sober!”

We had two favorites, too, about as different as two songs on the same album can be.  A long time ago, Billy Ward and the Dominoes extolled the virtues of “Lovin’ Dan, The Sixty-Minute Man,” but our poor heroine can’t find anybody other than a “Minute Man,” where “what part of ladies first do you just not understand?”  Cassie’s playfully-sexy double-entendres’ make this one a fun listen.  At the other end of the spectrum, an extended lap steel intro from Rick kicks off Cassie’s heartfelt read of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” with the arrangement from Spencer Bohren.

The music contained within the grooves of “Hauntings” from Cassie Keenum and Rick Randlett show what magic can happen when two special musicians get together to do what they do best.  They complement each other perfectly, and the interpretations are at once uplifting while remaining intimate between the two players.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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Thor Platter review…September 28, 2017….

THOR PLATTER

TAKES TIME

SUNSHINE MUSIC

DESTINED–FALLOUT (TAKE TIME)–OPEN UP YOUR HEART–THERE FOR YOU–SINCE I’VE BEEN GONE–GUN SHY–CAPTAIN BLACK–COME HOME–TEAR STAINED EYE–PULLMAN BLUES

Thor Platter now lives in Cleveland, Ohio, but he grew up in Buffalo, NY, and was exposed to the great folk and bluegrass players such as Woody Guthrie, Dylan, and Flatt and Scruggs.  Their traditions and music influenced him, as did the sounds of Neil Young, plus Young’s unpretentious, unafraid-to-push-the-envelope style.  He continues those traditions with his latest set, “Take Time.”  It is ten classic examples of what the genre’ called “Americana” is all about, through thoughtful, clever stories-in-song augmented by his laid-back vocal delivery and use of acoustic instruments throughout.  Thor is on lead vocals, guitar, and harp, with backing from Paul Kovac on banjo, guitar, and drums, and Paul Lewis on bass, with all three sharing harmony vocals.

Thor’s ramblin’ soul opens the set, as “when I was young, I thought I was Destined for San Francisco,” but ended up in “dark, snowy Buffalo.”  His harp and Paul’s banjo give a Dylan-esque feel to the advice given an old friend, “Open Up Your Heart and let her in,” perhaps before life passes by in the proverbial “blink of an eye.”

A man with too many women who “won’t leave you alone” makes it “hard to come home” to the doting wife of “Gun Shy,” who, in the end, throws in the towel.  This one has some mighty fine harmony, as does the set-closer, “Pullman Blues,” a damn good shot of Lester and Earl if ever there was one.

Our favorite was easy.  Childhood memories of a fishing trip with dad in “that old truck” and the unmistakable smell of “Captain Black, Royal Blue,” draws you in with a smile, then a sigh, as we realize how precious our time is while here on Earth.

Thor Platter is on a mission to fill the world with “good music to your ears.”  So, please, “Take Time” to introduce yourself to his lovable characters and rich musical heritage!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Kelly Z review…September 27, 2017….

KELLY Z

AT SLIDEAWAY STUDIO

RESCUE

WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO–BABY IT’S YOU–YOU DON’T REALIZE–IT’S GONNA WORK OUT FINE–TRYING TO FIND MY BABY–HE CALLED ME BABY–DO YOUR THING–YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE

As one listens to Kelly Z (Zirbes) sing,  you are immediately taken in by a woman with the vocal power of Ann Wilson, coupled with the soulfulness of Sharon Jones and Bonnie Bramlett.  She sho’ nuff brings the heat to the eight fun(k)-filled covers that comprise “Rescue.”  This one was produced by Chuck Kavooras at his SlideAway Studio, and she strikes an even balance of dance-floor favorites with smoldering ballads made popular  by some of the most famous names in blues and R & B.  A full horn section gives everything a good-time feel, with Kelly’s voice at the forefront.

The set kicks off burnin’ hi-test gas, with the funk of Kelly’s read of the Godfather Of Soul’s “What Do I Have To Do to prove my love to you?”  Next up, the first thing you hear is that unmistakable riff that kicks off the Shirelles’ “Baby, It’s You,” with Kelly’s vocal staying true to the original.  Guitar man Perry Robertson is the Ike to Kelly’s Tina on the loping groove of lovers in love, “I Think It’s Gonna Work Out Fine,” while she sets up a smoky, smoldering groove on one of Harlan Howard’s best, “He Called Me Baby, baby all night long,”  The set closes on a funky-to-the-max note, with a scalding take on former Louisiana Gov. Jimmie Davis’ immortal “You Are My Sunshine,” with this one reminding us of that deep-soul feeling Brother Ray achieved with his version.

We had two favorites, too.  The horn section, over Kelly’s passionate vocal, makes Mike Bloomfield’s “You Don’t Realize,” sound like a long-lost gem from Otis Redding.  Producer Kavooras also adds slide to the pulsating beat of a tune that has a psychedelic, rump-shaking Sixties feel, Kelly’s blistering read of Annie Mae Bullock’s  “Trying To Find My Mind,” recalling her Acid Queen performance from “Tommy.”

These cuts were recorded in 2011, but never really completed.  When Kelly approached Chuck about doing a new project, they both agreed these cuts were too good not to be heard.  So,fans like us are the real winners, as they dutifully came to the “Rescue” of these scintillating grooves!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

The Corey Dennison Band review…September 26, 2017…

COREY DENNISON BAND

NIGHT AFTER NIGHT

DELMARK RECORDS  CD  DE-852

HEAR MY PLEA–MISTI–I GET THE SHIVERS–BETTER MAN–PHONE KEEPS RINGING–NOTHING’S TOO GOOD (FOR MY BABY)–LOVE AIN’T FAIR–ARE YOU SERIOUS–NIGHTCREEPER 2 (STILL CREEPIN)–STUCK IN CHICAGO–IT’S SO EASY–GOING HOME TO LIVE WITH GOD–BACK IN VIRGINIA

Chattanooga native Corey Dennison and his Band took the blues world by storm with their last release, ending up as a Finalist for the 2017 Blues Award for Best Emerging Artist.  They keep that roll going with their latest for Delmark, the soulful, hard-hitting blues of “Night After Night.”   Corey is on guitar and vocals, with long-time Nick Moss bandmate Gerry Hundt on second guitar, keys, and the harp, with Nick Skilnik on bass, and Joel Baer on drums.

Fans, Corey spent twelve years learning the ins and outs of “the bidness” from Carl Weathersby, and all that tutelage pays off over these thirteen cuts.  There are plenty of grooves to dance to, and some sweet soul-blues for life’s quieter moments.  The set leads off with Corey’s guitar blazing, begging his lover for one more last chance, and “Hear My Plea”  after one too many nights down at the juke joint,

Corey and Gerry collaborated on several cuts, and a couple of them are stone odes to that special kind of love–the breezy “Nothing’s Too Good (For My Baby),”  and the slow-burn of “It’s So Easy to love a little woman just like you!”

We had several favorites.  Corey takes the blues to church on the spirited gospel fire of “Troubles Of This World–I’m going home to live with God.”  He closes with one of Magic Slim’s best boogies,  as we all go “Back To Virginia, honey, where that green grass grows!”  And, he kicks off “I Get The Shivers for you, darling,” with a big ole Tennessee holler, and lays down some serious twangin’ tremolo guitar along the way!  Corey then gets into a reflective mood  on “Better Man,” with harp from Gerry, as he expounds on what the blues has meant to him as a man, and name-checks many of the legends who have passed on.

The Corey Dennison Band remains one of the strongest young links to the blues and soul-blues of the past, while keeping their collective eyes on the future.  Hear it for yourself–get your lover, pour some wine, and put “Night After Night” on your stereo!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Wyatt Easterling review…September 23, 2017….

WYATT EASTERLING

DIVINING ROD

PHOENIX RISING RECORDS  PR-002

STUMBLING TOWARDS THE LIGHT–IT WAS YOU ALL ALONG–AN AMERICAN DREAM–PACING THE CAGE–SCARS–CAME TO BELIEVE–DON’T CRY FOR ME–SOME DAYS–JOSEPHINE’S LAST BREATH–SURE SMELLS LIKE RAIN–STAY IN THE BOAT–SOMEWHERE DOWN THE ROAD

Wyatt Easterling has darn near done it all in the world of music.  He’s headed up the A & R portion of Atlantic Records,  signing artists the likes of Tracy Lawrence and Neal McCoy.  He’s written songs for other artists as well as having been a producer, but he’s always been a folksinger at heart.  That’s the Wyatt Easterling we get on his latest solo offering, “Divining Rod.”  He lends his comfortable,  “fireside-chat” vocal style to twelve cuts that pull you in, especially the more you listen.

His characters are a little bit of Everyman–friends, lovers, schemers, Dreamers, converts and true believers.  The way our lives are shaped by the choices we’ve made is the theme of the opening cut, “Stumbling Towards The Light.”  Similarly, an old flame is given a second chance to burn as our hero finally realizes, “It Was You All Along.”  He gets it when it’s all over, too, with cuts such as “Don’t Cry For Me,” with April Verch on fiddle, and “Sure Smells Like Rain,” with Todd Breck on the harp.

Our favorites were all over Wyatt’s musical palette.  Chris Rosser’s guitar adds a Latin flavor to the Spanish “corrido,” or “hero ballad,” of a Spanish mother and her two little dreamers who try, but, sadly, fail, to cross the border and meet her husband in “the Promised Land,” entitled “An American Dream.”  And, hey–who doesn’t like a good ole “muder ballad?”  This time, it’s the two-timin’ wife about to get what’s coming to her from the scorned “other man,” “Josephine’s Last Breath.”  A friend contemplating suicide calls to mind something ol’ Willie once said–sometimes, it’s nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune than to cash in and check out, so, please, “Stay In The Boat” and “tear up that note!”

Wyatt Easterling  has had a hand in virtually every aspect of the music business, but always answers the call of his inner troubadour Muse.  Like the mythical “Divining Rod” that sought treasures for its owner, listeners will find a veritable trove of excellent stories-in-song with this collection!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Chickenbone Slim review…September 23, 2017….

CHICKENBONE SLIM

THE BIG BEAT

LO FI MOB RECORDS

THE BIG BEAT–LONG WAY DOWN–HEMI DODGE–VODKA AND VICODIN–LONG LEGGED SWEET THING–DO YOU LIKE IT?–ME AND JOHNNY LEE–MAN DOWN–BREAK ME OFF A PIECE

Chickenbone Slim is the alter-ego of Larry Teves, a San Diego-based musician who didn’t pick up a guitar until 2011 after years of playing bass and singing in area blues and rockabilly bands.  He’s played with and been mentored by West Coast players such as Tomcat Courtney, Scottie Blinn, and Big Jon Atkinson, and Big Jon joins the fun on Slim’s second release, “The Big Beat.”

These nine cuts are all-original, and the sound and tone of the project has that vintage Chess or Sun Studios sound, altho it was recorded at Kid Andersen’s Greaseland Studios in Hayward, CA.

With Slim on vocals, there are The Biscuits.  Big Jon is on guitar, bass, and harp, Marty Dodson is on drums,  with Scot Smart on bass, and he gets a cool guitar solo on Slim’s story of a man who’s falling in love, but quickly realizes it’s a “Long Way Down” to the bottom!  “Long Legged Sweet Thing” rides an echo-effect vocal over Big Jon’s harp, with a nod to Chess and Howlin’ Wolf, while the stutter-step beat of “Do You Like It?” virtually describes by itself what the cool cats are talkin’ about when they say “West Coast jump-blues!”

We had two favorites, too.  Slim plays a man who has issues with day-to-day living who occasionally needs “chemical motivation, because sometimes, reality sucks!”  At those times, he calls on his “two best friends”–“Vodka And Vicodin!”  And, in tribute to Sun Records and Slim’s rockabilly days, he and Big Jon–on guitar and harp–ride the freight train groove of “Hemi Dodge.”  With this one, you can almost envision Robert Mitchum runnin’ that ‘shine straight down Thunder Road!

Chickenbone Slim has hit on a real winner with “The Big Beat.”  It’s sho’ nuff tasty, it’s salty and sweet,  and is a sure cure for what ails you!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Al Basile review…September 22, 2017….

AL BASILE

QUIET MONEY

SWEETSPOT RECORDS  SST 9782

BLUES GOT BLUES–SIMPLE AIN’T EASY–DO YOU EVEN KNOW?–WRONG TO BE RIGHT–QUIET MONEY–PUT SOME SALT ON IT–LINE BY LINE–THE TIME IS NOW–I WOULDA BEEN WRONG–NOT TODAY–TRUE TO FORM–YOU GOT TWO–WHO’S GONNA CLOSE MY EYES?

It’s been forty-four years since Al Basile joined Roomful Of Blues as their first-call trumpet player.  The man we all love to refer to as “The Bard Of The Blues” continues to release well-crafted sets that lean toward that classic jump-blues sound, and they are always filled with Al’s clever, insightful, and thought-provoking lyrics at the forefront.  His latest for Sweetspot Records, “Quiet Money,” features thirteen originals done up in the styles of his heroes—Lowell Fulson, Saunders King, Brother Ray and others–and also features Duke Robillard on guitar throughout.

The songs in this set cover a wide range of topics.  The set begins with a look at the declining state of the blues as a business, where, today, it’s called “blues, no matter what they play,” “Blues Got Blues Today.”  A jazzy groove runs thru another tune about relationships, when, “sometimes, it’s Wrong To Be Right.” and a man’s better off to just shut up, for sanity’s sake!

Al waxes philosophical concerning our mortality on two cuts.  A sort of stop-time pattern rides over Al’s look at dying, but, “just Not Today,  please Lord!”  The set closes as we find our hero facing the end alone, with the reverential plea of “Who’s Gonna Close My Eyes?”

We had two favorites, too.   We all grow up hopefully knowing right from wrong, but choices are sometimes tough–in fact, “Simple Ain’t Easy,” and sometimes “easy ain’t right!”  A great man once said that “tryin’ to love two, sure ain’t easy to do,” and Al’s spin on this worldly-wise saying plays out with the story of two guys with different outlooks—“I got no woman, You Got Two,” but the sordid consequences are always the same in the end.

The cool thing about Al Basile’s music is that you can put it on and dance your troubles away, but, if you stop and listen closely, you’ll see what a great communicator he is!  Give “Quiet Money” a spin, and enjoy one of the best players in contemporary blues!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.