Archive for September, 2017

Mindi Abair And The Boneshakers review….September 16, 2017….

MINDI ABAIR AND THE BONESHAKERS

THE EASTWEST SESSIONS

PRETTY GOOD FOR A GIRL RECORDS

VINYL–NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL–PLAY TO WIN–PRETTY GOOD FOR A GIRL (FEAT. JOE BONAMASSA)–LET ME HEAR IT FROM YOU (FEAT. SWEET PEA ATKINSON)–LIVE MY LIFE–FREEDOM–HAD TO LEARN THE HARD WAY–SHE DON’T CARE NO MORE (FEAT. FANTASTIC NEGRITO)–DONE ME WRONG–I LOVE TO PLAY THE SAXOPHONE

Mindi Abair is one of the most versatile sax players on the planet.   With her ability to easily play blues, funk, jazz, and, even a bit of country. you almost expect her to leap tall buildings in a single bound, too!  Her exquisite talent is all over  the eleven cuts  of her latest set with The Boneshakers, “The Estwest Sessions,” named for that legendary Hollywood studio.

Mindi and the Boneshakers have been basically on the road, touring incessantly behind their last set, the very well-received “Live In Seattle” from September of 2015.  Along with Mindi, there is Randy Jacobs on guitar, Rodney Lee on keys, Derek Frank on bass, Third Richardson on drums, and guest vocalist Sweet Pea Atkinson.

The set opens with the sound of a needle touching down on an LP, and is a stone blast of funk, “just like a needle on Vinyl.”  Randy  lights the fire with some guitar spunk that plays over Mindi’s vocal on her ode to survival in the music business, “knock me down, I get right back up again,”  “cause I Play To Win.”  She continues in that vein with a spit in the collective eye of all her critics and naysayers over a killer slow-blues groove that proves she’s waaaay more than just “Pretty Good For A Girl.”  And, to further set things straight, Blues Award winner Joe Bonamassa adds guitar to this one!  More celebs step up to the mic as 2017 Grammy winner for Contemporary Blues album, Francisco Negrito,  teams up with Mindi for a midnight ride down to the Crossroads on the brooding, “She Don’t Cry No More.”

We had two favorites, too.  Another fine shot of funk is Mindi’s ode to “holding my ground,” because “no one said it was gonna be easy,” “Had To Learn The Hard Way.”  And, she closes the set with her breezy, country-tinged autobiography, “I Love To Play The Saxophone–the sound of the sax always brings me home!”

Funk master Bobby Rush himself compared Mindi’s sax work to that of the great harp men, using her sax to play the lead lines as well as the fills.  She’s jammed with the Roots on “Jimmy Kimmel–Live!,” and, we are gonna take it up to the next level.  If we may be so bold as to paraphrase the Godfather Of Soul, Mindi Abair ain’t nothin’ but a stone cold “SAX MACHINE,” and, with The Boneshakers,  The Eastwest Session” solidifies it!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Benny Turner review…September 15, 2017….

BENNY TURNER

MY BROTHER’S BLUES

NOLA BLUES RECORDS

BIG LEGGED WOMAN–IT’S YOUR MOVE–HAVE YOU EVER LOVED A WOMAN–I’M TORE DOWN–YOU’VE GOT TO LOVE HER WITH A FEELING–I’M READY–SEE SEE BABY–MOJO BOOGIE–WEE BABY BLUES–GHETTO WOMAN–SAME OLD BLUES

Benny Turner is indeed the younger brother–by five years–of legendary bluesman Freddie King.   Their mother, Ella Mae King Turner,  ended up giving birth to two titans of the blues community!  Benny started out on electric bass for some gospel groups (before it was widely accepted), but signed on with big brother when the hits started happening.  He toured with Freddie until his untimely death in 1976.  Benny became somewhat of a recluse after his brother’s death, but  an offer from Mighty Joe Young brought him back to the stage.  After moving to New Orleans, Benny has just released his fifth solo album, assuming his rightful place at center stage with “My Brother’s Blues.”  It is eleven cuts of songs most closely-associated with Freddie, and plays out as a heartfelt tribute to a legend.  Freddie used horns on many of his songs, and Benny’s NOLA influences show up as all these cuts feature sweet, funky horn arrangements.

Leading off, just as Freddie always did, is that irresistible boogie-funk of “Big Legged Woman, in that short-short miniskirt,” with June Yamagishi on guitar.  Benny gets into his slow-blues groove on two famous cuts.  “Have You Ever Loved A Woman” becomes a testifyin’, gospel-ish number with that B3 from Davell Crawford and preachin’ backup vocals from Earl Smith.  But, in the end, we all know “she bears another man’s name!”   Benny has a  blast with the stop-time strut of “You’ve Got  To Love Her With A Feeling,” and he adds the risque’ last verse of this song deemed too controversial for radio back in the Fifties on Freddie’s Federal original.  Joe Krown’s keys and “sacred steel” from Roosevelt Collier spice up “I’m Ready,” and the set closes with another great moment of testifyin,’ as Benny and June Yamagishi on guitar give a poignant read of one of Freddie’s best-loved songs about when “the sunshine turns to rain and all my laughter turns to pain,” Don Nix’s iconic “Same Old Blues.”

We had a favorite that simply couldn’t be denied.  Before their untimely passings, this high-spirited version of “I’m Tore Down” teams Benny with soul stalwarts Otis Clay and Marva Wright for a sho’ nuff houserockin’ good time!

A great man once opined about stayin’ “up all night with Freddie King–I got to tell you, poker’s his thing,” and only Benny Turner can regale us with these tales of traveling from town to town by bus with Freddie.  “My Brother’s Blues” is a heartfelt tribute from Benny Turner to a man he called big brother, bandmate, and best friend!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Jimmy Carpenter review…September 15, 2017…

JIMMY CARPENTER

PLAYS THE BLUES

VIZZTONE–VTJC17

YOU BELONG TO ME–TOO LATE–JIMMY PLAYS THE BLUES–KID IN MY HEAD–BLUES WITH A FEELING–SURF MONKEY–CHANGE IS GONNA COME–PREACH–ALL YOUR LOVE (I MISS LOVIN’)–SHOTGUN

Jimmy Carpenter has been blowin’ that mean sax since his career started in 1980.  He’s played with Jimmy Thackery, Tinsley Ellis, and a host of others, which now includes Mike Zito.  It was Zito who urged Jimmy to record an album of classics, and got behind the project as its producer.  The result is the ten tunes that comprise “Plays The Blues,” for the Vizztone label.  Some of Jimmy’s best friends drop by to make this a sho’ nuff party, including Zito, Tinsley, Jonn Del Toro Richardson, Anders Osborne, Dave Fields, and plenty more.

Fans, this one plays out like a big ol’ party back at the chicken shack with the fellows playing everybody’s favorite tunes.  Wes Cide Rules with the leadoff cut, a blistering take on Magic Sam’s “You Belong To Me,” featuring Tony Ditendoro on guitar.   They revisit that groove a bit later, this time with Zito on vocals and guitar as the two of ’em work that rhumba-rockin’ blues of Otis Rush’s “All Your Love (I Miss Lovin).”

Wouldn’t be a sax show without some cool instrumentals, and Jimmy busts a move on several.  “Jimmy Plays The Blues” is a slow-drivin’ , down ‘n’ dirty lesson on how to coax some of the deepest shades of blue imaginable outta that horn of plenty.  Freddie King’s “Surf Monkey” has Tinsley Ellis on guitar,  and the great King Curtis’ “Preach” has that sax doin’ some mighty testifyin.’  The party closes ’bout 3  AM, with “everybody gonna pick tomatoes and dig potatoes,” doin’ Jr. Walker’s “Shotgun!”

We had two favorites.  One of Jimmy’s originals is a cool, piano-pounding ode to that teenage boy that still lives in the psyche’ of all us guys, and makes us do weird things, all due to that “Kid In My Head.”  And, for us, one of the most beautiful songs of the Sixties was Cooke’s immortal “Change Is Gonna Come.”  Jimmy and Anders Osborne on subtle guitar will give you goose bumps as they turn this iconic tune into an emotion-packed instrumental.

Jimmy Carpenter steps to the front of the stage on these ten classics, and gives them all his no-holds-barred treatment.  The whole thang has a vibe that is old-school at heart and contemporary in nature.  So, y’all git on back to the chicken shack and dig “Plays The Blues!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Joel DaSilva review…September 13, 2017….

JOEL DASILVA

EVERYWHERE FROM HERE

SHAKE–EVERYDAY MAN–DOWN IN THE DELTA–CHASIN THE SUN–CADILLAC MAMA–BAD WORLD–THIS DAY I BLEED–SPELL ON ME–TIME HEALS ALL WOUNDS–MY BRAZILIAN SOUL

Joel DaSilva recorded his latest set, “Everywhere From Here,” down in Ft. Lauderdale at the Tru Noyz Studios,  with Grammy-winner Eddie Perez producing.  This set is all-original material, and Eddie coaxed a cool, garage-rock and blues-roots vibe out of Joel and his fiery fretwork.  On these cuts, you can hear influences of JLV and Joe Bonamassa, as well as Brother Ray, and even the White Stripes.

His varied guitar lines and echo-effects give some of these cuts a vintage rockabilly feel, and some are pure fun,  West Coast-styled jump blues.  Check out the leadoff cut with its fine call-and-response guitar in a swampy tale about that girl “lookin’ real good with that red dress on,” “Shake.”  A rumba-rockin’ beat that features accordion from Alejandro Sanched  gives a song about being a “bad boy in a Bad World” who’s sho’ nuff got a “bad girl to pour some of her bad stuff in my cup” a mysterious groove.  He closes the set with a samba-esque instrumental that serves as his autobiography of sorts as the son of Brazilian musicians, “My Brazilian Soul.”

Our favorites were some of his more blues-oriented offerings.  There ain’t nothin’ quite like a good ol’ “Cadillac Mama,” one that’s “built for comfort, not for speed!”  And, you gotta love the deep, slow-blues groove of a man who realizes a love affair has turned “cold and lonely,” but “Time Heals All Wounds.”  The set’s most unique cut takes place at the corner of Mississippi highways 61 and 49, where you’ll find that dude with the really bony fingers  always lookin’ to make a deal.  Yup–the grungy guitars on this one are helped out by a backing chorus of baying hellhounds, and conjures up the ghosts of Mr. Waters, Mr. Sumlin, Mr. Johnson, and the Howlin’ Wolf himself.  They’re all there, right where they oughta be–“Down In The Delta!”

Joel Da Silva reached down into his bluesman’s soul to bring forth a set of roots-rock and deep blues that all fans are sure to enjoy.  Musically, with this set, you can get “Everywhere From Here.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Bob Bradshaw review…September 11, 2017…

BOB BRADSHAW

AMERICAN ECHOES

FLUKE RECORDS 2017

EXOTIC DANCERS WANTED–MEET ME–CALL IT WHAT YOU WILL–THE ASSUMPTIONS WE MAKE–WORKIN ON MY PROTEST SONG–A BIRD NEVER FLEW ON JUST ONE WING–WEIGHT OF THE WORLD–STELLA–MY DOUBLE AND I–MATERIAL FOR THE BLUES–O BROTHER–OLD SOLDIERS

Irish-born Bob Bradshaw has been a Boston resident since 2003, but, he’s been everywhere, man, busking on the streets of Europe, as well as NYC and Frisco before finally settling in Massachusetts.  Obviously, he’s seen a lot, and, thru his studies at Berklee, he’s honed his songwriting to make his characters people that we can all relate to.  This is especially true on his seventh studio album, “American Echoes,” for Fluke Records.  This all-original album combines his passion for folk, blues, and bluegrass with that innate ability to tell a cool story in five minutes’ time.

His characters are all of us–hopeless dreamers, lovers, saints, and sinners, and everyone in between.  “Meet Me” name-checks many NYC landmarks and turns them into places for a romantic rendezvous, for “anyplace, anytime, I’ll be there!”  The denizens of The Keystone Bar And Grill offer up the sage advice, over a few pints, that “a cup of tea won’t make you sing, and A Bird Never Flew On Just One Wing.”  “Stella” is a story of true love between aging lovers set to waltz time, while the set closes on a “marching beat,”  with the story of the bravery and chivalry of Civil War soldiers, “Old Soldiers never die–they just fade away.”  This one has fiddle from Chad Manning and banjo from Andy Santospago, and the traditional instruments add to the ambience of this cut.

We had two favorites, too.  The set starts with “Exotic Dancers Wanted,” and you can almost see the grainy, black-and-white film noir of the ladies and their clientele,  as the longer they ply their trade, the more they become unable to “tell the dancers from the dance.”  And, a tongue-in-cheek nod to Dylan and the Sixties finds Bob ducking “mushroom clouds” and “tommy guns,” all the while “Workin’ On My Protest Song!”   This one has a rich, Garcia-era Dead vibe, set over a quirky time pattern that woulda been right at home during the folk boom.

On “American Echoes,” Bob Bradshaw comes full-circle.  These songs trace the history of the music that first inspired Bob, and evolve into the layered arrangements he studied at Berklee.  This is indeed an aural treat!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Bette Smith review…September 10, 2017…

BETTE SMITH

JETLAGGER

BIG LEGAL MESS RECORDS  BLM 0545

I WILL FEED YOU–JETLAGGER–I FOUND LOVE–FLYING SWEET ANGEL OF JOY–MANCHILD–DURTY HUSTLIN’–SHACKLE AND CHAIN–MOANING BENCH–DO YOUR THING–CITY IN THE SKY

Bette Smith possesses a voice that’ll take you right back to the day when women such as Etta, Koko, and two other famous Bettys–Wright and Davis–ruled the airwaves, and music was real, with no outside artificial help.  That sass, power, and attitude is all over her debut full-length album, “Jetlagger,” for Big Legal Mess Records.  It’s also produced by Jimbo Mathus, who’s  on guitars, keys, and backing vocals throughout.

Betty grew up poor in the notoriously-rough Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, and sang in church under the tutelage of her father, the church choir director.  The ten cuts on this set mix covers hand-picked by Mathus and originals chose specifically for Bette to get the optimum results from her outstanding range.

The set begins with shimmering guitars over Bette’s lovelorn vocal on “I Will Feed You, with everything I got.”  Her rich gospel roots run deep on  “Flying Sweet Angel Of Joy,” and on the set’s closing tune, made popular by Mavis Staples, “City In The Sky,” where “we sho’ ain’t gonna miss the city we leave behind.”

The funk steals the show, tho,and Bette can sho’ nuff bring it on.  One of Jimbo’s originals, “Manchild,” has Bette just wanting someone “I can teach my lovin’ to!”   Jimbo lays down some more mean slide on the country-blues tale of the “Moaning Bench,”  and Bette flat-out gets all over the groove of Isaac Hayes’ “Do Your Thing.”

Nothin’ hit harder than “Durty Hustlin,” tho.  Another of Jimbo’s originals, Bette gets down ‘n’ durty with the funkified tale of what goes on with “all my friends scufflin’ in the streets all night.”  All this one needs is a visit from John Shaft and a big ;ol  DAMN RIIIGHT!

Bette Smith and the band cut “Jetlagger” live in the studio, and she threw out all her inhibitions (as if she ever had any!)  and just let her voice take the lead.  There’s no pretentious pop here–just pure, raw, emotion-packed soul power the way the greats did it, and is a welcomed set from a dynamite talent!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx review…..September 9, 2017….

GARY LUCAS AND NONA HENDRYX

THE WORLD OF CAPTAIN BEEFHEART

KNITTING FACTORY RECORDS

SUN ZOOM SPARK–MY HEAD IS MY ONLY HOUSE UNLESS IT RAINS–SURE ‘NUFF YES I DO–I’M GLAD–THE SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTE BLUES (OR THE BIG DIG)–HER EYES ARE A BLUE MILLION MILES–SUCTION PRINTS–SUGAR AND SPIKES–WHEN BIG JOAN SETS UP–TOO MUCH TIME–WHEN IT BLOWS ITS STACKS–TROPICAL HOT DOG NIGHT

The world knew Don Van Vliet as Captain Beefheart.  From 1967 to 1982, he released a total of thirteen albums with several incarnations of his Magic Band.  The Captain was one of the original envelope-pushers, melding psychedelic rock, blues, jazz, funk, and most everything under the musical sun to create an avant-garde sound that arguably changed the face of popular music, and opened up the acceptance of other like-minded artists.  His untimely passing in 2010 left a huge void in the music world, but some of his contemporaries are bent on keeping his sound alive and introducing his music to a whole new younger audience.

Jazz and soul singer Nona Hendryx is a cousin to Jimi—the family spelled their name with an “i”–and she was also a part of Patti LaBelle and the BlueBelles.  She has long been an admirer of the Captain’s music, and she possesses the pipes to match his multi-octave vocals.  She is in part responsible for one of our favorite Christmas songs of all-time.  Head over to YouTube and search out Graham Parker and “Soul Christmas,” and you’ll see  what we are talking about.

To do a Captain Beefheart tribute, you also must have a stellar guitarist.  Gary Lucas is just such a player, as he played on the Captain’s last two albums, and was the perfect choice to pull this off.

The whole affair is entitled,  “The World Of Captain Beefheart,”  for Knitting Factory Records.  Gary and Nona tackle some of the Captain’s best works, and give equal importance to his soul-blues cuts as well as his more quirky, left-of-center offerings.

There are highlights aplenty.  Nona’s soul background is ideal for the tale of how far a lover will go for another, “My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains.”  That breezy vibe continues in the Sixties-pop flavored “I’m Glad,” and the groove of both of these is right in Nona’s wheelhouse.

Gary’s guitar goes all over the sonic landscape in the good-time instrumental, “Suction Prints,” and sets the stage for the more offbeat cuts.  Nona gets into the partly spoken-word groove of “The Smithsonian Institute Blues (Or The Big Dig)” over Gary’s droning lead lines.  The set closes with another oddity, this one full of sly double-entendres’, on a “Tropical Hot Dog Night, like two flamingos in a fruit fight!”

Our favorite was easy.  Gary lays down some mean Delta-fried slide boogie as Nona rides the blinds on the bluesiest cut on the set, “Sure ‘Nuff Yes I Do,” with killer 88’s from Jordan Shapiro.

Captain Beefheart was a true cult hero and an acquired taste.  Thanks to the efforts of Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx, with “The World Of Captain Beefheart,” this lovable icon and waaay-ahead-of-his-time artist will always be fondly remembered.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Ali Handal review…September 9, 2017….

ALI HANDAL

THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID

RED PARLOR RECORDS  RDP 1706

YOU GET WHAT YOU SETTLE FOR–SMOKE MORE POT–THE WORLD DON’T OWE YOU A THING–LET GO–I LOVE MY PUSSYCAT–WHAT IS AND WHAT SHOULD NEVER BE–ENOUGH FOR ME–THANK GOD FOR BIRTH CONTROL–NOT A PRETTY GIRL–EVERYBODY’S SO NAKED–BETTER MAN–LAST LULLABY

Women in blues and rock have always had a certain degree of what we like to refer to as “badassery”—a combination of talent, wit, wisdom, and swagger that serves them well in a predominantly male-dominated biz.  Memphis Minnie and Etta James had it, Bonnie Raitt, Kacey Musgraves and Samantha Fish all have it, and you can add Ali Handal to the list.  A buzz-worthy guitarist, her writing is geared so that it almost seems like she’s conversing with the listener.  You’ll find that out as you listen to her latest release for Red Parlor Records with the too-cool-for-school title of “That’s What She Said.”   There are twelve cuts encompassed by ten originals either written wholly or in part by Ali, and two unique covers.

Ali was gonna be a pianist in her formative years, that is until she got a load of Plant and Page.  She punted the 88’s and grabbed a guitar and never ever looked back, and that passion in both her playing and composing is what makes this set so entertaining.  There are songs of love, lust, and loss, with an underlying thread of hope throughout, as Ali is a cancer survivor, and uses this music as much to heal and empower as to entertain.

Up first is a slide-heavy story of relationships, where “you complain about him endlessly, but you call him back for more,” and, in the end, “You Get What You Settle For.”  Her life-long adoration of felines is documented in the sly-and-ultra-sexy, “I Love My Pussy.Cat!”  Another touch of humor comes thru in the pitfalls and pratfalls of parenthood spelled out in “Thank God For Birth Control.”  This one has a jazzy groove, and you can hear Steve Aguilar bangin’ away on a toy piano!  Ali waxes philosophical as she ponders life without a serious relationship, “what if I’m Enough For Me?”

We had three favorites.  Her Plant-Page tribute is a soulfully-bluesy read of “What Is And What Never Should Be.”  Another shot of humor aimed at “breakin’ all my Mama’s rules” is her secret wish to “join an all-girl band” and just “Smoke More Pot!”  The set’s tour de force, tho, is her powerful ode to persevering in the face of cancer, realizing that, when you get “hit by a sucker punch,” sometimes you just gotta “Let Go of the things that just don’t matter.”

Ali Handal has had songs featured on “Sex And The City,” “I Carly” and other shows, and her fans love her soulfulness, sass, and strength in her songcrafting.  “That’s What She Said” is the voice of a brilliant and talented young artist!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Syl Johnson reviews…September 6, 2017…..

SYL JOHNSON

DIFFERENT STROKES ’69-’71

TWINIGHT RECORDS  TRI2005-001

DIFFERENT STROKES–TRY ME–COME ON SOCK IT TO ME–SORRY BOUT DAT–I CAN TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS–DRESSES TOO SHORT–I’VE GOT THE REAL THING–I RESIGN–SOUL DRIPPIN–SOMEONE LIKE YOU–I FEEL AN URGE–HOME WORK–TRYING TO GET TO U–WIGGLES–SAME KIND OF THING–GOING TO THE SHACK–NEW DAY–LET THEM HANG HIGHER–ODE TO A SOUL MAN–SKINNY LEGS–TAKE ME BACK–DON’T GIVE IT AWAY–ABRACADABRA–COME ON SOCK IT TO ME (INST.)

SYL JOHNSON

IS IT BECAUSE I’M BLACK?  ’69-’71

TWINIGHT RECORDS  TRI2005-002

RIGHT ON SISTER–IS IT BECAUSE I’M BLACK–COME TOGETHER–CONCRETE RESERVATION–WALK A MILE IN MY SHOES–ONE WAY TICKET–KISS BY KISS–BLACK BALLOONS–GET READY–TALK ABOUT FREEDOM–NEW DAY–THANK U BABY–YOUR LOVE IS GOOD FOR ME–WE DO IT TOGETHER–THAT IS WHY–WIGGLES–TOGETHER FOREVER–IS IT BECAUSE I’M BLACK 2006–MS FINE BROWN FRAME–TELL THE TRUTH

Syl Johnson is one of the last living links to the classic soul era of the Sixties and Seventies, himself a contemporary of legends such as Al Green, Pickett, and Solomon Burke.  Syl recorded for Twinight Records during his heyday, and they have painstakingly reissued these ground-breaking sides over two CD’s, “Different Strokes 69 -’71,” and “Is It Because I’m Black?-’69-’71.”  Each have arrangements done by Donnie Hathaway, and we offer our review for each set herein.

Syl has a rare vocal quality that combines the suave cool of Sam Cooke with the fire and brimstone of James Brown.  And, as with many artists of that era, being socially-conscious carried as much weight as having a hit on the charts.  As such, over the course of these two CD’s, you will find dance floor grooves standing alongside songs of social and racial injustice.

We graciously begin with the second set, full of these hot-button cuts, as well as a few vintage love songs.  The title cut says it all–Syl spoke for his entire race in this song, where he knows that, deep down, “something is holding me back.”  “Concrete Reservation” deals with the gritty conditions of ghetto life, while he urges us all to realize our need to be free, “Talk About Freedom.”  And, in our favorite politically-charged cut, Syl urges politicians to “Tell The Truth”  about the Katrina disaster in 2005, with this immortal lyric—“the government or Katrina–who is meaner?”

The first set is considerably more upbeat, with songs primarily geared for the dancers and the dance crazes of the day–the Boston Monkey, Philly Dog, Boogaloo, and others.  His first hit is here, “Come On Sock It To Me,” along with other gems such as “Different Strokes,” “Wiggles,” and three of our favorites, “Going To The Shack,” “Dresses Too Short,” and its “answer song,”Let Your Dresses Hang Higher.”

Syl could sing for the ladies, too.  Check out “I Resign,” and a great duet with Syleena Johnson’s mother, Brenda, on “Someone Like You.”

The rap community owes a huge debt of gratitude to Syl Johnson and his music, as Syl is one of the most sampled R & B artists of all-time,  with artists such as Wu-Tang Clan, Tone Loc, and many more using their music to spread Syl’s legacy.  As for us, being able to revisit and review these historic sides from our youth has been both an honor and a privilege.  Syl Johnson is not only a dynamite entertainer, he became a spokesman for an entire race thru the seminal sides contained in these two excellent collections.  Right On, Syl!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Hamilton Loomis review…September 5, 2017….

HAMILTON LOOMIS

BASICS

HAM-BONE RECORDS  HBR 109 CD

SUGAR BABY–IF I WOULD’VE–CANDLES AND WINE–REASON–AIN’T WHAT IT AIN’T–BREAKING DOWN–LOOKING INTO A DREAM–GETTING SO BIG–CLOUDY DAY–COME AND GET ME–LOVE CAN DO–PRAYER–FUNKY LITTLE BROTHER

Hamilton Loomis has been on our blues radar since we first saw him at B. B. King’s Nashville ’round 2003 or so.  Even back then, you knew he was somethin’ special, with his soulful vocals and ability to play virtually any instrument.  His myriad of talents are all on display with his latest release for Ham-Bone Records,”Basics,” thirteen cuts all written or co-written by Hamilton.  And, fans, there ain’t been this much pure funk on a platter since Bruno Mars went uptown.   Hamilton is playing for a cause, too.  His three-year-old son has hyperinsulinism, (HI), which causes dangerously-low blood sugar.   He dedicates the sweetly-funkalicious opening track  to Congenital Hyperinsulinism International,  as their researchers continue to work to combat the disease.  This tune is a cool single-chord progression named  after what doctors call children with this disease, “Sugar Baby,” featuring Hamilton on some sweet harp!

Hamilton knows a thing or two about love and relationships, too, both the good and not-so-good kind.  “If I Would’ve” traces the “coulda woulda shoulda” of a love affair that never was, because he wouldn’t “take that chance.”  But, everything’s gonna be alright when you find that special one that “makes the sun come out,” “Reason.”  It follows a breezy, summery groove, as does his story of growing up as a child, then having kids of his own, and just how fleeting life really is, “Getting So Big.”

The pitfalls of being in a long-distance affair feeds the funk of “Cloudy Day,” and Hamilton busts out his best Prince Rogers Nelson falsetto vocals.  “Prayer” goes out to all the families with children who are all, ’cause “all we can do is try.”

We had two favorites, too.  A clever play on words closes the set, as Hamilton and several of the Houston-area youngsters he mentors give a  spirited, hi-octane read of “Funky Little Brother.”  And, if you want a straight blueser, then cue up the harp-and-guitar driven look at an affair on the rocks.   Yup–when “she ain’t thinkin’ ’bout you no more,” the best thing to do is man up, ’cause “It Ain’t What It Ain’t, it is what it is, so let it be what it’s gonna be.’

A great man once said, “It’s too funky in here,” and Hamilton Loomis has showed up and showed out by going back to the “Basics.”  Plus, he’s on a mission to spread the word on HI, making this one a definitive “can’t ,miss!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.