Ilana Katz Katz review…October 6, 2017….

ILANA KATZ KATZ

SUBWAY STORIES

VIZZTONE VT-IKK-111

DON’T FORGET–RILEY AND SPENCER–SUBWAY BLUES–MOTHERLESS CHILD–POISON DAYS–LIKE A WINO–ICE CREAM FREEZER BLUES–REQUIEM–TRIBUTE TO SLIM HARPO–THE EXCUSE–ROAD TO NOWHERE–DON’T CROSS THAT LINE–JOHN BROWN’S DREAM/SUBWAY LIGHT OF MINE

Ilana Katz Katz got her start in 2008 as a busker, playing her fiddle and singing on Boston’s crowded subway platforms.  A chance meeting with Ronnie Earl led to her “discovery,” if you will, as he took her under his wing, playing on her debut album.  Her fiddle and lilting, bluesy voice have served her well since her salad days, and she has just completed her third overall release, aptly-entitled “Subway Stories,” for VizzTone.  The set consists of thirteen songs, several written by Ilana solely or with producer/guitarist Barry Levenson, he of Canned Heat fame.  The rest are well-played covers that showcase her affinity for traditional fiddle tunes, old-time blues, and jazzy scat-singing.

One of those originals leads off, as Barry hits and “endless boogie” groove over Ilana’s vocal, name-checking many of our blues heroes, imploring us, “Don’t Forget their names.”  “Riley And Spencer,” a traditional tune about two hard-drinking ramblers,  and “Motherless Child,” shows the ease with which she handles this type of material.

Barry does some mighty fine Berry-pickin’ over piano supplied by Mr. Fifty Shades Of Blue himself, Anthony Geraci, as Ilana plays the part of the somewhat schizophrenic lover who, “after all this time, still loves you Like A Wino loves his wine!”  Ilana and the fellows have a lot of fun with the slow-blues of her autobiography of sorts, “Subway Blues,” and again with the swampy, good-times of “Tribute To Slim Harpo,” both featuring harp from Sugar Ray Norcia.

We had two favorites, too.  Ilana closes the set with a sho’ nuff hoedown throwdown, with an extended fiddle break on the traditional “John Brown’s Dream,” which segues’ into “Subway Light Of Mine,” featuring just her fiddle and vocal.  And, we can only imagine the response she gets in the subway when she breaks into Roosevelt Sykes’ bawdy-riffic “Ice Cream Freezer Blues!”

Ilana Katz Katz takes the listener on a sweet journey from the traditional up thru the contemporary with her fiddle skills and ethereal voice.  When she’s not on the road, you can still catch her bringing fun to the folks on Boston’s underground lines, and “Subway Stories” has some tales to tell!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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