Archive for November, 2017

Samantha Fish review…November 18, 2017…

SAMANTHA FISH

BELLE OF THE WEST

RUF RECORDS  1248

AMERICAN DREAM–BLOOD IN THE WATER–NEED YOU MORE–COWTOWN–DAUGHTERS–DON’T SAY YOU LOVE ME–BELLE OF THE WEST–POOR BLACK MATTIE (FEAT. LIGHTNIN MALCOLM)–NO ANGELS–NEARING HOME (FEAT. LILLIE MAE)–GONE FOR GOOD

Earlier this year, Midwest-raised woman of the blues Samantha Fish released “Chills And Fever,” a collection of R & B-infused songs with the help of the Detroit Cobras.  Not long after that one came out, she headed down to the Mississippi Hill Country to the Zebra Ranch Studios to get to work on its follow-up.  In an unprecedented move for this day and age, she has just released her second album during 2017 with “Belle Of The West.”  It was produced by Luther Dickinson, who worked with her on “Wild Heart” from 2015.   This set also features some of the best players associated with this region along for the ride, including Jimbo Mathus, Lightnin’ Malcolm Lillie Mae, Sharde Thomas and several others steeped in this music’s tradition.

These young folks sure let their passion for this music run wild on this collection.  Leading off, Samantha fires a salvo at the so-called “American Dream,” where there’s a “hand on the Bible, and a foot on your neck,” punctuated by Sharde’s signature fife work and Lillie’s fiddle.  Loss of a loved one leads to “nothing’s right, but nothing’s wrong,” the poignant “Need You More than you’ll ever know.”  The problem of broken families and teen runaways is addressed in “Daughters,” and, at the other end of the spectrum, Samantha is our woman of questionable moral fiber in “there ain’t No Angels ’round here.”

We had two favorites, too.  Samantha empowers herself by taking a stand and leaving “this Cowtown” for good, this one with a decided Southern-rock vibe.  And, she closes the set with the slide-heavy romp of a young lady sho’ nuff glad a no-good lover is “Gone For Good.”

Samantha Fish is not one to rest on past accomplishments, and is not afraid to push the envelope when it comes to her music.  That’s the cool thing about  her latest album.  She embraced the swagger, sounds, and passion of the Hill Country, and “Belle Of The West” just sounds natural!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Advertisements

Downchild review…November 17, 2017….

DOWNCHILD

SOMETHING I’VE DONE

LINUS 270325

ALBANY, ALBANY–WORRIED ABOUT THE WORLD–CAN’T GET MAD AT YOU–MISSISSIPPI WOMAN, MISSISSAUGA MAN–TAKE A PIECE OF MY HEART–MAILBOX MONEY–SHE THINKS I DO–SOMETHING I’VE DONE–INTO THE FIRE–EVELYN

We suppose many fans out there are like us, as we sought out albums back in the late-Seventies and early-Eighties of the Downchild Blues Band, after two of their songs, “Shotgun Blues,” and “I Got Everything I Need (Almost),” were included on Aykroyd and Belushi’s “Briefcase Full Of Blues” album from back in the day.  Now known as simply Downchild, harp and guitar man Donnie Walsh, the only original member from the band’s beginnings in 1969, continues to carry this bidness on, as the band has just wrapped up their 18th studio album, this one entitled, “Something I’ve Done.”   The members of the band’s current lineup have all logged at least 20 years of service, and that innate tightness is excellent throughout, as is the fact that several different members of the sextet had a hand in writing the ten originals herein.

Donnie’s on guitar and harp (on two cuts), and Chuck Jackson’s big, booming delivery carries the vocals.  Up first is the rollicking “Albany, Albany,” the story of that red-hot lover with a little “somethin’ special.”  They keep that party groove going with a cool re-imagining of the Conway and Loretta chestnut, this one entitled “Mississippi Woman, Mississauga Man,” featuring Chuck on the harp on a cut that sho’ nuff lets “everybody party and everybody dance!”  Michael Fonfara’s piano work, reminiscent of Jane Veasey’s work  with the Seventies’ lineup, is in fine, testifyin’ form over the poignant breakup ballad, “just before you go, Take A Piece Of My Heart.”  Michael’s at it again on the bristling boogie of the title cut, which also has Chuck on harp and vocals, for the jumpin’, call-and-response of “must’ve been Something I’ve Done.”  The set closes with Donnie showing off his considerable harp chops, on the instrumental boogie of “Evelyn.”

Our favorite was easy.  This band has long been noted for their way around some jump-blues  that often incorporates a touch of humor, and the tale of a man “waitin’ on Mailbox Money so I can spread it around” fits the bill perfectly!

Downchild and Donnie Walsh are bent on keeping that jump-blues tradition moving forward, as they have done for close to fifty years.  Get yer dancin’ shoes spit-shined for “Something I’ve Done,” and, Donnie….we love you, man—thanks for a lifetime of great blues!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Davide Pannozzo review…November 16, 2017….

DAVIDE PANNOZZO

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE

SIX WIRES–LIVING, LOVING, AND GIVING–I HEARD YOU–BRING ME TO THE LIGHT–ONE AND ONLY–CHASING ILLUSIONS–WAH WAH–THE PUREST THING–STRATUS–LORD KNOWS WHAT’S IN MY HEART

Davide Pannozzo is one of the most exciting members of the younger generation of blues guitarists.  He recently made it to the semi-finals of the IBC’s, and he has headlined shows  all over the world, from the USA, UK, Italy, and all points in between.  He sent, unsolicited, the material that would ultimately become his latest album,  to drummer Steve Jordan.  Steve was highly impressed, and, along with Will Lee, started to work on the eight originals and two covers that comprise “Unconditional Love.”

Davide’s influences include most all the greats in blues, rock, and jazz, but he is his own man, and a true bluesman for the 21st Century.  He also believes that each individual can offer a viable solution in making the world a better place, and draws on these beliefs throughout this album.

A fine bit of funk starts things off,  as Davide sings of using music to help lighten one’s load in life, “Six Wires.”  “I Heard You” deals with the positive changes one undergoes when true love comes along, while his dazzling slide work pushes “Bring Me To The Light.”

Some brilliant instrumentals close the set.  A cool cover of Billy Cobham’s “Stratus,” and Davide’s own “The Purest Thing,” and Lord Knows What’s In My Heart” shows how effortlessly he can move from  blues-oriented fare into more jazz-rooted territory.

We had two favorites, too.  A tune written by Davide and Federica Piacentini sounds as if it were borne in the heart of the Delta, with its Doomsday beat pounding over Davide’s vocal and guitar, as he recalls stern life lessons passed from his mother in “Chasing Illusions.”  And, a song that’s a good poultice for today’s troubled society is the  strong, positive message of “Living, Loving, And Giving–that’s all we need to change the world!”

Davide Pannozzo has crafted an excellent set full of strong lyrics and fiery, passionate playing.  “Unconditional Love” is a powerful set of contemporary blues bent on using music as a force of healing!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Railsplitters review…November 5, 2017…..

THE RAILSPLITTERS

JUMP IN

TRS-CD-1502

EVERYONE SHE MEETS–JUMP IN–LESSONS I’VE LEARNED–DURANGO RIVER–TO DO–SOMETHIN’ SWEET–CITRONELLA–LEMON LIME–BOY OF FIVE–BAXSES

Boulder, Colorado-based The Railsplitters are already well-known as an award-winning bluegrass outfit, but this band is never one to rest on its laurels.  With their latest album, “Jump In,” they do just that—jump in with both feet with ten original cuts that explore a wide variety of fresh, exciting sounds that make this set as much fun as it is adventurous.

Joe D’Esposito is on fiddle, Dusty Rider on banjo, Peter Sharpe is eight-stringin’, Lauren Stovall is on guitar, and Leslie Ziegler is on bass. Lauren handles most of the lead vocals, altho all share vocal duties when called upon.  The set was produced by Kai Welch, who adds archtop guitar and accordion on the title cut.

That title cut is a good place to begin the discussion of this fine music.  Lauren plays the part of the part of the lover encouraged by her paramour to let go and just “Jump In,” with the cold river water the metaphor for a new relationship.  It includes the unforgettable lyric, “I found myself when I lost myself,” set over a sweet string arrangement and high-harmony backing vocals.  Lauren tackles a relationship that isn’t what it seems in “Lessons I’ve Learned,” recalling her mother’s advice to always “look out for boys like you.”  A tongue-in-cheek look at love manifests itself through the pop-ish groove of “Somethin’ Sweet,” as a potential suitor comes off as lame, with sorry pick-up lines “tryin’ to lure someone into your bed!”

There are two excellent instrumentals, too.  “Durango River” is full of fancy pickin’ from everyone, with a nod to traditional Irish and Celtic music.  The other one, “Citronella,” is a fine example of what we’d like to refer to as “jazz-grass,” as the song takes numerous twists and turns before its climax.  The set closes with the cut that served as our favorite,”Baxses,” as Lauren reminds us all that “forgiveness is the only cash we need to earn,” spreading a message of peace, unity, and positivity.

The Railsplitters were courted by major labels to release “Jump In.”  But, the band refused, crowd-funding the necessary cash to get the job done.  That independent spirit runs thru the grooves in this set, and that pushes their collective envelope to new, exhilarating heights!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

Jesse Terry review…November 12, 2017….

JESSE TERRY

STARGAZER

JACKSON BEACH MUSIC

STARGAZER–WOKEN IN THE WILDFLOWERS–DANGEROUS TIMES–ONLY A PAWN–KALEIDOSCOPE–STAY LOW–WON’T LET THE BOY DIE–DANCE IN OUR OLD SHOES–RUNAWAY TOWN–TROUBLE IN MY HEAD–DEAR AMSTERDAM

For Jesse Terry’s fourth album, entitled “Stargazer,” he sends out a message of hope for a world that is seemingly without hope.  The songs herein, all originals, share Jesse’s feelings that hope is always eternal, and life is in a constant state of flux, with a light always at the end of the tunnel.

These tracks were recorded at the East Side Manor Studios here in Music City, with Josh Kaler producing.  Also prominent within the context of this set is the use of strings throughout, which gives this material a definitive added dimension, courtesy of  arranger Danny Mitchell.

Jesse Terry grew up listening to much of the same popular music as did we, and you’ll hear many varied influences, from Dylan, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne and ELO, The Byrds, Beatles, and Tom Petty, among many others.  Check out “Woken In The Wildflowers.”  It was written while Jesse was on holiday in New Zealand with his wife during the Women’s March back in the spring.  This song urges us all to return to a sense of urgency, and “wake up, wake up,” to the values of justice, love, and moral decency.  “Kaleidoscope” traces the toxic behavior of a lover thru the use of Beatle-esque guitars and harmonies, while “Runaway Town” is an ode to Nashville, Jesse painting it as a place where you “can find shelter when the weather gets crazy!”

We had two favorites, too.  The influences of The Traveling Wilburys are on display with an ode to happier times, when we’d “Dance In Our Old Shoes,” while twangy guitars set the tone for a song that ponders things “I never thought I’d live to see,” for “these are Dangerous Times,” for the whole world, indeed.

The common thread for all these cuts, tho, is that of hope for a better day.  The set has its own peaceful perspective, and Jesse Terry, with “Stargazer,” reminds us to hold onto the values we hold dear.  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Erin Harpe And The Delta Swingers review…November 11, 2017…..

ERIN HARPE AND THE DELTA SWINGERS

BIG ROAD

VIZZTONE RECORDS/JUICY JUJU VT-JJ-002

KOKOMO–LONELY LEAVIN TOWN–BIG ROAD–FRANKIE–SHAKE YOUR HIPS–CASEY JONES–VOODOO BLUES–STOP AND LISTEN–GUILTY–GIMME THAT (SOMETHIN SPECIAL)

For their second full-length album for Vizztone, Erin Harpe And The Delta Swingers built a three-week whirlwind tour around their IBC performances in Memphis, where they eventually made it to the semifinals.  They were fired up and on an obvious roll, so they hit the studio for “Big Road.”  It is ten red-hot cuts, four originals and six covers, from Delta legends such as both “Mississippi’s,” John Hurt and Fred McDowell, and contemporaries like Slim Harpo and Randy Newman.

Big Road sums up where this band has been since the release of their 2014 debut, “Love Whip Blues.”  They’ve toured basically non-stop since then, tightening up their sound and  winning new fans in every city.  Their unique sound is built around Erin’s outta-sight guitar work.  She can do it all, folks–bristle the funk, finger-pick it Piedmont style, or get her Muddy on with slide and electric, and we get a taste of it all over these eclectic selections.  Joining in on the fun are Jim Countryman on bass, Matt “Charles” Prozialeck on the harp, and Kendall Divoll on percussion.

The fun starts with Erin and the band hittin’ a Hill-Country vibe on the playful, “write me a few of your lines,” of “Kokomo.”  An original is up next,  and “Leavin’ Town Blues” has a good ‘ol vintage vibe, with fine call-and-response harp from Matt.  They pull out all the stops on the endless boogie of Slim Harpo’s “Shake Your Hips.” and get in a rockabilly groove as Erin’s original, “Voodoo Blues,” features accordion from Michael Casavant.

Our favorite went waaaay on back down to the Delta.  Erin’s vocal, Piedmont-style picking, and Matt’s harp, set up a lively groove for the country-blues tale of “Frankie,” which, as you listen, realize it is John Hurt’s tale of the ill-fated lovers, Frankie and Albert, and she sho’ nuff shot him dead ’cause he done her wrong!

Erin Harpe And The Delta Swingers have finally made the album they always wanted to.  It’s got a great, “live in the studio” vibe, and “Big Road” brings this band full-circle back to their roots!  Until next time..Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Casey Hensley review…November 10, 2017….

CASEY HENSLEY

LIVE

FEAT. LAURA CHAVEZ

VIZZTONE RECORDS  VT CH 01

BIG MAMA’S COMING HOME–PUT YOUR LOVIN’ WHERE IT BELONGS–YOU CAN HAVE MY HUSBAND–SPELL ON YOU–HARD HEADED WOMAN–DON’T WANT IT TO STOP–I JUST WANT TO MAKE LOVE TO YOU–HOT! HOT! HOT!–VOODOO WOMAN–TOO TIRED–BALL AND CHAIN

Imagine, if you will, a young woman of the blues with the powerhouse vocals, brass, and sass of Big Mama Thornton, Candye Kane, and Janis Joplin, all rolled into one package!  If you can grasp that scenario, then you can sho’ nuff dig Casey Hensley.  She’s got it all, folks–chops, power, stage presence, you name it–and it’s all on full display on her latest set for Vizztone, “Casey Hensley Live, Featuring Laura Chavez.”  Herein, Casey rolls thru three originals and eight crowd-pleasing covers in front of a raucous crowd at the Thunderbird.  Laura’s guitar is the perfect complement for Casey’s vocals–they never get in each other’s way–and we also have Candye’s son, Even Caleb Yearsley, on drums, Marcos C. on bass, and the inimitable Jonny Viau on sax.

Fans, it doesn’t get much better than this for a live show.  You get a taste of everything–jump-blues, slow blues, and rockers, done up right by world-class players.  They kick off with one of Ms. Thornton’s best, as Casey tears up the vocal, announcing “Big Mama’s Coming Home.”  She bumps and grinds her way thru her original beat-down of a cheatin’ lover, telling him to “come on home and Put Your Lovin’ Where It Belongs!” Laura gets in some cool twangin’ guitar and Jonny’s sax adds the spooky vibe to Screamin’ Jay’s “I Put A Spell On You,” and they all totally funk up the joint on Koko’s “Voodoo Woman,” who “looks thru water and spies dry land!”

Those West Coast players know how to rock a jump-blues, too.  Check out another of Casey’s originals, with Laura’s mile-a-minute guitar burning up “Hot! Hot! Hot!,” and keeping that groove rolling on a song we first learned as kids from Presley’s “King Creole” soundtrack, all about that “Hard Headed Woman and a soft-hearted man!”  Casey closes the set as it began, with a torrid, smokin’ read of Big Mama’s (by way of Janis’) “Ball And Chain.”

Our favorite was too easy.  You can actually hear the women in the crowd singing along with Casey on the chorus of Dorothy LaBostrie’s classic, “You Can Have My Husband, but please don’t mess with my man!”

Casey Hensley’s talents are undeniable.  One thing we failed to mention, too, is that she is only 25 years old!  Enjoy a star in the making with this incendiary live set!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.