Archive for December, 2017

Rockie Charles review…December 7, 2017…..

ROCKIE CHARLES

BORN FOR YOU

ORLEANS RECORDS  ORL 1911

BORN FOR YOU–OLD BLACK JOEL–OH MY DARLING LOOK WHAT YOU’RE DOING TO ME–FESTIS BELIEVE IN JUSTICE–SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH OUR LOVE–I NEED YOUR LOVE SO BAD, I’M ABOUT TO LOSE MY MIND–DON’T LET ME GO–I JUST CALLED TO WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS–I LIKE TO MAKE LOVE WHEN IT’S POURING DOWN RAIN–THERE IS A RAINBOW HANGIN’ OVER MY SHOULDER

Born in Boothville, LA, Rockie Charles (Merrick) got his inspiration to play guitar from his father, a musician who played in local juke joints.  And, he loved boats and water, growing up along the Mississippi.  At thirteen, his family moved to New Orleans, and his musical career began to take root.  But, there was always the pull of the river, and he became a tugboat captain at age eighteen.  Everyone knows, tho, that you can’t keep a good bluesman down.  Known as “The President Of Soul,” Rockie took out an ad in a local paper looking for gigs, and that got the attention of Orleans Records producer Carlo Ditta.  In 1996, the tacks that would become “Born For You” were laid down.  Twenty years down the blues highway, this Southern soul masterpiece has been re-issued,  now on vinyl and CD, showcasing the plaintive vocals and guitar of this truly unsung hero of the blues.

His quiet, almost reverential, singing voice easily reaches the upper registers, and is part Al Green, part O. V. Wright, and sho’ nuff 100% soul.  He takes eleven looks at life and love thru the eyes, heart, and soul of a true soul/blues pioneer.  Leading off is the title cut, as Rockie tells his lover that “I was Born For You.”  A chance meeting with an old friend leads to childhood reminiscences of “Old Black Joel,” while the plaintive ballad, “Oh My Darling, Look What You’re Doing To Me” features Smoky Greenwell on harp.  Rockie also gets in a playful mode with the pop-flavored “Festis Believe In Justice.”

Rockie gets us into the holiday spirit with “I Just Called To Wish You A Merry Christmas,” and riffs on a groove that a lot of us guys who live down South can relate to, “I Like To Make Love When It’s Pouring Down Rain.”  Our favorite was perhaps the most uptempo cut on the set.  The horns and backing chorus give a danceable groove to “I Need Your Love So Bad, I’m About To Lose My Mind.”

The reissue of Rockie Charles’ “Born For You”  returns to the limelight the incredible talents of “The President Of Soul!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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The Love Light Orchestra review…December 4, 2017….

THE LOVE LIGHT ORCHESTRA

FEATURING JON NEMETH

BLUE BARREL RECORDS   BBR 319952

SEE WHY I LOVE YOU–BAD BREAKS–I’VE BEEN WRONG SO LONG–IT’S YOUR VOODOO WORKING–SOMETIMES–WHAT ABOUT LOVE–POVERTY–LONESOME AND HIGH–SINGIN FOR MY SUPPER–THIS LITTLE LOVE OF MINE–PLEASE SEND ME SOMEONE TO LOVE–LOVE AND HAPPINESS

As a lifelong resident of Tennessee, when discussing what is referred to in musical circles as “the Memphis sound,” several images come to mind.  Certainly the Sun/Presley/rockabilly sounds from 706 Union Ave. are undeniable, as are the deeply-soulful music that emanated from the Stax and Hi studios.  And, there’s another category of horn-driven R & B that was played in the clubs up and down Beale, (as well as down on Jefferson Street here in Nashville) in the Fifties and Sixties.  In Memphis, it was popularized by artists such as Junior Parker, Bobby Bland, and B. B.  Obviously, it takes a vocalist with a huge voice to pull it all together, and, for the latest release from Blue Barrel Records, “The Love Light Orchestra” features one of the best there is–two-time Blues Music award winner,John Nemeth.  Along with guitarist Joe Restivo and trumpet man-arranger Marc Franklin, they drive this swingin’ ten-piece outfit thru twelve cuts of pure, unadulterated, joyfully-rockin’ R & B.  Nine are vintage covers, and the three originals are written within the context of the big band sound.

One of those originals, from Joe Restivo, leads off, as John testifies the many virtues of a good lover, “See Why I Love You.”  The horn arrangements and the percussion patterns give “This Little Love Of Mine” and “It’s Your Voodoo Working” a New Orleans vibe, while John brings to life the plaintive Percy Mayfield classic, “Please Send Me Someone To Love,” through his beautiful vocal take.

Every cut is a winner, but we had two favorites.  First up, John gives a cool, upper-register read of Freddie King’s “mama, mama, What About Love?”  And, the set closes with a brilliant re-working of Al Green’s “Love And Happiness,” turning this classic into a toe-tapping shuffle!

Altho there is plenty of guitar work herein, the emphasis is on the sax, horns, and powerhouse vocals from John.  Recorded live at the tiny DKDC Bar in midtown Memphis (sure hope they had a dance floor!), John Nemeth and “The Love Light Orchestra” successfully meld the uptown swing of vintage R & B with the gritty side of straight blues, and John keeps the spirit of this music alive in what is a “must-hear” set!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Jim Vegas review…December 3, 2017…..

JIM VEGAS

SOUL SHATTERED SISTER

GOONZY MAGOO RECORDS  GMR 04

SOUL SHATTERED SISTER–BAD FRUIT IN THE YARD-TILL THE WHOLE THING BLOWS–NOT THAT STRONG–LOVE IS COMING BACK AROUND–EVERYTHING YOU DON’T NEED–FAIRWEATHER FRIEND–FAR FROM YOU–LIGHTNING HIT THE BOX–LIFE IS HARD–SUN IS GONNA SMILE

Kansas guitar slinger Jim Vegas fell in love with the blues the first time he heard a B. B. King album.  On his fourth album, “Soul Shattered Sister,” Jim combines those blues with touches of soul, jazz, and even reggae for eleven original looks at the human condition and how music helps us cope.

Along with Jim on vocals and guitars, Luke Young’s sax gives these cuts that extra special touch of soul.  Check out how it all comes together on the tale of love on the rocks due to “bad fruit on the vine and Bad Fruit In The Yard.”  A reassurance that “Love Is Coming Back Again” follows that reggae groove, while, at the other end of love’s wide spectrum, there’s always that “Fairweather Friend” who’ll hit you below the belt at the first opportunity.

We had several favorites.  Another love affair that bites the dust is the theme of “Lightning Hit The Box, sparks flew, and the lights went down.”  This one has that jazzy, hip feel of the heyday of Becker and Fagen.  The title cut is another story of love in disrepair,  “Soul Shattered Sister,” where “no one can save you if you don’t want them to.”  That becomes Jim’s mantra and a metaphor for a politically-polarized nation.  That feeling is carried over in another socially-charged cut, where “it’s just a matter of time Till The Whole Thing Blows.”  On the set’s bluesiest cut, Jim pays a slide-driven tribute to John Lee Hooker with the endless boogie beat of “Not That Strong,” dealing with man’s ultimate temptation from the opposite sex.

Jim Vegas puts the emphasis on the stories within the songs on “Soul Shattered Sister.”  Upon repeated listenings, we found the clever lyrics and unique characters akin to those of another of our favorite players, Webb Wilder.  Do yourself a favor and give this one a listen!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Little G. Weevil review….December 3, 2017….

LITTLE G. WEEVIL

SOMETHING POPPIN’

VIZZTONE VTLG-02

HERE I COME KNOCKING–SOMETHING POPPIN–SEE ME IN THE COUNTRY–HOW DO YOU WANT ME TO DEAL WITH THIS–YOU CAN’T SAY NOTHING–SCRUB–PUSHERMAN–CRAWLING–I DON’T WANT TO FEEL THE RAIN–TOP MODEL

For his latest set for Vizztone, multi-award-winning bluesman Little G. Weevil has created what he refers to as “21ST Century Rhythm And Blues,” and the nine originals and one cover that comprise “Something Poppin” draw from a deep wellspring of sources.  Little G is a native of Budapest who currently calls Atlanta his adopted home, and this set hearkens back to the days of classic Seventies’ soul, funk, blues, with even a nod to the “blaxploitation” film craze from that era, and he puts his own contemporary spin on each track.

The set opens on a sizzling, percussion-and-slide guitar-driven note with a stone party anthem and ode to groupies everywhere, “Here I Come Knocking.”  The many virtues of the girls here in the South are the theme of the title cut, while Danny Del Toro’s harp adds the spice to the Hill Country stomp of “See Me In The Country.”  He hits that deep 70’s soul groove with “How Do You Want Me To Deal With This,” as he comes to grips with an unfaithful lover, featuring great keys from Matyas Premecz.  Dulzura adds guest duet vocal on the contemporary soul of “Scrub,” while G closes the set with another pounding blueser, the story of a “downtown, uptown” honey who’s hell on heels, that “Top Model,” and G “really wants to make her mine!”

Our favorite was the sole cover.  G and the band hit that rock-solid, wah-wah groove we first heard as teens back in the day on Curtis Mayfield’s “Superfly” soundtrack, with its poignant question, “how long can a good thing last,” the sordid tale of the neighborhood “Pusherman.”

Little G. Weevil knows that if you want to hang around in contemporary blues, you gotta have more than good looks and three chords.  He’s upped his game considerably with his groundbreaking approach to the blues with the honesty of “Something Poppin.”   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Popa Chubby review…December 1, 2017….

POPA CHUBBY

TWO DOGS

POPA CHUBBY PRODUCTIONS

IT’S ALRIGHT–RESCUE ME–PREEXISTING CONDITIONS–SAM LAY’S PISTOL–TWO DOGS–DIRTY OLD BLUES–SHAKEDOWN–WOUND UP GETTING HIGH–CAYOPHUS DUPREE–ME WON’T BACK DOWN–CHUBBY’S BOOGIE–BONUS TRACKS–SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL (LIVE)–HALLELUJAH (LIVE)

Bronx native Popa Chubby (Ted Horowitz) had a lot to get off his chest with his latest album, “Two Dogs.”  Fueled by the polarization of a nation, the twelve cuts herein bristle with a call to arms as well as to offer an olive branch to restore peace and harmony.  He wrote eight of the tracks, and daughter Tipitina wrote two cuts, and handles trumpet and horn arrangement duties.  Longtime collaborator Dave Keyes is on keys, with Andy Paladino on bass, and Freightrain Bryant on drums.

The set blasts off with Chubby’s guitar and Dave’s piano laying down a story of reassurance to a lover, where “It’s Alright” to lean on each other.   The title cut, with its definitive Hendrix overtures, is the point Chubby is trying to make with the whole set.  Of “Two Dogs,” one good and one evil, it is up to us to decide which one we feed and reap the consequences thereof.  Chubby defiantly spits in the faces of those who would oppress others in “Me Won’t Back Down,” and closes the set with two live cuts.  First, a rousing blitzkreig of “Sympathy For The Devil,” from La Bikini in Toulouse, France, followed by a somber, poignant call for peace by way of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” done in front of a hometown crowd at The Falcon in Marlboro, NY.  This one features only Chubby’s voice and guitar, and Dave’s acoustic piano.

Our favorite had more bite than a rabid pit bull.  Trying to single-handedly repeal and replace the Orange Comb-Over, Chubby, over a rocked-up horn arrangement, fires a right cross to the jaw of 45 as he laments the loss of his health insurance, fearing that “I’m gonna die of Preexisting Conditions!”

If you have followed Chubby’s career for any length of time, you know he’s waaaay more than just a bluesman.  He owes as much to Lemmy and Jimi as he does to Muddy and Buddy, and “Two Dogs” reaffirms his position as one of the most passionate and innovative players on the scene today!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Bobby Kyle review…December 1, 2017….

BOBBY KYLE

IT’S MY LIFE

JUICY BABY RECORDS

DAILY BREAD–LOST AND FOUND–DRIFTWOOD–IT’S MY LIFE–HIGHWAY MAN–BLOOD FROM A STONE–TOMORROW NIGHT–I’VE GOT MY BLOODSHOT EYES ON YOU–SOMEONE ELSE IS STEPPIN’ IN–TRIPPING OUT–I WON’T BE HOME TONIGHT–LITTLE BOY BLUE

East Coast blues veteran Bobby Kyle has quite an impressive resume’ over the last 40-odd years.  He’s an accomplished guitarist, composer, and vocalist.  He’s learned licks from Lonnie Mack, and played alongside Bill Dicey, Eddie Kirkland, and Johnny Copeland.  His latest album, along with his backing band, The Administers, is entitled, “It’s My Life,” and it is twelve cuts of blues, funk, and a touch of jazz and Americana, with half the cuts being Bobby’s originals.

Bobby has one of those “well-worn” vocal styles that leans more toward the Springsteen side of the register, and it serves this material well.  Check out the Memphis flavor of a love affair on the rocks, with a new home—the “Lost And Found,” with a sweet horn arrangement from Laron :Land.  A cool shot of that roots-rock is “Driftwood,” with accordion from our multi-talented friend, Dave Keyes, and Bobby stands up to a demanding lover in the blue-eyed soul of the title cut, ’cause “It’s My Life, baby, and I do as I choose!”

We had several favorites, too.  With a “smile on my face, and you didn’t put it there,” a no-good lover gets told “while you were steppin’ out, Someone Else Was Steppin’ In!”  “Tomorrow Night” was originally recorded by Lonnie Johnson, and Bobby, with Little Sammy Davis on harp, gives  it a sweet jazz-blues read herein.  The set closes with Bobby takin’ us all down to the Delta for Robert Jr. Lockwood’s classic “Little Boy Blue,” rockin’ that Resonator for all it’s worth, this time with Joey Simon on the harp.

Bobby Kyle and the Administers have brought a varied and eclectic set to the table with “It’s My Life.”  It continues his lifelong ambition to spread the gospel of the blues to fans everywhere!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.