Archive for February, 2018

The Eric Hughes Band review…February 26, 2018….

THE ERIC HUGHES BAND

MEET ME IN MEMPHIS

FREIGHT TRAIN OF PAIN–MEET ME IN MEMPHIS–ROLL A FATTY FOR YOUR DADDY–THE DAY THEY HANGED THE KID–HERE COMES THE BOOGIE MAN–LEFT MY HEART AT YOUR PLACE (FOR DONNA)–MIDTOWN BLUES–I’M KNOCKING ON YOUR DOOR–BELIEVE I’M GOING  FISHING

If you’ve ever taken a stroll down Beale Street in Memphis, you have likely seen or heard Eric Hughes.  He’s played all those clubs up and down Beale  for some sixteen years, and, the last time we had the pleasure to see him, he was holding court in an open-space area darn near right across the street from Tater Red’s’ and Malcolm Anthony’s Memphis Music store.  A veteran performer with five albums under his belt, it is our esteemed pleasure to review his latest, aptly-titled, “Meet Me In Memphis.”   Eric wrote the nine cuts herein, and he’s on vocals and harp.  Walter Hughes is on guitar, Leo Goff is on bass, and Brian Aylor is on drums.  He gets by with a little more help from his friends, too, as Reba Russell and Susan Marshall guest on backing vocals, with Marc Franklin on trumpet, and Art Edmaiston on sax.

If you make a living doing what Eric does, and do it down by the river, you know you’ll meet a lot of folks with a lot of stories to tell that make excellent songwriting material.  The heritage, mystique, and history of the Bluff City is all over this set, which begins on a strong, Southern-rock note with the rumble of that “Freight Train Of Pain–if you don’t like the blues, you better get off the track!”  A shout-out to an ex-lover in an attempt to rekindle the flame is the sweetly-soulful title cut, where “the blues is still hip,” and “the place where Soul was born!”  Chris Stephenson is on that fine piano, too.  “Here Comes The Boogie Man” rides a funky groove, and “I’m Knockin On Your Door” is a fine shot of both acoustic and slide-driven electric guitar.

Eric’s always been about lettin’ the good times roll, tho, and our two favorites showcase just that.  A harp and piano groove rock the party anthem that is “Roll A Fatty For Your Daddy and I’ll bring that money home to you!”  And, Eric gets into a slow-blues, stop-time mood in the tale of a dude who sees the silver lining in every cloud, even tho, “from my trucker cap down to my Chuck Taylor shoes, I got them funky, low down, Midtown Blues!”

Eric Hughes is a mainstay in Memphis, and “if there’s a better town, I ain’t been there yet!”  He’s just cut a guest vocal on Mick Kolassa’s recent album of duets, “Double Standards,” and his own “Meet Me In Memphis” is destined to be a favorite for his legion of fans!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

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Steve Kozak review…February 24, 2018….

THE STEVE KOZAK BAND

IT’S TIME

CANE SUGAR SWEET–YOU MAY–MESSED UP–EVERY NIGHT AND EVERY DAY–KIDDIO–TROUBLE–ONE WOMAN I NEED–THAT’S COOL WITH ME–STRANGER IN MY HOMETOWN–TELL ME WHY–LOVE LIFE AND MONEY–GOIN FISHIN

Steve Kozak has been a force on the Canadian blues scene for over thirty years, with a fat-toned guitar and a big baritone vocal delivery to make everything alright.  He is also quite the master at preventing various styles of blues to his audiences, and you can judge for yourself the huge talents of Steve and his band  over the course of the twelve cuts that comprise “It’s Time,” a cool mix of originals and covers that present Steve’s take on West Coast jump-blues, Excello-riffic swamp blues, and Chicago blues, which makes this set a whole lot of fun!

The set was produced by guitarist Matthew Rogers and harp man Shawn Hall, and they go by the collective monikers The Axe Murderer and The Harpoonist.  Things are off and running with the swing of “my baby’s Cane Sugar Sweet,” with Jerry Cook on sax.  “I’m Messed Up over you” is a rhumba-rockin’ gem, while “One Woman I Need” shows a breezy, soulful side to the band.  Steve’s take of the Brook Benton classic, Kiddio,” is another fine example of Steve’s ability to swing with the best of ’em.

We had several favorites.  “You May” reminds us all that “no matter who you may know, there comes a time when everybody’s got to go!”  Steve gets his West Side groove on with a tribute to Magic Sam on the minor-key “Every Night And Every Day,” with Shawn blowin’ some fine harp.  “Trouble” rides an Excello groove, and a classic kiss-off song revolves around the stop-time swing of  Steve’s original, “That’s Cool With Me!”

Steve Kozak has paid his dues as a bluesman, and continues to be one of the best players on the Canadian blues scene.  A 2012 Maple Blues Award for Best New Artist Or Group gave him national recognition, and stellar sets such as “It’s Time” further solidify his legacy!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Reverend Raven And The Chain-Smoking Altar Boys review…February 22, 2018….

REVEREND RAVEN

AND THE CHAIN SMOKING ALTAR BOYS

TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY

MY LIFE

NEVERMORE RECORDS

HANDYMAN–BEE HIVE BABY–CREATURE OF HABIT–BAD LITTLE GIRLS–I WANT TO LOVE YOU–ONCE THE WOMEN START TALKING–MY LIFE–HERE COMES MY BABY–PRAYING FOR A PRINCESS–BIG BEE–LOOKING FOR LOVE–SLOW BURN–SOMEDAY WHEN I’M DEAD AND GONE–I CAN DO YOU RIGHT–SHE’S MOVING ON–I’M YOUR HONEYBOY

A veritable institution in the Milwaukee area, guitar man Reverend Raven and the Chain-Smoking Altar Boys have also cut a wide swath thru the Midwest, and also deep down in Florida as well.  Armed with a tremendous traditional sound that incorporates vintage jump blues and R & B, along with Chicago and Delta-fired blues, the band celebrates its twentieth anniversary with sixteen of the best cuts from their previous albums, re-worked herein specifically for this occasion.  The result is “My Life,” as Reverend Raven recounts his life as a bluesman over this dance-floor-burnin’ set.

Another one of the blues’ “OG’s,” Raven was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, and has been playing the blues on his guitar since 1971, after seeing Freddie King.  On this set, all his myriad of influences are on display, and all the cuts are heavyweights.  He utilizes four different harp players, all of whom are band veterans, each unique in their approach and sound.

Cadillac Pete is up first, as the Reverend touts his, er, “plumbing skills,”  on the slightly-nasty “Handy Man,” and keeps that groove going on the set-closer, with West Side Andy Linderman on harp, as the Rev. raps to another lover that, “I’m Your Honeyboy, satisfaction guaranteed!”  Benny Rickman is on harp on the swingin’ title cut, as “My Life changed at the age of 43, when I finally met the woman the Good Lord meant for me,” this one with Danny Moore on the 88’s, and the Rev. gittin’ down on some fine Elmore James-inspired guitar.

Favorites were aplenty, and we settled on two.  All that’s missing from that little “Bee Hive Baby” are those fishnet hose–cut kinda low at the top, and high at the bottom, ya know.  And, “Once The Women Start Talking” no man is safe!  Benny’s playin’ it cool on the harp, and the whole thing rides that rhumba beat for all it’s worth!

Twenty years in this bidness is a milestone, indeed.  Picking only sixteen cuts was arguably tough to do, but Reverend Raven And The Chain Smoking Altar Boys and “My Life” effectively traces the history of one of the Midwest’s , er, “smokin-est” blues bands ever to lay down a groove!  Roll back the rug, and dance your ass off until….next time!   Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

John Mayall review…February 21, 2018….

JOHN MAYALL

THREE FOR THE ROAD

A 2017 LIVE RECORDING

FORTY BELOW RECORDS FBR 018

INTRODUCTION–BIG TOWN PLAYBOY–I FEEL SO BAD–THE SUM OF SOMETHING–STREAMLINE–TEARS CAME ROLLIN DOWN–RIDIN ON THE L AND N–DON;T DENY ME–LONELY FEELINGS–CONGO SQUARE

The legendary “Godfather Of British Blues,” John Mayall, will release his latest album for Forty Below Records, on February 23, 2018.  During a tour of Europe in 2017, Mayall, bassist Greg Rzab, and drummer Jay Davenport recorded “Three For The Road” on March 24 and 26, 2017, in Dresden and Stuttgart, Germany.  The set is comprised of nine songs, culled from some of John’s favorites and those of his fans as well.

On this set, John continues the “power trio” format he has advocated for the last year or so.  As a result, John is more involved in the instrumentation, appearing herein on vocals, harp, and keys.  The Chicago-blues roots of Rzab and Davenport also add that little extra “something” that only guys who have played together as long as these three guys have can bring.  There are many highlights, including the opening, harp-heavy take on Eddie Taylor’s “Big Town Playboy.”  There’s a jazzier vibe going on with John’s organ prominently displayed on “Don’t Deny Me of my love for you.”  He  closes the set with two of our personal favorites, John’s brooding, original, love-gone-sour ode, “Lonely Feeling,” and the second-line, percussive chug of Sonny Landreth’s tale of “voodoo people” playing their drums down on “Congo Square!”

John Mayall definitely has his mojo in motion with this excellent live recording, and continues to add to his legacy as a true innovator  in blues and blues-rock.  Still vibrant well into his 80’s, “Three For The Road” is another feather in John Mayall’s cap!  We love you, sir!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Carolyn Gaines review…February 19, 2018….

CAROLYN GAINES

BEWARE OF MY DOG

POLKA DOT RECORDS

BEWARE OF MY DOG–I’M YOUR CAT, BABY–STONE OUT YOUR RAGGLY MIND–HOOCHIE COOCHIE WOMAN–DONE GOT OLD–I WANT YOUR MONEY, HONEY–MR. DILL PICKLE–JERRY RICE “BUSY MAN”–CHARLIE MAE AND CHICAGO–SOMETHING ON YOUR MIND

Soul-shoutin’ sister Carolyn Gaines has a strong musical lineage.  Dad was legendary blues guitarist Roy Gaines, and her uncle was Diana Ross’ sax man, Grady Gaines.  She’s a blues singer with a purpose, and a voice unlike anyone else.  She can growl like the Wolf and bring the sass like Denise LaSalle, but she is truly a unique individual.  Her latest for Polka Dot Records is “Beware Of My Dog,” eight originals and two covers of prime, soul-infused, down-home blues from a dynamite performer.

Leading off is the title cut, a rhumba-fied rocker, complete with “polka dot panties,” and a sax solo from legendary sax man Big Jay McNeely, who chimes in a bit later on the sexy strut of “I’m Your Cat, Baby.”  Carolyn is a fine student of past blues singers, too  She gets her Bessie Smith and Koko groove on, with the bold statement to a lover that “I Want Your Money, Honey, if you want my lovin!”  This one features some fine pickin’ from Fred Clark, too.   There’s a nice slab of Delta country blues with the sly-and-sexy “Mr. Dill Pickle,” with Glen Doll on the harp.

We had three favorites, too.  Take a lover who’s had a bit too much Crown Royal, toss in Carolyn’s cousin, Grady Gaines, Jr,, on sax, and you come up with the ultra-hip, “Stone Out Your Raggly Mind!”  She pays tribute to Monday Night Football , Joe Montana, and, most specifically, “Jerry Rice Busy Man, catchin’ a lot of those touchdowns!”  And, she re-works one of Muddy’s most famous  tunes for the 21ST Century, as she becomes the “Hoochie Coochie Woman, and everybody knows I’m her!”

Another great sax man, Louis Jordan, once said, “you only live but once, and when you’re dead, you’re done!”  When you put Carolyn Gaines and “Beware Of My Dog” in your player, you can sho’ nuff let the good times roll!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Danielle Nicole review…February 18, 2018…

DANIELLE NICOLE

CRY NO MORE

CONCORD MUSIC GROUP   CRE–00629

CRAWL–I’M GOING HOME–HOT SPELL–BURNIN FOR YOU–CRY NO MORE–POISON THE WELL–BOBBY–SAVE ME–HOW COME YOU DON’T CALL ME ANY MORE–BABY EYES–PUSHER MAN–MY HEART REMAINS–SOMEDAY YOU MIGHT CHANGE YOUR MIND–LORD I JUST CAN’T KEEP FROM CRYING

We’ve been fans of Danielle Nicole since she was a young’un in the blues band Trampled Under Foot with her brothers.  A solo artist and bandleader for a few years now,  she has just put the finishing touches on her latest release for the Concord Group, “Cry No More.”   On this set, she admits to taking chances within the writing of the material and the development of the characters in the songs.  She wrote the majority of the songs,  and she draws on love loss, hope, redemption and empowerment, often leaning on personal experience.  A strong vocalist, she pulls no punches in one of those empowerment anthems, as brother Nick Schnebelen adds guitar on a tale of a no-good lover, “Crawl on your knees if you want to get next to me!”   The sweetly-soulful title cut deals with letting go of things you can’t control, and the set closes with the gospel fire of Danielle and duet partner and slide guitarist Luther Dickinson, on “Lord, I Just Can’t Keep From Crying.”  She plays the “one you call when you climb up the wall,” on the stop-time romp of “Pusherman,” and the vamp with “Baby Eyes” out to steal another woman’s man!  This tune has a jazzy vibe, with great piano from Brandon Miller.  “Save Me” features guitar from Kenny Wayne  Shepherd, as Danielle falls under his spell and begs of him, “I need you to Save Me.”  Sonny Landreth’ is behind that slide guitar as Danielle weaves a tale borne at the Crossroads, where water turns to Red Devil Lye, “I’m Going Home.”  And, Walter Trout is on guitar on a modern-day “Fever,” as our heroine “feels the heat rise when you call my name, “Burnin’ For You.”

Our favorite was written by Bill Withers.  He stopped by the studio one day and heard Danielle on these sessions, and offered her a song he’d written but never recorded, dealing with two lovers consummating their passion, and indeed, find themselves in for a sho’ nuff “Hot Spell.”

Danielle Nicole is fast maturing into one of the most outstanding young artists in contemporary blues.  Please enjoy her best album to date, “Cry No More.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Bernard Allison review…February 16, 2018…..

BERNARD ALLISON

LET IT GO

RUF RECORDS  1252

CRUISIN FOR A BLUESIN–SAME OLE FEELING–BACKDOOR MAN–LET IT GO–NIGHT TRAIN–KIDDIO–LEAVE YOUR EGO–BLUES PARTY–HEY LADY–LOOK OUT MABEL–YOU’RE GONNA NEED ME–CASTLE

Bernard Allison, aside from being the son of blues legend Luther Allison, is a high;y-accomplished and critically-acclaimed bluesman in his own right.   Now, he sho’ nuff learned at the feet of his father, recording with him for the first time at the age of thirteen.  Over his solo career, which began in 1990, he’s always held true to the traditions of the blues, while putting his own spin on things.  You can hear it for yourself on his latest set, “Let It Go,” for Ruf Records.

There are party anthems, funked-up struts, love songs, and a touching tribute to Pops over these twelve cuts.  The whole thing was laid down here in western Middle Tennessee, at Bessie Blue Studios in Stantonville, with Jim Gaines producing.

Bernard, along with fellow Ruf artists Vanja Sky and Mike Zito, are bent on bringing great blues to the world as the 2018 Blues Caravan tour kicks off.  The set opens with that party groove, with the funky blues of “Crusin For A Bluesin.”  Bernard busts out his slide for the dream-sequenced tale of a cheatin’ lover and her “Backdoor Man,” and channels one of his father’s lifelong mantras about performing in general, “Leave Your Ego, play the music, love the people.”

He gets into some fine funk-charged blues with the strut of “Night Train,” and follows that freight train chug on the rollicking, Sun-splashed, “Look Out Mabel.”  We had two favorites, too.  Bernard pays tribute to his father with a somber acoustic read of Luther’s “Castle,”  which closes the set.  And, down at Club Heaven, the “Blues Party” never ends, with the slide-heavy boogie that name-checks many of the dearly-departed legends,.

Bernard Allison carries on the family tradition of bringing great blues to fans all over the globe.  “Let It Go” reminds us all that he is indeed an unstoppable visionary in the world of contemporary blues!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.