Archive for February, 2018

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.

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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.

The Reverend Shawn Amos review…February 14, 2018…..

THE REVEREND SHAWN AMOS

BREAKS IT DOWN

PUT TOGETHER MUSIC  PTM  00007

MOVED–2017–HOLD HANDS==THE JEAN GENIE–UNCLE TOM’S PRAYER–DOES MY LIFE MATTER–(WE’VE GOT TO) COME TOGETHER–AIN’T GONNA NAME NAMES–(WHAT’S SO FUNNY ‘BOUT) PEACE LOVE AND UNDERSTANDING

For the uninitiated, Rev. Shawn Amos is indeed an ordained minister, within the Universal Life Church.  He is the son of Wally Amos, founder of the “Famous Amos” chocolate chip cookie franchise.  And, as Los Angeles’ “soul brother Number One,” he is an outstanding singer, composer, and harp man, who may remind some folks of another “famous Amos”—Blakemore, better-known to millions as Junior Wells.

Rev. Shawn’s latest album finds him preachin’ the blues to a society in a world of hurt, while simultaneously dealing with some of his own personal demons.  The set starts with the haunting, sparsely-arranged, “Moved,” featuring Chris “Doctor” Roberts on guitar and Rev. on the harp.  It deals with those personal struggles, and “all those burdens pilin’ up on me.”  “2017” recalls the halcyon heyday of the Staples Singers, urging us to “open up our hearts and brains,” to put hate aside for the sake of our children, and follows it with “why can’t we all Hold Hands.”

The Rev. offers up a stripped-down version of Bowie’s “Jean Genie” and the uptempo love story, “Ain’t Gonna Name Names,” as a change of pace, to prepare us for what’s to come.  The three cuts that comprise the “Freedom Suite” are the Rock on which this set stands.  Rev. Shawn sings the Civil Rights anthem, “Uncle Tom’s Prayer,” championed by Cordell Hull Reagon, asking for Divine intervention to fight segregation. Next is the haunting original, “Does My Life Matter, or does it matter less,” with “three small children waitin’ at home.”  Finishing out this trinity is (We’ve Got To) Come Together,” drawing from Dr. King’s words that “hate’s too big a burden to bear!”  He closes the set by taking us all to church, with a spiritually-themed  version of Nick Lowe’s (What’s So Funny) About Peace, Love, And Understanding).”

Is all hope lost?  We don’t think so, as long as there lives a voice such as the Rev. Shawn Amos to “Break It Down” and keep us all on a positive course!  Love you, Rev., and thanks for this uplifting offering!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

Oscar Wilson review…February 12, 2018…

OSCAR WILSON

ONE ROOM COUNTRY BLUES

AIRWAY RECORDS

WHEN I WAS YOUNG–LOST MIND–FOUND LOVE–BLACKJACK–RECONSIDER BABY–TEXAS TURNAROUND–THE RIVER[‘S INVITATION–I’M LOST WITHOUT YOU–FURTHER UP THE ROAD–YOUR LETTER–EVERY DAY I HAVE THE BLUES–ONE ROOM COUNTRY SHACK–HAPPY REUNION

Many fans will readily recognize that bold baritone from Oscar Wilson as the voice of The Cash Box Kings.  He’s sho’ nuff one of Chicago’s “OG’s,” growing up on 43rd Street, right in the heart of the Windy City.  For a hot minute,  he’s stepped away from the Kings to release a great solo project entitled, “One Room Country Blues” for Airway Records.  These eleven cuts, (plus two sweet band instrumentals), showcase a side of Oscar that is more jazz-oriented, with a groove more like Brother Ray or Bobby Bland, and it makes for quite a unique listen, indeed.

Joining Oscar is guitarist Joel Patterson, who you will also recognize as one of the Cash Box Kings,.  Sam Burckhardt is on tenor sax, Beau Sample is on bass, Pat Benson is on keys, and Alex Hall on drums.  They start things off with the rhumba-rockin jump of “When I Was Young,” and they keep that groove going with an unusual, funk-filled arrangement of Brother Ray’s iconic “Blackjack.”  Oscar gets into a sweet jazzy mode on the stop-time “Lost Mind,” and stays in it for a tale of love gone bad, “Your Letter,” with fine keys from Pete.

Oscar and the fellows really shine on some of the more well-known cuts, too.  “Reconsider Baby” is presented here with an uptown swing, as does “Every Day I Have The Blues.”  Nothing, however, was as well done as our favorite, the album’s title cut.  Joel’s slide and Oscar’s vocal give that serious country-blues edge to “One Room Country Shack,” and “my old, ‘leven foot cotton sack!”

The purpose of “One Room Country Blues” was to have something to sell off the bandstand during their appearance at the 2017 Basel Blues Festival in Switzerland.  It ended up, tho, as a brilliant vehicle for Oscar Wilson and some of the best sidemen on the planet to bring out Oscar’s ease at switching from blues to soul to jazz.  More, please!!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Jane Lee Hooker review…February 11, 2018….

JANE LEE HOOKER

SPIRITUS

RUF RECORDS 1245

HOW YA DOIN–GIMME THAT–MAMA SAID–BE MY BABY–LATER ON–BLACK RAT–ENDS MEET–HOW BRIGHT THE MOON–TURN ON YOUR LOVE LIGHT–THE BREEZE

The blues and rock landscape has been peppered with them throughout the decades—big-voiced women such as Joplin, Suzi Quatro, Ann Wilson, Janiva Magness, and countless others who have all had not only tremendous musical abilities, but that intangible “it” that sets them apart from everybody else.  Maybe it’s a certain swagger, or just that “take no prisoners and don’t take no mess” attitude that gives their music that extra edge.  Enter Jane Lee Hooker, a dazzling all-girl quintet from Ruf Records who have just released their latest set, “Spiritus.”  It follows their highly-acclaimed 2017 debut, “No B!,” with that same spit-in-your-eye , high-voltage blues-rock that has wowed the crowds at festivals all over the globe.  Dana “Danger” Athens still brings the heat  on the vocals, and there are songs about love, good times, and, most importantly, empowerment.

A butt-rockin’ shout-out to one of the most famous blues clubs in the Midwest, Knucklehead’s, in Kansas City, is the theme of the leadoff “How Ya Doin?”, while “Mama Said” is one of those anthems of empowerment, as Mama passes on sage advice, such as don’t “fall in line,” but “forge your own way.”  “How Bright The Moon” features Dana on piano and is a strong ode to true love, and how it changes your perception on everything.

We had two favorites, too.  “Gimme That” is a struttin’ tale of jealousy, with “eyes as green as envy itself,” and a Stones-y swagger throughout.  And, a song we first heard several years ago from Koko Taylor is rocked-up in double-time, as a cheatin’ lover gets a “shoe right near your shirttail, ’cause you is one Black Rat!”

Jane Lee Hooker and “Spiritus” hit you hard, fast, and often with a non-stop blitzkreig of blues-rock that fuses the traditional with with a hard-nosed nod to today’s contemporary sounds!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.