Archive for March, 2018

Victor Wainwright And The Train review…March 31, 2018….

VICTOR WAINWRIGHT AND THE TRAIN

RUF 1254

HEALING–WILTSHIRE GRAVE–TRAIN–DULL YOUR SHINE–MONEY–THANK YOU LUCILLE–BOOGIE DEPRESSION-EVERYTHING I NEED–RIGHTEOUS–I’LL START TOMORROW–SUNSHINE–THAT’S LOVE TO ME

Pianist/composer/vocalist Victor Wainwright is both a Blues Music Award and Blues Blast Award winner, and, for his latest album, he and his new band, The Train, take the listener down the blues track for sure,  but also takes some interesting and unique detours through the twelve original cuts that comprise this self-titled album for Ruf Records, produced by Victor and Dave Gross.  Victor intended to create the majority of this music himself, and the fans are the winners, as this is a varied and eclectic set that mixes eight-to-the-bar boogie woogie with Southern rock, straight blues and some good ole New Orleans funk.

Victor leads off with the gospel-fired, testifyin’, horn-heavy romp of “I Need A Healing,” then weaves a spooky, NOLA-ish tale of tollin’ bells, ostracizing and scrutinizing, “down by Wiltshire Grave.”  Victor holds nothin’ back with the clickety-clack boogie groove of “Train,” and keeps that groove rockin’ with the perfect prescription for that “Boogie Depression!”  He closes the set with a couple of really cool tunes.  First is he Allman-esque, jam-o-riffic romp that is “Sunshine,” then closes the set proper with a brilliant change-of-pace love song, where Victor realizes nobody’s perfect, but our flaws are why “That’s Love To Me,” with some mighty fine organ in the mix.

We had two favorites, too.  Victor pays a sweet tribute to B. B. King, with a shout-out to that world-renowned Gibson guitar, “Thank You, Lucille–the thrill will never be gone,” with Monster Mike Welch on that brilliant guitar work.  And, another sweet boogie woogie might be a message to a lot of us who don’t necessarily want to heed our doctor’s advice, “I’ll Start Tomorrow!”

Victor Wainwright is an artist who knows how to make just plain ole good music, no matter what genres’ he might bend.  Either get yourself a ticket and get on board, or get outta the way of Victor Wainwright And The Train!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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The Bush League review…March 30, 2018…

THE BUSH LEAGUE

JAMES RIVAH

RIVER’S EDGE–KOKOMO ME BABY–SAY YES–SHOW YOU OFF–CATFISH BLUES–KICK UP YO HEELS–LONG GONE–HEARSE–TUXEDO BLUES–MOONSHINE–COLD SHOWER–WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU

The Bush League hail from the Central Virginia area, and were an IBC semi-finalist in 2012 and 2017.  Vocalist John Jason “John Jay” Cecil and bassist Royce Folks are the college friends that founded the band, thru their mutual passion for the Hill Country blues of North Mississippi and the uptown soul of Memphis, sprinkled with a sweet shot of gospel fervor.  On their latest album, “James Rivah,” they bring on board guitarist Brad Moss and drummer Wynton Davis.

That pulsing beat leads off, as the listener is baptized in the murky waters that flow down at the “River’s Edge,” a nod to the James River that flows thru their homeland.  Next up, clever guitar lines help John Jay to turn “Kokomo Me Baby” into both a noun and a verb on this cool tribute to Mississippi Fred McDowell.  “Show You Off” and “Kick Up Yo Heels” are destined to become juke joint dance floor burners, while John Jay gets his Cooke groove on with the suavely-smooth lovin’ groove of “Say Yes.”

We had two favorites, too.  One of the coolest odes to illicit potent potables is the piano-heavy romp that is “not Chardonnay or Beaujolais,” but good ole home-grown “Moonshine!”  And, if you didn’t get enough religion in the Alpha cut that began this set, then check out the Omega set-closer, a rompin’ stompin’, Sunday-morning-shout-out to an uncaring lover, “baby, What’s Wrong With You?”

The Bush League create a sound that is at once rough, raw, passionate, and always refreshing.  With “James Rivah,” they hit the nail on the head when they refer to their sound as “shiny new dirty ol’ blues!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Mark Huff review…March 26, 2018….

MARK HUFF

STARS FOR EYES

EXODUS EMPIRE RECORDS   EXCD 3716

PRISON DOOR–STARS FOR EYES–CAROLINA BLUE–BIG CITY DOWN–GOD IN GEOGRAPHY–NIGHTINGALE–HEART BEATING WITHOUT YOU–I KNOW YOU DON’T WANT MY LOVE–BURNING LETTERS–ALBATROSS–ALMOST LIKE THE BLUES

Mark Huff was inspired to become a musician thru the various records he heard as a young man from his mom and his siblings.  This ran the gamut from the Stones to Muddy to Neil Diamond, and his first band was a punk-meets-British Invasion outfit named Smart Bomb.  A lotta water has gone under the bridge since then, and he follows up his 2016 Americana blockbuster, “Down River,” with his latest, “Stars For Eyes,” on Exodus Empire Records.

The set opens with one of Mark’s well-crafted “character songs,” a tale of lust and murder, which finds our killer “drawing flowers on the wall,” with “voices passing by, just outside my Prison Door.”  The cool electric guitar outro here, and the psychedelic licks at the end of the Tom Petty-esque title cut are courtesy of our long-time acquaintance, Doug Lancio.  Mark’s nod to Music City is “everybody’s moving to that Big City Down,” while Micah Hulscher’s unique organ riff rides deliciously throughout the wistful “God In Geography.”

We had two favorites, too.  The swampy-sounding story of two doomed lovers is “Burning Letters,” where “every night our cheeks are gettin’ wetter, so I guess we just better move along.”  The album closes with our other favorite, the set’s lone cover.  It is a powerful Leonard Cohen anthem dealing with the tragedies of war and its consequences thereafter, set over Mark’s plaintive, ghostly vocal delivery, with backing vocals from Julie Christenson, who also sang behind Leonard in the original version of this song.

Mark Huff is an honest, open, and emotional writer and artist who effectively captures the good, bad, and sometimes ugly aspects of life and love, and how to cope and get up and dust yourself off and carry on.  “Stars For Eyes” is another excellent collection!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Peter V Blues Train review…March 25, 2018….

PETER V BLUES TRAIN

RUNNING OUT OF TIME

STAY ON TRACK–CHERRY ON THE CREAM–BUZZED BUSTED AND BLUE–WORRIED LIFE BLUES–RUNNING OUT OF TIME–TIME TO COLLECT–YOUNG BLOOD–TIME FOR ME TO GO–FREEDOM–LOVE ME LIKE A MAN–LAY DOWN MY FRIEND

Peter “V” Veteska grew up in Jamaica, Queens.  He delivered papers  as a youth to buy a pawnshop Les Paul, and another bluesman was born.  Altho he gave up playing for a number of years, us fans are the real winners after his return to the blues scene in 2008.  He proudly fronts the Peter V Blues Train, and they have just released their latest album, “Running Out Of Time.”  Peter is on guitar and vocals–he has that cool, rugged brogue in his delivery, just right for a man born to sing the blues–and he rounded up some very special guests to complete this package of seven originals and four fun-filled covers.

Leading off is a bristling ode to the workin’ man, who always seems to take “two steps forward and three steps back,”  urging us to “Stay On Track.”  This one features sax from Allman Brothers alum Danny Walsh, who blows that cool intro to one of Peter’s originals, a slow-blues take on the age-old adage of “my woman took the train,” leaving him “Buzzed, Busted, And Blue,” with piano from Jeff Levine.  He keeps that slow-blues groove rollin’ on a deeply-soulful read of Big Maceo’s “Worried Life Blues,” while everybody has a rockin’ good time with the call-and-response of the Coasters’ classic from our youth, “Young Blood.”  “Freedom” strikes a minor-key chord deep into this bluesman’s soul, as he feels finally released from being “trapped by the memory of you and me.”  Kelly Dewket on vocal and Gary Neuwirth on the harp knock out a killer Delta-riffic read of Bonnie Raitt’s “Love Me Like A Man,” with Peter V on the acoustic guitar.

We had two favorites, too.  A unique amalgam of Grover Washington, Jr., –meets the AWB is the funk-o-monstrous instrumental, “Time To Collect,” while Peter takes ol’ Albert King to school on the grunge-worthy blues of the title cut, where a lover is told, “we used to kiss, now all you do is piss me off.”

Peter’s aim, after returning to the blues fold full-time, was to create hi-energy, danceable music that incorporated elements of blues, funk, and jazz.  He’s done so with this set, so grab up a copy before you sho’ nuff find yourself “Running Out Of Time!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Guitar Jack Wargo review…March 24, 2018…

GUITAR JACK WARGO

KEEPIN’ IT REAL

YOU DON’T FEEL THE SAME–POWER OF LOVE–KEEP ON KEEPIN ON–INVENTORY BLUES–SHIPWRECKED–NOBODY BUT YOU–NO STRANGER–ONLY-EST ONE–BLUES HOLIDAY–SHE’S GOT SOUL–GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELIN’ BAD–SENDING OUT A MESSAGE

Guitar Jack Wargo has played with some of the most legendary players on the planet–Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Billy Preston, and Solomon Burke, just to name a few.  He has a soulful and expressive guitar style and a vocal delivery to match,  and  has just released a fine collection of contemporary blues and soul, “Keepin’ It Real.”  He also brings along some special guests, including Willie Chambers of the Chambers Brothers, The Sweet Inspirations, and A D Beal on vocals, with Mike Finnigan on keys and Walfredo Reyes, Jr., on percussion.

The set is highly eclectic in nature, and takes the listener down a winding path in the world of the blues.  The set begins with Jack’s lament for a broken affair, “You Don’t Feel The Same about me any more,” featuring a jazzy solo at the bridge.  A throbbing, percussive number urging us as a society to “find a new direction,” is “Keep On Keepin’ On,” and those “Inventory Blues” are sent out to be sure we count our blessings each day. Jack touches on life as a bluesman and dealing with groupies and the incessant social media activity, but, as far as his heart goes, “I don’t want Nobody But You,” this one featuring Jimmy Powers on the harp.  The set closes with another call for the end of the senseless array of daily violence with a breezy ode to peace and harmony, “Sending Out A Message.”

We had two favorites, too.  Jack and the entire band use a minor-key slow blues cut to preach the “Power Of Love,” with “people livin’ their lives in a cloud of fear.”  And, Jack busts out his slide, with Ed Wargo on flute, for a vibrant rendition of “Goin’ Down The Road Feelin’ Bad,” which has the feel of a long-lost Woodstock gem.

Guitar Jack Wargo has a strong connection to the healing power of music, and his hopes for better days to come.  He sho’ nuff does a helluva job of “Keepin’ It Real!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Long Tall Deb and Colin John review…March 23, 2018…

LONG TALL DEB

AND COLIN JOHN

DRAGONFLY

VIZZTONE–LTDCJ–01

ON THE WAY DOWN (INTRO)–ON THE WAY DOWN–DRAGONFLY–LUNGS–I’LL BE THE ONE–REMEMBER WHY (IT’S GOOD HE’S GONE)–PULL THE PIN–TROUBLE–HORIZONTAL LIGHTNING–LIGHTS THAT SHINE–DRAGONFLY, SLIGHT RETURN

The last time we heard from Long Tall Deb (Landolt) and Colin John, they were fresh off a road trip that included stops in Europe, India, and Nepal, and resulted in their 2015 EP, “Streets Of Mumbai.”   They continue to draw from the sounds they encountered on that trip, along with the classic sounds of rock, blues, and even some surf-twang for their latest full-length album, “Dragonfly.”  It contains ten originals and one cover, and features Deb and Colin on vocals, with Colin on all things with strings.

The set begins with the powerful “On The Way Down,” where Deb declares emphatically that “love can’t do me no harm.”  Colin’s slide opens this cut, then gives way to a trance-like, Hill Country stomp.  The title cut features Colin at his best, cleverly mixing tremolo, wah-wah, and surf guitar over Deb’s vocals, ending with a nod to The Man With No Name and the spaghetti westerns of our youth.

Deb shows off the soulful side of her vocals with an ode to that one person you can always count on, “I’ll Be The One,” with Colin on backing vocals.

We had two favorites, too.  Colin busts out a baby sitar on Deb’s classic kiss-off song, embarking on a road trip to put a no-good lover far into her rear-view mirror with “Remember Why (It’s Good He’s Gone).”  And, set over a tango-riffic arrangement, Deb gets downright torch-y in the lustful tale of “sideways glances” that lead to “Horizontal Lightning.”

The “Dragonfly” is an ancient symbol of transformation and change, and that sums up this album perfectly.  A balance of blues and progressive sounds that embody life, love, loss, and redemption, it makes for a highly-entertaining listen!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Rockin’ Johnny Burgin review…March 22, 2018….

ROCKIN JOHNNY BURGIN

NEOPRENE FEDORA

WEST TONE RECORDS  WTR-1705

NEOPRENE FEDORA–GUITAR KING–WON’T GET MARRIED AGAIN–GIVE ME AN HOUR IN YOUR GARDEN–KINDA WILD WOMAN–PLEASE TELL ME–OUR TIME IS SHORT–(LET ME BE YOUR) TEDDY BEAR–SMOKE AND MIRRORS–I DID THE BEST I COULD–SELF MADE MAN–MY BABY’S GONE–YOU GOTTA WORK FAST–I AIN’T GONNA BE A WORKING MAN NO MORE–MY LIFE’S ENOUGH FOR ME–GOODBYE CHICAGO

It is unbelievable that it has been TWENTY years since we first heard Rockin’ Johnny Burgin, with his 1998 Delmark release, “Straight Out Of Chicago.”  He is a proven guitar slinger that has played with just about all the Windy City legends, as well as being a bandleader in his own right.  But, the time has come to make a change, and Johnny has traded in Chicago winters for the sun, sand, and surf of the West Coast.  He’s literally taking “that California trip,” this time for good.  And, we all know that from Chicago to L. A. is more than two thousand miles all the way, and his latest album, “Neoprene Fedora,” is a microcosm of sorts of that trip, and there’s a carload of special guests along for the ride.  The whole thing was laid down in San Jose at Kid Andersen’s Greaseland Studios, and he’s on guitar, piano, and bass on various cuts.

The set begins with the instrumental title cut, a dazzling seven minutes of Johnny paying tribute to Chuck, Link Wray, Dick Dale, and everybody in between.  Johnny is sho’ nuff a “Guitar King, playing the blues everywhere I go,” with Aki Kumar on the harp.  Elvin Bishop’s squeeze box man, Steve Willis, shows his stuff on three zydeco-flavored cuts with Johnny on lead vocal, “Kinda Wild Woman,” “Please Tell Me,” and “Our Time Is Short,” while Alabama Mike rocks the mic on the Wes Cide funk of “Smoke And Mirrors,” and again on Johnny’s soulful original, “I Did The Best I Could.”

Harp man Aki Kumar takes a couple of vocal turns, on “Self Made Man,” and on the traditional Chicago sound of “My Baby’s Gone,” with extra guitar from Johnny “Cat” Soubrand.

Every cut on this set is a winner, but you can’t beat the set-closer as a favorite.  Telling it like it is, Johnny bids a fond farewell to the Windy City in Howlin’ Wolf style, as he name-checks the many legends he has backed, set over Aki’s harp and Nancy Wright’s sax, in the bittersweet “Goodbye Chicago.”

Folks, Rockin’ Johnny Burgin has taken the blues of his youth in Chi-Town and successfully transplanted them out west, by answering the Cali Siren’s call.  Put on your “Neoprene Fedora” for some of the best in contemporary blues!  Johnny, we love you, man!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.