Archive for March, 2018

Lisa Mednick Powell review…March 19, 2018…

LISA MEDNICK POWELL

BLUE BOOK

CICADA SOUNDS

SMOKE OVER CAROLINA–PIECES OF YOUR SOUL–CHECKPOINT–COLD COFFEE–I AM NOT GOLD–BLUE BOOK–TO THE WILDERNESS–GIVE THE GUNS TO THE GIRLS–CROW–HIGHWAY PRAYER

Lisa Mednick Powell’s recording career goes back to her debut solo release in 1994, “Artifacts Of Love.”  It would be 2002 before she would release “Semaphore,” and now, sixteen years on, she graces us her latest, “Blue Book.”  These ten cuts were recorded in both the California High Desert country and deep down in New Orleans.  She and her husband and co-writer, Kip Powell, were joined by the likes of Tommy Malone, Victoria Williams, Alison Young, Danny Frankel and Greg Leisz to create a powerful set of love songs, songs of empowerment, and songs with a historical background, done in her beautiful, lilting style.

The set begins with “Smoke Over Carolina,” a song which becomes the final piece of a trilogy of Civil War songs that began in 1994 with “Harper’s Ferry,” and continued with “Chickamauga” from 2002.  This song also has a cool counter-meaning, dealing  with the civil wars between workers and bosses.  Next up is a song to which we can all relate, at least to a certain degree.  It’s all about letting go, and getting rid of individual baggage.  If you “lose pieces of your heart, you might find Pieces Of Your Soul.”  Lisa puts her accordion skills to work on the lovelorn “Cold Coffee,” and plays the keyboard parts on the set-closing “Highway Prayer,” which features Tommy Malone on guitar and the duet vocal.

Our favorite was simple.  A song originally written in response to the Boko Haram kidnapping of the Nigerian schoolgirls easily rings true throughout this country today, in the wake of the recent tragedies in Parkland, Florida and Las Vegas.  Hey, Mr. President—how ’bout we “Give The Guns To The Girls” and see if that can make a change for the better?

Lisa Mednick Powell is a rare artist these days.  She’s a woman who follows her own internal clock, as far as writing songs and putting together an album goes.   For her, the songs have to convey emotion and tell the truth to the listener, and that task cannot be rushed.  Please enjoy her latest collection of emotionally-charged music, written down in her “Blue Book!”   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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God’s Children review…March 18, 2018….

GOD’S CHILDREN

MUSIC IS THE ANSWER

THE COMPLETE COLLECTION

MUSIC IS THE ANSWER (FEAT. THE EAST L. A. BAND)–MAKES NO DIFFERENCE–GO AWAY–JUST WISH–DREAM–BROWN BABY–HEY DOES SOMEBODY CARE–LONELY LULLABY–MUSIC IS THE ANSWER (FEAT. STUDIO MUSICIANS)–MUSIC IS THE ANSWER (INST.)–PUT YOUR HEAD ON MY SHOULDER–THAT’S THE WAY GOD PLANNED IT–IF YOU EVER GO AWAY–IF YOU EVER GO AWAY (INST.)

The original concept for the East L. A.-based band, God’s Children, was to present music to their fans to help them cope with troubled times.  The year was 1969–MLK and RFK had been assassinated, Vietnam was still happening, racial unrest was rampant, as was the growing drug culture.  Turning to music was a viable option, with Woodstock in August of that year, and Janis and Jimi were still around.  For three young Latinos–“Little” Willie Garcia, Li’l Ray Jimenez, and Lydia Amescua–the time was now, and they had a message to spread.

That message can be found in the fourteen gems that comprise “Music Is The Answer–The Complete Collection,” from Minky Records.  The players also took some cues from that late-Sixties era, As Santana and several others had begun doing, God’s Children incorporated costumes and choreography into their live shows, and, as you listen, especially us old-school ballers, you may be reminded of groups such as Three Dog Night, The Partridge Family, or the Fifth Dimension.

The set begins with a cut that defines a “world of trouble,” during Vietnam-era 1969, “Music Is The Answer.,” featuring the East L. A. Band.  Pure Sixties’ pop augmented by strong organ work emboldens “Makes No Difference,” while piano pervades the melody in an ode to an unrequited love, where “I just Wish you and I could finally get together.”  The band does a fine read of “Put Your Head On My Shoulder,” staying close to the original arrangement, with excellent harmonies.  They touch on a spiritual theme with a song that champions humility in “That’s The Way God Planned It,” before closing with Lydia’s plea to a lover,  “If You Ever Go Away, I’ll say goodbye,” reprised in the set-closer as a brilliant instrumental.

We had two favorites, as well.   “Music Is The Answer” surfaces again mid-album, done with studio musicians, with more emphasis on the wah-wah guitar and piano, and is followed by these same musicians, breaking this song into its base elements in an instrumental form.

God’s Children successfully blended Latino rock, funk, doo-wop and gospel throughout their career.  Following the mantra that “music is the flower of unity,” we urge you to enjoy “Music Is The Answer—The Complete Collection.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

Wentus Blues Band….March 16, 2018….

WENTUS BLUES BAND

THROWBACK

RAMASOUND RECORDS  RAMA 0718

WRAPPED UP IN LOVE–FUTURE BLUES–RAINBOW–LET ME GET OVER IT–FROG LEG MAN–DONE SOMEBODY WRONG–FEEL SO YOUNG–HARD WORKING WOMAN–DON’T LET NOBODY DRAG YOUR SPIRIT DOWN–I THINK YOU NEED A SHRINK–THIRTY DIRTY WOMEN–FIXIN TO DIE–TIME WAS–LAST OF THE BLUES SINGERS–RED’S DREAM

Most folks might not equate the blues to the cold country of Scandinavia.  But, sho’ nuff, there is a thriving scene over there, and Kokkola, Finland, is the home base of one of that area’s finest blues bands, the Wentus Blues Band.  The quintet draws from the history of American blues,  and their latest set, “Throwback,” shows their appreciation by paying tribute to some of their favorite players.

At the forefront of this band is vocalist Juho Kinaret, possessor of one of those rich brogues that gives this material a passionate sound.  All these guys share that passion, too, and it shows on this set.

The fellows touch on two of Carey Bell Harrington’s best-known tunes, first with the leadoff crunch of “Wrapped Up In Love again,” and a bit later with the minor-key tale of that “Hard-Working Woman, nothin’ but a man’s slave,” with Mr. Bell’s harp parts ably substituted by the keyboard wizardry of Pekka Grohn.  They get into a spiritual theme on a fervent take on Eric Bibb’s “Don’t Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down,” and lay down some mean slow-blues on Phil Guy’s “Fixin To Die,” featuring killer guitar from Niko Riippa.

They pull out another of Phil’s songs for one of our two favorites.  On the shufflin’ “Last Of The Blues Singers,” Juho name-checks many of our legends where, sadly, “everybody else is gone.”  Our other favorite closed the set.  Iverson Minter was perhaps better-known to blues fans as Louisiana Red, and Juho works the humorous, stop-time groove of “Red’s Dream” for all it’s worth, as, in this “dream,” he calls out Castro, Khruschev, and ‘ol 45, too, in an all-out effort to “set the whole nations right!”

The Wentus Blues Band stands tall in their native land, and rightfully so.  They hold steady to the emotion and passion of all the great bluesmen, and pay a sweet homage to many of them in “Throwback.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Jesse Terry review…March 15, 2018…..

JESSE TERRY

NATURAL

JACKSON BEACH RECORDS  JBR-003

KALEIDOSCOPE–RUNAWAY TOWN–MR. BLUE SKY–STARGAZER–LOOKING CLOSE ENOUGH–BEAUTIFUL WAY TO GET HOME–CARRY–I WAS AN ISLAND–NOISE–MOUNTAIN ROSE–CLOSE MY EYES–NATURAL

For Jesse Terry’s latest album, “Natural,” he chose some of his favorite female singers to duet on these twelve originals.  His November, 2017, “Stargazer,” was full of powerful songs that offered hope for a better day, and “Natural,” carries that torch further, with three songs on this set that also appeared on “Stargazer.”

Leading off is just such one of those cuts, “Kaleidoscope.”  In its 2017 incarnation, it was an uptempo rocker, but appears here in a much softer, lullabye-ish arrangement,  with Sarah Darling on duet vocal.  “Runaway Town” is still one of the coolest odes to Nashville that you’ll hear,  where “we all come from different places, and we’ve all got the same stories to tell,” with Cary Ann Hearst on the duet parts.  Dar Williams adds an ethereal touch to “Stargazer,” reminding us to always stay true to our convictions.  “Carry” features Kim Richey on duet vocals, as Jesse takes a look at life and love thru the simpler things that one encounters every day, such as “sharing a bottle of red wine,” and “not worrying about the how’s and why’s.”

We chose three favorites.  Jesse and Liz Longley team up for a wistful take on Jeff Lynne’s ELO classic, “Mr. Blue Sky,” stripping this song into it’s simplest form.  Looking at love’s other side was the theme of our other two favorites.  Dar Williams is again the duet partner as Jesse compares being alone to the fact that, “without your sweet voice, all the world is Noise.”  The set closes on a similar note, as Jesse sings the album’s title cut by himself, as he feels his grief for a lost lover will become “Natural” whenever “the sun sets in the east.”

Jesse Terry is riding an incredible string of creativity lately.  The outstanding material of “Stargazer” has led directly to more deeply-personal songs that pair him with some of Americana’s finest femmes’ to create a true “Natural.”   Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Laurie Jane And The 45’s review…March 13, 2018.

LAURIE JANE AND THE 45’S

MIDNIGHT JUBILEE

DOWN IN THE ALLEY RECORDS

WAIT SO LONG–LUCKY BOY–MIDNIGHT JUBILEE–HOWLIN’ FOR MY DARLIN’–FINE BY ME–DOWN THIS ROAD–IT’S BEEN A LONG TIME–COULDN’T CRY ALONE–GOT ME WHERE YOU WANT ME–WHATS A GIRL TO DO–NOT WITH YOU

Laurie Jane And The 45’s hail from Louisville, KY, and consist of Laurie Jane Duggins on vocals, Cort Duggins on guitars, Jason Embry on bass, and Scott Dugsdale on percussion.  That Louisville area offers up some unique musical influences.  Go just a little bit north, and there’s the blues of Chicago.  Come on down this way, and there’s the Sun-kissed rockabilly of Memphis, and an hour farther south and you are down at the Crossroads.  Laurie and the fellows make good use of all those influences on the eleven cuts that comprise their latest album, “Midnight Jubilee.”  Plus, she’s got a tremendous voice that can prowl, howl, and growl with the best of ’em.

Witness that howl as Cort hits that unmistakable riff that rides thru the Wolf’s “Howlin’ For My Darlin,” as Laurie exhorts that “every time he kiss me, he makes the lights go out!”  She is excellent at playing the scorned lover who’s had enough in “That’s Fine By Me,” while Cort’s slide is full of tears as Laurie laments a lover long gone in “I Couldn’t Cry Alone,” with a definite Fifties vibe.  And, that girl who keeps coming back for more is the theme of the midtempo shuffle of “You Got Me Right Where You Want Me, that’s right where I want to be,” and Cort lays down a mean, B. B.-inspired solo at the bridge.

Our favorite closed the set.  Over a chugging, freight-train beat, Laurie and the guys turn in an absolute Sun-washed gem with the rockabilly groove of Laurie’s kiss-off to a lover, “I’m leavin’ here, Just Not With You!”

Laurie And The 45’s have a lot of fun on “Midnight Jubilee,” and that energy translates onto the grooves.  Wanna dance?  Put this one on, roll back the rug and dance until…next time!  Sheryl and Don Crow.

Marie Knight review…March 12, 2018….

MARIE KNIGHT

THE GOSPEL TRUTH LIVE!

M. C. RECORDS  MC-0084

INTRODUCTION–I BELONG TO THE BAND–BEAMS OF HEAVEN–THE ARK SPEECH–DIDN’T IT RAIN–GETTING READY SPEECH–12 GATES TO THE CITY–SING BETWEEN TEARS SPEECH–UP ABOVE MY HEAD–JESUS LOVES ME–SET A WINGS SPEECH–I’LL FLY AWAY–I AM LIGHT OF THIS WORLD–HOW I LOVE JESUS–WAKING UP EARLY SPEECH–LORD I FEEL LIKE GOING ON–BEING CLEAN SPEECH–LET US GET TOGETHER–CLOSER WALK WITH THEE–FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM

One of the most powerful voices in the field of traditional gospel belonged to Marie Knight (1920-2009).  A contemporary and touring/recording partner of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Marie continued to record virtually right up to her passing,   Mark Carpentieri of M. C. Records has documented one of her shows from October 19, 2007, at the Church Street Center in North Adams, MA, as a part of the Margaret A. Hart ’35 Gospel Fest, and will release the concert as “The Gospel Truth Live” on March 23, 2018.  Drawing predominantly from the canons of Sister Rosetta and the Rev, Gary Davis, Marie literally takes us all to church during this program.  Brother Dave Keyes on piano and backing vocals is her sole accompaniment, adding the perfect complement to her amazing voice.

Marie begins with one of Rev. Davis’ more light-hearted tunes, “I Belong To The Band.  Her between-song banter is priceless,   It includes her thoughts on the relative brevity of life, good times and hard times, and her days as a pastor of the Gates Of Prayer Church in Harlem in the early 1990’s.

Outstanding cuts abound  from this iconic vocalist, and they include a version of a song she wrote with Sister Rosetta, “Didn’t It Rain.”  Other notable hymns are “Jesus Loves Me,” “Up Above My Head,” and Rev. Davis’ “12 Gates To The City,” perhaps a Biblical reference to the Twelve Tribes Of Israel from the Old Testament.

We had three favorites, too.  Marie recounts the story of receiving word during a performance of the deaths of her mother and two children in a fire, and she “Sang Between Tears.”  The ability to carry on and cope thru these troubled times is spelled out in “Lord, I Feel Like Going On.”  And, toward the end of the program, Dave Keyes accompanies himself on piano for a heartfelt read of “Just A Closer Walk With Thee.”

Marie Knight was a timeless, wonderful voice in traditional gospel.  For those of us weary Pilgrims who are tired of the daily barrage of bad news and senseless killings, we urge you to lay your burdens at the Cross and drink deeply and freely of the Living Water presented by Marie Knight and Brother Dave Keyes in “The Gospel Truth–Live!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Eric Corne review….March 10, 2018….

ERIC CORNE

HAPPY SONGS FOR THE APOCALYPSE

FORTY BELOW RECORDS   FBR 019

MAD WORLD–RIDIN WITH LADY LUCK (FEAT. WALTER TROUT)–SHORT WAVE PREACHERS–PULL STRING TO INFLATE–HISTORY REPEATS–THE DISTANCE YOU RUN–FORBIDDEN TOWN–ASHEN HEART–TRAIL FULL OF TEARS–SING, LITTLE DARLIN, SING

Eric Corne has had plenty of irons in the fire of late.  He flexed his songwriting chops collaborating with Karen Lovely, writing most of the material  on her highly-acclaimed “Fish Outta Water” album.  He has produced the last several outings from British blues legend John Mayall, and somehow found the time to write, produce, and record his latest for Forty Below, “Happy Songs For The Apocalypse.”  The twelve cuts herein are varied and eclectic, and touch on Americana, folk, rock, blues, and alt-country.  He gets by with a little help from some good friends, too, including guests Walter Trout and Rick “L.A. Holmes” Holmstrom.

Just as much as the rest of us, Eric watches the news, and knows that society is on the fast track to self-destruction, and these tunes reflect ways to cope.  The set opens with just such a tale, “Mad World,” featuring pedal steel from Eamon Ryland, and Theremin from Lara Wickes.  Walter Trout adds guitar on the grunge-rockin’ distortion of “Ridin’ With Lady Luck,” over Eric’s hellhound harp.  “The Gilded Age” uses acoustic guitar and harp on this Delta-blues inspired tune, and he closes the set with another acoustic number, this one looking at solving problems the way children often do, “Sing, Little Darlin’, Sing!”

We had two favorites, too.  “Short Wave Preachers” calls politicians on the carpet for growing corporate greed, and has Sasha Smith on accordion, and Freddy Koella on fiddle.  And, “Locomotion” offers hope for us all, with Sasha’s tack piano, the horn section, and Eamon’s slide setting up a Stones-ish groove, for “I got a notion that they can’t kill!”

Eric Corne knows that there are brighter days ahead, for the darkness is no match for the dawn.  Open yourself up to the vast array of talent from Eric and “Happy Songs For The Apocalypse!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.