Archive for April, 2018

Webb Wilder And The Beatnecks review….April 29, 2018

WEBB WILDER AND THE BEATNECKS

POWERFUL STUFF!

PREVIOUSLY-UNRELEASED RECORDINGS 1985-1993

LANDSLIDE RECORDS  LDCD-1044

MAKE THAT MOVE–NEW DAY–NO GREAT SHAKES–LOST IN THE SHUFFLE–POWERFUL STUFF–AIN’T THAT A LOT OF LOVE–I’M WILD ABOUT YOU BABY–ANIMAL LOVER–NUTBUSH CITY LIMITS–HIGH ROLLIN’–CATBIRD SEAT–HEY MAE–REVENOOR MAN–IS THIS ALL THERE IS–DEAD AND STARTING TO COOL–LUCILLE

For the uninitiated, Webb Wilder And The Beatnecks have always prided themselves on playing “all four kinds of music–ROCK and ROLL, COUNTRY and WESTERN!”  That sly humor and over-the-top guitar stylings coupled with a baritone to die for has served Webb well since his Landslide Records debut, “It Came From Nashville!” in 1986.  32 years down the pike, Webb has just released “Powerful Stuff!,” sixteen heretofore-unreleased recordings that have that unmistakable Wilder-ian mix of roots, rock, blues, and British Invasion stuff, evenly split between originals and covers.  Several of the live tracks were from an Exit/In show on Mark Pucci’s birthday, March 14, 1986 (and one day before mine!).

The original lineup of the Beatnecks from this time frame was legendary.  Webb is on vocals and guitar, Donny “The Twangler” Roberts is on guitar, Denny “Cletus” Blakely is on bass, and Jimmy Lester is the drummer.  Nashville sax icon Jim Hoke is on two cuts, Al Kooper appears on keys on one cut, as does Willie Weeks on bass.  Produced by R. S. Field, the set opens with the stone twang-fest that is “Make That Move.” A bit later, Jim Hoke is on sax and Gary Gazaway is on trumpet, joined by Al Kooper on organ for a story of a woman of questionable moral fiber, and finds our hero “put back in the pack, just another joker at the bottom of the stack,” “Lost In The Shuffle again!”

Ol’ Webb has always enjoyed covering sometimes-obscure gems from blues and R & B players.  Check out his take on Homer Banks’ “Ain’t That A Lot Of Love,” as well as a shout-out to Anna Mae Bullock with an amped-up-even-more-than-the-original “Nutbush City Limits.”  He closes the set with another frenetically-paced cover of Little Richard’s “Lucille,” swamp-a-delically recorded live at the Exit/In.

We had two favorites, too.  Bobby Field, Wally Wilson and Mike Henderson collaborated on the title cut, instantly-recognizable as the monster hit for Kim Wilson and The Fabulous Thunderbirds, presented here in a live setting from Charleston, WV, on the Mountain Stage.  And, Bobby Field wrote a poignant story of a love affair in its “final scene,”  that is most definitely “Dead And Starting To Cool.”

Ok, all you full-grown men and boarding-house reachers out there in music land—Webb Wilder And The Beatnecks have just unloaded a load of TNT from Tennessee, sho’ nuff some “Powerful Stuff!”  As always, Work hard, Rock hard, Eat hard, Sleep hard, grow big, and wear glasses if ya need ’em!      Peace…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

 

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Kerri Powers review…April 28, 2018….

KERRI POWERS

STARSEEDS

PEEPING TOM–SOMEWHERE ON THE VINE–BICYCLE MAN–POLLY–MINE THE RIVER–FREE BIRD FLYING–MOON ‘N’ STARS–ROCKING BOAT–GRACE AND HARMONY–CAN’T FIND MY WAY HOME

Storytelling seems to be a natural part of Kerri Powers, literally infused into her DNA, as she is distantly related to not only Bing Crosby but Herman Melville as well.  As such, her latest release, “Starseeds,” is chock full of characters who have a universal appeal to Everyman.  She has a sultry, soulful, sassy vocal delivery and is also on acoustic guitar throughout.

Check out “Mine The River,” which finds our heroine in a quest for true love with an admitted “head full of dreams” before she finally hits the “motherlode I’ve been waiting for.”  This one features Kerri on electric guitar also.  “Rocking Boat” is set over sort of a waltz-ish pattern, with two lovers being “tossed thru the brine,” as they struggle to meet life’s myriad of challenges.  She closes the set with a fine read of Blind Faith’s iconic “Can’t Find My Way Home,”  featuring excellent keys from Eric Michael Lichter.

Kerri’s got some Memphis Minnie somewhere in her DNA, too, and it really shows on our two favorites.  Leading off, Eric is on slide guitar as Kerri becomes Lady Godiva on “that painted mare,” and is the object of desire of a lustful voyeur, “Peeping Tom–what you gonna do now that the curtain’s drawn?’  And, she plays the lusty, busty “ramblin’ girl” to the hilt— on the prowl, ready and willin’ to “go for a ride” with that “Bicycle Man.”

The place from whence Kerri Powers draws her courage, wisdom, passion, and conviction to create a set as endearing as “Starseeds” is a place not down on any map.  True places never are.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Professor Longhair review…April 27, 2018….

PROFESSOR LONGHAIR

LIVE IN CHICAGO

ORLEANS RECORDS   ORL 2915

INTRO–DOIN IT–BIG CHIEF–EVERY DAY I HAVE THE BLUES–MESS AROUND–MARDI GRAS IN NEW ORLEANS–GOT MY MOJO WORKING–FESS’S BOOGIE

If there was a picture accompanying the definition of “laissez les bon temps roulet!,” it would simply HAVE to be one of Professor Longhair.  Born Henry Roeland Byrd, “Fess,” as he was known to millions of us fans, took the piano to places it had never been before.  He combined, mambo, rhumba, jazz, and blues into a cool gumbo that served him well not only in the early days of post-WWII jazz and blues, but again after the resurgence of the folk movement in the late Sixties, up thru his untimely passing in 1980.

Orleans Records has just released “Live In Chicago,” recorded at the University Of Chicago Folk Festival on February 1, 1976.  Backing the “Fess on these seven exquisite New Orleans shuffles, we have Will Harvey on rhythm guitar, Julius Farmer on bass, Earl Gordon on drums, and Billy Gregory on lead guitar.  Billy was “Fess’ guitar player from 1974, and he had the tape of this set broadcast on WFMT-FM.  Both Carlo Ditta and Billy worked diligently to restore this session to their satisfaction, and this performance has everybody clicking thru a fine list of originals and standards.  “Doin’ It” leads off, an instrumental with a definite jazz flair, and ‘Fess shouts out to “Billy’ just before he breaks off one dazzling solo after another.  “Big Chief” finds the ‘Fess “feelin’ good,” and “gonna dance ’til morning comes!”  “Every Day I Have The Blues” begins as a loping “See See Rider,” before taking off properly, and has Billy on a wah-wah-ish guitar.  They give a big shout-out to Brother Ray with “everybody doin’ the Mess Around,” and the set closes with another rhumba-rockin’ instrumental original, “Fess’s Boogie.”

Our favorite was another New Orleans classic that many listeners will identify with Antoine “Fats” Domino.  The ‘Fess rocks that second-line groove, complete with the whistling of the first verse, on a swingin’ trip down to “the old Auditorium to see the Zulu Queen,” “Mardi Gras In New Orleans.”

Fans, there has never been a performer quite like ‘Fess, and his recorded legacy shows he was the epitome’ of the good times of The Big Easy, and “Live In Chicago” further solidifies him as one of the most electric and exciting performers of our lifetime.  To Billy and Carlo we offer a huge thank you, on behalf of ourselves and blues fans all over the world,  for your painstaking work in restoring this historic recording.  Peace and love…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Willie Jackson review…April 26, 2018….

WILLIE JACKSON

CHOSEN BY THE BLUES

JUST AN OLD DOG–BIG BONED WOMAN–I’LL THROW YOU BACK–SLEEPIN ON THE JOB–WHY YOU STILL MAD?–DIGGIN MY SHOVEL

Willie Jackson is a native of Savannah, GA, and he possesses one of those voices you just can’t help but enjoy.  It’s a big, bold, raised-up-in-the-church vocal delivery that fits well within any genre,’ but us fans are lucky he was “Chosen By The Blues.”  That’s the title of his all-original six-song EP, and Willie writes ’em from the heart, drawing much of his material from everyday experiences.

Joining Willie, we have John Willis on bass, Dillon Young on guitar, Paxton Eugene on drums, and Ace Anderson, who kicks some serious “ace” on the harp!  Leading off is one of those harp-filled, fine examples of some down-home blues, with “Just An Old Dog,” a waaay-cool “my baby left me for my brother” song!  Now, everybody knows the “sport fishin” is real good down in Savannah, but, even with a “heavy rod and reel,” it won’t be long until ol’ Willie will say, “I’ll Throw You Back!”  Ace is all up in that harp again on a story that plagues all us guys–“Why You Still Mad–I did everything I’m s’posed to do!”  He closes the set with the juke joint jump of a man who’s been “Diggin’ My Shovel–deep in yo’ sister’s backyard!”  It’s full of clever double-entendres’ guaranteed to put a smile on your face and a cut in your strut!

Our favorite was another of Willie’s clever looks at love.  That six hundred pounds of “Big Boned Woman broke my sofa, kitchen table, and my bed!”

Willie, we need to talk, man to man, soul brother to soul brother.  You know you’ve been “Chosen By The Blues,” and we know you are a tremendous writer.  The only drawback, albeit a small one, to this powerful stuff is the fact that, as soon as it started gettin’ real good to us, BAM–it was all over, way too fast.  Next time, PLEASE order up a double batch of this mighty potent brew!  Peace and love…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Kid Ramos review…April 25, 2018….

KID RAMOS

OLD SCHOOL

RIP CAT RECORDS  RIC 1802

KID’S JUMP–ALL YOUR LOVE–TELL ME WHAT YA WANT–MASHED POTATOES AND CHILI–HEARTBEAT–YOU NEVER CALL MY NAME–ANNA–WES SIDE–MONA LISA–JESUS COME BY HERE–I CAN’T WAIT BABY–WEIGHT ON MY SHOULDERS–HIGH SOCIETY WOMAN

Hard to fathom, but it has indeed been seventeen years since David “Kid” Ramos released his last album, “Greasy Kid Stuff,” back in 2001.  During that time, he has raised two sons into young adulthood,  kicked cancer squarely in the @$$, and still kept his eyes on the prize of being one of the best artists it has been our privilege to know and enjoy.  He’s back and stronger than ever with “Old School,” for Rip Cat Records.  It’s a mix of Kid’s originals and cool covers that allows his guitar and vocals to  bring you an excellent set of blues and standards.  It also marks the vocal debut of Kid’s son, Johnny Ramos, on two cuts.

We’ve been fans of Kid and his guitar since a chance meeting down on Beale Street back’ round the turn of the century, and that huge, fat tone he coaxes out of his axe is still front and center.  His versatility within styles is prominent, too, with three outstanding instrumentals.   One of those leads off, as Kid pays a sweet tribute to B. B. with the swingin’ “Kid’s Jump,” followed a bit later with the Sixties’-flavored “Mashed Potatoes And Chili.”  “Wes Side” rounds out the instrumentals, a downright jazzy ode to Wes Montgomery, featuring organ from Bob Welsh.

Kid’s two vocals, on “Mona Lisa” and the Buddy Holly-esque “Heartbeat,” both hearken back to his days with Los Fabulocos.  Johnny Tucker on vocals turns in two of our favorites, with a tune co-written by Johnny and Kid.  It’s just Kid’s guitar and Johnny’s plaintive vocal on “we make love, but You Never Call My Name,” and, a bit later, Johnny’s vocal takes a gospel turn over Kid’s lead work on “Jesus, Come By Here.”

We had three more highlights, too.  Johnny Ramos shows his maturity and his relative ease in reaching the upper register on his vocals on a bluesy read of Sam Maghett’s “All Your Love,” with Pops wailing away on that signature riff.  Later, he takes a cool turn with Arthur Alexander’s iconic “Anna (Go To Him).  The set closes on a swingin’ West Coast note, with T-Bone’s classic “High Society Woman,” featuring vocals from Kim Wilson.

Frankly, Kid, we are glad to see this album come to fruition.  Please don’t wait so long before you go “Old School” on us again, OK?  Peace, brother…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Ted Hefko review…April 24, 2018….

TED HEFKO AND THE THOUSANDAIRES

GAS STATION GURU ON 1006

ONAGER ONAGER RECORDS 1006

TWO VICES–THE ROOFER–TELL ME THE TRUTH–RIDE ME DOWN EASY–THE NEXT TRAIN–AIN’T GONNA GIVE YOU NONE OF MY JELLYROLL–TEN DOLLAR HAT–STOP SAYIN’ UNLESS–CITY OF NEW ORLEANS

Ted Hefko was born in Madison, WI, but, immediately upon graduation, grabbed up his guitar and hopped a ‘Hound right on down to New Orleans to pursue his musical dreams.  He studied modern jazz at the University of New Orleans, with sax as his go-to instrument.  He was an in-demand club and session player, touring and gigging with the likes of The Funky Meters and North Mississippi All-Stars.  He moved to NYC in 2003, and his NOLA background served him well there, leading combos that drew on the sounds of The Big Easy.  He’s returned “home again,” to New Orleans, and has released his latest set at Marigny Studios with his band, The Thousandaires, entitled “Gas Station Guru.”

On this set, Ted is featured on vocal, sax, clarinet, and acoustic guitar.  The songs explore characters who continually struggle just to keep going, to keep it between the ditches, and figure out wrong from right.  Check out the Basin Street bounce of “I Ain’t Gonna Give You None Of My Jelly Roll,” then shift  gears to take a ride along with those “three conductors and 24 sacks of mail” on “The City Of New Orleans.”  His somewhat-flawed characters take center stage, including the rounder who “left a long string of satisfied women behind,” on Billy Joe Shaver’s “Ride Me Down Easy.”  Sherman Bernard is on piano on the Mardi Gras flavor of that “big leg woman” with that “Ten Dollar Hat!”  Mem Shannon adds guitar to the sage advice given by Ted to a lover—“you got Two Vices–make the second one me!”

Ted Hefko And The Thousandaires bring the sweet-tea taste of the Big Easy to this collection, meant for all us rodeo bums and son of a guns to find the “Gas Station Guru” that lives deep down in all of us!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Joe Goldmark review…April 23, 2018…..

JOE GOLDMARK

BLUE STEEL

LO-BALL RECORDS  LB 011

NIGHT FLIGHT (INST.)–ALL NIGHT WORKER–A LOVE SO BEAUTIFUL–GINGER ALE (INST.)–THE WOBBLE–WARM RAIN (INST.)–HOWLIN’ WIND–NATTY DREAD (INST.)–LOOK WHAT THOUGHTS WILL DO–TACKY TANGO (INST.)–BEAUTICIAN BLUES–I WANT TO BE WITH YOU FOREVER–TRUE LOVE TRAVELS ON A GRAVEL ROAD

Steel guitar master Joe Goldmark doesn’t see that instrument as confined strictly to the country genre’.  In fact, he sees it as just the opposite–as a musical instrument capable of holding its own within any style, plus, Joe’s got the chops to pull it off.  He can play anything, from Bakersfield to the Beatles.  His latest release indeed takes a bluesier approach to this instrument, and is aptly-titled “Blue Steel,” for Lo-Ball Records.

For this set, he gathered up some old friends to carry the vocals.  On the male side, it is former Hoodoo Rhythm Devils lead man Glenn Walters, and, on the distaff side, it’s Dallis Craft.  Jim Campilongo adds electric guitar on one cut to round out the party.  The baker’s dozen cuts that comprise this set are a cool mix of Joe’s instrumentals plus covers associated with Lefty Frizzell, Roy Orbison, B. B. King, and others.

The set opens on an instrumental note, with Joe’s original, dreamy “Night Flight,” with excellent keys work from Tony Lufrano.  Of the remaining instrumentals, our favorite was the breezy, island-flavored, “Natty Dread.”

On the vocal side, we had two favorites, one from each of the featured voices.  Lefty Frizzell’s “Look What Thoughts Will Do” is as classic a two-stepper you’ll ever hear, delivered in grand style by Dallis, who reminds us to “watch those thoughts, they’ll get you down.”  At the opposite end of the spectrum, and a perfect example of the “blue” side of this project, is Glenn Walters’ read of B. B.’s obscure “Beautician Blues,” with Joe’s steel punctuated by an “uptown” horn section.

Joe Goldmark based “Blue Steel” on an old Starday recording from Arthur “Guitar Boogie” Smith, “Blue Guitar.”  Joe’s set captures his vision to make the steel guitar more than just an accompaniment to country records, and gives it more universal acceptance and appeal.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.