Archive for April, 2018

Ally Venable review….April 16, 2018….

ALLY VENABLE BAND

PUPPET SHOW

CONNOR RAY MUSIC  CRM  1701

DEVIL’S SON–BRIDGES TO BURN–CAST THEIR STONES–BACKWATER BLUES–HE CAUGHT THE KATY–PUPPET SHOW–COMFORT IN MY SORROWS–SURVIVE–WASTE IT ON YOU–SLEEPING THROUGH THE STORM

The younger generation is sho’ nuff making a big splash in the blues world, and one of the most exciting of them all is the triple-threat guitarist/vocalist/composer Ally Venable.  Her latest set, for Connor Ray Music, is a blistering ten cuts of tough-as-nails blues-rock entitled “Puppet Show.”  Along with Ally, there is Bobby Wallace on bass, Elijah Owings on drums, and some cool special guests to round out the program.

Plenty wise beyond her youth, Ally uses her snarling guitar lines and barbed lyrics to take a huge bite out of the egos of many a would-be lover throughout these cuts, starting with the brooding tale of the “angel when I met you,” who turns out to be the “Devil’s Son,” featuring Gary Hoey on the lead guitar.  Next up Ally and one of her mentors, Lance Lopez, get into some spirited guitar “dueling” as well as some sweet tandem playing in “Bridges To Burn.”  The title cut finds her bristling at another lover who “pulls my strings,” but she stands up and declares, “I ain’t the Puppet in your Show!”  She closes the set on another note of empowerment, urging us to conquer our struggles by “Sleeping Through The Storm.”

We had two favorites, too, both of which featured harp blaster Steve Krase.  First up, Ally and Steve open “Backwater Blues” in a simplistic, Delta-style before the band breaks into a full-on blues assault!  Then, Eric Steckel on keys joins the fun for a sassy, struttin’ “He Caught The Katy and left me a mule to ride!”

We’ve been following Ally Venable’s career since the beginning, and she continues to impress with each successive release.  “Puppet Show” has this senorita of the blues in excellent form!  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

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Meg Williams review…April 14, 2018….

MEG WILLIAMS

MAYBE SOMEDAY

NOT MY PROBLEM–BAD LOVIN–LITTLE BIT OF THE DEVIL–MAYBE SOMEDAY–YOU LET ME DOWN–I FEEL A HEARTACHE COMING

Meg Williams is a transplanted New Yorker who now calls Music City her home.  She’s wasted precious little time in making a name for herself, within the various writer’s nights and songwriter showcases all over town.  She’s released an excellent EP of six originals, entitled “Maybe Someday.”  This easy on the ears and the eyes young lass is on guitar and vocals throughout, and brings along Dan Wecht on slide guitar, Greggory Garner on bass, and Kyle Law on drums.

That slide of Dan’s is prominently featured on the title cut, as “Maybe Someday, we’re all  gonna get it right,” looking for brighter days ahead for a troubled world.  She cranks out some serious New York swagger with the grunge-worthy punch of the tale of a less-than-worthy lover, “You Let Me Down,” the album’s first single, and closes the set with the story of another bum who’s “tearin’ me apart,” “I Feel A Heartache Coming,” a guitar-heavy shot of blues-rock at its best.  This young’uns potential was spelled out early on, with the first three cuts serving as our favorites.  Ol’ Elmore James would be proud of the licks laid down by our heroine, with a bit of a masochistic streak, as she’s addicted to that “Bad Lovin,” but keeps on “coming back for more!”  She settles into a swampy groove as she lays down some funk over the tale of every man’s favorite, “bad girls,” who all have a “Little Bit Of The Devil” in them, fueled by Dan’s hell-hound slide.  The opening cut really got our attention, tho.  The story of two lovers with looming issues has Megs giving the ultimatum here, “stay if you wanna, leave if you wanna, it’s Not My Problem!”  Aside from being pure unbridled funk, the true key to this cut lies in Meg’s guitar lines, which are positively Prince-ly!

Lawd, what these young folks can do with the blues nowadays.  It’s no wonder she’s made waves in the Summer NAMM Showcase, and been in the last two IBC’s.  Y’all take heed–“Maybe Someday” we’ll be seeing Meg Williams on the biggest stages in the blues, and we’re betting that day won’t be far off!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Freddie Pate review…April 13, 2018….

FREDDIE PATE

I GOT THE BLUES

LET THE JUKE JOINT JUMP–SHO NUFF I DO–HAVE YOU EVER LOVED A WOMAN–HEY GOOD LOOKIN–NOTHIN TAKES THE PLACE OF YOU–I GOT THE BLUES–HELLO JOSEPHINE–MY BABE–JOLIE BLOND–DANCE WITH ME BABY–BEER DRINKIN DOG

Freddie Pate is living the dream that many of us would love to try.  A topnotch guitarist and vocalist, he moved from L. A. to Houston in 1975 and quickly became a hot, in-demand session player.  Later, he moved to Louisiana, pulling two different stints with Wayne Toups.  He always had a flair for country music, and even cut a country album in 2016.  But, Mike Zito always believed that Freddie had the blues deep down in his soul.  Zito built Marz Studio down in Nederland, TX, and, lo and behold, the very first release from that studio is Freddie’s blues debut, “I Got The Blues!”  He mixes two of his own originals in with nine wildman covers tailor-made for the dance floor.

We got Freddie on guitar and vocals, Terry Dry on bass, Matt Johnson on drums, Lewis Stephens on keys, and Zito on rhythm guitar.  Freddie leads off pitchin’ a wang dang doodle with the bouncin’ boogie blues of “Let The Juke Joint Jump,” where everybody gets “happy feet!”  He adds some bluesy funk to the iconic “Hey Good Lookin,” and “Hello Josephine,” while Wayne Toups shows up to bring the hot sauce to the traditional “Jolie Blond,” and they all tear it up with the piano-rockin’ cover of B. B.’s “Dance With Me Baby, I’m doin’ the best I can!”

We had three favorites, too.  Freddie’s got a soulful side that shows thru with a belly-rubbin’ good read of “Nothing Takes The Place Of You,” and again on a sho’ nuff hot take on Elmo’s “Sho’ Nuff I Do!”  And, the set closes on a hilarious boogie groove, as Freddie’s “Beed Drinkin’ Dog” loves him some Schlitz!

Freddie Pate has paid hisself some dues, and wanted to put out an authentic blues album.  He’s spent some time on Delbert’s annual cruises, and, added to all his other experiences, “I Got The Blues” begs the question—“Are y’all ready for Freddie???”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Frank Viele review…April 11, 2018…

FRANK VIELE

WHAT’S HIS NAME?

DROP YOUR GUN–HONEY–‘TILL THE BOURBON’S ALL GONE–WHAT’S HIS NAME–POMEGRANATE–IF YOU COULD ONLY READ MY MIND–NEON LIGHTS–IT (FEAT. CHRISTINE OHLMAN)–TURN AROUND–AIN’T IT FUNNY–FINDING MY OWN WAY–CIGARETTES, THROWING STONES, AND LIES

We first became acquainted with Frank Viele thru the NoiseTrade music-sharing website, and were immediately captivated by his powerful storytelling and intense characters within his songs.  There’s plenty of that readily available on his latest disc, “What’s His Name?”  Already a mainstay on the New England scene, the rest of the world is about to hear what an amazing talent he is.  He’s featured on these original cuts on vocals and guitars, with a distinct, burnished delivery.  He’s also got a bluesman’s soul that shines all over this set.

Frank’s been down the same roads that many of us have, and this material reflects such. Check out the Resonator slide and punchy horn section on a story of longing for a lover’s “sugar sweet, gypsy soul,”  “all I want is a bit of yo’ Honey!”  He’s the odd man out in a love triangle in the title cut, demanding “if you’re gonna walk out that door, What’s His Name?,” punctuated by a heavy, funked-up groove.  “Pomegranate” is fueled by the cello stylings of Dave Eggar, while another cut heavy on the slide guitar finds Frank as the lover full of regret, looking to hear those “same four words–darling, I forgive you,” and features duet vocals from Chrisine Ohlman, entitled “It.”

The set closes with our favorite,  as Frank again wishes he could “turn back the time,” the soulful and bluesy “Cigarettes, Throwing Stones, And Lies.”

Within the music of Frank Viele, you can find bits and pieces of all of us who have ever been sucker-punched by love.  So, all us “lovers, losers, and boozers” can enjoy this one, and, before long, you won’t have to ask “What’s His Name?”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Joyann Parker review…April 9, 2018….

JOYANN PARKER

HARD TO LOVE

HOPELESS ROMANTIC  HRR 1001

MEMPHIS–ENVY–HOME–DIZZY–JIGSAW HEART–WHO WHAT WHEN WHERE WHY–BLUER THAN YOU–RAY–EVIL HEARTED–TAKE MY HEART AND RUN–YOUR MAMA–WHAT HAPPENED TO ME–HARD TO LOVE

It’s hard to believe, when you listen to Joyann Parker sing, that she’d never thought about singing the blues until about four years ago.  She sang Aretha’s “Chain Of Fools” in a contest, and the rest is blues history.  Already a classically-trained pianist,  Joyann believed being a blues singer was her calling.  Add to this mix being a part of the competitions in the IBC in 2015, and a trip to that famous museum down at 926 E. McLemore, and a true woman of the blues was born!   She’s set to release her second album on April 13, 2018, this one entitled “Hard To Love,” thirteen cuts written by Joyann and guitarist Mark Lemoine.  Fans, they don’t write just any blues songs–this duo creates soulful, passionate trips into the listener’s heart, just the way they wrote ’em back in the days of Sam, Dave, Aretha, Dan, and Spooner.

She gives a no-good lover the ultimate heave-ho, and Joyann puts the whole thing in her rear-view mirror, and “bu the time I get to Memphis, you’ll be gone!”  Snarling slide adds to the dark groove of this one, too.  “Envy” is an organ-heavy, testifyin’ ode to “goin’ home, when your work on Earth is done,”  while “Dizzy” is at the opposite ends of the spectrum, drawing on the up and down relationship with a non-committal lover, this one with serious Motown overtures.  “Take My Heart And Run” drives that “my baby left me” train, with Delta-fied slide as its fuel.  Joyann closes the set with the torchy title cut, featuring only her piano, vocal, and the bass, as her lover is described as a “beautiful mess,” but for whom the attraction is too strong to deny.

Our favorite was easy.  This one hearkens back to the duckwalkin’ heyday of Chuck And Johnnie, in the rockin’ tale of a woman totally smitten by a “bad boy,” “What Happened To Me?”

Joyann Parker writes stories in song to which we can all relate.  For sure, nothing on this set will ever be “Hard To Love!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Ghost Town Blues Band review…April 8, 2018….

GHOST TOWN BLUES BAND

BACKSTAGE PASS

COME TOGETHER–TIP OF MY HAT–SHINE–GIVIN’ IT ALL AWAY–BIG SHIRLEY–WHIPPING POST–I GET HIGH–ONE MORE WHISKEY–I NEED MORE LOVE

We have reviewed more than 1100 albums within the pages of this humble forum, and the latest from one of our favorite groups, Memphis, Tennessee’s own Ghost Town Blues Band, “Backstage Pass,” has to be one of the most unique, good-time sets we’ve had the privilege to write about, recorded live in front of an amped-to-the-gills crowd at Lafayette’s Music Room in Memphis.

This band has many facets, and their live shows are legendary, and you get a taste of all of it over the course of this 65-minute program.  Matt Isbell not only makes cigar-box guitars, but he wields a mean one, and uses his whole arsenal herein. He’s on vocals and harp as well, with Taylor Orr on guitar and vocals, Suavo Jones and Kevin Houston on trombone and sax, respectively, Tim Stanek on keys, Matt Karner on bass, and Preston McEwen on drums.

You’ll get a good idea about what Ghost Town is all about from the opening salvo of Lennon’s “Come Together,” a slide-filled boogie romp with the horns gettin’ in on the fun.  It segues’ into a cool break of “Norwegian Wood,” before buckling down full-throttle into classic Zep with “Whole Lotta Love,” all in the span of six-and-a-half minutes!   Matt and Taylor’s original is next, where “Tip Of My Hat” blends cool, rhumba-rockin’ beats and killer piano over lyrics heavy with sly-and-sexy double-entendres’, where “you can play my organ and slide my big trombone.”  “Shine” pays tribute to the glory days of Stax in Memphis, while Tim has a good time with one of our favorites, beatin’ the keys eight to the bar with the lusty, busty tale of that rump-shakin’ “Big Shirley,” with a cool shout-out to Blind Mississippi Morris.  “One More Whiskey” is an ode to Matt’s whiskey-laden past, and is a definite crowd-pleaser, with Matt’s harp the guitars, and Suavo’s big long slidin’ thing riding this singalong for all it’s worth.

Our favorite simply could not be denied.  Matt’s pattern-switching bass lines, Tim’s B-3, and Taylor’s reverential guitar parts make the sixteen-minute tribute to The Allman Brothers and Southern rock history, “Whipping Post,” itself worth the price of admission.

Folks, the fellows in  Ghost Town Blues Band are sho’ nuff some mojo filters, and “Backstage Pass” blends all their elements, from the ABB to the Beatles, the Dead, to Phish, Stax, and virtually everything in between into one helluva good time!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Teresa James And The Rhythm Tramps review….April 6, 2018….

TERESA JAMES AND THE RHYTHM TRAMPS

HERE IN BABYLON

JESI-LU RECORDS

I KNOW I AIN’T BEEN SO PERFECT–HERE IN BABYLON–GIVE ME A HOLLER–HEAD UP, HEART OPEN–I KEEP DRIFTING AWAY–GROUND ZERO–HOLD ON–YOU HAD TO BRING THAT UP–THE DAY THE BLUES CAME TO CALL–I GOTTA ROLL–21ST CENTURY MAN–FIND ME A BAR

With a voice that’s sexy, sultry, soulful, and anything you want it to be, Teresa James, a native Texan, transplanted herself to L. A. ’bout twenty years ago.  She got hold of some of the best session men that town has to offer and made them her backing band, The Rhythm Tramps.  Recently, they all got together to lay down the tracks for what turned out to be her tenth album, “Here In Babylon.”  It was done as a “live in the studio” project, and the originals herein are predominantly composed wholly or in part by Teresa and her long-time bassman and partner in crime, Terry Wilson.

There are a plethora of highlights and favorites, with various genres’ represented.  The set leads off with the story of everyone’s flaws and how a relationship always brings them to the surface, “I Know I Ain’t Been So Perfect,” with a double dose of keyboards, with Teresa winning the Wurlitzer prize, and venerable Mike Finnegan on the B-3.  A sweet horn arrangement adds the New Orleans spice to the tale of digging these good blues to help you thru tough times, “Give Me A Holler,” featuring a fine guitar solo from Billy Watts.  Teresa has a humorous streak too, evidenced by the jazzy, Pink-Panther-esque fo’ day creep of “just when I thought we were doin’ all right, You Had To Bring That Up,” with trumpet from Darrell Leonard.

We had three favorites, too.  The set closes with that good ol’ shave-and-a-haircut Diddley-beat that drives the story of “turnin’ off the TV,” “I’m Gonna Find Me A Bar, with a real good band!”  The title cut has a Doomsday backbeat and Teresa gets in some cool veiled jabs at the stuff goin’ on in society today, “Here In Babylon.”  And, you can’t have a complete blues album without a trip down to “the birth place of the blues,” those ol’ Crossroads at “Ground Zero,” where “you’ll always have the Devil to pay!”

Teresa James And The Rhythm Tramps make the whole thing sound so easy—effortlessly going from roadhouse rock to N’ Awlins funk, to Memphis grit with stops everywhere in between!  Its always fun, down “Here In Babylon!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.