Archive for June, 2018

Matty T. Wall review…June 29, 2018….

MATTY T. WALL

SIDEWINDER

HIPSTERDUMPSTER RECORDS

SLIDERIDE–SIDEWINDER–SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL–CHANGE IS GONNA COME–CAN’T STOP THINKIN’–SHAKE IT–GOING DOWN–AIN’T THAT THE TRUTH–SOPHIA’S STRUT–WALK OUT THE DOOR–LEAVE IT ALL BEHIND–MISSISSIPPI KKKROSSROADS

The potent and powerful guitar work of Matty T. Wall extends from his native Australia all over the world.  He expands his musical boundaries even further with the release of his latest set, “Sidewinder.”  It is produced by Grammy-winning Bob Clearmountain, known for his outstanding work with Bowie, Springsteen, and the Rolling Stones, among a host of others.  This set has a full, bold sound, thanks to Matty’s wailing guitars plus Bob’s clever use of layered sounds, echo, and the inclusion of a horn and string section scattered throughout the festivities.

If you’re a fan of players such as Johnny Winter or fellow Aussie Dave Hole, you’ll love the opening instrumental, a fret-burning, slide-happy exercise entitled “Slideride,” with just a smattering of the horns.  “Sidewinder” is full of swagger and spit, as Matty declares he’s “got no morals,” and where “follow-the-leader, single-file, well, that ain’t my style.”  He gives a fine read of a Trombone Shorty song, making “show me Something Beautiful” into a breezy ode to summer.  He then uses a unique vocal arrangement and an extended weeping guitar solo to make Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” into an even more beautiful piece.  “Shake It” is pure dance-floor joy, while the stomp-and-handclap percussion of “Sophia’s Strut”  gives off a sweet, North Mississippi Hill Country vibe.

One of Matty’s covers served as our favorite, and it sho’ nuff is not for the faint of heart nor the ultra-conservative.  Written by Chris Thomas King, Matty takes us all back to the inglorious days of the Jim Crow South, which, sadly, seem to be making an unwanted comeback in the daily news, with the anger-and angst-filled blues-rap of “Mississippi KKKrossroads,” as Matty’s slide guitar wails as the hellhounds give chase.

It is plainly obvious within the grooves of “Sidewinder” that Matty T. Wall has a firm grasp on the rich heritage of the blues, with a keen eye trained on the future.  Clearmountain’s production also brought out a powerful and deeply-personal side to Matty, making this a set sure to please his global legions of fans!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Advertisements

Jeff Jensen review…June 28, 2018….

JEFF JENSEN

WISDOM AND DECAY

SWINGSUIT RECORDS

I’M LIVING OFF THE LOVE YOU GIVE–200 DAYS–PRETEND FOREVERS–GOOD WOMAN BACK HOME–DOWNTOWN–LUCK IS GONNA CHANGE–WHAT WE USED TO BE–TONIGHT I’LL BE STAYING HOME WITH YOU–SOMETHING IN THE WATER–THE WATER JAM/SOMETHING IN THE WATER REVISED

With “Wisdom And Decay,” Jeff Jensen reaches down deep into his songwriter’s soul, baring it for us all to hear over the seven originals and three covers that comprise his latest set for Swingsuit Records.  The backing band is in fine form, too.  Along with Jeff on vocals, guitar, and banjo, there is Bill Ruffino on bass, David Green on drums, Chris Stephenson on keys, and a host of other contributors.

When Memphis is your hometown, you can’t do wrong by opening your set with one of Little Milton’s finest, “I’m Living On The Love You’re Giving,” featuring Reba Russell on backing vocals, and Chris’ B-3, giving this one a vintage, sweat-and-soul Stax groove.  “2000 Days” traces one man’s battle with personal demons, be they drugs, alcohol, or whatever, and rising up to overcome them.  Another cool song with a summery vibe finds our hero knowing that his “Good Woman Back Home” has always got his back no matter what, while Jeff brings the grit and grease to one of our favorite Dylan songs, “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You,” with “that whistle blowin” and “that station master,” too!

We had two favorites, at opposite ends of the blues spectrum.  First up, “Pretend Forevers” chronicles the ravages of aging in our loved ones, along with the frailties and brevity of life, reminding us all to “count your blessings” while you can.  Next, Jeff and his gospel choir take us all to Sunday-go-to-meetin’ with the testifyin’, call-and-response of better days a-comin,,’ “I Know My Luck Is Gonna Change,” featuring Chris on the sanctified keys.

Jeff Jensen is riding a cool wave of creativity with “Wisdom And Decay.”  You can feel his energy in both his vocals and his guitar work, and his lyrics are crisp,, thought-provoking, and, at times, bittersweet.  Can we get an AMEN! for Jeff Jensen?  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

JP Soars review…June 27, 2018…

JP SOARS

SOUTHBOUND I-95

SOARS HIGH PRODUCTIONS  SHP-005

AIN’T NO DANIA BEACH–SURE AS HELL AIN’T FOOLIN’ ME–SOUTHBOUND I-95–SHINING THROUGH THE DARK–THE GRASS AIN’T ALWAYS GREENER–ARKANSAS PORCH PARTY–SATISFY MY SOUL–BORN IN CALIFORNIA–WHEN YOU WALK OUT THAT DOOR–DEEP DOWN IN FLORIDA–ACROSS THE DESERT–DOG CATCHER–TROUBLED WATERS–GO WITH THE FLOW–SURE AS HELL AIN’T FOOLIN’ ME (RADIO EDIT)

JP Soars has won both the IBC competition, and the prestigious Albert King Award given to the outstanding guitarist during the course of the Challenge.  He’s also played with the greats of the genre’ on the Legendary Rhythm And Blues Cruise and, more recently, The Big Blues Bender out in Vegas.  He was born in California and raised up in Arkansas, and moved deep down in South Florida in 1985.  He and some of his best friends went down to Ft. Lauderdale to Studio 13 and laid down fifteen of the most varied shades of the blues you could imagine, “Southbound I-95.”

This set is varied, indeed, given JP’s numerous musical influences, including Muddy, Santana, Albert King, George Jones, Willie Nelson, Pete Fountain, Metallica, and Van Halen, as well as countless others, and you can hear ’em all scattered throughout this exhilarating set, thirteen originals and two covers, all held together by JP’s soulful vocals and dazzling guitar work.  Now, JP don’t take no mess, especially from people with their “fake-ass smiles” who “Sure As Hell Ain’t Foolin’ Me,” which is revisited as the set-closer in a much cleaner, more FCC-ok version.  The title cut rocks with joyous abandon, as the surf’s up on I-95, with twangin’ guitar leading the charge.  Terry Hanck is on the breezy, summertime-ish tenor sax on “Shining Through The Dark,” while JP’s slide roots run deep on his autobiographical tale of being one of seven children “Born In California and raised in Arkansas.”

JP’s instrumental compositions are brilliant, also.  The venerable Lee Oskar adds harp on “Across The Desert,” while “Arkansas Porch Party” has an old-time camp meetin’ groove.  Perhaps the most unique of all was one of our favorites.  Virtually all of JP’s influences are on display on “Go With The Flow,” including an Eastern touch, with “setar” from Reza Filsoofi.  Our other favorite was the uniquely-arranged “Deep Down In Florida,” presented here in an almost-second-line parade, with another “old friend of mine,” Albert Castiglia, on vocal and guitar.

The versatility of JP Soars has served him well since his IBC days, and this set carries it on.  Pack up the van, hit the road, and crank up “Southbound I-95!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Al Basile review…June 26, 2018….

AL BASILE

ME AND THE ORIGINATOR

SWEETSPOT RECORDS  9862

THE TRUNK–POOR BOY’S DAY–WHAT HE CARRIED–MY J-O-B–USELESS GOOD ADVICE–LEFTY’S NINE LESSONS–SELF-RELIANCE–SHE MADE ME BELIEVE IT–THE BEE’S LOT–HERE COME YOUR TROUBLE–WHAT HE DESERVED–I FORGOT HOW TO CARE–LEARN TO DRAW–FIRST ONE TO GO–BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO–WHAT YOU GOT FOR ME–WHO OWNS IT?–ALL RIGHT–SOLO–A GO OF IT–YOUNG AND OLD–SO WRONG FOR SO LONG–CONFESSING THE BLUES–IF IT GOES, IT GOES–HOW IT GOES

Most fans know Al Basile as a multiple Blues Award Nominee for his trumpet playing and his humorous, thought-provoking albums for his own Sweetspot label.  Other folks know Al only thru his poetry, so, in celebration of Sweetspot’s twentieth anniversary, Al decide to release an album that showcased both of his “creative hats,” if you will.  With Duke Robillard on guitar and at the producer’s helm, “Me And The Originator” takes the listener on a mythical journey involving an imaginary musician who wrote the music to sets of lyrics he happened across that didn’t belong to him, but he never disclosed this vital fact along his career path as a bluesman.  It plays out as more or less a “blues history” of sorts, as far as how songs come to fruition and who can claim them as their own.  The proof is in the listening, as Al, the Duke, and the “usual suspects,” including Mark Texeira, Bruce Bears, Brad Hallen, and several other of New England’s finest sidemen, weave these intriguing tales….

Each individual spoken-word entry from Al is introduced by a short instrumental break composed by the Duke, each one unique to the particular entry.  In turn, each spoken-word segues’ into a song with a similar theme, and all are pure joys.  We enjoyed a story of self-reliance Al tells by using Rube Waddell as the example.  Rube pitched in the bigs around the turn of the 20TH Century, for the Pirates, St. Louis Browns, and Philadelphia Athletics, among others, in a career that ended in 1910.  “Lefty’s Nine Lessons” recounts the day Rube pitched after a long night of carousing, walking the bases loaded before calmly striking out the side after a visit from “the Skipper.”  “Learn To Draw” speaks on “pictographic ambiguity” and things not always being what they seem to be on the surface, and “First One To Go” expounds upon this theme as a long-term love affair hits the skids.

This album was a labor of love for Al Basile, carefully crafting a poem to introduce a song, and the Duke and the other sidemen brought ’em all to life.  “Me And The Originator” will appeal to both Al’s poetic and musical camps, and is truly the most unique set of his illustrious career!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Buddy Guy review…June 25, 2018…

BUDDY GUY

THE BLUES IS ALIVE AND WELL

SILVERTONE/RCA RECORDS  19075-81247-2

A FEW GOOD YEARS–GUILTY AS CHARGED–COGNAC (FEAT.  JEFF BECK AND KEITH RICHARDS)–THE BLUES IS ALIVE AND WELL–BAD DAY–BLUE NO MORE (FEAT. JAMES BAY)–WHISKEY FOR SALE–YOU DID THE CRIME (FEAT. MICK JAGGER)–OLD FASHIONED–WHEN MY DAY COMES–NINE BELOW ZERO–OOH DADDY–SOMEBODY UP THERE–END OF THE LINE–MILKING MOTHER FOR YA

Buddy Guy is one of the last links to the Great Migration period of the post-WWII-era, when black musicians moved from the Deep South to the north, in search of employment not affiliated with a cotton field, at the same time adding to a legacy of some of the finest blues ever played.  Buddy’s 81 now, but he shows absolutely no signs of slowing down, especially with the release of his latest album, “The Blues Is Alive And Well,” for Silvertone Records.  The set was produced, and most of the songs were written in whole or in part by Buddy’s long-time collaborator and one of our favorites, Tom Hambridge.

The set leads off with Buddy’s heartfelt plea to the Good Lord to send “A Few Good Years on down.”  He revisits that theme a little later with the bittersweet story of the legends who have preceded him in passing, now proudly proclaiming himself, “I’m The End Of The Line.”  And, for anyone who thinks his guitar skills have eroded over time, give a listen to the scorching licks passed in “Somebody Up There must like me!”

There are some mighty fine special guests on board, too.  James Bay is on the duet vocal with Kevin McKendree on the keys on the poignant tale of when our race is run, and we’ll all be “Blue No More.”  Mick Jagger joins the fun and adds harp for the slow-burnin’ story of a cheatin’ lover, “You Did The Crime, but I’m the one doin’ the time,” with Kevin on piano and Rob McNelley on slide guitar.  Our favorite employed the considerable guitar talents of Keith Richards and Jeff Beck as Buddy hypes his liquor of choice, “Cognac.”  This slow-blueser goes down as smooth as a “$200-a-bottle” taste  of Remy Martin XO, “liquid gold in every sip.”

Folks, what can we say?  Reviewing this album from a true blues legend has been, and will always be, a privilege, a pleasure, and an honor.  We shall close with this, with all due respects to Muhammad Ali.  “There’ll always be contenders, there may even be pretenders, but they all gotta kneel down and surrender, ’cause there’s only one Buddy Guy, who’s got some truths to tell–that, sho’ nuff, “The Blues Is Alive And Well.”  Buddy, we love you!  Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Tom Hambridge review…June 23, 2018…..

TOM HAMBRIDGE

THE NOLA SESSIONS

FEAT. ALLEN TOUSSAINT, IVAN NEVILLE, AND SONNY LANDRETH

SUPERSTAR FACTORY PRODUCTIONS

BLUES BEEN MIGHTY GOOD TO ME–BLUZ CRAZY–THIS END OF THE ROAD-I LOVE EVERYTHING–WHAT YOU LEAVE BEHIND–LITTLE THINGS–WHISKEY GHOST–SAVE ME–A COUPLE DROPS–MASTERPIECE–ME AND CHARLIE–TRYING TO FIND IT–FAITH

Drummer, vocalist, composer, and producer of the highest degree, Tom Hambridge, has a list of credits that, as Howlin’ Wolf would say, is “as long as my right arm,: or perhaps even a bit longer.  A hugely-prolific writer with over 400 songs recorded by an equally-impressive number of storied artists, Tom has won two Grammys for his production skills, and has found time to release eight solo albums.  The latest is entitled “The NOLA Sessions,” for Superstar Records.

This one is Tom’s tribute to the Big Easy, its heritage and history, and he welcomes guest appearances by Allen Toussaint, Ivan Neville, and Sonny Landreth over the course of these original songs.  Opening things is probably a great autobiographical tune for Tom, the loping, “after hours” groove of “Blues Been Mighty Good To Me,” featuring piano and vocal from the iconic Allen Toussaint himself.

Tom’s characters in his songs are as colorful as the music that backs them, including “Freddie,” who was “conceived at a Foghat concert,” and “graduated Hank Williams, Jr. High,” and loves things just the way they are “down at This End Of The Road,” with slide from Sonny.  “Curtis” is a man who’ll “give you one of his,” if you don’t have a smile, is the reverential theme of “it’s not what you take with you,” but, “What You Leave Behind” that counts.  Ivan Neville is here, on the B-3.  “Whiskey Ghost,” co-written with Gary Nicholson, is another story of a man who’s always looking over his shoulder for his alcohol demons to return, seemingly always just around the corner, and, as always, “the first one’s free.”  This one had a cool, almost-reggae beat, with “backwards-ish” guitar licks from Sonny’s Slydeco guitar.

We had two favorites, too.  Tom and Sonny team up again to tell the story of Buddy Guy’s legendary bus driver, Charlie McPherson, who’s always got a “Slim Jim and a piss jar,” and “ain’t hit the brakes in three long days,” detailing life on the road with a true blues legend.  Tom closes the set with acoustic guitar from John Fohl and cello from Nathaniel Smith, where we learn that you gotta hold on to “Faith,” for “a man with faith knows the truth.”  It’s a stark, chilling tale with solid Delta overtones that belies this most intriguing, unseen force.

“The NOLA Sessions” is a strong set from start to finish, and Tom Hambridge gives an honest, soulful look at one of the world’s greatest Meccas for music!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Keeshea Pratt Band review…June 23, 2018….

KEESHEA PRATT BAND

BELIEVE

MAKE IT GOOD–HAVE A GOOD TIME Y’ALL–IN THE MOOD–IT’S TOO LATE–SHAKE OFF THESE BLUES–HOME TO MISSISSIPPI–EASILY REPLACED–MONKEY SEE, MONKEY DO–BELIEVE–OUT OF MY MIND–CAN’T STOP NOW–SO BAD BLUES (LIVE)

The Keeshea Pratt Band can bring the heat in a number of ways.  They can do Motown, blues, soul, gospel, and even some Southern rock, with the hugely-talented, big-voiced Keeshea leading the way.  That versatility is the name of their game, and it is all over their latest release, “Believe.”

She kicks off this party with a cool shot of soul as she proclaims to a lover that “I’ll do anything I can to Make It Good with you.”  She lets us know when it’s time to get down to the real thing, tho, when she gets “In The Mood to sing the blues–after all I been through, the blues is what I choose!”  The horn section gets into a Mardi Gras mood, ready to “Shake Off These Blues,” then goes on down “Home To Mississippi,” with the Delta-riffic, slide-and-harp groove of Keeshea’s autobiography.  “Monkey See, Monkey Do,” is the bumpin’-and-grindin’ tale of getting even with a cheater, where, sho’ nuff, “what goes around comes back around!”  The title cut reminds us all to “Believe in yourself,” and that message of empowerment carries on in the equally-as-powerful tale of “gettin’ knocked down, but I got back up,” “Can’t Stop Now.”

With a set this mighty, you know we had a favorite.  Keeshea sho’ nuff loves to party, and, in the true spirit of Louis Jordan’s “Let The Good Times Roll,” we give you, “I came to Have A Good Time, Y’all, so keep all the trouble away!”

The Keeshea Pratt Band had everything the judges were looking for earlier this year in Memphis at the IBC’s, walking away with the coveted First Place in the Band Category.  They’ve got it all, y’all–the vocals are lean, the arrangements and the rhythm section is mean, and we “Believe” the Keeshea Pratt Band is a stone party machine!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.