Archive for June, 2018

Cee Cee James review…June 21, 2018….

CEE CEE JAMES

STRIPPED DOWN AND SURRENDERED

FWG RECORDS  SDS 0012016

STRIPPED DOWN AND SURRENDERED–THE EDGE IS WHERE I STOPPED–HIDDEN AND BURIED–HE SHUT THE DEMON DOWN–GLORY BOUND–LOVE DONE LEFT HOME–COLD HARD GUN–THANK YOU FOR NEVER LOVING ME–BEFORE 30 SUNS–YOU’RE MY MAN–MINER MAN’S GOLD–SO GRATEFUL

Just give a good, hard listen to blues sister Cee Cee James and you’ll know by her from-the-soul vocals that her life ain’t always been rosy.  But, with the help of her husband and songwriting partner, Rob “Slideboy” Andrews, they channel her struggles into some very potent songs of passion, strength, and empowerment, and overcoming seemingly-insurmountable odds.

To say that Cee Cee has been down to the Crossroads would be an understatement, but, she’d be the first to tell you that she’s also climbed up the hill to the foot of the Cross and laid all her burdens down, right there.  You can hear her whole story in the original songs that comprise her latest album for FWG Records, “Stripped Down And Surrendered.”

Cee Cee possesses a beautiful voice, that is captivating, soulful, and, as the old folks say, “full of the spirit!”  Ol’ Slideboy’s got a guitar lick for  every song, and his sound blends itself well within the context of the material.  It all begins with the title cut, where, “after 50 years”  she’s “Stripped Down And Surrendered” her inner demons and “poor me tears” to find peace.  Along the way to and from that Crossroads, she had visits from “crows passin’ by my windows,” and “Shaman takin’ my hand” to find out what’s “Hidden And Buried underneath my ground,” with that hell-hound dobro from Slideboy.  In the end, tho, she finds redemption and restitution thru the “double-edged sword” in “He Shut The Demon Down and turned my life around,” and now she’s “cleaned the mud off my shoes” and is “Glory Bound.”

In a more somber vein, she gives a bittersweet and back-handed “Thank You For Never Loving Me,” to the father figure she never had, which, inevitably, gave her a unique insight to the blues most of never even dream of.  On a much lighter note, she shouts-out to the love of her life, the “sweet delight” of “You’re My Man.”  She closes the set over Slideboy’s guitar, being thankful for her many blessings and lessons learned, in the reverence of “So Grateful.”

Cee Cee James is thankful that her soul’s been saved, and she has a new, positive outlook on her life, love, and music.  She’s been “Stripped Down And Surrendered,” and may not know what tomorrow holds, but she sho’ niff ain’t going back to where she’s been!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

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Artur Menezes review…June 20, 2018….

ARTUR MENEZES

KEEP PUSHING

NOW’S THE TIME–KEEP PUSHING–COME WITH ME–ANY DAY, ANYTIME–SHOULD HAVE NEVER LEFT–LOVE ‘N’ ROLL–PULL IT THROUGH–GIVE MY MONEY BACK–CAN’T GET YOU OUT OF MY MIND–TIL THE DAY I DIE

Artur Menezes won the ultra-prestigious Gibson/Albert King/Best Guitarist Award during the 2018 IBC in Memphis, while finishing third in the overall Band Competition.  In his native Brazil, he was at the pinnacle of that country’s blues scene, opening for Buddy Guy’s South American tour in 2012.  Stateside, he’s opened for Bobby Rush in L. A., and is highly-respected among his fans and peers alike.  He has just released his fourth album, “Keep Pushing,” from his home base in L. A., and it burns with all the fever, fire, and fury of his live shows.

The set begins with a soul shout-out to the classics, as the horn section pushes Artur’s story of “someone guiding you to find the truth,” in the uplifting “Now’s The Time.”  The title cut rides a strong groove with piano from Carey Frank as Artur urges us to “Keep Pushing,” to “fill the hole in my soul.” If you’re looking for a little dose of funk, step on over to “Should Have Never Left,” with those icy-cold Albert Collins-inspired licks on that age-old “my baby left me, took everything I got” story.  He continues in a funky vein with “Give Me My Money Back,” where “you got everything, all I got was the blues!”  Artur even strides into a jazzy, “last call” mode, with muted trumpet and brush-stroked drums for the torchy love song, “Can’t Get You Out Of My Mind,” which climaxes in a soulful, breezy strut.

Our favorite was the slow-burn of “Any Day, Anytime,” Artur’s plea to a lover to whom he vows to return at her first calling.  This one has sweaty, B. B.-inspired licks, with Carey holding down the B-3.

It’s no wonder Artur Menezes fared so well at the IBC’s and is such a world-wide favorite.  Dazzling fretwork, showmanship, and excellent original material always works, and he’ll forever  “Keep Pushing!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Gin, Chocolate, And Bottle Rockets review, Juneteenth, 2018….

GIN, CHOCOLATE, AND BOTTLE ROCKETS

LEAN

LEAN–FLESH ON FIRE–SHINE–FLASH FLOOD–UPHILL AND INTO THE WIND–STAND CLOSE TO ME–TRUTH–SWEET DREAMS–CHOREOGRAPHED–THIS HOUSE

For Beth Kille, Shawndelle Marks, and Jen Farley, the three voices behind Gin, Chocolate, and Bottle Rockets, the sound is the thing–they looked to have a little fun in the studio, while keeping things cohesive and getting just the right harmonization on their latest release, “Lean.”  Marks and Kille had already been collaborating on a variety of projects when Farley joined them in 2013 to round out this dazzling trio.

The songs herein touch on Motown influences, as well as folk and a touch of blues, with well-placed instrumentation from Jenna Joanis on bass and drums, Dan Kennedy on guitar, and Brady Buchanan on cello.  The set begins with a song of empowerment and learning to “Lean” into life’s difficult times, fueled by Shawndelle’s piano and Beth’s acoustic leads.  Giving in to one’s vices and temptations and the subsequent consequences involved, is the theme of the pounding, lusty, “Flesh On Fire,” while the set’s most blues-oriented cut again deals with feelings of unbridled passion for a lover, that “comes over me like a Flash Flood.”  The set closes on a breezy, uplifting note with the story of a young family in the beginning stages of a relationship that is built, not of “fancy things,” but, “we’ll fill This House with memories!”  It’s given a nice touch of spice by Wilson-Philips-ish harmonies and accordion from Shawndelle.

We had two favorites, too.  Piano and acoustic guitar set the tone for an excellent read of “Sweet Dreams are made of this,” while the set’s most powerful cut deals with coping with depression throughout one’s life, and, rising like the Phoenix out of the ashes,  letting one’s “shadow Shine!”

Aside from being a brilliant vocal trio, the women of Gin, Chocolate, And Bottle Rockets show a philanthropical, giving-back side of themselves thru their work with the Be Your Own Super Hero motivational presentations, using the power of music to promote positivity.  The material included in “Lean” brings it all full-circle!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

Stone Stanley review…June 17, 2018….

STONE STANLEY

THE MUDSTOMP TAPES

BITTER END–DROP IT–SO GLAD–BEAST INSIDE–COBBLE HILL–IROQUOIS CHANT–BE WITH ME–UNFAITHFUL WOMAN–FREEDOM CHANT–MY SHAME–SOULSHINE–BOTTLED

Stone Stanley consists of Jason Trombley on vocals, guitar, and percussion, Scott Longnecker on bass, Ralph Gilbert on guitar, Jim McComas for one cut on guitar, and Dan Stevens on percussion.  For their latest, “The Mudstomp Tapes,” recorded at the Cobble Hill and Pepper Ranch Studios, is a unique exercise into the world of music most closely-associated with the South.  It is part deep Delta blues, mixed with the droning stomp of the Mississippi Hill Country, with a side order of Warren Haynes and the ABB tossed into the mix.

There are several looks at love, both good and not-so-good represented herein.  That Hill Country boogie drives the opening charge of “Be With Me,” as our hero proclaims his love, with one caveat–“don’t ever think you own me–I’ll never follow you.”  A Crossroads-ish solo at the bridge gets this one’s point across, too, before it segues’ neatly into ol’ Son House’s “don’t you mind People Grinnin’ In Your Face,” before coming back around for the climax.  “Beast Inside” is a powerful cut dealing with addictions and the subsequent consequences, with a force as chilling as “Charlie Manson’s eyes.”  As the set winds down, we are offered a ray of hope for the future in a somber, reverent read of Warren Haynes’ “Soulshine,” and the set climaxes with one of Jason’s more unique offerings.  The acoustic “Bottled” takes a nostalgic look at the happier times of childhood and the halcyon times of the mid-80’s and “Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, or Dr. J,” and, even “Bo Jackson and Clubber Lang,” as Jason raises a glass to those days gone by.

Stone Stanley offers up a set of honest, hard-hittin roots-blues that pays tribute to the sounds of the South and the unsung heroes who created it.  Kick back, pour a cold one, and enjoy “The Mudstomp Tapes!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Billy Price review…June 16, 2018…

BILLY PRICE

RECKONING

VIZZTONE RECORDS  VT-BP-03

39 STEPS–DREAMER–RECKONING–NO TIME–I LOVE YOU MORE THAN WORDS CAN SAY–I KEEP HOLDING ON–ONE AND ONE–GET YOUR LIE STRAIGHT–NEVER BE FOOLED AGAIN–EXPERT WITNESS–LOVE BALLAD–SYNTHETIC WORLD–YOUR LOVE STAYS WITH ME

East coast soul stalwart Billy Price has been carryin’ this bidness on since the 1970’s.  In 2016, he won a Blues Music Award for Best Soul-Blues Album with “This Time For Real,” a brilliant collaboration with Otis Clay.  His latest, and sixteenth overall, is entitled “Reckoning,” for the Vizztone Label.  Joining Billy for this fine set of soul-flavored blues is a stellar cast including Alex Pettersen on drums, Jim Pugh on keys, Jerry Jemmott on bass, and uber-producer Kid Andersen (at Kid’s Greaseland Studios in San Jose, CA), on guitar.

The thirteen cuts include some penned by Billy, Jim Britton, and Fred Chapellier, alongside several classic covers.  All these cuts give Billy a leg up in telling us fans all about the game of love and how it’s played, both good and bad.  Gettin’ out while the gettin’s good in a bad relationship is the theme of the set opener, where our hero only needed “39 Steps to my freedom!”  Billy’s a man who’s been done wrong more than once, and has become an “Expert Witness” when it comes to spotting a cheater!  This one has a strong, gospel-ly, testifyin’ vibe, and features Nancy Wright on the tenor sax solo.  Another cheatin’ song has a stone Stax or Hi vibe, with Kid’s greasy guitar setting the tone, as Billy tells this lover, “if you’re gonna tell a lie, might as well make it good,” on “Get Your Lie Straight.”  Billy gets his love groove on, too, with the smoky-sweaty Booker T. Jones/Eddie Floyd chestnut, “I Love You More Than Words Can Say,” and keeps that good-lovin’ stroke goin’ with one of our all-time favorites, a classic from our youth, (hey–we fell in love to this one back in the day!), “Love Ballad,” originally performed by the group LTD, and presented here from Billy with all the passion and soul of the original.

Our other favorite was the title cut.  It opens with a hellfire-and-brimstone preachin’ intro from Marcel Smith, as Billy testifies over the horn section and Kid’s shimmering guitar to society as a whole, warning that someday soon, “there’s gonna be a Reckoning.”

Billy Price continues his legacy as one of the most dynamic artists in the soul-blues camp of contemporary blues.  “Reckoning” finds him at the top of his game, with a sho’ nuff hi-octane set!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Delmark 65 review…June 15, 2018….

VARIOUS ARTISTS

TRIBUTE: A CELEBRATION OF DELMARK’S 65TH ANNIVERSARY

DELMARK RECORDS  DE 856

TRAIN I RIDE-OMAR COLEMAN  ONE DAY YOU’RE GONNA GET LUCKY-LURRIE BELL AND THE BELL DYNASTY  ALL FOR BUSINESS–LINSEY ALEXANDER AND BILLY FLYNN  RIVERBOAT–DEMETRIA TAYLOR  SHE LEFT ME A MULE TO RIDE–JIMMY BURNS  SPEAK MY MIND–LI’L ED WILLIAMS AND DAVE WELD  OUT OF BAD LUCK–JIMMY JOHNSON AND DAVE SPECTER  BROKE AND HUNGRY–COREY DENNISON AND GERRY HUNDT  SO MANY ROADS–MIKE WHEELER  NEED YOUR LOVE SO BAD–SHIRLEY JOHNSON  BOOT THAT THING–KEN SAYDAK

This year, Bob Koester’s Delmark Records turns 65 years old!  Over that span, Bob has presented fans with some of the finest blues performances ever committed to wax.  Over such a storied career, it stands to reason that many of today’s contemporary artists got their careers started either listening to or playing on many of these classic sets.  With that in mind, “Tribute: A Celebration Of Delmark’s 65TH Anniversary,” gathers together a collection of artists who desired to pay a debt of gratitude not only to Bob Koester, but also the artists who came into greatness thru his label.

Believe us, folks, every cut here is a winner, and all the players are in some way tied into the history of Delmark.  Leading off is harmonica ace Omar Coleman with his tribute to Junior Wells, the freight-train funk of “Train I Ride,” with cool tenor sax from Hank Ford.  Country-blues is well-represented, also, from Jimmy Burns with “She Left Me A Mule To Ride,” and a bit later with the “Tennessee Connection” of Corey Dennison and Gerry Hundt (on mandolin) to Sleepy John Estes with “Broke And Hungry.”  Women of Chicago blues strut their considerable stuff, too.  Demetria Taylor’s tribute to Big Time Sarah and “Riverboat,” and Shirley Johnson’s ode to Bonnie Lee, “Need Your Love So Bad,” indicates just how rich this label’s heritage was for both male and female artists.

Lurrie Bell and the Bell Dynasty rock one of their dad Carey’s best-known cuts, “One Day You’re Gonna Get Lucky,” with Steve Bell on the harp.  And, Li’l Ed Williams and Dave Weld get the juke joint jumpin’ with a tribute to Ed’s uncle, J. B. Hutto, with the raucous “Speak My Mind.”  If we had to name one favorite, it would be the set-closer.  Ken Saydak, long one of our favorite piano men, rocks the boogie with just his vocal and piano on the good-time, sly and sexy, “Boot That Thing!”

Delmark Records was where we bought our first blues album, the venerable Delmark 612, Junior Wells’ “Hoodoo Man Blues,” back in 1978, the year we were married.  Yeah, we still got it, and we’ve been privileged to review many of these fantastic artists and their music.  The players on “Tribiute:  A Celebration Of Delmark’s 65TH Anniversary” show their deep appreciation to one of this country’s finest entrepreneurs and his iconic label!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Tomislav Goluban review…June 14, 2018….

TOMISLAV GOLUBAN

FEAT. TONI STARESINIC

VELVET SPACE LOVE

SPONA CD 201

DEEP SPACE ZONE: ZERO GRAVITY–SPACE DRIVE–MY JUPITER MISTRESS–HYPERSLEEP DREAM

STILL DREAMING: 10_9_3–THE BUSIEST WOMAN I’VE EVER LOVED–TSMK–THE END OF SPACE AND TIME

REMIXED ZONE: ZERO GRAVITY REMIX–SPACE DRIVE REMIX–TSMK REMIX–

TRIBUTE ZONE: MAN WITH A HARMONICA

Tomislav Goluban is a brilliant harmonica player and composer from Croatia.  He’s played in twenty different European countries as well as in the USA.  Toni Staresinic is also from Croatia, and his skill-set lies in anything with a keyboard.  Also a dynamic composer and arranger, he has a flair for experimentation and improv, and uses electronic music mixed with elements of rock, funk, and jazz to create his own one-of-a-kind sound.  Both of these esteemed players front their own blues bands in their homeland, and both journeyed to the Tonic Electronic Studio and the Kasandra Studio in Croatia joining forces to create a  “harmonica meets keyboards” summit, if you will, entitled “Velvet Space Love.”

This set is exactly that–Tomislav’s energized harp peacefully coexists with the sparkling keyboard stylings and electronic techniques applied by Toni to create a trippy excursion into the boundless deep space of the listener’s mind.  Evidence the opening “Zero Gravity,” which rides Tomislav’s harp lines over, under, around, and through the spacey electronica.  Hypersleep Dream” leans toward a more traditional setting, with the harp and subsequent synthesizers giving way to the set’s sole vocal, a wordless, operatic soprano conclusion from Josipa Loncar.  “Till The End Of Space And Time” uses a “popcorn-ish” synth line running thru it, mixed with both traditional harp and a Jew’s Harp in the background.

Remixed versions of “Zero Gravity,” “Space Drive,” and “TSMK” delve deeper into Toni’s specialty of electronica and tripped-out beats, and the set closes with its only cover–Ennio Morricone’s “Man With A Harmonica,” which features Tomislav blowing over  that classic “Spaghetti Western” motif.

Our favorite was vastly different from all the other cuts.  This one featured a horn section and everybody riffing over a jazzed-up, bluesy instrumental with Mike Sponza on guitar, “The Busiest Woman I Ever Loved.”

Imagine if Ennio Morricone had scored all the music for the “Star Wars” franchise instead of John Williams, and you’ll get a close idea of where Tomislav and Toni are going with “Velvet Space Love,”  But, a great man once said it best–“You are about to enter another dimension, a journey into a wondrous land of imagination…”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.