Archive for July, 2018

The Proven Ones review…July 20, 2018….

THE PROVEN ONES

WILD AGAIN

ROSELEAF RECORDS

CHEAP THRILLS–CITY DUMP–DON’T LEAVE ME THIS WAY–IF YOU BE MY BABY–WHY BABY WHY–ROAD OF LOVE–RIGHT TRACK NOW–WILD AGAIN–LOAN ME A DIME–DON’T LET ME DOWN/PROVEN FUGUE IN E MAJOR

The gentlemen who comprise The Proven Ones are a literal “Who’s who” in contemporary blues.  They have a collective multitude of awards and nominations for awards, and they have jointly pooled their considerable talents on the rowdy, raucous, and ram-bunk-shush rockin’ blues of “Wild Again,” for Roseleaf Records.  The band is Willie J. Campbell on bass, Boston powerhouse Brian Templeton on vocals, fellow New Englander Anthony Geraci on keys, (who has a Grammy nomination!), Jimi Bott on drums, and one of our all-time favorite guitarists, David “Kid” Ramos.

This set is a cool mix of originals and covers, and blasts off with one of our set favorites.  “Cheap Thrills” is a Jimi Bott original, that we first heard several years ago with Kim Wilson on the vocal.  Here, Brian and the fellows bring to life the story of our hero who, when it’s all said and done, “you can color me gone!”  Every town’s got a “City Dump,” where everyone goes to have fun, and this one is full of horn-driven, West Coast jump blues, while “If You Be My Baby” is a fine slow blues done with Kid channeling his inner B. B. King on the guitar licks.

The fellows get into a sweet soul music groove with Brian’s vocal and the horns driving Clarence Carter’s “Road Of Love,” with Kid all over the slide guitar.  That soul vibe keeps runnin’ thru the grooves of another original, this one written by Jimi, Kid, and Kim Wilson, on the tale of a rocky love affair that’s “on the Right Track Now.”  Anthony is on the plaintive B-3 and Kid digs way down deep into his bluesman’s soul for the guitar lines that fuel Brian’s vocals on Fenton Robinson’s iconic “Somebody Loan Me A Dime,” nearly twelve minutes of pure slow-blues ecstasy.  The set closes with our other favorite, a joyful, majestic, sweeping read of John and Paul’s “Don’t Let Me Down.”

The Proven Ones have shown what they can do as individuals throughout their illustrious careers.  However, as a team, they catapult contemporary blues to a whole ‘nother level, runnin’ “Wild Again.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Mark Wenner’s Blues Warriors review…July 19, 2018…

MARK WENNER’S BLUES WARRIORS

ELLERSOUL RECORDS  ELL 1807

DIAMONDS AT YOUR FEET–LET ME BE YOUR TEDDY BEAR–ROCK A WHILE–CHECKIN’ UP ON MY BABY–JUST TO BE WITH YOU–KING BEE–IT’S MY OWN FAULT–HELLO JOSEPHINE–TRUST MY BABY–THE HUCKLEBUCK–JUST LIKE JOHNNY–DUST MY BROOM

Blues fans will recognize the name Mark Wenner as the founding member of The Nighthawks.  His harp and vocals have stood the test of time over a career that is still going strong after 40+ years.  His “Blues Warriors” is a side project, featuring some of the finest sidemen in the D. C. area, and, together, they wail thru eleven covers and one original, all done up in classic Mark Wenner style.  He shares the vocal duties with Clarence Turner, who’s also on guitar, and Mark Stutso, on drums.  The band is rounded out by Zach Sweeney on guitar, and Steve Wolf on bass.

The party kicks off with “she got to take sick and die one of these days,” the swingin’ opening lyric to one of Muddy’s gems, “Diamonds At Your Feet.”  Mark is on vocal for one of the most unique arrangements of Presley’s “Teddy Bear” you’re likely to hear, this one done up in a walking-beat, Jimmy Reed-ish groove.  Speaking of Mr. Reed, Mark pays tribute to his first harp hero thru an instrumental, done up “Just Like Jimmy” woulda done, back in the day!  Mark is also a big fan of Slim Harpo, and the fellows dig down deep into that swampy, echo-fied groove of “I’m A King Bee, Baby,” while Mark Stutso on vocals offers up a sweet homage to Big Joe Turner’s Atlantic days with the rare “Rock A While.”

Speaking of Mark, he gave us one of our favorites.  It’s a smokin’ “3 AM last-call” killer take of B. B.’s “It’s My Own Fault, baby, treat me the way you want to do!”  Our other favorite closed the set.  Yep, it’s “Dust My Broom,” sung here by Clarence, and is heavy on Mark’s harp, and a fine, rockin’ good way to close this set!

Fans, Mark Wenner and the guys who make up “The Blues Warriors” have been playing this music and playing it well for decades.  Give this one a spin–it’s a “Wenner,” all-around!  Until next time, Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

The Bennett Brothers review…July 18, 2018…

THE BENNETT BROTHERS

NOT MADE FOR HIRE

AMERICAN SHOWPLACE MUSIC

JUNKYARD DOG–HOLD ON TIGHT–I JUST DON’T WANT THE BLUES TODAY–BLUES #9–WHAT’D I DO–ROCKING CHAIR–HOW LONG–THE ONLY WAY TO BE–WALK WITH THE DEVIL–NOT MADE FOR HIRE–I GOT A WOMAN

In the early days of their career, the Bennett Brothers–Jimmy on guitar and vocals, and Peter on bass and vocals–were frequent invitees to Levon Helm’s storied “Midnight Rambles” in his upstate New York home in Woodstock.  Later, they formed the band that would back Alexis P. Suter on more than one hundred of these “Rambles,” and they have just released their debut album, “Not Made For Hire,” for American Showplace Music.  Joining them on this mighty sweet ride, we have Lee Falco on drums, and the incomparable John Ginty on keys.  All eleven cuts are originals, and you can hear a myriad of influences within these grooves, including Southern rock mixed with a little Santana, and some good ole juke-joint stompers.

This party starts with the in-your-face snarl of Jimmy’s guitar, as his lover “treats me like a Junkyard Dog.”  Linda Pino is on the haunting backing vocals  as our hero is down to “nothin’ left in my heart for you to take,” the plaintive, slow-burn of “I Just Don’t Want The Blues Today.”  “Blues #9” is one of those cool, you-can’t-sit-down instrumentals with plenty of B-3 from Mr. Ginty.  That Latin influence surfaces in “The Only Way To Be,” as our hero sees the handwritin’ on the wall, asking his soon-to-be-ex, “how long till the end?”  They close the set with “I Got A Woman,” another cool song about questionable choices in females, but this one bristles with a jam-ish flair, with everyone getting in some tasty licks, and John is in impeccable Gregg Allman-esque form.

Our favorite was perhaps the most unique of all the cuts.  After an extended intro that sounds as if Elmore rode in a pickup truck with ZZ Top down to the Crossroads to drink some ‘shine with that dude that hangs around down there.  That gives way to Ginty’s mighty left-hand boogie over wailin’ slide and the vocal shout-out to “get me a Rockin’ Chair and rock ’till the end of the end of time!”

The Bennett Brothers cut their musical teeth on stage with one of history’s greatest drummers, and those “Rambles” featured music of all kinds.  They are sho’ nuff “Not Made For Hire,” and this set is contemporary blues-rock at its fiery best!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Blue And Lonesome Duo review…July 17, 2018….

BLUE AND LONESOME DUO

LI’L RONNIE AND GORDON HARROWER

PACING THE FLOOR

ELLERSOUL RECORDS  ELL 1804

DROP DOWN MAMA–WINE HEADED WOMAN–MEAN RED SPIDER–ACT LIKE YOU LOVE ME–CARELESS LOVE–TOO FAST FOR CONDITIONS–NEEDED TIME–PACING THE FLOOR–TRY ME–COUNTRY BOY–OUT ON THE ROAD–CAN’T BUY MY LOVE–RAINING IN MY HEART–MORE THAN EYE CANDY

In the tradition of great duos in the history of the blues such as Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, and John Cephas and Phil Wiggins,  Ellersoul Records proudly presents the Blue And Lonesome Duo, featuring Li’l Ronnie (Owens) on vocals, harp, and foot drums, and Gordon Harrower on guitar and vocals, They have just released “Pacing The Floor,” five cool originals and nine covers that git down’n’ dirty, just like they’d do if they came and played on our front porch.  Both players are seasoned vets of Li’l Ronnie And The Grand Dukes, and Gordon is also part of a band known as Rattlesnake Shake.

These cuts have a sweet, Delta-fied vibe, and the fellows make sure to have a boatload of fun along the way.    We’re off and running with the Hooker-styled, slow-groove of “Drop Down Mama, let yo’ daddy see,” with Gordon on the vocal and Ronnie on the harp.  They put on their rockin’ shoes with Jimmy Rogers’ “Act Like You Love Me,” and again a bit later on a band original, this one with Ronnie on vocal and call-and-response harp, lamenting the fact that “it’s 4 AM and I’m sittin’ here waitin’ on you,” literally “Pacing The Floor.”  This one was one of our favorites.

The fellows laid into some mighty fine slow-blues, too, including the traditional “Careless Love,” Slim Harpo’s “Raining In My Heart,” and, perhaps the most unique, Gordon’s plaintive take on James Brown’s iconic “Try Me.”  The set closes with a cut that really captures the spirit of what the fellows were trying to accomplish, with Ronnie rockin’ out over a swampy groove on the story of a man who, now that he’s got a little gray goin’ on, wants to be remembered for “the man inside,” and who is considerably “More Than Eye Candy.”

Our other favorite took us way down South on any given Sunday morning.  Gordon is on vocal on the quietly-reverential song written by Lightnin’ Hopkins that we first learned as “Jesus, Won’t You Come By Here,” presented as “now is The Needed Time.”

Li’l Ronnie and Gordon Harrower are true statesmen of the blues, who take it back to its very essence in the duos format of “Pacing The Floor!”  This one sho’ nuff is a welcomed treat, and gets two big thumbs up!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Big Joe Shelton review…July 15, 2018….

BIG JOE SHELTON

AND THE BLACK PRAIRIE BLUES AMBASSADORS

RIDIN’ A CHICKEN

ALT 45 RECORDS

PUT THE CHAIRS IN THE WAGON–RIDIN’ A CHICKEN–GOT SO HOT–DONE GOT TIRED–JUST LET ME BLEED–INHALE BLESSINGS–NO MAN’S LAND–POOL HALL RED–LORRAINE–TOO WET TO PLOW–TIME TO GO HOME–MY FUTURE LIES BEHIND ME NOW

Big Joe Shelton was born in the Black Prairie Region of northeast Mississippi.  This is the same fertile ground that also served as home to Big Joe Williams, Bukka White, and Chester Arthur Burnett, ol’ Howlin’ Wolf himself.  As a result, Big Joe was always exposed to the blues, and he forged a friendship with Joe Williams that shaped his musical career.  His latest release, for ALT 45 Records,  is entitled “Ridin’ A Chicken.”  It was laid down in January of 2017, with twelve originals that also feature one of the coolest names for a backing band you’ll ever hear, The Black Prairie Blues Ambassadors.  They are:  Ben Ferrell on guitar, Ed Swan on bass, Bob Damm on percussion, Bobby Shannon on keys, Doug Thomas on sax, and Susan Alcorn Lobato on the pedal steel.

The fun starts as our hero finds that, after two years busking in Memphis, “the money I make don’t go very far,” and “nobody knows my name,” so it’s time to “Put The Chairs In The Wagon, it’s time to go home!”  This one has some biting guitar licks from Ben that further fuel our hero’s angst.  Amazingly, near the end of the set, Joe and the fellows turn this same tune inside-out, and into a cool shot of “reggae, mon,” to tell that same story, this time with a much lighter groove, but it’s still “Time To Go Home!”  This version was one of our favorites.   Ben gives the wah-wah pedal a workout on the title cut, the story of a woman so skinny, “is that her legs, or is she Ridin’ A Chicken?”  Joe’s on the harp of the likely-true story  of a character from his youth who taught him his appreciation for the blues, the soulful, slow-groove of “Pool Hall Red.”

Our other favorite closed the set.  Fans, you gotta give this one a close listen, for if it doesn’t apply to you now, Lord willin’ it will down the road.  It is both poignant and on-point, for, when our race is nearly run, “My Future Lies Behind Me Now.”  It is accentuated by sweet pedal steel from Susan Alcorn Lobato.

Folks, Big Joe Shelton has trod some mighty sacred ground in the blues world, given where he was raised.  He effectively carries on the traditions of the Mississippi legends, and he and the Black Prairie Blues Ambassadors, with “Ridin’ A Chicken,” offer up something for everyone!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Kat Riggins review….July 14, 2018…..

KAT RIGGINS

IN THE BOYS CLUB

BLUZPIK MEDIA GROUP

TRY TRY AGAIN–TROUBLES AWAY–HEAR ME–SECOND TO NONE–TIGHTROPE–KITTY WON’T SCRATCH–CHEAT OR LOSE–JOHNNIE WALKER–DON’T THROW ME WAY–FISTFUL O’ WATER–LIVE ON–A GIRL IN THE BOYS CLUB

Blues shouter Kat Riggins has busted thru the door and is now firmly-ensconced “In The Boys Club,” with her new album of the same name.  If it sho’ nuff is “a man’s world,” Kat is here to tell everybody she’s in this thing for the long haul, as evidenced by her twelve originals, all arranged by Kat and her most excellent band.  Backing down to no one on this fiery and passionate set, Kat leads off with the primal, percussive pounding of “Try Try Again,” sage advice passed down to her by her ancestors, to always strive for your dreams, no matter how big.  It’s Josh Rowland all over that slide solo at the break.  Josh’s single-note leads permeate the Delta-fied “Troubles Away,” where Kat tries drinking, crying, and running from her problems, before realizing it’s time to pray them away! She offers up praise to our Lord and Savior with “Live On,” where “I thank the Lord I am still alive,” as “Lord. you let me live on!”  “Second To None” is a breezy ode to that one true love, while, at the opposite end of the spectrum, is the downright-evil, impossible-to-please lover that has our heroine “tip-toeing on eggshells” and, even worse, “walking a Tightrope!”  She closes the set with the scratchy funk of the title cut, and a shout-out to any naysayers, “A Girl In The Boys Club!

We had two favorites, too.  Feeling particularly low, Kat gets plenty of help from a “real smooth talker,” none other than ol’ “Johnnie Walker.”  And, a really playful duet features a man who sho’ nuff gets around, Albert Castiglia, on vocals and guitar.  Our two lovers stand their own ground, and as long as “the dog don’t bark,  The Kitty Won’t Scratch!”

She may be small in stature, but Kat Riggins is no damsel-in-distress.  Nope–she’s tough as nails, and rocks the house down as the new girl ” In The Boys Club!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Cyril Neville review…July 13, 2018…

CYRIL NEVILLE

ENDANGERED SPECIES

THE ESSENTIAL RECORDINGS

WORLD ORDER ENTERTAINMENT/LOUISIANA RED HOT RECORDS

LOVE HAS GOT TO WIN–AYITI–SECOND LINE SOCA–NEW ORLEANS COOKIN–FUNKALISCIOUS–CALLING ALL SOULS–MORE PROFESSOR LONGHAIR–RUNNING WITH THE SECOND LINE–LIFT EVERY VOICE AND SING–THE ROAD TO UNITY–CAN’T STOP A DREAMER

The youngest member in the first family of New Orleans music royalty is Cyril Neville.  After some fifty years of recording and performing, Cyril now owns all his music outright, and is the first artist to appear on the World Order Entertainment label, started by his son, Omari Neville.  Fans will be delighted to hear of the release of both “The Complete Recordings,” a five-CD box set of his entire Endangered Species offerings, as well as the abbreviated version, to be reviewed herein, “The Essential Recordings,” eleven cuts that capture the spirit and offer a unique glimpse of the man who is part of a city and its world-wide heritage created thru his music.

Highlights abound, even on this “short version.” Of note is the “Second Line Soca,” recalling the history of that fabled term, coming from, literally, the “second line” of mourners at any New Orleans funeral, those who feel the drums and respond to the music.  This one is lively, steppin’ high with strong percussion.  The horn-fueled “Funkaliscious” is a way of life, reminding us that “telling the truth will set you free,” with a furious rap chorus at the bridge.  “Running With The Second Line” follows a similar theme, this one with tuba-as-bass thumping the good times with the Uptown Rulers.  Cyril also pays a sweet tribute to one of the most influential artists in all of New Orleans’ rich history.  Yep–“More Professor Longhair” preaches the gospel of just how much Henry Roeland Byrd and his “gumbo sound” meant to that town!

The “good times” tunes are excellent, but we were most closely drawn to Cyril’s “message” songs.  Gaynielle Neville, Diane Wilson, and Yadonna Wise add their considerable vocal talents to “Lift Every Voice And Sing,” interspersed with sound bytes from the Rev. Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, which also reappears in the set-closing, “Can’t Stop A Dreamer,” for, “if a dreamer dies, another rises up to keep the dream alive!”  And, we all know “we got to turn this thing around,” for, “Love Has Got To Win.”

Fans, this is one of the most important reissues in recent history.  No, there aren’t a ton of Top Ten hits, but the music of Cyril Neville is captivating, moving, and relevant to not only the history of  New Orleans, but to popular music as a whole.  Eh, la bas!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.