Archive for August, 2018

Dennis Jones Band review…August 13, 2018….

DENNIS JONES BAND

WE3—LIVE!

BLUE ROCK RECORDS

BLUE OVER YOU–WHEN I DIE–PASSION FOR THE BLUES–STRAY BULLET–HOT SAUCE–DON’T WORRY ABOUT ME–SUPER DELUXE–ENJOY THE RIDE–YOU DON’T KNOW A THING ABOUT LOVE–KILL THE PAIN–BIG BLACK CAT–DEVIL’S NIGHTMARE–I’M GOOD–BORN UNDER A BAD SIGN

We remember Dennis Jones from the IBC’s back in 2004, as the guitarist for the eventual winners that year, the Zac Harmon Band.  As one of my old friends used to say, “He was a BAD MAN back then, and he is a BAD MAN today, having only gotten better with time.  His solo career has seen the release of five prior albums and a DVD, and he and his power trio of Sam Correa on bass and Raymond Johnson on drums have just released their latest, WE3—Live!,” from a blistering live set laid down at the Beaver Creek Brewery in  Wibaux, MT.

The band has always been L. A.-based, but, thus far in 2018, these guys have logged more than 12000 miles, and that doesn’t even include a European leg of four countries!  Dennis’ fans know what to expect, and DJ gives ’em a heavy dose of blues-rock all thru this red-hot live offering.  All our favorites from his previous albums are peppered throughout, beginning with his ode to that lover and her “story that never seems to end,” “Blue Over You.”  More bad-news lovers are the theme of “Stray Bullet,” the Robert Cray-ish story of she with “the face of an angel and a soul straight from Hell.”  He gets in a playful mode with the rockabilly-country-blues of the mystical powers of “Hot Sauce” on everything!  They pull out the old bump-and-grind for a deft slow jam tale of a lover who’s plainly addicted to “cocaine in your coffee and whiskey in your tea,” but, “still can’t Kill The Pain.”

We had two favorites, too.  By listening to Dennis, it’s obvious he’s doing what he was born to do.  On “Passion For The Blues,” he echoes the sentiments of all the greats who have come and gone to spread the gospel of the blues.  And, he closes the set with the encore, seven minutes of pure bliss that is his take of “Born Under A Bad Sign.” Dennis leaves nothing on the table nor anything to the imagination as he infuses this legendary cut with nods not only to Albert, but to Hendrix, SRV, and just about anyone else you can think of.

It’s easy to forget that there are only three guys on stage for this set, because they create such a wall of sound throughout “WE3—Live!”  Dennis, we love you!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Billy Hector review…August 11, 2018….

BILLY HECTOR

SOME DAY BABY

GHETTO SURF MUSIC   GSM 026

WIZARD OF BABYLON–SOMEDAY BABY–BUTT NAKED AND FUNK–HIT THE ROAD–BUSY MAN–MOONLIGHT IN HER EYES–BAREBACK–JOLENE–ALABAMA BOUND–ON YOUR BOND–WHISKEY–CREEPER–ROAD TO HAPPINESS

Billy Hector is a blues guitarist of the highest order.  A long-time stalwart on the Asbury Park/Jersey Shore scene, many scribes have referred to him as a “New Jersey state treasure,” and rightfully so.  Add in his powerfully-soulful vocals, and Billy’s the whole package.  With a career spanning over three decades, he’s won the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Jersey Shore Jazz And Blues Foundation, and his latest album, “Some Day Baby,” finds this outstanding man of the blues at the absolute top of his game.

He starts things off with the horn-soaked, funky tale of con men in general, and that “Wizard Of Babylon,” in specific, a true “joker who never done a damn thing right!” Wah-wah’s the word on the scalding blues-rock of the title cut, where our hero vows, “Some Day Baby, I ain’t gonna mop no dirty floor.”  “Jolene” is a pure dance floor burner, as Billy wonders aloud, “where you get your whiskey from,” and “why you won’t give me none!”  Dennis Gruenling is the guest harpoon man on the traditional blues of “Alabama Bound,” with Billy lettin’ his slide run wild, as he does on another fine old-time blues cut, “you’re gonna need somebody On Your Bond.”  And, John Ginty is on the B-3 that defines the slinky groove of the story of a no-good woman who’s a real midnight “Creeper.”

We had two favorites, too.  If you want to dance your blues away, there’s no better way to do it than just get “Butt Naked And Funk!”  And, the set closes with a fine duet featuring Suzan Lastovica.  The cut is synonymous with that whole breezy, endless-summer vibe the Jersey Shore is noted for, and it takes us on “The Road To Happiness–it’s right outside my door!”

Billy Hector sums up life in general at the end of the final cut on “Some Day Baby,”—“Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff!”  His reputation as one of the most unique and revered bluesmen on the planet is further embellished by this killer set!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Brooks Williams review..August 10, 2018….

BROOKS WILLIAMS

LUCKY STAR

RED GUITAR BLUE MUSIC  RGBM 1801

BRIGHT SIDE OF THE BLUES–ALWAYS THE SAME–SOMETHING YOU GOT–MAMA’S SONG–GAMBLING MAN–AFTER YOU’VE GONE–HERE COMES THE BLUES–NO EASY WAY BACK–ROCK ME–JUMP THAT TRAIN–WHATEVER IT TAKES–GOING TO NEW ORLEANS–BONUS TRACKS–ROCK ME–GAMBLING MAN, BOTH FEATURING HANS THEESINK

Brooks Williams hails from Statesboro, GA, the town made famous by Blind Willie McTell and, later on, by the Allman Brothers.  A ferocious finger-picker and slide master, he mixes his own compositions and some well-chosen covers for his latest release, “Lucky Star.”

Nothin’ beats a good bluesman telling a good story, and this album is full of ’em.  Brooks is on guitar and vocals throughout, and opens the set with a look at a man tired of playing “the blame game” in a love affair, and walks away, over to the “Bright Side Of The Blues.”  Chris Kenner’s New Orleans nugget, “Something You Got,” has that good-times Sixties’ feel, in the spirit in which it was written.  He takes us down to those mythical, mystical Crossroads, where “that midnight deal is made,” in “Here Comes The Blues,” and revisits that vintage rock and roll feeling on the ballad of a scorned lover  willing to do “Whatever It Takes to make things right.”

Brooks has a lot of ol’ Willie in his DNA, too.  “It’s a curse to love a Gamblin’ Man” details the pitfalls of emotional attachment to those dyin’ crapshooters, and Brooks re-imagines a tune from Sister Rosetta Tharpe, giving a fine, gospel-fired, country-blues read of “Rock Me in the cradle of your love,” with harp from Paul Jones. These same two songs close the set as its Bonus Tracks, but both of these feature the iconic Hans Theesink on duet vocals.  Both are well-crafted in their original arrangements, but the addition of Hans’ deep baritone brogue mixed with Brooks’ spirited vocals makes for a brilliant pair of duets with which to close the proceedings.

With “Lucky Star,” Brooks Williams showcases his recent forays into a bluesier sound with a most excellent set of songs that blend country blues and traditional folk sounds.  Hey y’all—Brooks Williams rides again!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Benjamin Jason Douglas review…August 9, 2018….

BENJAMIN JASON DOUGLAS

FIRST WORLD BLUES

FLOUR SACK CAPE RECORDS

TENT POLE–BEAT BLACK AND BLUE COLLAR BLUES–WALKING DOWN THE GRAIN–RAGGEDY ANDY WILLIAMS–DOC RED BLUES–DIGGING A STIGMATA–FUNNY FEELING–TCHOUPITOULAS–STREET PREACHER–GLORIA

East Nashville resident Benjamin Jason Douglas has just completed his long-anticipated debut album, “First World Blues,” for Flour Sack Cape Records.  Originally from just outside of Baltimore, Benjamin has a vocal style that has seen its fair share of East Nashville’s most potent potables, and, musically, he stands squarely in the middle of the see-saw, one move away from the drunkenness of Saturday night or the redemption of Sunday morning.  That vibe is the common thread that holds this sweet ride together.

The Sunday-morning side of Benjamin leads off, as our hero has found Jesus somewhere other than outside Tootsie’s or Robert’s, and vows to be a “Tent Pole in the big tent revival” of life.  Looking back over a life of might-have-beens is the story of the “Street Preacher,” and he further waxes philosophically on life and love in “Doc Red Blues,” where he’s in “no hurry to get to where I’ve already been!”  And, that first love really never dies, even tho she left you “more alone than an Elliott Smith song,” that “Funny Feeling I’m not over feeling funny over you!”

These are all gems, but one stood out for us.  When the dissolution of property is all that remains, and “the wedding album is yours to burn,” the only question is, “how did you expect the Raggedy Andy Williams love story to end?”  It’s poignant, and, heart-tuggingly-humorous at the same time.

Whether he’s on a fast train to Heaven or a slow boat to Hell, Benjamin Jason Douglas will grab you and hold on.  His characters are those souls lookin’ for that one magical gig that’ll turn their fortunes, but, alas, the brass ring is always just out of reach.  Pour yourself one for Saturday nights long past, and redeem yourself on Sunday morning with “First World Blues!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

 

 

Slinky and P’Tit Loup review…August 8, 2018….

SLINKY AND P’TIT LOUP

ZONE BLEUE

PHONECTOR LC 13752

MY BABE–HIGH AND LONESOME–THESE BLUES–SUGAR DADDY–HOW LONG BLUES–IS YOU IS OR IS YOU AIN’T MY BABY–BLUE LIGHT BOOGIE–MY BABY LEFT ME–RIVER BOAT SONG–MARRIED MAN BLUES

From deep in the heart of Germany, near the Dutch and Belgian border, we have just received the latest release from the critically-acclaimed duo of Slinky (Williams) and P’Tit Loup, this one entitled, “Zone Bleue.”  Slinky and Loup have been together since 1972, when they were classical guitar students in Cologne.  They’ve been performing as a duo since 2014, with a slight departure from the norm for this set.

Slinky is accomplished on guitar and mandolin, and has a vocal style that brings to mind two of our favorites.  Imagine Diana Krall and Ilana Katz Katz with that sexy, sultry, Euro-brogue, and that’s Slinky’s sound!  P’Tit Loup is also adept on guitar, and has a mellow tenor vocal that melds well with Slinky.  For this set, we are also introduced to the talents of acoustic bass man Joe Leduc, making this a formidable trio.  Four of the cuts were laid down at Tonstudio Gutthoff, while the remainder were recorded at the duo’s home studio.

Leading off is the classic “My Babe,” with a fingerpicked backing from P’Tit Loup.  Jimmy Reed’s “High And Lonesome” has P’Tit Loup on the vocal, with Slinky’s mandolin giving this one a good ole Johnny Young feel, and was one of our favorites.  Slinky gets in a playful mode, extolling the virtues of her “satisfaction guaranteed,” “Sugar Daddy,” one of her originals.  They get in a downright rockabilly groove with the Sun-splashed “My Baby Left Me,” before getting back into that light-hearted swing, with another original, the tale of “enjoying him as long as you can, ” those “Married Man Blues!”

Our other favorites rocked with a steady roll.  First up is the Louis Jordan classic, about that guy who’s always late, “Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby!”  The other is Jesse Mae Robinson’s story of that legendary party where yo do “the boogie real slow with the blue lights way down low,” the great “Blue Light Boogie!”

Slinky and P’Tit Loup create a timeless set of jazzy, swingin’ blues with universal appeal. Enjoy a sweet journey down to “Zone Bleue.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Little Red Rooster Blues Band review….August 7, 2018…

THE LITTLE RED ROOSTER BLUES BAND

LOCK UP THE LIQUOR

PITCHIN WOO–DRINKIN WINE ON MY DIME–RATHER BE LONESOME–COTTON MOUTH (TRIBUTE TO JAMES COTTON)–READY FOR GOODBYE–JUST A DISTANT MEMORY–THRIFT SHOP RUBBERS–NOTHIN LEFT BETWEEN US–OUGHTA BE A LAW–TROUBLE IN THE JUNGLE–SIX STRONG MEN–LIVIN’ AT JERRY’S HOUSE–4 O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING–CAN’T BELIEVE SHE’S MINE–LOCK UP THE LIQUOR

The Little Red Rooster Blues Band is comprised of a group of stellar musicians who have spent the last thirty years or so spreadin’ the gospel of the blues to hungry fans up and down the East Coast.  They combine a love for both the traditional Chicago sound and jump-blues stylings into a concoction that brews up good times all around, and you can drink your fill from the fifteen original cuts that make up “Lock Up The Liquor,” their latest release.

Kevin McCann is on guitar and vocals, Dave Holtzman is on harp (and vocals on two cuts), Jeff Michael is on bass, and Bob Holden is on drums.  Special guests include Anthony Geraci on keys on seven cuts, and Steve Guyger on harp and vocal for one cut, the killer slow-burn of “4 O’Clock In The Morning!”  Check out the loping swing of “Drinkin’ Wine On My Dime,” where his lover’s “bar bill looks more like the national debt!”  The fellows hit a Little Walter stride with the clippity-clop of “Rather Be Lonesome,” while “Ready For Goodbye” is a true shot of a Fifties-inspired love ballad.  Dave takes the vocal on the gospel-flavored tale of “the end of my road,” where “Six Strong Men” will “carry me down.”

We had two favorites, too.  You really must pay attention to the lyrics in the slyly-sexy story of those raggedy “Thrift Store Rubbers,” with Dave rockin’ that big ol’ chromatic on this good-time cut.  And, the set closes on a high note with the title cut, as our hero has to “Lock Up The Liquor” for a friend who’s “always drinkin’ everybody else’s stuff!”  Anthony Geraci lays down fifty shades of boogie woogie on the 88’s here, too.

Fans, the Little Red Rooster Blues Band is just what the doctor ordered–forgettin’ your troubles for a while from a cadre’ of characters who have been bringing the heat for over thirty years.  Might be an oxymoron, but let’s “Lock Up The Liquor” and have a blues party tonite!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Vanja Sky review…August 6, 2018….

VANJA SKY

BAD PENNY

RUF RECORDS 1257

BAD PENNY–HARD WORKING WOMAN–HIT ME WITH THE BLUES–LOW DOWN AND DIRTY–ALL NIGHT–INSIDE PAIN–GIVE ME BACK MY SOUL–LOST LOVE–DO YOU WANNA?–MARRIED MAN–DON’T FORGET TO ROCK AND ROLL–CROSSROADS OF LIFE

Croatian native Vanja Sky did not even pick up a guitar until five years ago, when a live show changed her life.  She’s advanced so rapidly in her development, that she now joins young women such as Joanne Shaw Taylor, Erja Lyytinen, Ana Popovic, and Samantha Fish in the Ruf Records stable, having just released her sizzling debut, “Bad Penny.”  Part of this set was recorded in Berlin at Studio Erde, with the rest laid down at Jim Gaines’ Bessie Smith Studio not far from us in West Tennessee in Stantonville.  Mike Zito and Thomas Ruf produced, and Zito is on rhythm guitar throughout.

Vanja has the ebullience of wide-eyed youth working in her favor.  All save one cut are her originals, and roughly half have that blues-rock swagger and attitude, while the rest show her feelings thru her lyrics.

Leading off is the scathing title cut, where a long-gone lover, just like that “Bad Penny,” “turns up again,” when you least expect (or want) it.  Her SRV influence shows up on the roadhouse-rock of a shout-out to all the 9-to-5’ers out there and this one  served as one of our favorites, as Vanja rocks out on the story of that “Hard Working Woman, doin’ it day and night!”  She strikes a poignant chord with, “at the end of the day, there’s only Hell to pay,” “You Hit Me With The Blues.”  Youthful lust is the theme of the uptempo “Do You Wanna be my cherry pie,?” and Vanja calls foul on every cheatin’ “Married Man,” who “use women just for fun.”  This one is set over a breathy, ethereal arrangement, perfect for her vocal skills.

Our other favorite was perhaps the set’s tour-de-force.  Thomas Ruf was always a supporter of the blues of the late Luther Allison, and, on this cut, Vanja, Zito, and Luther’s son, Bernard Allison, combine their considerable guitar and vocal skills for a slide-drenched, boogie-fried read of one of Luther’s best, “Low Down And Dirty!”

This illustrious trio will be hitting the road as the next installment of the Ruf Records Blues Caravan.  Vanja Sky, with her strong debut set, “Bad Penny,” also reminds us, “Don’t Forget To Rock And Roll!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Lawrence Lebo review…August 4, 2018…

LAWRENCE LEBO

OLD SCHOOL GIRL

ON THE AIR RECORDS 9657

YOU’VE GOT A SECRET–OLD SCHOOL GIRL–STORMY MONDAY–STOP SHOUTING YOUR BUSINESS–REMIX (EXPLICIT)–GIVE ME A TRY–BAD TO THE CORE–HAPPY ANNIVERSARY BABY (REMIX)–STOP SHOUTING YOUR BUSINESS (REMIX) (CLEAN)

Our week-long series on feisty females found in the fold of the blues is drawing to a close.  (Ruf label siren Vanja Sky is next), but we had to bring fans the insanely-talented Lawrence Lebo and her latest set, “Old School Girl,” for  On The Air Records in Tarzana, CA.  Ms. Lebo is predominantly a student of the classic Memphis-and-STAX groove, altho her voice lends itself to any material.  Her vocal style, for me anyways, brought to mind Wanda Jackson, if she had been more of a “torch” or big-band chanteuse, and without that hiccup-y thing she always does.  You’ll here it all in these six originals and one cover, with things starting off swimmingly with the opening cut, a minor-key, B. B.-inspired shout-out to a cheatin’ lover, “You’ve Got A Secret.”  That sweet guitar is courtesy of Tony Mandracchia, with Larry David on the B-3.  The swingin’ title cut finds our heroine much preferring a “a kiss on the back of my neck” rather than just “a text,” and her “57 Chevy” over today’s all-too-common “Uber.”  That’s just the way this “Old School Girl rolls!”  “Give Me A Try” conjures up memories of vintage STAX soul, where, regarding love, “you’ll never know what you might find” without taking the chance!

We had two favoriters, too. Ms. Lebo gives a sultry read of T-Bone’s “Stormy Monday,” this one with Larry David pulling double duty on harp and that church-i-fied B-3, and Tony on that call-and-response guitar.  Our other favorite(s) were unique from the rest of the set, as they were set over a second-line, Mardi Gras-ish arrangement, with Carl Byron on squeeze box and Larry on the tinklin’ piano.  Both deal with those annoying folks who talk waaaay too loud out in public on their cell phones, and Ms. Lebo begs them, “Stop Shouting Your Business!”  It is presented in two versions–one is FCC-clean, and the other, well, it ain’t!

She’s studied Duke Ellington at UCLA under Prof. Kenny Burrell, and continues to be a powerful voice in today’s blues world.  The only flaw in Lawrence Lebo’s “Old School Girl?” It was just toooo short!!  More, please!!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Trudy Lynn review…August 4, 2018….

TRUDY LYNN

BLUES KEEP KNOCKIN’

CONNOR RAY MUSIC  CRM 1803

BLUES AIN’T NOTHIN’–THAT’S ALRIGHT–BLUES KEEP KNOCKING–ONE MONKEY DON’T STOP NO SHOW–NEVER BEEN TO SPAIN–I SING THE BLUES–PITIFUL (FEAT. BOB LANZA)–WHEN I BEEN DRINKIN’–IT WON’T BE LONG–WOULD IT MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE TO YOU (FEAT. CAROLYN WONDERLAND)

Next up in our week-long series of fantastic femmes’ in contemporary blues, we give you Houston’s own Trudy Lynn.  Her latest set, and fourth overall for Connor Ray Music, is entitled “Blues Keep Knockin,” featuring her original title cut and a slew of soul-drenched, gospel-fired covers.  Joining her on this outstanding collection include David Carter on guitar, with guest guitar from Bob Lanza and Carolyn Wonderland, Steve Krase on the harp, Terry Dry on bass, and Matt Johnson on drums.

Produced by Rock Romano, things get underway with Steve blasting away on the harp over Trudy’s tale of “Blues Ain’t Nothin’ but a woman lovin’ a married man!”  Next is the funked-up arrangement of the Jimmy Rogers classic, “That’s Alright–every now and then I wonder, who’s lovin’ you tonite!”  A horn section led by Jim Brady and Dan Carpenter add spice to the good-time jive of “One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show!”  Everybody gets into the loping stride of “I’ll Sing The Blues,” Trudy’s vocal becoming a testifyin’ testimonial to the power of the blues “late in the midnight!”  She closes the set with a poignant recollection of classic soul, as Steve blows a mournful harp over Trudy’s request of a lover, “if I went away, Would It Make Any Difference To You?”  This one is augmented by cool guitar from Carolyn Wonderland.

Every Trudy Lynn album has to have a great slow-burnin’ blueser, and “Pitiful” is it, and serves as our favorite.  Unable to break free from a no-good lover  she turns in another fiery vocal performance with a sweet stop-time chorus.  Bob Lanza guests on guitar here, too!

Trudy Lynn knows the “Blues Keep Knockin’ on my front door” for a good reason—she’s gotta keep spreadin’ the gospel of good times and bad men to all us fans!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

 

Brigitte Purdy review…August 2, 2018….

BRIGITTE PURDY

STILL I RISE

DIRTSHACK RECORDS

HOODOO–BE THE LIGHT–HOME IS IN MY HEART–MY KINDA BLUES–LAST TIME–GET IT UNDERSTOOD–IF I COULD–LUCILLE DON’T YOU WEEP–BLUES ANGEL–STILL I RISE

In keeping with our week-long theme of captivating women in contemporary blues, we proudly bring Brigitte Purdy up to the mic.  Herself a graduate of the Dorothy Chandler Conservatory, Brigitte can do it all, y’all–she can whisper, she can scream, she can purr like a dream, and you get a taste of all her wares with her latest set, “Still I Rise,” for Dirtshack Records.

The good times roll with the leadoff story of our heroine, “holding on to my Rosary,” to ward off that “Hoodoo that you do!”  The hot harp on this one is courtesy of Louisiana legend Kenny Neal, too.  Chumps need not apply on “Get It Straight,” ’cause “I’m not your baby,” “not your sugar,” and, definitely “not your darlin,” for anybody who’s only “lookin’ for a one night stand!”  She follows that up, tho, with the high heel on the other foot, as a true gentleman, with that “somethin’ in your eyes,” has her testing, but yielding not to, temptation, in the breezy, soulful, “I would, If I Could,” but she stays true to her lover.  Her upper-register reaches are on display here, also.  She closes the set with the anthem of empowerment that is the title cut, featuring Drake Shining on keys, from Sugaray Rayford’s band.

We had several favorites.  “If you want my lovin,’ you better like My Kinda Blues” is an uptempo rocker made for the dancers, while Brigitte spreads a message of positivity for a troubled society, urging us all to “Be The Light you want others to see!”  Perhaps the set’s most unique cut is Brigitte’s shout-out to B. B.’s legendary Gibson, “Lucille Don’t You Weep,” for “the thrill will never be gone!”  Her vocals, as well as the backing chorus, give this one an ethereal, almost-spiritual quality.  Check out her YouTube video for this song and you’ll see what we mean.

Brigitte Purdy has crafted one of those sets that you wish was twice as long, because, like many things in life, as soon as it starts gettin’ real good to you, it ends.  She’s the whole package, tho, with passionate and captivating vocals, making “Still I Rise” a sparkling tour-de-force!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.