Archive for October, 2018

Dry Johnson review…October 15, 2018….

DRY JOHNSON

LONG LIVE THEM BLUES, VOL. 1

CONNOR RAY MUSIC   CRM 1805

DJ INTRO–DADDY’S GOT A CADILLAC–LONG LIVE THEM BLUES–HIT THE HIGHWAY–DRUNK GIRL WITH A TAMBOURINE–TOO MANY HIPSTERS–JUKE JOINT–I WALK ALONE–TRASHY WOMEN AND CHEAP GUITARS–FRIED CHICKEN–LITTLE BIRD

Dry Johnson combines the talents of bassist Terry Dry and drummer Matthew Robert Johnson, who have backed bluesman Mike Zito for the last two years, altho the two have been playing together for more than twenty years, backing numerous players on stages all over the world.  Connor Ray music is proud to release “Long Live Them Blues, Vol. 1,” which features Dry Johnson in both a backing role for a literal “who’s who” in Texas contemporary blues, as well as a few lead vocals on their own.

A cool radio intro opens up, courtesy of DJ R. Christian Tucker, before giving way to one of our favorites.  Mike Zito and Annika Chambers play the beleaguered lovers in “Daddy’s Got A Cadillac, mama drives a mule!”  The title cut features The Mighty Orq on guitar and Steve Krase blowin’ harp over Trudy Lynn’s vocal, as she name-checks everyone you can think of to cement her claim that “the blues is here to stay!”  Local Houston hero Kevin “Snit” Fitzpatrick  is on vocals on the roadhouse-rockin’, deadly combo of a “Drunk Girl With A Tambourine,” while Jonn Del Toro Richardson offers up a unique cover that served as another favorite,  the delicious slow-burn of Johnny Guitar Watson’s “Hit The Highway,”

The Mighty Orq and James Wilhite on guitars aided and abetted our other favorite.  Dry is on lead vocal, and this one has a strong honky-tonk swing to it, as “down by the county line,” we all go “down to the Juke Joint!”

The players involved with this project are all blues legends, and Dry Johnson, as both rhythm section and lead players, drives this one all the way from Katy to Katmandu!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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Greg Hawks review…October 14, 2018….

GREG HAWKS

I THINK IT’S TIME

SO LONELY–I HOPE I NEVER KNOW–THE KING OF HATE–NOTHING MATTERS HERE ANY MORE–PRETENDING NOT TO KNOW–ONE LIGHT–FROM ONE TO THE OTHER EXTREME–I THINK IT’S TIME–THINGS I DID NOT SAY–IT’S GOING TO BE OKAY–ANOTHER POSSIBILITY

Greg Hawks hails from Chapel Hill, NC, and, on his latest album, “I Think It’s Time,” he presents eleven originals that trace all the influences he has know over a career that has spanned some 30 years.  There’s classic twang, folk-infused Americana, and some of the damn best protest songs to come along in the last, oh, say, 600 days.  Greg plays virtually all the instruments herein, and reached out to Chris Stamey to mix the project.

As you listen, you’ll hear songs inspired by Jones, Haggard, Buck, and even Big Star/Alex Chilton.  They are songs of hope, despair, desperation, and reminders of the harsh realities of life.  And, a few take a clean shot at the jaw of old #45.

Leading off, our hero ponders the musical question, that, in the “golden age of vanity” and round-the-clock social media, “how can I be So Lonely?”  Having a lover to leave him is a feeling “I Hope I Never Know,” while a bittersweet ode to his deceased father is a stark reminder of life’s uncertainties, and the fact that tomorrow is never promised, with regrets for “The Things I Did Not Say.”  “Pretending Not To Know” uses a Bakersfield-ish arrangement to convey the disintegration of a love affair where “secrets kept inside have stolen your soul.”

We grew up in the Sixties, and some of today’s crop of artists in both Americana and blues have crafted some of the best protest anthems since that era.  “How low can you go when you’re below the floor,” and “we’ve never seen this kind of thing before,” because, now, “Nothing Matters Here Anymore.”  You can sho’ nuff get on Greg’s fightin’ side by “spreadin’ rumors into what we call the news,” “From One To The Other Extreme.”  But, nothin’ beats Greg’s most barbed shot at the current administration, the “King Of Hate.”  It kicks old man Fred Trump’s little boy right square between his golf balls, as we all wonder what’s next from a man who “never met a law he couldn’t break.”

With “I Think It’s Time,” Greg Hawks puts himself out there by using a clever combination of all his varied influences over his career.  A brilliant songwriter, you may not agree with all he says, but you gotta love his conviction.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

 

Blue Largo review…October 13, 2018….

BLUE LARGO

BEFORE THE DEVIL STEALS YOUR SOUL

COFFEEGRINDS RECORDS

WASH AWAY–IF I CAN MAKE IT TO AUGUSTA–MONROVIA–SAME RACE–BEFORE THE DEVIL STEALS YOUR SOUL–BODAS DE ORO (GOLDEN WEDDING)–I’M ALIVE–THE LONG GOODBYE–WHAT BECOMES OF THE BROKEN-HEARTED–FEELING GOOD–GRINDER’S GROOVE–FIVE TILL EIGHT–EVERY TIME YOU CALL MY NAME–WORK SONG–HIDDEN BONUS TRACK

Guitarist Eric Leiberman and vocalist Alicia Aragon form the backbone of the blues band Blue Largo, and their latest album, “Before The Devil Steals Your Soul,” has been a labor of love that literally took years to come to fruition.  Eric was a guitar fixture on the SoCal scene since 1981, but in 2006, he developed a rare condition diagnosed as Focal Dystonia, rendering him unable to play guitar.  For eleven years, he underwent extensive therapy and re-training, and just recently believed himself ready to play.  Blues fans are the winners here, as Eric shows no signs of his difficulties over the past eleven years.

Alicia got her desire to sing as a child, after hearing “Mavis on the radio,” and her supple voice is the perfect complement to this material.  It deals with the divisiveness in today’s society, and also love, loss, hope, despair, letting go, and eventual redemption, and the horn section on several cuts adds a soulful touch.  That feeling of “heartache and misery” leads off, with the gospel-infused “Wash Away,” where “the poor ain’t got no voice at all.”  That gospel feel carries on thru the joyous title cut, where redemption is free, and we can “jump before it’s too late!”  “Five Till Eight” uses that good ol’ round-the-clock-blues theme as our heroine sings a jazzy tale of “lyin’ in my new baby’s arms,” and jettisoning the ex!

There are several excellent instrumentals that show off Eric’s versatility as well as the extent to which he has regained his chops.  “Bodas De Oro” is a sweet Latin-tinged shout-out to Manuel Galban, while “Grinder’s Groove” is a cool reminder of the great instrumentals that permeated the airwaves of our youth.

We had two favorites, too.   A biting commentary on today’s society and the Black Lives Matter movement is also a call for peace and unity, “Same Race.”  And, the difficulties in letting go of a love one ravaged by Alzheimer’s Disease are spelled out in the poignant, bittersweet, “Long Goodbye.”

Blue Largo has faced some daunting obstacles over the last decade-and-a-half or so, but Eric and Alicia have persevered.  Enjoy this collection, and be sure to jump and rejoice while you can, “Before The Devil Steals Your Soul!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Ron Spencer Band review…October 12, 2018….

RON SPENCER BAND

INTO THE BLUE

REAL GONE RECORDS 104

CLOSER TO THE BONE–(I’M DOIN) AH-IGHT–ADDICTED TO YOU–CADILLAC WALK–BLIND, CRIPPLED, AND CRAZY–SO WRONG FOR EACH OTHER–IT’S TIME–CALLIN’ TO ME–FINE, FINE, WOMAN–COLD OUTSIDE

Ron Spencer has been playin’ the blues on his ol’ guitar for over 30 years.  He’s been influenced by virtually everyone from Otis Rush, B. B., T-Bone, and a host of others.  He and his band have just released their third album for Real Gone Records,  eight jumpin’ originals and two classic covers that are guaranteed to get you up and dancin,’ entitled “Into The Blue.”  Joining Ron, who is on guitar and vocals, is Mark Gibson on vocals, Bob Purdy on bass and vocals, and Ross Moe on drums.

On this set, the fellows explore several variations on the blues theme.  These upstate New York veterans waste no time gittin’ down to the gittin’ down, leading off with a tale of today’s “hard, hard times,” and a society that “can’t take our eyes off our phone,” living “Closer To The Bone.” with Cato Eaton on the honky-tonk piano.  The band hits a struttin’ groove with the pounding story of that girl with the “Cadillac Walk,” and ride a T-Bone stride with the story of two lovers who have “given it our best, but it keeps comin’ up a mess,” “It’s Time.”

Want some soul with that?  You can’t go wrong with the fellows’ cool read of O. V. Wright’s “Blind, Crippled, And Crazy,” and the life-altering mood of goin; home, ’cause it’s “Callin’ To Me.”

We had two favorites, too.  Check out the rockabilly blues of our hero, “bout to give you everything I got,” that sho’ nuff “Fine, Fine Woman.”  And, you can’t help but dig that modified Jimmy Reed groove of our man who might not have a lot of material things, but, “for an average guy, I’m Doin’ Ah-ight!”

You don’t have to be a Phi Beta Kappa to realize how the guys in the Ron Spencer Band are still rockin’ after all these years.  They simply give the people what they want–butt-rockin,” danceable blues, straight, no chaser, just like you’ll get with “Into The Blue.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Dean Owens review…October 11, 2018….

DEAN OWENS

SOUTHERN WIND

AT THE HELM RECORDS

THE LAST SONG-SOUTHERN WIND–ELVIS WAS MY BROTHER–WHEN THE WHISKEY’S NOT ENOUGH–BAD NEWS–NO WAY AROUND IT–LOUISVILLE LIP–ANYTHING HELPS–MOTHER–FAMOUS LAST WORDS–MADEIRA STREET–LOVE PREVAILS

Dean Owens is widely hailed as on of the premier Scottish troubadours, and was indeed the first Scotsman to play a featured  showcase during the Americana Fest in 2017.  No stranger to this town, he’s recorded his latest album, “Southern Wind,” here, with Neilson Hubbard producing.  This set shows precisely why he is such an incredible artist.  The twelve originals herein run the proverbial gauntlet of emotions, from love, loss, hope, despair, and even homelessness, before finding redemption.

There are highlights aplenty.  Leading off is a sprightly tune that deals again with the brevity of life, urging us to “sing The Last Song, sing it while you can!”  When the love of your life is gone and you’re “all out of tears,” sometimes “The Whiskey’s Not Enough.”  Dean tackles overcoming life’s obstacles by meeting the challenge head-on, and “jump right in” and climb that mountain, tho it may be steep, for there’s “No Way Around It.”  The plight of the homeless is addressed in “Anything Helps,” while he closes the set with that hope for redemption, where, even tho there are many trials in life, and maybe “we tried our best and failed,” in the end, “Love Prevails.”

We had two favorites, too.  A unique, rockabilly-ish arrangement focuses on a young man growing up without a father, eventually finding solace thru an old cassette of Presley music, who “introduced me to the blues, gospel, country, and Blue Suede Shoes,” “Elvis Was My Brother, and my best friend!”  (Check out that “Marie’s The Name”-inspired ending!)  That same young man grows up wanting to be “just like you,” from the “Rumble In The Jungle” to the “Thrilla In Manila,” a tune that is a bittersweet ode to “the greatest of all time,” the ol’ “Louisville Lip!”  This one is enhanced by acoustic guitar and a muted trumpet in the background.

Dean Owens is a veritable maelstrom of emotion thru the characters in his songs.  He combines tales of folks to whom we can all relate with excellent musicianship, and rides it all along a powerful “Southern Wind!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Eddie Heinzelman review…October 10, 2018….

EDDIE HEINZELMAN

WHEREVER YOU GO

ONE LOUDER RECORDS

MEDICINE–DAMMIT, MARY (ODE TO MARY GAUTHIER)–THE ROAD-STEAL AWAY–DANDELION (FEAT. GREG MARTIN)–THE HEART KNOWS WHAT IT NEEDS–LONELY OUTWEIGHS REGRET–SHUFFLIN’–MISS TLC–WHEREVER YOU GO (FEAT. RADNEY FOSTER)

Many fans will recognize string-bender extraordinaire Eddie Heinzelman for his guitar and mandolin work on numerous sessions for other folks, as well as his regular sideman gig with Radney Foster.  He is expanding his horizons monumentally, with the release of his sophomore set, “Wherever You Go,” for One Louder Records.  Filled with the music he’s always wanted to make, this one features ten originals, with the title cut a co-write with Radney Foster.  He even gets in a playful shout-out to one of his favorite writers, Mary Gauthier,  with a cool, loping cut called “Dammit, Mary,” whose songs always keep him “cussin’ and cryin,” but, “comin’ back for more.”  “American Idol” alum Kendra Chantelle adds backing vocals, and helps kick off the set, as our hero begs “for a fix” from his lover of that extra-special “Medicine,” set over a killer guitar riff.  Greg Martin of the Kentucky Headhunters adds slide guitar on the “Sweet Melissa” vibe of “Dandelion,” while Eddie shows off his instrumental chops on the ethereal, flamenco-flavored “Steal Away,” and the downright, damn-right blues of “Shufflin.”

Eddie offers some sage advice about being a traveling musician–“It’s who I am, not just what I do,” with a nod to the wife he always has to leave behind, “The Road.”  He closes the set with the title cut, which also features Radney Foster on duet vocals.  It’s a stone shot of Americana that urges us to stand strong, because “love’s gonna hurt you,” but “love’s gonna heal you, too, Wherever You Go.”

Our favorite was a chuggin’ rocker about the kind of girl we all know–the one that is pure trouble, that “pin-up princess” who sho’ nuff “wears her ink well,” “Miss TLC!”

Don’t call the doctor just yet, folks.  There’s still a lot of good country music comin’ outta Nashville, and you can tap into a cool slice of it with guitar man Eddie Heinzelman’s “Wherever You Go!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

Bob Margolin review…October 10, 2018…

BOB MARGOLIN

BOB MARGOLIN

VIZZTONE  VT-SRR03

ONE MORE DAY–I SHALL BE RELEASED–DETROIT—MERCY–BEST I CAN DO–BLUES BEFORE SUNRISE–DALLAS–HOW LONG HOW LONG BLUES–PEACE OF MIND–SHE’S SO PRETTY–LOOK WHAT YOU DONE–HEAD HELD HIGH–GOIN’ AWAY BABY–MY ROAD–ONE MORE MILE

It was Saturday night, October 10, 2003, and still, for us, it was the best single musical experience we have ever had.  We were interviewing Bob Margolin, Carey Bell, Mookie Brill, and Dave Agerholm on behalf of the old Music City Blues Society, as they were playing the recently-opened B. B. King’s Blues Club down on Second Avenue that night.  Being “backstage” with those guys and listening to their stories was the highlight of our blues life.  And, as sometimes happens with a newly-opened club, the night did not go totally without glitches, but, once the blues started flowing through those players, it made for one special night, indeed.  We’ve been friends with Bob for fifteen years tonight, and, on his latest, self-titled album for Vizztone, Bob revisits some of the songs from his musical friends who have, sadly, passed, but left a lasting impression on him.  He also offers up some fine new material, as well, and played, sang, produced, recorded, and mixed every note on the album.

Leading off is one of those originals, where Bob asks only for more time to play the blues, “One More Day.”  He cranks up a couple of cool Leroy Carr tunes, too, that he played while in Muddy’s band, “Blues Before Sunrise,” and “How Long How Long Blues,” the latter given a decidedly-Fifties’ feel through his guitar work.  His original, “My Road,” the title of his 2016 album, is both poignant and bittersweet, as he recalls his life as a musician.  He closes with a song made popular by James Cotton, “One More Mile,” presented here in a dirge-like, deeply-personal blues.

We had three favorites.  “I Shall Be Released” is done in tribute to the last song from The Band’s “Last Waltz” concert film, in which Muddy and Bob were prominently featured.  You gotta love Bob’s take on Muddy’s shufflin’ “She’s So Pretty,” with that dead-stop ending, done totally, as Muddy so succinctly put it, “to f(oul) up the dancers!”  And, Bob takes a stinging look at today’s society in “Mercy,” where “we could do so much together–is there still hope for you and me?”

Bob Margolin introduces excellent new material along with songs from old friends in this self-titled album.  We want to thank you, Bob, for fifteen years of friendship and a lifetime of great blues!  Until next time…Don and Sheryl Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.