Archive for October, 2018

Mat Walklate review….

MAT WALKLATE

SEA OF BLUES

COULD HAVE BEEN–PLAYING WITH MYSELF BOOGIE–THE SUN NEVER SHINES–SO DEEP IN TROUBLE–EXACTLY WHAT YOU NEED–SWIMMING POOL–MODEST MAN–RIVER OF JORDAN/GET READY–OUT OF THE SUN–ANSWER YOUR PHONE–DUBBED AND BURNING

Mat Walklate hails from way over yonder in Manchester, UK.  He’s a brilliant harmonica blues man, and he is also proficient on flute and the uilleann pipes, always with one foot planted firmly on Delta soil, be it half a world away!  Thanks to the miracles of social media, we offer our review for his latest album, “Sea Of Blues.”

The set starts off at a blistering pace, with stutter-steppin’ guitar from Mat’s old friend Paolo Fuschi, as Mat and his harp chastise a lover who never gave them a chance, leaving our hero wondering “what we Could Have Been.”  Mat and Tom Attah on guitar fall into a sweet, country-blues groove, with the traditional-sounding “The Sun Never Shines,” where “luck is a blind lady, and she can be unkind.”  That Delta-fied theme carries over to the muddy groove of a man who knows “no matter how I struggle, I know I’ll never win,” “So Deep In Trouble.”  This served as one of our favorites, with that powerful riff leading the way.  “Exactly What You Need” calls for societal change, and is set over a percolatin’, percussive, damn-near-James Brown-ish arrangement,

Mat dabbles in some sweet ska-reggae beats, too, Mon.  “Modest Man” is one of those, with Justin Sheam on keys.  And, the set closes with a cool instrumental that sho’ nuff keeps the reggae lamps trimmed, “Dubbed And Burning!”  It is an excellent chromatic exercise, indeed.

We had two other favorites, both involving only Mat, his harps, and vocals.  First up, the traditional gospel of “River Jordan/Get Ready,” a moving song of redemption, and a promise of “meeting my mother in glory some of these days.”  The other is strictly Mat on harps, and he plays all of ’em on the playful, Little Walter-inspired, “Playing With Myself Boogie!”

Mat Walklate is a noted harmonica instructor, and you can see some of his vids on YouTube.  If you are familiar with the Australian artist Harper, then you’ve got an idea of what Mat’s puttin’ down.  Hey y’all—you can go all the way across the Pond, and still fall in a “Sea Of Blues” from this dazzling force on the harp!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Delta Moon review….October 28, 2018….

DELTA MOON

BABYLON IS FALLING

JUMPING JACK RECORDS 12018

LONG WAY TO GO–BABYLON IS FALLING–ONE MORE HEARTACHE–MIGHT TAKE A LIFETIME–SKINNY WOMAN–LOUISIANA RAIN–LITTLE PINK PISTOL–NOBODY’S FAULT BUT MINE–SOMEBODY IN MY HOME–ONE MOUNTAIN AT A TIME–CHRISTMAS TIME IN NEW ORLEANS

One of our favorite bands, Atlanta’s Delta Moon, is back, with their tenth overall album, “Babylon Is Falling.”  On this set, the fellows mix five originals and six cool covers that fuse topical lyricism with soul-drenched lap steel and slide, leading to a captivating mix, indeed.  Tom Gray is on vocals, lap steel, keys, and harp, and is joined by Mark Johnson on guitar, Franher Joseph on bass, and a trio of drummers, Marlon Patton, Vic Stafford, and Adam Goodhue.

Fans, if you like fire and fury in your blues, sit back and revel in what these fellows are puttin’ down.  Leading off is an original that’s not only a shout-out to old-time prison work songs, but a call to arms for the continued struggle for civil rights in this country, “we still got a Long Way To Go,” with sparkling slide from Tom.  The traditional gospel-blues of the title cut is another call for change, as “all that rises must come down!”  One of Mark’s originals served as a favorite.  It’s an uptempo tale to which we can all relate—“Might Take A Lifetime to figure out love!”  That one is followed up by an authentic take on the Hill Country blues of North Mississippi with R. L.’s “Skinny Woman,” who “won’t cook no breakfast,” or “wash no clothes!”  Tom gets into a deep Howlin’ Wolf groove, adding his own harp and lap steel to the lowdown blues of “Somebody In My Home,” and closes the set with another of our favorites.

You can’t help but feel the spirit of the impending holiday season with Mark Johnson’s original, “flyin’ thru the evergreens” on our way to the singin’ at Jackson Square for a big-time “Christmas In New Orleans!”

We’ve been fans of Delta Moon from jus’ ’bout the beginning.  We were there in January of 2003 when they won the IBC’s in Memphis, and, now, ten albums later, “Babylon Is Falling” continues to bring the blues with a fury!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Johnny And Jaalene review…October 27, 2018….

JOHNNY AND JAALENE

RIP CAT RECORDS

RIC 1806

BABY I LOVE YOU–GEE WHIZ–TEENAGE CUTIE–LET IT BE ME–GOOD LOOKING–LOS CHUCOS SUAVES–ANGEL BABY–WHY WHY WHY–LET’S HAVE A PARTY–PLEASE GIVE ME SOMETHING–CUANDO CALIENTE–ONE SUMMER NIGHT

Regular readers of this humble forum will be familiar with the fact that David “Kid” Ramos has always been one of our favorite bluesmen.  David’s son, Johnny, is a mature-beyond-his-nineteen-years-young player in his own right, following in his dad’s footsteps.   He’s been tearin’ it up all over Orange County and SoCal in general, and his Rip Cat debut finds him teamed with sixteen-year-old singing sensation Jaalene DeLeon.  Together, their amazing talents bring forth “Johnny And Jaalene.”

Johnny’s had a lot of musical influences, obviously from blues to Broadway and everything in between.  That’s where these twelve cuts fall in, also.  It’s heavy on rockabilly, blues, and Chicano-infused, highly-danceable grooves.  Jaalene’s resume’ is equally as impressive, as this theater student is sho’ nuff now a rockabilly diva with the apt nickname, “Queen of the Teens!”

This Enchantment Under The Sea dance party kicks off with a rocked-up duet from our players on The Ronettes’ “Baby I Love You,” and continues as Jaalene tackles vintage soul with Carla Thomas’ “Gee Whiz,” featuring excellent tremolo guitar.  They return a bit later for one of the outstanding cuts on the album, and one of our favorites, Phil and Don’s “Let It Be Me.”  Johnny puts on his tough-guy leather jacket for a slick-as-Brylcreem read of Eddie Cocran’s Teenage Cutie,” and gets into a fine comfort zone with the Espanol take on the lively romp, “Los Chucos Suaves.”

Jaalene puts on her rockabilly filly heels on an amped-up run of Wanda Jackson’s “Let’s Have A Party,” with guitars runin’ wild all over this one!

We had two other favorites, both unique in their own ways.  First up, Jaalene leads off “Cuando Caliente” in Spanish, then finishes in English with Johnny on duet vocal, “With Every Beat Of Your Heart.”  And, our 21ST Century Danny and Sandy close the set with a fired-up “One Summer Night,” originally done by The Danleers.  This one has the added attraction of Jesus Cuevas on squeezebox.

The future is so bright for Johnny and Jaalene that there is no limit to where their talents will take them.  Whoever said “oh, to be young again,” hit the nail on the head with these two.  A brilliant self-titled outing that sizzles with passion, fire, and fun!  Hasta luego…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Cary Morin review…October 24, 2018….

CARY MORIN

WHEN I RISE

MAPLE STREET MUSIC

WHEN I RISE–LET ME HEAR THE MUSIC–SOMETIMES–DIRE WOLF–MY MEMORIES OF YOU–JUG IN THE WATER–DEVOTED ONE–LITTLE MARTHA/THE LAST PINT–LAY BABY LAY–CARMELA MARIE–WE USED TO BE–JUG IN THE WATER (ACOUSTIC)

Growing up in Montana in the Seventies, Cary Morin listened to the popular songs of the day on radio, or whatever vinyl his folks played.  As he got older, he became proficient on piano, and a Doug Kershaw album led him to take up the fiddle!  Soon, he developed a passion for the Alan Lomax primitive recordings of the 1940’s, including prison chain-gang songs, country blues, field hollers, and the like.  Those raw, powerful influences shape his latest release, “When I Rise,” for Maple Street Music.

The haunting title cut leads off, as our hero chooses to run rather than face the punishment for a crime he did not commit.  Lionel Young’s fiddle and Dexter Payne’s harp add to the authenticity here, after “another life is done.”  Dexter is on the clarinet in the uplifting ode to that time when “my time here on Earth is done,” “Let Me Hear The Music.”  The upbeat delivery and jazzy instrumentation make this one of our favorites.

“Jug In The Water,” presented here in both an electric and acoustic version (the latter closes the set), is another favorite, as it is borne of classic blues.  This tune embodies the struggles of a man trying to hustle a living however he can to feed his family.  Cary offers up a fine, fingerpicked version of “Little Martha,” which cleverly segues’ into “The Last Pint,” that makes way for another Allman-influenced cut, “Carmela Marie,” with excellent piano from Jason Larson.

A Crow tribal member, Cary Morin has won numerous awards for his works, including a 2018 Native Arts And Cultures Fellowship, a 2018 Independent Music Award for his 2017 release, “Cradle To The Grave,” as well as a host of other accolades.  The rich heritage of his many, varied influences—Native American, blues, folk, jazz, jam band, and more–make “When I Rise” an ambitious offering, indeed!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Jeremy Dion EP review…October 23, 2018….

JEREMY DION

MORE LATELY (EP)

INNER VIEW RECORDS

MORE LATELY–ALTERNATIVE FACTS–EVANGELINE–DON’T BOTHER–SMALL TOWN LOVE–FRIDAY NIGHT

Boulder, CO-based singer/guitarist/composer Jeremy Dion is no stranger to making records.  He has two previous releases under his belt, beginning with 2008 and “Finally,” and 2012’s “Golden Some Day.”  However, neither of those strikes a deep, personal chord as do the six cuts that comprise the “More Lately” EP, released on his own Inner View Records.  Nope–Jeremy uses this collection to express his innermost feelings and chart the course for where he is today, both musically and spiritually, in the process finding his true self.  Coming out at the age of 44, he finds himself in a committed relationship and raising a twelve-year-old daughter.  As such, there are songs dealing with love, struggles, and dealing with his situation.  It also includes a light-hearted look at how his grandparents met back in ’42, and also fires a left hook to the corpulent jaw of His Orangeness, for good measure.

OK, let’s get started.  Jeremy is on guitars and vocals, and leads off with an ode to where he is in his life today,  the lovely title cut, likening his feelings regarding coming out to “runnin’ like a river, right into the waiting sea,” with absolutely “no hesitation.”  “Don’t Bother” takes that love to its lustiest, most carnal places, set over a funky groove and backing chorus.

We had two favorites, too.  “Friday Night” down at the “Old Blue Moon” and later at the “candy counter at the five-and-dime,” leads to romance for Jeremy’s future grandparents, played out over a lively bluegrass arrangement.  And, folks, we’re two years in to what seems like life without parole, and the protest songs continue to kick a little stronger each time out.  Jeremy’s version of “Alternative Facts” finds “the Wizard’s takin’ over Oz,” and “truth was the first to fall,” all done by the one with the “tiny hands” who “conned my way to power.”

Jeremy Dion puts himself out there for the world to hear on “More Lately.”  In the process, he celebrates his heritage and who he is now, while taking a cool shot at the powers-that-be!  Bravo, Jeremy, for a brilliant, insightful set!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Rich Hope review…October 22, 2018….

RICH HOPE

I’M ALL YOURS

PLANNED OBSOLESCENCE RECORDING AND NOVELTY, INC.

IT COME ALIVE–GOLDEN CLOUDS–CREEPSTONE–LA IGUANA–BLOW AWAY–5 CENTS A DANCE–SOME KIND OF LOVE–PARANOIA BLUES–RUNNIN SHOES–HEARTBREAKER

Rich Hope hails from Vancouver, BC, and the scuttle from up there is that it was virtually a rite of passage to catch a Rich Hope live show.  His fourth album, and first since 2009, has just been released, “I’m All Yours,” for the Planned Obsolescence Recording And Novelty, Inc., label.  This album is full of the hi-octane rock-and-soul-infused heat that his live outings are noted for and that have made him a Vancouver fixture for some twenty years.

Fans, Rich has got it all, in spades, with his multi-faceted influences.  He’s part Stones, part Ramones, part Miami Steve, and even part R. L. Burnside, just for kicks!  All of those influences are on display on a cut that served as one of our favorites, as Rich urges us to “meet me in the bottom,” for the rockin’ midnight creep of “Runnin’ Shoes!”  You gotta love that Farfisa-ish organ from Matt Kelly, too.  “Creepstone” channels more classic garage rock, this one set over a Doomsday groove, with a sweet nod to Sixties’ psychedelia.  “La Iguana” has a Howlin-Wolf-meets-Sid-Vicious vibe, as our hero comes to grips with “A little girl half my age!”  He gets his Stones shine on with “5 Cents A Dance,” and goes on back down to the Mississippi Hill Country  for the drone of “Paranoia Blues.”

Our other favorite was another shot of Dylan-inspired, horn-fueled rock and roll, full of the spirit and punch that defined a generation, always “keepin’ one eye on the villain,” “Blow Away.”

In all my 62 years on this Earth, I have come to realize that rock and roll has got to be fun, more than anything else.  With Rich Hope and “I’m All Yours,” the fun is, indeed all ours, fans!  Until next time…Don and Sheryl Crow, The National Blues Society.

Sandy Carroll review…October 21, 2018…..

SANDY CARROLL

BLUES AND ANGELS

CATFOOD RECORDS   CFR 027

SOAK ME IN THE SPIRIT–BLUES ALL FOR MYSELF–SOMEBODY GOTTA DANCE–WRAPPED IN AN ANGEL–MAMA DON’T LIKE IT–LOVE IS A WONDERFUL THING–SLINGS AND ARROWS–HEADIN’ HOME–ROAD ANGELS–MOVIN’ ON–MISSISSIPPI ME

For her latest album for Catfood Records, singer/composer/keyboard whiz Sandy Carroll wanted to make a set that shows how the blues is not just “my baby done left me,” but, rather, how the blues can be used as a form of spiritual cleansing as well as a healing tool.  Produced by her iconic husband, Jim Gaines, “Blues And Angels” uses Sandy’s sultry vocal style to set the tone for this album.  She co-wrote all the cuts presented herein, with the likes of Johnny Rawls, William Lee Ellis, Trey Harding, and several others.

Things begin down by that legendary river, where our heroine desires to “wash my sins away,” and “get reborn again,” the gospel-infused “Soak Me In The Spirit,’ which also has Will MacFarlane on guitar.  Reba Russell and Daunielle Hill are the backing vocalists on the uplifting “Somebody Gotta Dance,” while Barbara Blue joins the backing chorus for a cool shout-out to female empowerment and the #MeToo movement, “Mama Don’t Like It!”

We had three favorites, too.  “Love Is A Wonderful Thing” is a sweet, midtempo groover co-written by Johnny Rawls, who is on the duet vocal here.  “Headin’ Home” is another gospel-themed cut, this one spreading the message to stay at the ready for the spiritual trip “all the way to Heaven’s door!”  Bernard Allison is all over the funky guitar lines, too.  Sandy closes the set with a powerful love song dedicated to her husband, featuring only Sandy’s vocal and piano.  Herein, she asks her lover to “bend me like a guitar string, kiss me like the Delta rain,” the ultra-passionate “Mississippi Me.”

With “Blues And Angels,” Sandy Carroll successfully shows how the power of her music can bring about a feeling of peace to those who are willing to allow her to take them away through its universal appeal!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Brandi And The Alexanders review…October 20, 2018…

BRANDI AND THE ALEXANDERS

HOW DO YOU LIKE IT?

RED PARLOR RECORDS   RDP 1802

HOW DO YOU LIKE IT–HIGHER–I’M IN LOVE–JEALOUSY–PARANOID–RUNNING AROUND–LOVE SONGS–DRAMA QUEEN–PULLING ME DOWN–LUCKY–SHAPESHIFTER–BAD LOVE

Our vote for one of the coolest band names to come down the pike in quite some time goes to Red Parlor Records  group Brandi And The Alexanders!  This band is dynamite vocalist Brandi Thompson, Nick Fokas on guitar, Eric Gottlieb on drums, Eric Wendell on bass, and Ethan Simon on keys.  This band has been tearin’ it up on the NYC club scene, and, with their debut set, “How Do You Like It?”, they are set to take on the world!

Brandi is a tremendous soul singer, and you can hear a lot of Aretha, Gladys, Candi Staton, and Tina Turner in her vocals,  The originals on this set allow Brandi to explore a wide range of emotions, from love, loss, jealousy, and revenge, and features one amazing cover that you gotta hear to believe!

She kicks things off with the vengeful title cut, givin’ a no-good lover the boot in “How Do You Like It?”  Nick’s guitar cuts a fiery swath as our heroine now vows to “use my lips in someone else’s kiss!”  She finds redemption in a lover who takes her “Higher,” and stays in that groove with the deep-funk of “I’m In Love,” and couldn’t leave even if she wanted!  Another tune fueled by the funk is all about that person everybody knows, “The Drama Queen–why you always gotta make a scene?”  This one is set over a rapid-fire guitar-and-keys groove, and is tailor-made for us dancers!

We had two favorites, too.  Brandi gets her Aretha groove on in the set’s closer.  It starts out as a slow jam, as our heroine has “fallen out of love with you,” and this “Bad Love” continues to build to a thundering, testifyin’ climax, and is the album’s tour-de-force.  Our other favorite shows the group’s versatility, and is a slowed-down, wah-wah-infused, souled-out version of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid!”  You can’t mistake this song’s irresistible groove, and Brandi turns it into a soul masterpiece!

Brandi And The Alexanders are taking the music world by storm.  “How Do You Like It?” proves that if they show up, they sho’ nuff gon’ show out!  Until next time…Peace..Don And Sheryl Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Doug Deming and the Jewel Tones review…October 19, 2018….

DOUG DEMING

AND THE JEWEL TONES

COMPLICATED MESS

ELLERSOUL 1809

COMPLICATED MESS–SWEET POISON–YOU RASCAL YOU–HOLD ON–NEED MY BABY–BLUS STOP KNOCKIN–DEEP BLUE SEA–SOMEDAY PRETTY BABY–CAPTAIN’S QUARTERS–JUST A MOMENT OF YOUR TIME–I’M WALKIN–COOKIN’ AT THE KITCHEN–RAT KILLIN

Doug Deming is another artist we have enjoyed listening to for a number of years.  He joins the EllerSoul roster with his latest release, “Complicated Mess,” but it’s really not complicated, at all,  as long as you dig the blues that jump, jive, and wail from the first note!  Doug was born in Detroit, but now calls the Gulf Coast side of Florida his home base.  For this set, he offers up ten original swingers, plus three rarely-performed covers.  This set also features guests Kim Wilson, Little Charlie Baty, Bob Welch, and Sax Beadle, making for a sweet blues ride, sho’ nuff!

The title cut leads off, full of Doug’s fat-toned guitar.  It’s a swampy tale of a bad lover who “makes everything I do seem wrong!”  That spooky vibe continues with another lover who “wouldn’t tell me her name,” only giving out “Room 224” and that “Sweet Poison that overtook me!”  Kim is on the big ol’ chromatic here, too.  The slow groove of “Deep Blue Sea”has fantastic piano from  Bob Welch, while Doug’s foray into soul-blues, “Hold On,” hits a perfectly-sweet vibe!

His covers are red-hot, too.  Dig “I’ll be glad when you’re dead, You Rascal You,” and a unique version of the Fat Man’s “I’m Walkin,” as Doug uses his guitar to re-create the piano strides, but doesn’t mess with the Sax Beadle solo at the bridge!  The third cover served as one of our favorites.  Kim Wilson is once again on harp, as Doug hits a deep Excello groove on a sweet cover of Lazy Lester’s “Blues Stop Knockin,” effectively capturing Lester’s plaintive “why can’t misery set me free?”  Our other favorite was the rhumba-rockin’ original tale of “Someday Pretty Baby, you’ll bring that sweet lovin’ home to me!”

Altho this set was laid down in Hayward, CA at Bigtone Records, it could have easily been done at 2120 Michigan Avenue back in the day!  Doug Deming and the Jewel Tones keep alive that good ol’ vintage sound, while making it current for today’s contemporary fans.  Hey y’all—get ready to cut some rugs to a “Complicated Mess!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Kirk Fletcher review…October 18, 2018…..

KIRK FLETCHER

HOLD ON

KF270137

TWO STEPS FORWARD–YOU NEED ME–SAD SAD DAY–THE ANSWER–TIME’S TICKING–DUPREE–GOTTA RIGHT–HOLD ON

Kirk “Eli” Fletcher is one of the most gifted and talented blues guitarists on the planet.  We’ve been fans of his since the good ol’ days around the turn of the century, when he, Junior Watson, Finis Tasby, Randy Chortkoff, and all those connected with Delta Groove and The Mannish Boys would descend upon Memphis during Blues Awards Week.  Kirk also served as lead guitarist for Kim Wilson’s Fabulous Thunderbirds, and also worked on Joe Bonamassa’s two most recent live projects.  He’s still found time to release his fifth album as a solo artist, a powerful statement of contemporary blues entitled “Hold On.”  It not only is full of the blues guitar for which he is known the world over, but also includes forays into jazzy, soul-centric blues as well.  His vocals reminded us of another legend perhaps better-known in the Southeast, Excello artist the late Earl Gaines, with just the right amount of grit.

This set was laid down at Canyon Sound in Bristol, England, and features Matt Brown on drums, and Johnny Henderson on keys.  Right outta the gate, Kirk delivers a slashing ode to times to which we can all relate, taking “Two Steps Forward, and ten steps back.”  He’s joined by fiery female vocalist Mahalia Barnes on the duet vocals, and busts out a wah-wah break that’d make John Shaft proud!  He pleads to a lover to “try before we give up,”  on the breezy funk of “You Need Me,” while his penchant for deeply-emotional slow-blues shows up in “The Answer,” and “Time’s Ticking,” the latter driven by Matt’s marching-band percussion.  He closes the set with an anthem for love, peace, and unity, and features Jade McCrea on duet vocals, “Hold On.”

We had two favorites, too.  “Sad Sad Day” rides a Mardi Gras groove over Kirk’s vocal story of the lover who, “the harder I try, little girl, the further you run away!”  And, “Gotta Right” is one of the reasons Kirk has been a four-time BMA nominee, this one with stinging leads and Kirk’s plaintive confession that he was “born to lose.”

With “Hold On,” Kirk Fletcher desired to create an album borne out of love and humanity, and to offer hope to a troubled society.  This one definitely hits the mark!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.