Archive for October, 2018

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.

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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.

Diane Durrett review…October 17, 2018….

DIANE DURRETT

AND SOUL SUGA

BLOOMING TUNES MUSIC

BRIGHT SIDE–BUTTER’S IN THE SKILLET–IT IS WHAT IT IS–WISH IT WOULD RAIN–LOVE HAS A RIGHT TO BE WRONG–BE SOMEBODY’S ANGEL–ALL IS WELL–IN BETWEEN TIMES–SASSY LARUE–SUMMERTIME–DON’T THAT BRING YOU BACK–WOOHOO–SOUL SUGA BAND INTRO

Diane Durrett is a member of the Atlanta Board of the Recording Academy, and has represented that city in the IBC’s.  She’s brassy, sassy, and full of Southern charm and wit, and you get a glimpse of this young lady’s talents while comfortably in her element down at Eddie’s Attic in Decatur, GA, in July, 2017 for their latest release, “Live.”  There is plenty of dynamite soul and blues throughout this set, and the cuts are interspersed with delectable banter that is not only humorous, but inspiring as well.

The intro sets the tone–“are you ready for some soul and something sweet?” as the band kicks into the gospel-soul romp of “ain’t nobody gone blind looking on the Bright Side!”  Our heroine offers up some sage advice to all you would-be Romeo’s out there–“don’t walk away when the Butter’s In The Skillet!”  A poignant story of reuniting a lost dog with its family is the theme of “Be Somebody’s Angel,” which leads to her story of a grandmother’s everlasting love, “All Is Well.”  Junebug’s drum solo takes us all down to the Mardi Gras to see “Sassy Larue,” and closes the set with one of our two favorites, the sing-along, crowd-pleasin’ “got a little Woohoo in my hoohoo on a Saturday night!”  It has great boogie piano from Yoel Yahuda, and reaffirms our girl’s love of good houserockin’ blues.

Our other favorite came earlier in the set.  It hearkens back to the halcyon days of Motown, Philly, and STAX, and is a love story that takes a losing turn, even tho our heroine did her best,  the breezy soul anthem, “Love Has A Right To Be Wrong.”  It has more great keys work from Yoel, pushing the groove.

With “Live,” at Eddie’s Attic, Diane Durrett And Soul Suga are equal parts Saturday night fish fry and Sunday morning go-to-meetin.  With a voice as bold and powerful as a female Delbert, Diane sure brings the heat on this set!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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.

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.