Archive for November, 2018

In Layman Terms review…November 28, 2018….

IN LAYMAN TERMS

STRONG ROOTS

ENDLESS BLUES RECORDS

STRONG ROOTS–I’M SOMEBODY–MAKE ME YOURS–AIN’T GONNA FAKE IT NO MORE–HEARTBROKEN–FEVER–NOTICE ME–WAY TOO FAR

Cole and Logan Layman have been making music their entire lives, and are the heart and soul of the aptly-named band In Layman Terms.  Logan is a seriously-talented bassist and vocalist, and that angelic voice has that extra “something” that you can’t put a tag on, but you can hear it in everything she sings.  Brother Cole is a guitar monster for someone so young, and their combination of talents make for a strong musical core that is deeply in tune with the blues despite their youth.  For their latest set, “Strong Roots,” Nick Davidson is on drums, and newest addition to the band Hamed Barbarji is the horn section, on trumpet and flugelhorn, along with percussion and vocals.

The funk hits the fan on the opening, title cut, as our girl is off to “explore and shut the door to this place I used to know,” punctuated by Cole’s stinging solo and Hamed’s horn of plenty carrying the melody.  Some good old-school call-and-response is the name of the game in the slide-heavy, freight train drive of “I’m Somebody,” while our heroine does everything but strip nekkid to get a lover to “Notice Me,” a sassy strut done up Double Trouble style.

Much is made of Logan’s voice, but all its nuances are on full display on the two tunes that served as our favorites.  “Ain’t Gonna Fake It No More” is six minutes of slow-blues bliss that finds Logan in empowerment mode, “finally takin’ care of my own needs!”  The guitar and horn parts mesh extremely well on this one and again on our other favorite.  Logan goes into full-on torch singer mode with the sets lone cover, as she shows off her sexy, sultry siren side, playing that unmistakable bass intro while purring about that “Fever, born long ago.”  Accentuated scat-singing over Hamed’s horn lines gives that vintage edge here, and Logan closes it with an emphatic “what a lovely way to burn!”

Logan and Cole Layman already had a good thing going, but the addition of Hamed’s horn into the mix gives everything a solid boost, fitting right in with their musical vision.  Hey–In Layman Terms, “Strong Roots can endure!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Advertisements

The Knickerbocker All-Stars review…November 26, 2018….

THE KNICKERBOCKER ALL-STARS

LOVE MAKES A WOMAN

JP CADILLAC RECORDS  JPS 1004

SO SOON–HIGHER AND HIGHER–GOOD ROCKIN DADDY–TALK TO ME, TALK TO ME–LOVE MAKES A WOMAN–GO GIRL!–DON’T CRY BABY–WILD WILD YOUNG MEN–NICK OF TIME–SINCE YOU’VE BEEN GONE

Pair up the immense instrumental artistry of the Knickerbocker All-Stars with two powerhouse female R & B shouters, and you KNOW you’re in for one helluva good rockin’ time!  That is exactly the case with the latest set from the Knicks, “Love Makes A Woman,” featuring New England’s Darcel Wilson and Motown’s Thornetta Davis.  This album was inspired by the great female soul and R & B singers from the Fifties and Sixties, and these two powerful contemporary women of the blues fit the bill perfectly.  The All-Stars are some of New England’s finest, as practically all of them have spent some time with Roomful Of Blues.

Both singers bring an authentic perspective to these ten R & B chestnuts.  Check out Darcel’s take on Jackie Wilson’s “Higher And Higher,” as she reaches the upper-register notes with ease.  She hits a grand slam with the title cut, too, Barbara Acklin’s story of passing up diamonds and pearls for, “It’s Love that Makes A Woman.”  She closes the set with a tribute to Aretha (hey–the whole set is dedicated to the memory of the Queen Of Soul, Aretha Louise Franklin), the gospel-fired “Since You’ve Been Gone.”

Thornetta shows off her vocal versatility thru a cut associated with Bonnie Raitt, as our heroine finds love “just in the Nick Of Time.”  Then, she drops one of our favorites, a swingin’ romp thru Etta James’ “Good Rockin’ Daddy,” with a cool piano break from Dave Limina.  Our other favorite was a sexy, sultry read of Little Willie John’s iconic “Talk To Me, Talk To Me, in your own, sweet, gentle way,” from Darcel.  Lovers throughout the world, enjoy!

The Knickerbocker All-Stars put their immense talents behind two of the most classic, classiest female R & B singers on the scene today, Darcel Wilson and Thornetta Davis.  “Love Makes A Woman” is a soul-blues blockbuster!  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Regina Bonelli review…November 25, 2018….

REGINA BONELLI

LOVE LETTER

TRUE GROOVE RECORDS

DON’T YOU PUT YOUR HANDS ON ME–PLAYIN IN THE DIRT–NOTHING I CAN’T HANDLE–LOVE LETTER–STRAIGHTEN MY CROWN–A LITTLE RAIN MUST FALL–TALK IS CHEAP–PAINT IT BLACK–THE LADDER

Regina Bonelli is a native of Brooklyn NY, and is a member of the New York Blues Hall Of Fame.  She’s shared stages with Bobby Rush, Paul Simon, Ronnie Earl, and a host of others.  She has just released “Love Letter,” for True Groove Records, eight band originals and one unique cover that shows Regina’s affinity for writing songs built around experiences of everyday life.

Empowerment is the name of the game in the leadoff cut, as she “don’t want to judge nobody,” but, as far as abusers of women go, “Don’t You Put Your Hands On Me,” featuring Nick Rolfe on the testifyin’ B-3.  The guitar, washboard, and harp from James Dellatacoma and Rick Schreiner set up a country-blues groove for the tale of what happens when one is “Playin’ In The Dirt.”  One of our favorites featured Tomas Doncker on the wah-wah guitar as our heroine strikes a deep-soul groove on life’s trials and tribulations, “A Little Rain Must Fall.”  Our other favorite was the slow blues of the title cut.  “Love Letter” is a barbed goodbye to a no-good lover with a penchant for using our heroine for his own agenda, then “tossing that bone into the street!”  She exacts her revenge and cleanses her soul simultaneously thru the lyrics of this one.

Regina Bonelli’s intention for “Love Letter” was to offer healing thru the songs in this set for a troubled society.  Herein, she connects with our emotions, fears, and feelings, and encourages us to come along for the ride.  And, what a sweet ride it is!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Gaetano Letizia review…November 24, 2018….

GAETANO LETIZIA

AND THE UNDERWORLD BLUES BAND

BEATLES BLUES BLAST

COME TOGETHER–DO IT IN THE ROAD–DRIVE MY CAR–MONEY–TAX MAN–WHILE MY GUITAR GENTLY WEEPS–SHE CAME IN THROUGH THE BATHROOM WINDOW–I WANT YOU (SHE’S SO HEAVY)–AND I LOVE HER–CAN’T BUY ME LOVE–YOU CAN’T DO THAT–YESTERDAY–GET BACK–WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS–BIRTHDAY–BLACKBIRD–A DAY IN THE LIFE

Gaetano “Tom” Letizia hails from straight outta Cleveland.  His power trio, the Underworld Blues Band, consists of bassist Lenny Gray and drummer Mike D’Elia.  Together, they have put together one of the most ambitious, fun-filled projects of this or any other year.  They have taken seventeen songs from arguably the most popular canon in the history of rock and roll, that of the Beatles, giving them a blues makeover,  which is aptly-titled “Beatles Blues Blast.”

The Lads from Liverpool always had an affinity for blues and R & B throughout their career, (“Anna,” anyone?}, and the fun arrangements from Tom and the fellows reflect that.  No, you won’t hear any violins at the frenetic conclusion of “A Day In The Life,” but Tom’s guitar carries the day.  We always preferred Barrett Strong’s version of “Money (That’s What I Want),” and Tom’s version has that raw, bluesy feeling of the original.  That bluesy feeling carries over into the shufflin’ read of George’s “Taxman,” as well, with an extended solo at the halfway point.  You gotta love Tom’s bold chance-taking herein, too.  Billy Preston’s piano break in the middle of “Get Back” is done through Tom’s snappy guitar work, which becomes a thing of beauty in a brilliant finger-picked instrumental version of that “Blackbird singin’ in the dead of night,” which served as our sho-nuff-tough-to-pick favorite.

Kudos to Letizia Gaetano And The Underworld Blues Band for this exceptional undertaking.  These classic songs play out as a loose, free-for-all blues jam where everybody knows all the words, and fun is the name of the game!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

 

Matt Walsh review…November 23, 2018…..

MATT WALSH

THE MIDNIGHT STRAIN

FULL BLOOM RECORDS

THE MIDNIGHT STRAIN–TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT–SHE BELONGS TO THE BOTTLE–GURU BLUE–THE DECLARED ONES–SITTING ON EMPTY–IKE AND DAISY–HERE WE GO AGAIN–DRIVE ME AWAY–DON’T HOLD YOUR BREATH

Matt Walsh’s first exposure to music came from his mom’s love of Motown, and, as a young ‘un, his first concert was a Prince show.  We became acquainted with Matt back ’round 2007, through a mutual friend, fellow North Carolinian and blues legend extraordinaire, Steady Rollin’ Bob Margolin.   Matt’s 2007 release of “Hard Luck” got great buzz throughout the blues community, and he has only gotten better over the course of the last decade.

His latest release is on his own label, Full Bloom Records, and shows his incredible ease at handling various genres’.  “The Midnight Strain” is its title, and, on the eleven all-original cuts herein, Matt covers blues, R & B, rockabilly, and even some hard-core honky-tonk.  He’s on all manner of guitars, and harp and bottles on a few tracks!

Let’s get into this brilliant music.  Leading off is the title cut, and it would be right at home for last call down at Tootsie’s or Robert’s.  With pedal steel from Mike Salley and fiddle from Jesse Eversole, our hero bemoans his life’s situation, “I work all day and drink all night.”  He uses cool twangin’ guitars for a “Peter Gunn”-ish (Go Google it if you are too young!) intro on “The Takeaway,” as Matt knows his lover is only sellin’ wolf tickets, “always talkin’, didn’t have a word to say.”  “Guru Blues” taps into those deep blues roots, as does the acoustic, Delta-fied groove of the instrumental, “Ike And Daisy.”  He closes the set with our favorite.  It’s mostly-acoustic and passes on a valuable lesson–“good days will come again, so I am told, you think things bother you won’t take their toll, Don’t Hold Your Breath.”

Take a good look at the cover of “The Midnight Strain” and you’ll get a good idea of what’s in the grooves.  Yep–the two devilish-looking characters involved in a tug-of-war embody Life’s choices, and the constant pull of good choices against the not-so-good.  Matt Walsh, thru these songs, tries to help us make the right choices, or, at least, cope with the ones we do make!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Ruth Wyand review…November 22, 2018….

RUTH WYAND

TRIBE OF ONE

BACK BAY BILL RECORDS

BAD MOJO (WORKING OVERTIME)–BREAK THE CURSE–THE LAST NAIL–BETTER OFF ALONE–HELP MY SOUL SURVIVE–TILL IT’S SAFE TO GO OUTSIDE–BLIND WILLIE MCTELL–LOVE ON THE LINE BLUES–I DON’T HAVE PROOF–100 PROOF–LITTLE WING–BROKEN WOMAN–MINT JULEP–ON THE PORCH WITH ETTA

Ruth Wyand was a Semi-Finalist in the 2018 IBC’s, and a Finalist in 2017, and truly fits the description of those who compete in the Solo category.  As you listen to her debut, “Tribe Of One,” you’ll see why.  Literally a “one-woman band,” she parlays an arsenal of guitars and playing styles, as well as foot drums and thumb bass and crystal-clear vocals into the eleven originals and three covers that proves she can rock with anybody.  She hails from Kill Devil Hill, NC, and this set was laid down at Dock Diving Dog Studio in that town.

She opens the set with a right cross to the jaw of the “man in the power tie, who’s the biggest thief,” “Bad Mojo (Working Overtime).”  She puts out her “gris-gris bag hangin’ on my post just to keep me safe from you,” on the Fifties-ish boogie of “Break The Curse,” while her Carolina heritage is displayed via a humorous folk tale where our heroine waits on a lover to “make up your mind,” those “Love On The Line Blues.”

The covers are sho’ nuff well-played, too.  Check out her pickin’ prowess on an instrumental take of Etta Baker’s “Mint Julep,” and a breathtaking acoustic jaunt thru Jimi’s classic “Little Wing.”  Our favorite, tho, of the covers, was Ruth’s rollicking romp over Dylan’s ode to dyin’ crapshooters, Statesboro, GA, and those “”charcoal gypsy maidens,” “nobody sings the blues like Blind Willie McTell!”

Honestly, when we think of a one-person band, the first performer to come to mind was ol’ Joe Hill Louis from the glory days of Sam Phillips and Sun Records.  Ruth Wyand, tho, is totally different.   She’s poised, polished, and speaks the blues with power and conviction, and, with Ruth, a “Tribe Of One” is all you need for a set of great blues!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Ali Handal review…November 21, 2018….

ALI HANDAL

MAKE YOUR MOVE

DESSERT FIRST RECORDS

ALL THE WAY–MY SHARONA–PIN ME DOWN–YOU’RE WORTH MORE–REALLY REALLY REALLY–YOU’RE STILL WITH ME–SHUT YOUR MOUTH–NEED MORE TIME–IT’S UP TO ME–CANNED HUNT

Back in September, 2017, we had the great pleasure to review Ali Handal’s most excellent “That’s What She Said.”  It was a brilliant set of blues-rock, showing off not only her sah-weet guitar chops, but her clever way with a lyric.  Hey—you gotta love “Thank God For Birth Control” from that set, and now, thanks to the wonders of Facebook, Ali is giving away free of charge, for nothing, and without cost or obligation, (save for postage from her house to yours), her 2010 release, “Make Your Move,” for Dessert First Records.

Even eight years ago, you knew this rock kitten was gonna be a star.  This set of nine originals and co-writes plus one unbelievably-cool cover give you a taste of her rocker-chick side as well as her feminine side.  The party starts on a grungy note, with a shot of youthful, carnal lust, as our girl has her guy in her sights, with intentions of goin’ “All The Way!”  She thought she’d “kicked the habit” on the “best drug that I know,” and lustily begs him to “Pin Me Down, fill me up,” and “I’ll quit you—tomorrow!”  She addresses domestic violence as “he makes you feel two feet tall” in “You’re Worth More,” and poignantly looks at the sudden loss of a loved one to whom she “never got to say goodbye,” and now, “all that’s left of you is love,” the heart-tugging “You’re Still With Me.”

Perhaps the most unusual cut on the set was a stone-cold throwback to late 1979 and The Knack, as Ali cranks out a slowed-down-then-amped-up read of “My Sharona,” buzzsaw guitars grinding away!

In a totally non-derogatory use of this term, Ali Handal is a badass blues babe with still-unlimited potential.  If she’s still giving it away, or even if she ain’t,  stop by her website or Facebook page and “Make Your Move” on some killer blues-rock!  Until next time…Happy Thanksgiving, Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.