Archive for November, 2018

Ms. Zeno review…November 16, 2018…..

MS ZENO

THE MOJO QUEEN

BACK IN LOVE

BLUE LOTUS RECORDS  BL-05

BACK IN LOVE–IN MY SHOES–THAT’S HOW I KNOW–WILLIE BROWN–MOJO QUEEN–RISE UP–LOVE IS LIKE A FLOWER–CALL MY NAME–GOTTA GET PAID–MISTRESS–HOT SAUCE–FATHER TIME

Ms. Zeno The Mojo Queen was discovered by Little Milton himself in her home city of Natchitoches, LA, and soon joined his backing singers, The Angels. That gig led to her eventual move to Memphis, where she held court on Beale Street for over 25 years.  Blue Lotus Records in St. Louis is proud to release her latest, “Back In Love,” produced by Ms. Zeno, Kevin O’Connor, and label head Paul Niehaus IV, who plays multiple instruments over these twelve cuts.

Ms. Zeno is a dynamite performer, and wrote the originals herein based on her life’s experiences, being a nightly performer down on Beale.  She’s backed by a full band on most of these cuts, giving the whole thing a good ol’ down-home feel.  Leading off is the title cut, where Ms. Zeno lets everybody know that she’s back in the game, “on cloud nine,” and “Back In Love again!”  She plays the cheated-upon lover to the hilt, confronting the dirty dog with the slow-burn of “what would you do if you were In My Shoes?”  The string section adds a feeling of soulful authenticity to another cut, as our heroine finds the high heel is on the other foot, as she realizes, sadly and much too late, that “I’m just a Mistress to you.”  A cool zydeco groove drives Ms. Zeno’s autobiography , our “Mojo Queen,” who’ll “love you up, and love you down,” as long as you don’t mess around!  This one features Tom Martin on the accordion.  She closes the set with some sage advice that we all have to heed, “no one–not no one, can beat old Father Time!”

Our favorite was decidedly different from the other cuts.  It’s acoustic, and as deep down in the Delta as you can go, as Ms. Zeno sings a love song to ol’ “Willie Brown,” this one featuring Brandon Santini on harp, and our old friend Little G Weevil on guitar.

We have had the great pleasure to have seen Ms. Zeno at B. B.’s club down on Beale, and we can sho’ nuff tell you that she’s classy, brassy, bold, and sassy, and “Back In Love” is as close to one of her live shows as you can get!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

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David Lumsden review…November 15, 2018….

DAVID LUMSDEN AND FRIENDS

HUES OF BLUES

YOU GOT TO LOSE–FURTHER ON UP THE ROAD–YOU ARE RUINING MY BAD REPUTATION–BRUSH WITH THE BLUES–WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH THE MILL–RAISED ME RIGHT–ON BENDED KNEE–THRILL IS GONE–CUT YOU LOOSE–ROLLIN’ AND TUMBLIN’–GEORGIA ON MY MIND–RAIN SONG

Regular readers of this humble forum may recognize David Lumsden as the long-time guitarist for Hurricane Ruth for the last six or so years.  Now, he’s stepped out on his own, and, with sho’ nuff a little help from his friends, he has just released  “Hues Of Blues,” twelve cuts that show the versatility of this fine artist in tackling many varieties of what we know as blues.

David wastes no time at all in getting into the spirit of the album, leading off with his raw, raspy read of Earl Hooker’s “You Got To Lose,” which features one dazzling solo after another!  David busts out all his knowledge of the guitar in successfully tackling Jeff Beck’s simmering instrumental, “Brush With The Blues,” while another of David’s friends, fellow guitarist Andon Davis, punctuates the set-closing cover of Led Zep’s “Rain Song,” with cleverly-spaced slide runs that adds to the overall vibe of this instrumental.  David and Central Illinois legend Bill Evans swap more licks than Hagler v, Hearns on a down-and-dirty “Further On Up The Road,” serving as one of our favorites!  Reggie Britton and Steve “Harp Man” Mehlberg get their grind on in the good times of “What’s The Matter With The Mill,” with Ezra Casey gettin’ into some good piano, too.

Wayne Carter adds the vocals to our other two favorites,  a beautiful read of “The Thrill Is Gone,” and a reverential-to-Brother-Ray’s “Georgia On My Mind.”

David Lumsden And Friends, with “Hues Of Blues,” is just that–differing styles of blues that are raw and powerful.  And, they remind us why we fell in love with the blues in the first place!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Martha Scanlan review…November 15, 2018..

MARTHA SCANLAN

THE RIVER AND THE LIGHT

BROTHER WAS DYING–WEST VIRGINIA RAIN–HIGHER ROCK–BUTTERMILK ROAD–LAS CRUCES–TOO LATE–ONLY A RIVER/TRUE EYED ANGEL–REVIVAL

Songstress Martha Scanlan is equally at home, musically, in the rambling, wide-open spaces of Montana or the mountains of East Tennessee.  Her music reflects her inner peace and tranquility, and that is the feeling one gets as you listen to her latest album, “The River And The Light.”  Joining her on this musical journey thru the rivers of your soul is longtime collaborator, guitarist, and producer Jon Neufeld.  They met in 2010 in Portland, OR, during the Pickathon Festival, and clicked instantly.  They have developed that rare “sixth sense” that is almost telepathic within the scope of their playing.  Natch’l fact is, they recorded most of this album in just one take!

Martha, when creating the songs for this album, “wanted to record songs in the places where they were written,” thus the references to rivers, the open spaces of Montana, and the rustic surroundings of East Tennessee.  Leading off the set, Jon’s guitar lines take “Brother Was Dying, blamed it on the times,” to that ethereal place where we often are “chasing dreams we never find.”  Dirk Powell’s fiddle, set over Martha’s haunting vocal and Biblical references to Saul and David give “when you reach for the Higher Rock, you reach for me,” a gospel undertone, as does the set-closing story of heading down to the “Revival,” where we “follow the sounds where the creek runs down!”

Martha Scanlan is strong-yet-vulnerable in the songs of “The River And The Light,” and challenges us to re-awaken our own spirits thru this most excellent set!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Doyle Bramhall II review…November 12, 2018…

DOYLE BRAMHALL II

SHADES

PROVOGUE 75722

LOVE AND PAIN–HAMMER RING–EVERYTHING YOU NEED (FEAT. ERIC CLAPTON)–LONDON TO TOKYO–SEARCHING FOR LOVE (FEAT. NORAH JONES)–LIVE FOREVER (FEAT. GREYHOUNDS)–BREAK APART TO MEND–SHE’LL COME AROUND–THE NIGHT–PARVANNAH–CONSCIOUSNESS–GOING GOING GONE (FEAT. TEDESCHI TRUCKS BAND)

Fortunately for us fans, we only had a two-year wait between albums from Doyle Bramhall II this time around.  His latest set, “Shades,” is just that–Doyle shows us his varied shades of soul and blues and how they relate to our lives throughout these cuts.  Plus, he has some dynamite special guests, including the Greyhounds, Norah Jones, The Tedeschi Trucks Band, and Eric Clapton.  Overall, this set is a bit looser and heavier on the soul-blues material than some of his earlier works, but it’s a sho’ nuff guaranteed sweet ride, indeed!

The set begins with the stark “Love And Pain,” where “that ol’ Reaper’s coming, and he won’t be denied!”  “Hammer Ring” recounts a tale of a young man for whom the hammer of justice hits hard, “leaving his mother crying in the courthouse,” set over a brooding arrangement.  Clapton’s guitar adds  embellishment to the soulful groove of “Everything I Need,” while Doyle is joined by Norah Jones on vocal and piano on “Searching For Love,” as our paramours grapple with the fact that “nobody said it would be easy, nobody said it would be so hard” to forge a relationship.  The Greyhounds feed off the Sixties-ish, psychedelic groove of “Love Forever,” while the set closes with our favorite.  The Tedeschi Trucks Band join the party “down where the willow don’t bend,”  for a soul-grabbing, gospel-infused read of Dylan’s classic, “Going Going Gone.”

It takes a lot of “Shades” of blues to get where you are on life’s journey.  Doyle Bramhall II recognizes this up front, and utilizes the music on this set to convey a message easily understood by all his fans!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Little G Weevil review….November 11, 2018…

LITTLE G WEEVIL

BACK IN ALABAMA

WHEN THE KING WAS TOLD–SHE DON’T KNOW–BRAGGIN–THANK YOU FOR THE CRUISE–WORLD IS MINE–GULF COAST JAM–KEEP GOING–JOHN IS THE MAN–SASHA SAID–ANGEL CHILD–POOR BLACK MATTIE

Little G Weevil has been on our radar since 2013, when he won the whole shootin’ match in the Solo Category during that year’s IBC in Memphis.  He’s got five albums already under his belt, and number six is almost here.  “Back In Alabama” is that album’s title, and it’ll officially hit the streets on December 4, just in time for the holidays, and we’re here to create a bit of pre-release buzz!

If you are not familiar with Little G, he is literally a one-man wrecking crew when it comes to playin’ these blues.  His blues draw deeply from the well of the Delta, and you can hear a bit of the North Mississippi Hill Country in some of his grooves.  Plus, he plunks a little funk for the dancers along the way, too.  of course, G is on vocals, guitars, and bass drum, and he utilizes Tamara Nicolai on doghouse bass on three cuts.  You gotta have a harpoon man on a set like this, and Maurice Nazarro is the man here.  And, Carla Don and Rachel Bernice Edwards are on vocals for three cuts.  The live cuts were laid down at the Black Box Theater in Columbiana, AL,, and the crowd was sho’ nuff into the goings-on!!

G wrote nine of the eleven cuts, and one of the originals served as one of our favorites.  Our hero has “warned her three times and I ain’t gon’ make it four,” and “She Don’t Know” he’s got on his walkin’ shoes!  He fires up the funk for the backbeat that makes “World Is Mine” so easy to dance to.  G gets his house rent party vibe on with the swingin’ instrumental, “Gulf Coast Jam,” and lays into another cheatin’ lover in “Braggin,” asking her “tell me who you made last night!”

Our other favorite featured Maurice on the harp, and the crowd in the background had a helluva time with the call-and-response tale of our hero, who’s sorely lacking in the lovemaking department, “Sasha Said!”

Little G Weevil,  now based out of Atlanta, GA, keeps the traditions of the blues alive while having fun doing it!  Pre-orders for “Back In Alabama” begin November 16, so get in line, brothers, for some great down-home blues!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Matt Campbell review…November 10, 2018….

MATT CAMPBELL

THE MAN WITH EVERYTHING

FLOUR SACK CAPE RECORDS

THE NIGHT THAT I FOUND JESUS–PILLAR OF FIRE–TRADING TEARDROPS–CHRISTMAS IN NASHVILLE–TWICE AS BIG–THAT’S THE WAY–IT’S OURS–SIMPLE TWIST OF FATE–MORE THAN MEMORIES

Matt Campbell is not a man in search of fame and all the trappings that go with it.  Well, maybe gettin’ rich would be OK, but that wasn’t his intention when he wrote the material that comprises his latest album for Flour Sack Cape Records, “The Man With Everything.”  On this set, Matt brings a full measure of authenticity to a genre’ that has been sorely missing it for quite a while.  The Colorado native wrote all the cuts, save for Dylan’s “Simple Twist Of Fate,” and, as you listen, you’ll find that Matt is equal parts carnival barker and hellfire-and-brimstone Baptist preacher.  His humor and irreverence resounds throughout these songs, and he combines his classic country sound with the storytelling abilities of the old-school folk troubadours.

The epitome’ of what he’s trying to say is spelled out in the leadoff cut, which served as one of our favorites.  It’s the curious tale of “the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost/Lefty, Hank, and Merle,” “The Night That I Found Jesus down at Robert’s Western World!”  “It’s Ours” brings to mind another famous couple-in-song from back in the day, who were “livin’ on love and forty dollars a week,” as these two lovers vow to “grab hold of forever” in their simple home.  This one also featured Keenan Wade on mandolin, too.

Our other favorite was a sort of holiday song.  It details our road-weary singer livin’ it up amidst the beautiful sights and “waltzing with the red-head, Susannah,” during “Christmas In Nashville, —Indiana!”

Matt Campbell indeed went from carrying out the trash at Robert’s Western World to playing on its hallowed stage.  He’s certainly living up to the title of “The Man With Everything!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Eric Bibb review…November 10, 2018….

ERIC BIBB

GLOBAL GRIOT

STONY PLAIN RECORDS  SPCD  1402

CD ONE, ACT ONE:  GATHERING OF THE TRIBES–WHERZA MONEY AT–HUMAN RIVER–WHAT’S HE GONNA SAY TODAY–BRAZOS RIVER BLUES–WE DON’T CARE–BLACK, BROWN, AND WHITE–LISTEN FOR THE SPIRIT–HOIST UP THE BANNER–MAMI WATA/SEBASTIAN’S TUNE–SEND ME YOUR JESUS–A ROOM FOR YOU–REMEMBER FAMILY

CD TWO, ACT TWO:  RACE AND EQUALITY–GRATEFUL–ALL BECAUSE–SPIRIT DAY–LET GOD–LAST NIGHT I HAD THE STRANGEST DREAM–PICTURE A NEW WORLD (INST.)–NEW FRIENDS–MOLE IN THE GROUND–MICHAEL, ROW DA BOAT ASHORE–NEEDED TIME

Webster defines “griot” as a West African tribal member whose function is maintaining an oral record of tribal history thru music, poetry, and storytelling.  That gives you a good idea of Eric Bibb’s latest album for Stony Plain, the 2 CD collection, “Global Griot.”  Eric, whose career has spanned some fifty years, truly does make this a global affair, utilizing the talents of old friend Habib Koite’, West African musician Solo Cissokho, master of the 23-stringed kora, and vocalist Harrison Kennedy.

The first CD, entitled “Act One,” fires some shots at the current administration and its policies, beginning with the dark, horn-infused “Wherza Money At, from all that oil,” and “where does it go?”  “What’s He Gonna Say Today” compares His Orangeness to “Family Guy,” with us all hoping that we don’t “wake up one day and find our freedom gone.”  Those two are great on their own, but the icing on the cake is the duet between Eric and Harrison Kennedy that really hits hard with a cool read of Big Bill Broonzy’s  “Black, Brown, And White,” a “history lesson” of sorts that rings profoundly true today.

Act One does have some happier moments.  “Listen For The Spirit” looks to the power of music to “guide you home,” while “Send Me Your Jesus” is a call for universal peace and unity.

Act Two continues our hero’s  search for redemption, leading off with “Race And Equality,” teaching the lesson that, “in God’s eyes, there is no division.”  “Grateful” uses a reggae-fied beat to convey Eric’s feelings toward a lover, “she’s my water when I’m dry.”  “Let God” teaches trust and faith to “make a brighter world,” while the powerful duet, “New Friends,” with Linda Tillery, is a poignant prayer for equal respect and a return to keeping “our eye on the sparrow.”  Our favorite on this portion kept true to the theme of love and harmony, “Michael, Row Da Boat Ashore,” with Ulrika Bibb on the duet vocal.

Eric Bibb’s ambitious, 2 CD effort, “Global Griot” combines his love for the music of the world with some of its most celebrated players.  Their talents make this set a musical cry of hope for a nation in search of a healing.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.