Blues Caravan 2018 CD/DVD review…January 8, 2019…..

BERNARD ALLISON  VANJA SKY  MIKE ZITO

BLUES CARAVAN 2018

RUF RECORDS  CD/DVD 1260

CD: LOW DOWN AND DIRTY–ALL NIGHT–DO YOU WANNA–MARRIED MAN–KEEP COMING BACK–WASTED TIME–MAKE BLUES NOT WAR–IN THE OPEN (INST.)–ROCKET 88–THE WAY LOVE WAS MEANT TO BE–LIFE IS A BITCH–SERIOUS AS A HEART ATTACK

BONUS DVD FEATURES (ASIDE FROM THE ABOVE-MENTIONED)–CROSSROADS OF LIFE–BAD PENNY (VANJA SKY)–ONE MORE TRAIN (ZITO)–TESTIFY (INST.) (BERNARD)–MEDLEY: BAD NEWS IS COMING/BAD LOVE(BERNARD AND ZITO)  MOVE FROM THE HOOD–AMAZING GRACE/GIVE ME BACK MY WIG (VANJA, BERNARD, ZITO)

For Blues Caravan 2018, Ruf Records founder Thomas Ruf chose three of his hottest players–all three are brilliant guitarists, vocalists, and composers in their own right, and, on the night of January 27, 2018, at the Cafe Hahn in Koblenz, Germany, the world got to see them all on one stage!  They are, of course, Bernard Allison, Mike Zito, and Vanja Sky, and Mr. Ruf warmly introduced them to this packed and enthusiastic house for the performances that would become the Live CD/DVD set of “Blues Caravan 2018.”

We must admit, we watched the DVD first, to grasp the camaraderie of the players and for the solos and breaks, and who played what, when and where.  Along with the trio of principle players, special mention must be made to Roger Innisson on bass, and Mario Dawson on drums, doing yeoman’s work throughout.

OK y’all—this trio drops a big “f” bomb right outta the gate–no, not THAT kind–but an absolute favorite of all time of ours with the leadoff “Low Down And Dirty,” made popular by Bernard’s famous dad Luther (from his “Reckless” CD from back in the day!), and each of the three takes a vocal and gives a sample of guitar fireworks to come.  Vanja is next up, the comely lass with that delightful native brogue in her vocals, and she takes us back to the lusty, busty days of our youth with some booty-shakin’ rock and blues.  First up is that age-old “weekend marriage” arrangement, “doin’ things that lovers do, All Night!”  That vein continues as our sexily-confident babe begs the question, “Do You Wanna,” before finishing up by calling out all the cheatin’ dogs whose heads get turned by the first PYT that comes along, the sad-but-too-often-true, “Married Man.”

Zito’s up next, rockin’ the blues as only this Texan-by-way-of-St. Louis can do, with the bristling shuffle of “Keep Coming Back,” followed by a kiss-off to a long-gone lover, “Wasted Time,” before closing with another bluesy anthem that begs us to “Make Blues Not War!” Bernard is next, opening with a cool instrumental, “Into The Open,” with a sweet nod to “Harlem Shuffle” in the mix, before settling down behind the wheel of that ol’ reliable “Rocket 88.”  He closes his CD set with a soulful, poignant, “The Way Love Was Meant To Be.”  At this time, the trio re-formed to close the show.  Bernard opened by relating to the crowd that this city and particular venue was one of his dad’s favorites, and was the reason for recording there.  The trio plays off on some of Luther’s favorite songs, “Life Is A Bitch,” and “Serious As A Heart Attack.”

The DVD has all these performances, with a few extras that are equally as impressive.  Vanja adds “Crossroads Of Life” along with one of our favorites of hers, “Bad Penny.”  Zito opens his portion of the program with a cool shot of Texas blues “One More Train,” while Bernard closes his set with another driving instrumental, “Testifyin.”

When the trio reconvenes to close, the DVD features some powerful stuff.  First, Bernard and Zito duet on Luther’s “Bad News Is Coming/Bad Love,” and Vanja joins the fellows for “Move From The Hood.”  The DVD and concert closes with Bernard’s intro of “Amazing Grace,” which barrels headlong into the Chicago-styled finale of “Gimme Back My Wig!”

Y’all, this was an incredible night of music from three of the best in contemporary blues.  Bernard, Mike, and Vanja not only showcased their talents and material, but they paid a loving tribute to one of Ruf Records most famous “citizens,” the mighty Luther Allison.  Please enjoy “Blues Caravan 2018.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don “Mr. Mojo” Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

 

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