Archive for February, 2019

Colin Linden and Luther Dickinson review…February 23, 2019….

COLIN LINDEN AND LUTHER DICKINSON

WITH THE TENNESSEE VALENTINES

AMOUR

STONY PLAIN RECORDS  SPCD 1405

CARELESS LOVE (INST.)–DON’T LET GO–HONEST I DO–CARELESS LOVE (VOCAL)–CRAZY ARMS–FOR THE GOOD TIMES–LOVER PLEASE–WHAT AM I LIVING FOR–DEAREST DARLING–I FORGOT TO REMEMBER TO FORGET

Colin Linden and Luther Dickinson are two of the blues-roots genre’s best guitarists.  Colin has played with Blackie and the Rodeo Kings and served as the musical director for the ABC-TV series, “Nashville,” while Luther Dickinson is a member of one of the “first families” of Mississippi Hill Country blues.  For their collaboration on “Amour” for Stony Plain, the two guitar legends tackle ten classic love songs from the country/Americana playbook.  Also, they recruited some of Nashville’s finest singers to bring the songs to life, and assembled a backing band, affectionately-dubbed “The Tennessee Valentines,” that consist of Dominic Davis on bass, Bryan Owings on drums, Fats Kaplin on accordion and fiddle, and Kevin McKendree on keys.

That ensemble leads off with an instrumental version of “Careless Love,” with Colin on electric dobro and Luther on electric guitar.  That song is reprised a bit later as a vocal, courtesy of Rachael Davis.  Other highlights for us included Rachael again on vocal for “Honest I Do,” with the fellows faithfully capturing that unmistakable Jimmy Reed lope, while Sam Palladio offers up a bluesy read of “Crazy Arms.”

Our favorite was easy.  He wrote it, Clyde McPhatter hit with it in the Fifties, and now Billy Swan sings it for himself—“Lover Please” is set over a lively arrangement augmented by accordion from Fats and Rachael on the harmony vocal.

This set is described as a soundtrack for romance and romantics everywhere.  Enjoy “Amour,” as presented by two roots-blues guitar titans, Colin Linden and Luther Dickinson!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

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Kathryn Grimm review…February 22, 2019….

KATHRYN GRIMM

BLUES TOOLS

BLUES TOOLS–TALKING TO THE WIND–TROUBLE OF THIS WORLD–YOU MAKE ME SO HAPPY I CAN’T SING THE BLUES–BEST OF ME–C’MON HOME–MISS CELIE’S BLUES–EMPTY SPACE–GOD IS TESTING ME–GONE–HOT DATE WITH BUZZ–LOVEGUN

Portland, Oregon-based woman of the blues Kathryn Grimm’s latest offering, “Blues Tools,” could literally be divided into two parts.  Several of the songs are autobiographical in nature, with an underlying pattern of spirituality, while the remainder are more of a secular nature.  A good example of the former is the title cut.  It offers up a positive message to lift each other up, “cause, really, it’s all about the love, “Blues Tools,” featuring a cool, Fifties-inspired backing sax.  “Trouble Of This World” finds our heroine knowing that she will one day be “going home to live with God,” while “God Is Testing Me” was written right after her van and all her gear was stolen.  but she still found the resolve to forget herself and help others who might be less fortunate than her.  She addresses domestic violence with “Best Of Me,” and tackles the same situation in reverse with a plea to a lover whom she had mistreated to “C’mon Home,” “I’m so wrong without you.”

Our favorite was easy.  “Hot Date With Buzz” chronicles our heroine after a particularly tough day and how she, er, copes with stress!  It’s a hilarious stop-time blueser with slide guitar courtesy of the late master, Jeff Buckley.

It takes a unique talent to so deftly connect both the secular and the sacred.  With “Blues Tools,” Kathryn Grimm has crafted a set that is at onCe powerful, enlightening, and uplifting!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

 

 

John Mayall review…February 22, 2019…..

JOHN MAYALL

NOBODY TOLD ME

FORTY BELOW RECORDS

WHAT HAVE I DONE WRONG–THE MOON IS FULL–EVIL AND HERE TO STAY–THAT’S WHAT LOVE WILL MAKE YOU DO–DISTANT LONESOME TRAIN–DELTA HURRICANE–THE HURT INSIDE–IT’S SO TOUGH–LIKE IT LIKE YOU DO–NOBODY TOLD ME

Over the course of a career that has spanned some seven decades, legendary British bluesman and multi-instrumentalist John Mayall has always surrounded himself with outstanding guitarists.  For his latest set for Forty Below Records, “Nobody Told Me,” produced by Eric Corne, features guest appearances from Steve Van Zandt, Joe Bonamassa, Larry McCray, Alex Lifeson, Todd Rundgren, and Carolyn Wonderland, who will be touring with the band later this year.  Also on board is Billy Watts on rhythm guitar, and the faithful rhythm section of Greg Rzab on bass, and Jay Davenport on drums, with John’s horn section, on break from Conan O’Brien’s latenight talk fest, rounding things out.

Reigning Blues Award winner for Guitarist of the Year, Joe Bonamassa, helps lead off the show with an uptown, horn-fed rendition of “What Have I Done Wrong,” giving way to Larry McCray on guitar for a minor-key KO of “The Moon Is Full.”  Carolyn Wonderland adds that wonderfully-woeful, wailin’ slide to augment John’s vocal where that “spirit calls me from the barren ground on that Distant Lonesome Train.”

We had two favorites, too.  Joe B returns for a jaunt “down to Memphis, where the blues first came down,” ridin’ that “Delta Hurricane,” with a cool B-3 break from John at the bridge.  Alex Lifeson, of Rush fame, joins in on our other favorite, a blistering fun-filled romp thru Albert King’s iconic “That’s What Love Will Make You Do.”

At eighty-five, there is absolutely no slowing down John Mayall.  He’s just gettin’ better, and, with a little help from his friends, he makes “Nobody Told Me” a winner all-round!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

 

Paul Nelson review…February, 20, 2019…..

PAUL NELSON

OVER UNDER THROUGH

GO DOWN EZEKIEL–GHOST IN THE BASEMENT–COLOR IT BLUE–SECRET–LAY A LITTLE–ALICE MULLIN–I WALK THE LINE–RELATIVE WORK–SILENT MAJORITY–OVER UNDER THROUGH–THERE IS WEEPING

The first thing one will notice after listening to Paul Nelson’s latest release, “Over Under Through,” is that it does not fit specifically into any one category or genre’.  Paul wrote all the songs except for Cash’s “I Walk The Line,” and does combine elements of blues, folk, roots, and Americana, for a captivating set.  Adding to the mix is a backing band of the cream of East Coast folk and blues players, including Kevin Barry on guitars, John Sands on drums, Richard Bates and Paul Kochansky on bass, and vocalist Kristin Cifelli.

The set begins and ends on a decidedly-Biblical theme.  Leading off is the swampy, Delta-meets-the-Old-Testament blues of “Go Down Ezekiel,go down to the Riverside,” during his prophesies regarding the threats against Judah and Jerusalem.  The set closes on a quieter, more somber note, with “There Is Weeping,” in a “world of madness and fear.”

In between our favorites included the powerful “Silent Majority,” where “silence strengthens authority, and indifference paves the way,” urging us all to stand and fight for what is just and fair.  And, Paul offers up a unique, drum-heavy read of “I Walk The Line” featuring Kristin on the harmony vocals.

For those who are fans of Lyle Lovett, Amos Lee, or Roguie’s son, Ray Lamontagne, the heartfelt, true-to-life stories presented in Paul Nelson’s “Over Under Through” will resonate well.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Mark Feldman’s LEVEL5 review…February 18, 2019…

MARK FELDMAN’S LEVEL5

THE SYBIL EP

MUTANT CAT RECORDS

SYBIL–SWAGGER–JABBER JAW

Mark Feldman’s LEVEL5 is an evolving, All-Star collaborative of some of New York’s top-echelon musicians.  For “The Sybil EP,” on Mutant Cat Records, the lineup features Oz Noy on guitars, Will Lee on bass, Adam Klipple on keys, and Feldman on drums.  Oz wrote the three instrumentals that make up the set, and Mark named them, based on the vibe he got after listening to each one.  For instance, the title cut, “Sybil,” alternates back and forth between a Herbie Hancock-ish jazz groove and a blastin’, thrash-metal break before settling down at the bridge.  “Swagger” is just that—it has a guitar-driven strut that brings to mind models hittin’ the catwalk.  “Jabber Jaw” closes the proceedings, and, for me, anyways, it brought to mind the arguing couple played out in Albert Collins’ legendary “Conversation With Collins.”

Amazingly,  Mark Feldman used these songs as therapy (something many of us do!) to aid in letting go of his past.  He also, as are we, is a huge fan of the classic instrumental sets from Jeff Beck, “Wired,” and “Blow By Blow,” and the way the songs were geared for the rock-fusion of guitar, bass, keys, and drums.  Thus, he surrounded himself with some of the world’s best musicians to pull it all together.  Hopefully, “The Sybil EP” is the beginning of more stellar releases!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Big Joe And The Dynaflows review…February 17, 2019….

BIG JOE AND THE DYNAFLOWS

ROCKHOUSE PARTY

SEVERN RECORDS  0074

DRIVING WHEEL–SO MEAN TO ME–8 MEN 4 WOMEN–GO ON FOOL–WORLD GONE WRONG–IF YOU NEED SOME LOVIN–OVERDRIVE–TENNESSEE WOMAN–GO WITH THE FLOW–I’M A COUNTRY BOY–VIBRATE–SLEEPY JOE–TWO YEARS OF TORTURE

Big Joe Maher is one of the classic R & B/blues drummers and vocalists on the contemporary scene.  Steeped in truly “old-school” traditions, his latest album was recorded ’bout thirty miles from my house, at Kevin McKendree’s Rockhouse Studios in Franklin, TN.  That also serves as this album’s title, because it is sho’  nuff a “Rockhouse Party!”  Four of the cuts are Joe’s originals, and he writes them all in that vintage R & B groove.  Aside from Joe on drums and vocals, we have Kevin McKendree on keys, his 17-year old (!) son Yates on guitar, along with 16-year old female pheenom Erin Coburn and Robert Frahm on guitars as well.  Mookie Brill is on bass, and we’ve known him since his days with Bob Margolin back ’round 2003, and this set offers up his first recorded vocals!  All the players have that seasoned-veteran feel that Joe was looking for, and this whole thing is a hi-octane hoot!

Highlights are everywhere, beginning with Joe’s vocal on a trip down to that place where you “get your steak, potatoes, and tea,” Roosevelt Sykes’ iconic “Driving Wheel!”  Mookie’s first vocal is next, and it’s a good ‘un—an amped-up tale of “usin’ me ’til the real thing comes along,” Little Milton’s “So Mean To Me.”  He keeps that soulful groove going with one of our favorites, a plaintive read of Don Robey’s classic made famous by O. V. Wright,, where “8 Men, 4 Women found me guilty of loving you!”  He goes “uptown” with the swingin’ boogie of Fenton Robinson’s “Tennessee Woman,” with solid piano from Kevin.

One of Big Joe’s originals served as our other favorite.  It’s a killer shot of minor-key slow blues that deals with the anger and divisiveness in today’s society, leading to a “World Gone Wrong.”

Big Joe And The Dynaflows can always be counted upon for solid, highly-danceable R & B-flavored blues.  “Rockhouse Party” marks his return to Severn Records, and the musicianship from the veterans and the young ‘uns is exemplary.  Roll back the rug, put on your dancin’ shoes, and go with the flow!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Peter Rogan review….February 16, 2019….

PETER ROGAN

STILL TRYIN’ TO BELIEVE

MELT SHOP RECORDS

STILL TRYIN’ TO BELIEVE–THE ONLY ONE–KICKIN THE CAN–RIVER MAN–THE ROLLING MILL BLUES–MERCY–THE START OF SOMETHING EASY–SWEET BABY BLUES–BEAUTIFUL HONEY–BIG GREEN RAMBLER–SONG FOR KEITH–REPRISE

Peter Rogan sho’ nuff is a blue-collar blues man.  Clocking in at least five days a week as an electrician in a Pennsylvania steel mill  for the last eighteen years or so to feed his family, he always had a desire to follow his musical Muse.  He’s been a professional musician on the Philly scene for some thirty years, but only immersed himself into writing his own material over the last few years.  He worked for eighteen months on his debut release, with tracks laid down in Nashville, that resulted in “Still Tryin’ To Believe,” which hits the streets March 1.  It consists of twelve originals written in whole or in part by Peter, with a little help from friends such as Will Kimbrough and old friend Phil Madeira, who plays multiple instruments throughout the set.  Peter is on guitars and vocals throughout, with a cadre’ of seventeen backing musicians to round out this ensemble.

The set blends blues, Americana, a touch of country, and Peter’s love for Stones-inspired rock.  The title cut leads off, as our hero touches on his feelings of wanderlust, where, “to those who can dream, no place is far away!”  Baltimore siren Allison Dietz adds duet vocals on the set’s most country-themed song, “The Only One,” as Peter “flies too close to the sun” in lamenting his broken dreams, only to find redemption in the end.  A nod to his steel mill “hard hat and steel-toed shoes” churns with a Mississippi Hill Country fire as he tries to beat “The Rolling Mill Blues,” while “Sweet Baby Blues” has that “Exile-era” Stones feel, as our hero is mesmerized by the “bomb with the real long fuse” and those incredible eyes, with a downright psychedelic guitar solo at the break.

Two songs served as our favorites, each spiced with a touch of humor.  Peter channels more Jagger on the playfully-sexy “Big Green Rambler-I got plenty of room for you,” co-written by Phil.  Peter told us one cut was the most fun of all, and it served as our other favorite.  He gets his Philly rap on in a funky ode to procrastinators everywhere, with cars as the metaphorical subject of “Kickin The Can down the road,” where the signpost up ahead reads “deeper in debt, and a bleak existence!”

At the urging of Phil Madeira, Peter Rogan was encouraged to produce “Still Tryin’ To Believe” by himself.  It serves as a fine testimony to his perseverance, his faith in himself, and his willingness to pursue his dreams!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.