Archive for April, 2019

John Clifton review…April 30, 2019…..

JOHN CLIFTON

IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE

RIP CAT RECORDS  RIC 1901

I’M LEAVING YOU BABY–IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE–IF IT AIN’T ME–COOL SPOT IN HELL–POOR BOY–KEEP IT CLEAN–JUNKIE WOMAN BLUES–FOUR YEARS AGO–AIN’T SPENDING NO MORE MONEY–SO TIRED I COULD CRY–HONKY TONK NIGHT TIME MAN

West Coast blues harp blaster John Clifton rocked the contemporary blues world with his 2018 release of “Nightlife.”  The sophomore follow-up is here, and it is equally impressive.  It is “In The Middle Of Nowhere,” eleven cuts that feature five John originals and six well-done covers.  The band that plays with John at clubs and festivals are backing him here, and that camaraderie between everyone gives this one that cool “live in the studio” feel.  Also, John transcends a lot of genres,’ including jump blues, R & B, jazz, and even country.

The set opens with the strong Chicago-styled beat of “I’m Leaving You Baby,” with John getting in an extended harp solo mid-song.  The title cut is another showcase for his harp skills, as he laments his upbringing in that “one room country shack In The Middle Of Nowhere!”   Scott Abeyta’s chicken-scratchin’ guitar is the fuel for the fire of one of our favorites, the rapid-fire boogie of “Keep It Clean,” which gives way to the country-styled, acoustic, “Jumkie Woman Blues, with that great big bag of tricks!”  Speaking of country and blues, dig what John does with the Hag’s “Honky Tonk Night Time Man,” which closes the set and serves as our other favorite.  John turns this one into a hi-octane twang fest, with guitar from Roger Perry, and piano from Bartek Szopinski.

One can tell that John Clifton and the band had a lot of fun putting this one together.  Everybody’s in the groove, and John’s harp and overall showmanship makes “In The Middle Of Nowhere” a set that’ll make you wanna get up and boogie!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Duke Robillard review…April 28, 2019….

THE DUKE ROBILLARD BAND

EAR WORMS

STONY PLAIN RECORDS  SPCD 1403

DON’T BOTHER TRYING TO STEAL HER LOVE–ON THIS SIDE OF GOODBYE–LIVING WITH THE ANIMALS–CARELESS LOVE–EVERY DAY I HAVE TO CRY SOME–I AM A LONESOME HOBO–SWEET NOTHIN’S–SOLDIER OF LOVE–DEAR DAD–YES WE CAN–YELLOW MOON–RAWHIDE–YOU BELONG TO ME

Guitarist, singer, and composer Duke Robillard founded the seminal jump-blues band Roomful Of Blues back in 1967, and he’s followed his blues Muse ever since.  With over 20 albums under his own name,  he will release “Ear Worms” on May 17, 2019, for Holger Petersen’s Stony Plain imprint.  The title of this one refers to songs and sounds Duke heard as an adolescent that have come to be his favorites over his six-decade career.  His “usual suspects” backing band are here also, including Bruce Bears and Mark Teixeira, each of whom take a lead vocal during the proceedings.

Several other outstanding vocalists appear also, with perhaps the most unique one being British pop star from the Sixties, Julie Grant.  She had recorded one of Duke’s favorite versions of Arthur Alexander’s iconic “Every Day I Have To Cry Some,” and it is re-created herein with Sunny Crownover on second vocal.  Klem Klimek turns in another of our favorites, taking the vocal over Duke’s Berry-riffic licks on one of Chuck’s coolest “car songs,” “Dear Dad.”  The funk ramps up considerably over the wah-wah guitar that drives “Yes We Can,” with the vocal from keys man Bruce Bears.

The remainder of our favorites came from two of Duke’s fat-toned instrumentals which closed the set.  His tribute to Link Wray,  “Rawhide,” is pure, fun, rock ‘n’ roll, while Bruce’s Hammond organ meshes perfectly with Duke’s lead work on “You Belong To Me.”

With “Ear Worms,” The Duke Robillard Band shares with us fans some of the tunes that helped shape Duke as a world-renowned artist.   He’s a musical genius and a perennial award winner, and this set adds to his ever-growing legacy!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

 

Peter Ward review….April 26, 2019….

PETER WARD

TRAIN TO KEY BISCAYNE

GANDY DANCER RECORDS

THE LUTHER JOHNSON THING–A WESTERLY SUNDAY NIGHT–WHEN YOU ARE MINE–TRAIN TO KEY BISCAYNE–I SAW YOUR HOME–BLUES ELIXIR (RONNIE’S HERE)–SUPPOSEDLY–CHANGE (AIN’T NEVER FOR THE GOOD)–AS LONG AS I HAVE A CHANCE–COFFEE SONG–SOMETHING ALWAYS SLOWS ME DOWN–ANTHONY’S SON

Renowned New England-are guitarist Peter Ward made a huge splash in contemporary blues with his debut solo release from 2017, “Blues On My Shoulders.”  His follow-up to it is here, twelve originals that form “Train To Key Biscayne,” for Gandy Dancer Records.  On board for this one are some of his closest friends, including Luther “Guitar Junior” Johnson, Michelle “Evil Gal” Wilson, Johnny “Too Many Bad Habits” Nicholas, Anthony Geraci, Sugar Ray Norcia, and Ronnie Earl.

The cuts herein are blues, swing numbers, and ballads, and the above-mentioned guests bring them all into vivid focus.  Leading off is the gentle, loping swing of “The Luther Johnson Thing,” as Johnson sings of his humble beginnings in Itta Bena, MS, and the things he’s seen throughout his life as a bluesman.  Sugar Ray blows a nice solo about the halfway mark, too.  Sugar steps up for the vocal on the Fifties-inspired love song, “When You Are Mine,” while Michelle Wilson takes a hard look at abusive relationships in “I Saw Your Home.”

We had several favorites.  Sugar Ray is on vocal in a tribute to his Rhode Island hometown, in the Berry-licious “A Westerly Sunday Night.”   Texan-by-way-of-New England Johnny Nicholas is on vocal on the title cut, the swingin’ story of taking that “Train To Key Biscayne,” name-checking numerous stations along the way.  Peter is on vocal on a tune that showcases the guitar skills of Ronnie Earl, “Blues Elixir (Ronnie’s Here).”  The set closes on a somber note, with the reverential instrumental, “Anthony’s Son,” dedicated to Anthony Geraci’s son, Todd, who recently lost part of a leg in a tragic pedestrian accident.

A great man once opined that “the blues ain’t easy, but at least it’s real.”  Fans, with Peter Ward and “Train To Key Biscayne,” this is blues that is as real as it gets!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Harpdog Brown review…April 26, 2019….

HARPDOG BROWN

FOR LOVE AND MONEY

DOG HOUSE RECORDS

NO EYES FOR ME–BLUE LIGHT BOOGIE–THE COMEBACK–REEFER LOVIN WOMAN–A NEW DAY IS DAWNING–VICIOUS VODKA–I’LL MAKE IT UP TO YOU–ONE STEP FORWARD–STIFF–FOR LOVE AND MONEY–BUZZARD LUCK–THINKIN AND DRINKIN–SASHA’S LULLABY

Harpdog Brown is indeed his real name, and he has teamed up with uber-producer Steve Dawson at the Warehouse Studio in Vancouver, BC, for his latest collection of originals and cool covers, “For Love And Money.”  The set veers from Harpdog’s usual guitar-fueled offerings, this one taking on sort of a Rice Miller-era Chess vibe mixed with a strong New Orleans groove, horn section and all!

Harpdog’s huge-toned harp incorporates well with the horns, and there are several highlights.  You gotta love the infectious groove of “I’m Stiff in all the wrong places,” with clarinet from William Joseph Abbott.  “They did the boogie real slow” is the theme of the jumpin’ jive of “Blue Light Boogie,” and Harpdog’s harp duels with Dave Webb’s keys work on the Wynonie Harris classic, “Buzzard Luck.”

We had two favorites, too.  Dave is all over the acoustic piano on the Louis Jordan-inspired  drinkin’ song, “Vicious Vodka,” that’s “got me on this corner, but I don’t know where I’m at!”  Harpdog’s original, a sweet story of that woman that has a “cool disposition” also has one nasty habit–she’s a “Reefer Lovin’ Woman,” but, in the true spirit of the blues, Harpdog says, “that’s alright with me!”

Harpdog Brown recently discovered he has familial roots in New Orleans, and is truly a “Blues Evangelist,” spreadin’ the gospel of the blues on both sides of the border.  Enjoy “For Love And Money” for some great blues with a N’Awlins twist!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Ross Osteen Band…April 26, 2019….

ROSS OSTEEN BAND

WILLIWAW

MANNISH BOY–SHOW HER (FEAT. BILL ALTMAN)–MAKE IT–LITTLE ROOSTER–A NO. 1–NIGHTTIME–WILLIE G–BROOM–ROAD I’M ON–JELLYFISH JAM

Formed in 2014., the power trio named the Ross Osteen Band consists of Ross on vocals and guitar, Jim Vint on bass, and Patrick Gaynor on drums.  Their latest set is entitled “Williwaw,” featuring ten cuts of a good hybrid mix of lowdown blues with a nod toward Southern rockin’ boogie.

Things get started with Ross wailin’ away on “Mannish Boy,” his slide cuttin’ thru the Delta night to keep the Hellhounds off his trail.  “Make It” is a fired-up choogle dealing with a society and an economy that isn’t as “great” as some would have you believe, what with “the bills are late,” but, “I’m gonna Make It, anyways!”   That “Little Rooster” boogies like the Hook re-incarnated, while, “inside the mind of Willie G,” you’ll find elements of vintage Allman Brothers, as well as in the “Whipping Post” stomp of “Broom.” The set closes with the cool “Jellyfish Jam,” a sweet instrumental groove that incorporates influences of SRV, Sea Level, and even a nod to the psychedelia of Garcia-era Dead.

The Ross Osteen Band take traditional blues and mix ’em with a double shot of Southern-fried boogie.  It all makes up into a nice roux with “Williwaw!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Chad Richard review…April 26, 2019….

CHAD RICHARD

WORTHY CAUSE

SLOW ROLLIN STATE LINE–LOVE ANYWAY–GERMAN ANGEL–RIGHT NOW–WORTHY CAUSE–FREDERICKSBURG–WATERS RISE–THE BIG AND THE LITTLE HAND–MY NAME–12 MORE DAYS OF BLUE–SHAWDY AND A SHINER–THE GAME

Chad Richard (say REE-shard) hails from the Sabine River region, where the border of Texas and Louisiana share a fertile soil.  It is also a rich ground for songwriters (Gatemouth Brown, anyone?), as well, as you will hear as you listen to Chad’s latest, twelve originals that comprise “Worthy Cause.”  The myriad of influences within that region are all on display here, including blues, Cajun, Texas swing and country, in tales that deal with the everyday struggles of life, love, heartbreak, redemption, and “just gettin’ by.”

Opening the proceedings is a tune that sums up what this artist is all about, with “Zydeco to the east, Texas swing to the west,” recalling Chad’s fondest memories along that “Slow Rollin’ State Line,” with fiddle from Marian Brackney.  “German Angel” is told from the point of view of a ghost who inhabits a San Antonio home, sent to look over its occupants, while “Waters Rise, but people rise above” is the poignant tale of coping with the aftermath of flood waters from Hurricane Harvey, drawn from Chad’s personal experiences.  The set closes with our two favorites.  First up is the story of the simpler things in life, “Shawdy And A Shiner,” referring to his dog and his favorite beer, Shiner Bock.  Chad sums up the life of a musician with “The Game,” where “every night is different, every night’s the same.”

Chad Richard has spent his musical lifetime sortin’ out what a lotta stuff means, but it’s a safe bet he wouldn’t trade places with anyone.  His stories stand tall and proud on “Worthy Cause.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Manx Marriner Mainline review…April 25, 2019….

MANX MARRINER MAINLINE

HELL BOUND FOR HEAVEN

STONY PLAIN RECORDS  SPCD  1404

NOTHING–EVERYBODY KNOWS–HELL BOUND FOR HEAVEN–MY LORD–MY ONLY ONE–RATTLESNAKE BLUES–WISH I HAD ANSWERED–DEATH HAVE NO MERCY IN THIS LAND–THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE–RISE AND FALL IN LOVE

Going all the way back to the Original Sin, the soul of Man has been in a constant struggle to cope with doing what is morally right as opposed to pleasing his senses.  For us, whenever bluesmen tackle this moral dilemma, often one is treated to one of the best style of blues.  And, if it is two stalwarts of contemporary blues that get together to make it happen, then it is “double good,” indeed!  Such is the case with Stony Plain Records artists Harry Manx and Steve Marriner, who are “Hell Bound For Heaven” on their latest outing for Holger Petersen’s prestigious label.

Harry and Steve have spent many a mile on the road together since Harry took the then-sixteen-year-old Steve on tour with him after his parents’ blessing.  Their paths have always crossed over the course of the last 20 years, but their chemistry is really elevated herein.  Both share vocals and a myriad of instruments on this set, and it leads off with a more traditional, “Chicago blues” cut, “Nothing,” with Steve on harp.  The title cut, a Steve original, has a pure Delta feel, as our hero is “tired of draggin’ these old bones around,”  ready to be “Hell Bound For Heaven, going home to stay!”  It features Harry on the multi-stringed Indian instrument, the Mohan Veena.  Old-time country gospel is the theme of another Steve original, “My Lord is gonna save my soul,” with Steve on harp and 12-string guitar, and the “Marrinaires” on backing vocals!

The fellows go deep for some timeless covers, too.  Harry is on vocals and the slide guitar as he plays the “traveling lover” of Charley Patton’s “Rattlesnake Blues,” with Steve on the harp.  Steve’s vocal and baritone guitar lead the way in our favorite, a soulful, bittersweet read of Roebuck Staples’  classic tale of spiritual regret, “Wish I Had Answered when He called.”

Harry Manx and Steve Marriner had been kicking this idea around for a while, and now, “Hell Bound For Heaven” is a reality.  It is a fine example of that ‘fore day creep of Saturday night that surely gives way to the redemption of Sunday morning!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.