Archive for April, 2019

Bernard Fowler review…April 20, 2019…

BERNARD FOWLER

INSIDE OUT

RHYME AND REASON RECORDS

TIE YOU UP–DANCING WITH MR. D–UNDERCOVER OF THE NIGHT–TIME WAITS FOR NO ONE–SISTER MORPHINE–ALL THE WAY DOWN–MUST BE HELL–SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL–DANCING WITH MR. D (BONUS TRACK W/O GUITAR)

Many fans may recognize Bernard Fowler as being a collaborator and backing vocalist for the Rolling Stones.  His latest album, for Rhyme And Reason Records is called “Inside Out,” and that is sho’ nuff what it is.  Bernard has taken some of the more obscure Stones cuts and mixed them with some of the legendary ones and, basically, turned them inside-out., reworking and re-imagining them into spoken-word gems along the lines of the Last Poets, and, one of our favorites, Gil Scott-Heron.

It was during a soundcheck where Bernard was noodling around on his congas on “Sympathy For The Devil,” and Mick himself urged Bernard to make this record.  Moving forward, he enlisted some mighty backing players, including Ray Parker, Jr., Steve Jordan, Darryl Jones, and several others, for some memorable versions of these songs.

Bernard is no stranger to the spoken-word community, singing with the dub-electronic group Tackhead, as well as the avant-garde New York Citi Peech Boys.  As such, his deconstruction and subsequent resurrection of these classics is indeed inspiring.

Leading off is a BDSM-lover’s dream, as our hero begs for the bondage, but simultaneously begs his Mistress for tender mercy in a percussion-heavy, frenzied read of “Tie You Up,” from the “Undercover Of The Night” album.  The tick-tocking clock intro and outro sets the tone for the fierce, pounding, spoken-word romp thru “Time Waits For No One, and it won’t wait for me!”  When you need some funky guitar on a cut like this, who ya gon’ call?  Why, Ray Parker, Jr., of course!  He sticks around for more tasty work on the Curtis Mayfield vibe of “Sister Morphine,” with trumpet from Keyon Harrold, who re-creates the Miles Davis trumpet styles he played on the “Miles Ahead” biopic.

Our favorite was, IMHO, the set’s centerpiece.  Everybody knows it from that “Please allow me to introduce myself” beginning, and the “history lesson” that accompanies “Sympathy For The Devil!”  Mike Garson is on that well-timed piano throughout, too.

Take it from an old dude who’s been a Stones fan since my family celebrated my aunt’s birthday in front of the TV on October 25, 1964, coinciding with their appearance on the “Ed Sullivan Show,” and listen to Bernard Fowler and “Inside Out” with an open mind.  You just might find yourself pleasantly surprised!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Big Daddy Wilson review…April 19, 2019…

BIG DADDY WILSON

DEEP IN MY SOUL

RUF RECORDS   RUF 1259

I KNOW–AIN’T GOT NO MONEY–MISSISSIPPI ME–TRIPPING ON YOU–I GOT PLENTY–HOLD ON TO OUR LOVE–DEEP IN MY SOUL–I’M WALKING–CRAZY WORLD–REDHEAD STEPCHILD–VOODOO–COULDN’T KEEP IT TO MYSELF

Big Daddy Wilson was born in North Carolina, but found his fame in an unlikely place–the continent of Europe, where he released several albums, the most recent being “Neck Bone Stew” from 2017.  However, while working on the early stages of his latest album, down in Memphis in 2018, alongside guitarist Laura Chavez and bassist Dave Smith, the whole thing came together in two places–first, down in West Tennessee at Jim Gaines’ Bessie Blue Studio in Stantonville, and finishing up on the hallowed ground of Muscle Shoals at the FAME Studios.  The result is an exuberant homecoming for Big Daddy, entitled “Deep In My Soul” for Ruf Records.

In most cases, Big Daddy opts for a more acoustic sound, but he pulled out all the stops, employing a full band for this set, accentuating that larger-than-life baritone.  He also wanted the common thread running throughout the songs to be one of love of all kinds, both the good and the not-so-good.   The horn section gives an old-school vibe to the opening cut, “I Know,” a song about that one special one who’s always there, even fixing “neckbone stew and apple pie!”   “Ain’t Got No Money” shows that our hero may not be wealthy dollar-wise, but he’s “sho’ nuff got a whole lot of honey!”  That theme is revisited a bit later in the country-styled, walking-bass lope of “I Got Plenty good lovin’, everywhere I go!”  “Hold On To Our Love” will evoke fond memories of Arthur Alexander for some listeners, while our two favorites closed the action.  “Voodoo” is all about those women who can “make a preacher want to break all the rules!”  Our other favorite shows the direction Big Daddy could have easily taken.  Born in the South, you KNOW there was some “church” in a voice that big, and he lays it all out there for the all-too-brief “Couldn’t Keep It To Myself–what the Lord has done for me!”

Big Daddy Wilson has a voice as big as the sky and as smooth as Tupelo honey.  “Deep In My Soul” serves as his powerful homecoming!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Meg Williams review…April 18, 2019….

MEG WILLIAMS

TAKE ME AS I AM

THE MUSCLE SHOALS SESSIONS

NOLA BLUE RECORDS  NB-009

COME ON OVER TO ME–TELL EVERYBODY–SHAME–LITTLE BIT OF THE DEVIL–PLAYED BY THE BLUES–SOMETIMES I NEED YOU TOO–TAKE ME AS I AM–WHAT ABOUT ME?–CAN’T KEEP WAITING ON YOU–I FEEL A HEARTACHE COMING–MAKE A MOVE–TAKE A CHANCE ON MY LOVE

One of the most pleasant surprises of 2017 was the brilliant EP, “Maybe Someday,” from Meg Williams.  (When you are done here, go check out “Not My Problem” from that release!).  Nashvillian-by-way-of-the Finger Lakes area of New York, we knew it wouldn’t be long until she busted loose nationwide.  Well, that time is now, with her full-length debut from Sallie Bengston’s NOLA BLUE label, entitled “Take Me As I Am: The Muscle Shoals Sessions.”  Meg produced, and the whole thing was laid down at the Mother Church of Muscle Shoals soul, the FAME Studios.  Some of the greats are along for the ride, too.  Will McFarlane is on guitar, Bob Wray is on bass, Clayton Ivey is on keys, Justin Holder is on drums, and Dan Wecht offers up tasty slide guitar throughout.  Meg wrote all the cuts either in whole or as collabos with some of her new “neighbors,” who happen to be part of the cream of local songwriters.  The tunes run the gamut from straight-ahead blues to some cool roots-rock mixed with just a pinch of country.

That’s the style that leads off, as our heroine “don’t want to be alone, so Come On Over To Me.”  Dan’s slide guitar paints that “last call” picture this cut begs for.  That groove re-asserts itself a bit later as our girl sees “the one” in different places every night, but confesses, “I Can’t Keep Waiting On You” to take a chance.  This one is set over a biting, rocked-up arrangement, and is followed by Meg’s best “come hither” lines in a potential lover “givin’ me that look, so “come on, Make A Move on me!”

Stone blues best served hot were our favorites.  Meg gets into that cool Prince-ly groove for the slide-drenched fever pitch of that girl with a “Little Bit Of The Devil in you!”  And, a sweet slow blues has our girl longing for a long-gone lover, realizing all-too-late that she’s been “Played By The Blues,” and, as we all know in that game, “the house always wins!”

We have been waiting for this follow-up ever since the EP hit.  Meg Williams has immersed herself within the strong influences of the Nashville songwriting community, and her playing, singing, and creativity are at an extremely high level.  “Take Me As I Am” is stunning from start to finish from a sho’ nuff rising star in contemporary blues!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

The Lee Boys review….April 17, 2019….

THE LEE BOYS

ON THE EAST COAST

MC RECORDS  MC 0085

IN THE MORNING–WALK WITH ME LORD–DON’T LET THE DEVIL RIDE–PRAISE YOU–I”LL TAKE YOU THERE–COME ON HELP ME LIFT HIM UP–LORD HELP ME TO HOLD OUT–TURN ON YOUR LOVE LIGHT–TESTIFY–WALK WITH ME–YOU GOT TO MOVE

If you are a fan of Robert Randolph And The Family Band, Sam Butler, or any of the other notable purveyors of the sound of the “sacred steel,” then you gotta love The Lee Boys.  They are Alvin Lee on electric guitar and backing vocals, Derrick and Keith Lee on vocals, Chris Johnson on the pedal steel, nephew Alvin Cordy, jr., on the six-stringed bass,  and Earl Walker on drums.  All are associated with and highly-skilled in the music and traditions of The House Of God Church, but the thing that makes them different is their inclusion of blues, soul, and a shot of funk among the spirituals.  They have signed with our friend Mark Carpentieri and MC Records, and their label debut drops on Good Friday, April 19, 2019, worldwide.  It is entitled “Live On The East Coast,” and the eleven cuts were culled from shows in Virginia, Florida, and North Carolina.

With concert-goers urged to get up and dance during the shows, obviously there is some serious spiritual uplifting, and highlights abound.  The set leads off with a strong read of the traditional “In The Morning,” with Chris and his guitar testifyin’ mightily!  That vibe carries over into the spiritual groove of “Testify,” while Chris’ guitar lifts everyone up and urges them to do as Bobby Bland used to say, “let your light shine,” and “Turn On Your Love Light.”

Our two favorites were easy.  Blues is in the house with the infectious boogie of “Don’t Let The Devil Ride,” while at the opposite end of the spectrum, the fellows use “Praise You,” to exalt our “Father in Heaven” and all his mighty blessings!

The Lee Boys know a place where ain’t nobody worried and ain’t nobody cryin’, and they’ll sho’ nuff take you there with “Live On The East Coast.”  It’s the perfect combination of Saturday-night good times and Sunday-morning salvation!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Mighty Mike Schermer review…April 15, 2019….

MIGHTY MIKE SCHERMER

BAD TATTOO

FINEDOG/VIZZTONE RECORDS  VT–FD61041

SHE WON’T BE COMING BACK–LOVER’S HALL OF FAME–HOW MUCH LONGER–I CAN’T LET IT GO–BAD TATTOO–AIN’T THAT THE WAY LOVE GOES–ONE THING ECERY DAY–HEY FRANCINE–BABY DOWN THE WELL–SUFFOCATING LOVE–STOP LOOKING FOR LOVE–UP ALL NIGHT

He’s a stone triple-threat guitarist/vocalist/songwriter, and Mighty Mike Schermer has been the go-to guitarist for so many legends we can’t count ’em all, but they include Pinetop, Elvin Bishop, and, currently, swamp-boogie queen Marcia Ball.  He’s a festival veteran, has a Blues Award nomination, and six previous albums.  Add to that list one more, with his latest, the  humorous, most-excellent “Bad Tattoo” for Finedog/Vizztone.  He headed to Cali to lay this one down at Kid Andersen’s Greaseland Studios, which features visits from Aki Kumar, Rick Estrin, Chris Cain, and Billy Price.  They all lend a hand in showcasing Mike’s mastery of virtually any style.

The set rumbles outta the gate with a rhumba beat behind “my baby;s gone,” and “She Won’t Be Coming Back.”  Austin Delone is on organ, which adds to the cool vibe Mike sets up with this one.  A sweet shot of summery soul is Mike’s break-up song about a girl who’ll get no consideration for “my Lover’s Hall Of Fame,” with congas and backing vocals from Dennis Dove.  Mike and Chris Cain swap some sweet licks in the story of that most vile of relationships, where “she’s gotta be everywhere you are,” that “Suffocating Love.”  Billy Price guests on backing vocals as our hero realizes he’s nothing more than “the latest flavor” with a lover, but, sadly, “I Can’t Let It Go.”  It features a blistering minor-key solo at the 1:30 mark, too.  Rick Estrin adds harp to the gentle lppe of “when you Stop Looking For Love, that’s when you’ll find it!”

Our favorite was the title cut.  It swings from the first note, as Mike laments that “Bad Tattoo” of  another man’s name in a sho’ nuff VERY private place on his latest lover!

If you want some great, Telecaster-driven blues, then do as a great man once told us, and don’t go no further than Mighty Mike Schermer and “Bad Tattoo!!!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Adam Carroll review….April 13, 2019….

ADAM CARROLL

I WALKED IN THEM SHOES

I WALKED IN THEM SHOES–CAROLINE–STORMS–CRESCENT CITY ANGELS–IRIS AND THE LONESOME STRANGER–THIS OLD GARAGE–CORDELIA–MY ONLY GOOD SHIRT–THE LAST WORD–NIGHT AT THE SHOW

The Texas songwriter community is as large and diverse as the state itself.  One of the true gems of that community is “the shy kid from Tyler” who grew into Adam Carroll.  He’s just released his ninth album overall, “I Walked In Them Shoes,” consisting of ten originals written either wholly or in part by Adam.  The album was done in one day, down in Dripping Springs, TX, at the Zone Recording Studio.  Usually recording as a trio or full band, this go-round finds Adam with just himself on vocals and guitar, and mentor/producer Lloyd Maines on pedal steel, slide, and the rhythm parts.

The characters in Adam’s songs are Everyman, dealing with the challenges and struggles of life, running the gamut of the human condition, from love, loss, bad luck, and (hopeful) redemption.  The set leads off with the title cut, originally conceived with the Flying Burrito Brothers in mind, but it could be about any band or musician with a life on the road, and offers encouragement to always “stay on track,” ’cause “we can make it thru!”  “Caroline” laments a long-lost love affair and the things that might’ve been, while Adam plays the harmonium in a sweet ode to his wife, “Cordelia,” who can “light up Hell with her laughter,”

We had two favorites, too.  “My Only Good Shirt” traces our hero’s good luck piece, worn everywhere from Paris to the Ryman.  The set closes with its most poignant song.  It is a touching tribute to Lloyd Maines and another mentor, the late club owner, Kent Finlay, who came out of retirement to help further Adam’s  career.  The song is peppered with “tears mixed with laughter,” describing “just another Night At The Show.”

Adam Carroll is in the midst of one of the most creative periods in his twenty-one year career.  He may not be “Viva Las Vegas,” but he’s “Motel 6 famous,” and “I Walked In Them Shoes” is a set for us all!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Tony Campanella review…April 12, 2019….

TONY CAMPANELLA

TAKING IT TO THE STREET

GULF COAST RECORDS

TAKING IT TO THE STREET–PACK IT UP–ONE FOOT IN THE BLUES–YOU DON’T KNOW–GOOD MORNING LITTLE SCHOOLGIRL–FINGER ON THE TRIGGER–MR. CLEANHEAD–CHECKING ON MY BABY–TEXAS CHAINSAW–MY MOTOR’S RUNNING–THOSE ARE THE TIMES

Mike Zito has known blues guitarist Tony Campanella for some 30 years, going back to their days in St. Louis.  Tony’s gritty, biting, rocked-up blues were exactly what Zito and Gulf Coast Records co-founder Guy Hale were looking for when they established the label.  In the natural order of things, Tony was soon on his way to Zito’s Nederland, TX, Marz Studios for his latest set, “Taking It To The Street.”

Tony mentored with many of the legends in the St. Louis area, and his “in your face” guitar style leads off, firing on all 8 with the title cut, the amped-up buzz of our hero letting it be known that his true calling is to share his passion for the blues “with everyone I meet!”  “Pack It Up” pays a sweet tribute to SRV, while he calls out a cheatin’ lover with some fired-up funk, “You Don’t Know, but I know about all your cheatin’, all your lies.”

We had several favorites.  Get out your dancin’ shoes for Tony’s good-time romp thru Junior Wells’ “Checking On My Baby,” then be prepared to be blown away by some emotional slow blues.  The forecast sho’ nuff calls for pain in the somber tale of a man with “nothin’ else to lose,”  “One Foot In The Blues.”  Everybody has a fun time with the bump and grind stop-time groove dedicated to bald men everywhere, “Mr. Cleanhead,” and he spits in the collective eyes of all his naysayers who never gave him much of a chance at success with the layered-guitar, Delta-droning groove of that mighty “Texas Chainsaw.”

Zito himself says Tony Campanella is “pure soul,” and “Taking It To The Street” is the stone-cold, 100-proof truth.  As for this set, listen or get the Hell outta the way!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Shane Dwight review…April 11, 2019….

SHANE DWIGHT

NO ONE LOVES ME BETTER

RED PARLOR RECORDS  RDP 1901

NO ONE LOVES ME BETTER–SHE LIKES TO RIDE–IF YOU AIN’T THE DEVIL–BULLETS AND GASOLINE–SUCKER–STAND UP–WHITE POWDER–LEVY GIRL–SHAKIN–TRIAL OF A POET

Of course, California native and bluesman extraordinaire Shane Dwight is a killer guitarist and vocalist, but it is his uncanny way with a lyric that moves him to the forefront of the contemporary blues scene.  His latest set for Red Parlor is the ten originals that comprise “No One Loves Me Better.”  It was laid down ’bout 30 miles from our house at Kevin McKendree’s Rockhouse Studio over in Franklin,   Kevin is on keys throughout, too, with Shane on guitars and vocals, and Rob McNelly on rhythm.

The songs, as Shane so succintly puts it, deal with “whiskey, wimmin, and the music business” as a whole, with several mini-“morality plays” spread over the ten cuts.  All are driven by a powerful groove, as well.  Leading off, Shane offers up the title cut,  a sweet ode to that one special one, “No One Loves Me Better than you,” which is followed by a bristling tale about women who, seemingly regardless of upbringing, all have a “wild child” streak–yeah, “She Likes To Ride!”  The light-hearted “Sucker” features Shane with a little bit of a rapped delivery, paying tribute to not only his Cali roots, but to the lovely young women who reside there!  Firebrand harp from Mickey Raphael and Shane’s acoustic Delta leanings on guitar trace our hero, who’s “prone to sin” and the consequences of “White Powder.”

That cut set the tone for our two favorites.  Another cut with a home down at the corner of Mississippi highways 61 and 49 is “Bullets And Gasoline,” as our young man makes a tragic choice when his “girlfriend was sleepin’ in the boss’s bed!”  The set closes with another of Shane’s incredible stories-in-song.  This one deals with tryin’ to get to Heaven in a world where “the blues takes hold,” the powerful “Trial Of A Poet.”  This one features backing vocals from another of our favorite women in all blues, Bonnie’s little girl, Bekka Bramlett!

In 2001, Shane Dwight and his band traveled to the Monterey Blues Festival’s Battle of the Bands, which they won.  It was there that Shane realized that he was standing on the same hallowed ground that one of his heroes, Jimi, had also once stood.  He’s never looked back, and “No One Loves Me Better” offers up his strongest and most personal set of songs to date!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Mike Farris review…April 10, 2019….

MIKE FARRIS

SILVER AND STONE

COMPASS RECORDS  74718 2

TENNESSEE GIRL–ARE YOU LONELY FOR ME BABY–CAN I GET A WITNESS?–GOLDEN WINGS–LET ME LOVE YOU BABY–HOPE SHE’LL BE HAPPIER–SNAP YOUR FINGERS–BREATHLESS–MISS SOMEBODY–WHEN MAVIS SINGS–MOVIN ME–I’LL COME RUNNING BACK TO YOU

The first thing you cannot help but notice about Winchester native Mike Farris is that incredible voice that lit up the rock pantheon back in the 90’s as lead singer for the Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies.  He battled addiction during these years, but is now not only clean and sober, but also a born-again Christian.  His fourth overall album, :Shine For All The People,” from 2015, resulted in a Grammy win, and his latest, “Silver And Stone,” is equally as impressive.

Mike assembled a literal “Who’s Who” of Nashville session men for this project.  Mike is on vocals and acoustic guitar, with Rob McNelly, Doug Lancio, Bart Walker, and Blues Award-winning Joe Bonamassa on the other guitars.  On keys, there is Paul Brown, Mark T. Jordan, and the inimitable Reese Wynans, and Jim Hoke and Rahsaan Barber are on sax, along with a host of other luminaries that added just the right touch all over this set.

The majority of the material herein  is dedicated to his steadying force, his wife of 23 years.  Attesting to that fact is the story told in the opening cut, Mike’s original, “Tennessee Girl.”  Mike digs down deep into his soul, lamenting that “last train to Jacksonville,” with the gospel-fired “Are You Lonely For Me, Baby,” while he revisits his “Wheelies” days with a rocked-up read of “Let Me Love You Baby.”  The versatility in his voice is on full display in one of Bill Withers’ most poignant offerings, as our lovelorn hero succumbs to the inevitable in “I Hope She’ll Be Happier with him.”  This cut served as one of our favorites, as did  the sweet soul of “Snap Your Fingers,” and the beautiful ode to one of America’s living treasures, “When Mavis Sings.”

In the case of Mike Farris,  success has given him a look at where he was back in the day and put it in perspective as to where he is in the right now, along with those who have helped him along the way.  He has a soul man’s voice for the ages, and “Silver And Stone” makes a strong and powerful statement.  We love you, man….Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

 

 

Kerry Kearney review…April 8, 2018….

KERRY KEARNEY

SMOKEHOUSE SERENADE

HIGHLANDER RECORDS  2019 DWAZ ENTERTAINMENT

SHAKIN LIKE JELLY–LONG TALL MAMA–STATESBORO BLUES–FIREPLUG–NO WAY BACK BLUES–WAKE ME, SHAKE ME, BAKE ME–SITTIN ON TOP OF THE WORLD–CAMPTOWN RACES/SMOKEHOUSE SERENADE–GIRL FROM MEMPHIS–CREOLE WOMAN–GOIN TO THE MARDI GRAS–PRETTY BABY

Kerry Kearney has long been a favorite of ours in the pantheon of contemporary blues guitarists, and a new album from him is always a cause celebre’ here in the Crow household.  Such is the case with his latest, “Smokehouse Serenade,” for Highlander Records.  It is an even dozen of clever originals and some ultra-cool and somewhat rare covers.  The whole shootin’ match was recorded at Dream Studios in Bellmore, NY, with the whole of the Kerry Kearney Band producing.

The party starts with the raucous, rafter-raising “Shakin’ Like Jelly, I’m your peanut butter boy.” featuring harp from Frank “Kingbee” Latorre.  Herein, we are treated to one dazzling solo after another!  “No Way Back Blues” finds Kerry on acoustic guitar, telling a lover, “I ain’t gonna see you no more, down that lonesome road I go,” evoking memories of Robert Johnson looking for Willie Brown! One of our favorites, “Creole Woman”–that “mocha drunkard’s dream”–is the epitome’ of what Kerry is all about, and a great definition of his “psyche-Delta” approach to the blues!  This one has him all over the electric guitar, with solid support from keys man David Cohen.  Our other favorite was perhaps the set’s most unique cut.  On the instrumental, “Camptown Races/Smokehouse Serenade,” Kerry begins with the Stephen Foster chestnut by playing it on banjo before giving way to the electric guitar to close out the rest of this six-plus minutes of pure blues Heaven!

When one listens to Kerry Kearney, whether he’s burnin’ up the electric fretboards or pickin’ out a sweet, ‘down on Beale” acoustic number, it is easy to see why he is a member of the New York Blues Hall of Fame.  You get a good taste of all his myriad of talents with the most excellent “Smokehouse Serenade!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.