Archive for August, 2019

Terri Hendrix review…August 30, 2019….

TERRI HENDRIX

TALK TO A HUMAN (PROJECT 5.3)

WHO IS ANN ( PROJECT 5.4)

TALK TO A HUMAN–MI MADRE–CHOICE–WAY OVER YONDER IN THE MINOR KEY–DON’T MEDDLE IN MY MOOD–DOGGING ME–WORTHY–WASP–THE DARK–THE WATER IS WIDE–I HEAR YOUR SONG

DRIVE–HAPPY–MOVE–WOMAN–GRIEVE

Terri Hendrix is a brilliant poet/singer/guitarist/composer that came up with what turned out to be an ambitious project, indeed.  It began in early 2016, with the release of the folk-centric “Love You Strong (Project 5.1)”, followed in the fall of that same year with the more-bluesy “The Slaughterhouse Sessions (Project 5.2)”.  She intended to continue with two more albums and a companion-piece book, but, as is usually the case, life gets in the way.  A series of health battles plus the tragic loss of her sister pushed everything onto the back burner, until now.  This project now finds itself completed, with the release of “Talk To A Human (Project 5.3),” and “Who Is Ann? (Project 5.4),” as well as the accompanying book, “The Girl With The Exploding Brain (Project 5.5).”  The book is Terri’s autobiography that chronicles her struggles to cope with a seizure disorder while juggling her career as a musician.  We will, of course, concentrate on the musical side of things.

Project 5.3 opens with the title cut, Acoustic guitar leads drive our heroine’s tale of today’s Big Brother-dominated society, where, sometimes, all you wanna really do is “Talk To A Human!”  Producer Lloyd Maines’ banjo gives this one a down-home touch, too.  A Latin-tinged horn section fuels Terri’s coming-of-age ode, “Mi Madre,” while she gets downright bluesy with our two favorites on this set.  She’s on harp on both of ’em, and, first up, she gets all Memphis Minnie on us when she’s “without that baby of mine,” a cool read of Cindy Walker’s “Don’t Meddle In My Mood.”    Next up, Lloyd’s dobro over Terri’s sprightly vocals sho’ nuff brings the blues back around on a sweet re-working of Sonny and Brownie’s “Dogging Me.”

Project 5.4, “Who Is Ann,” is a tribute to Terri’s sister.  It is a sometimes-somber, sometimes light-hearted look at dealing with that loss and seeking the light of healing in the end.  The songs have only one-word titles, and they open with the tight harmonies of “it’s a long, lonesome Drive without you,” with the backing vocals from Drew Womack.  The set closes with the ethereal story of “I’m still here, in the dark,” and is entitled “Grieve.”

We see it on a regular basis within the pages of this humble forum.  Great artists take their own personal losses and struggles and set them to some outstanding music that not only cleanses their soul, but affords the listener an excellent and varied musical experience as well.  Enjoy Terri Hendrix and “Talk To A Human” and “Who Is Ann?”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

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Dudley Taft review…August 29, 2019….

DUDLEY TAFT

SIMPLE LIFE

GIVE ME A SONG–SIMPLE LIFE–I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT YOU–IN YOUR WAY–DON’T LET THEM GET AWAY–DEATH BY BLISS–BOMBS AWAY–IF HEARTACHES WERE NICKELS–NEVER FADE–POURING DOWN–SHINE–BACK TO YOU

Dudley Taft has always been on our “favorites” radar, a no-holds-barred guitarist, singer, and composer who has a lengthy and brilliant resume’.  He mixes equal parts of grunge, the Delta, blues-rock,  and soul in everything he touches.  For his latest album, the eleven originals and one cover that make up “Simple Life” show us a somewhat “softer” side of Dudley, but he’s never forgotten from whence he came.  He attended Berklee College Of Music, spent some time as a part of the Seattle scene, and was friends with Trey Anastasio in high school!  As such, we get a taste of his myriad of influences on this album, all tempered with his deep-seated values of family, friends, roots, and music.

Powerful percussion from Chris Ellison opens the set on the leadoff, echo-washed ode to finding that one true love, “Give Me A Song.”  Next up, the title cut served as one of our favorites.  Here, Dudley chronicles the hard work he has put into his craft over his career, now longing for that “Simple Life–just my baby, my dogs and me,” and to be able to “throw my cell phone in a hole!”  This cut shows the man at some of his guitar-shredding best!  “In Your Way” is an in-your-face, chops-busting rebuke of the seemingly-endless array of bullying in today’s society, while Dudley’s days in the Seattle scene are chronicled in “Death By Bliss.”

Our other favorite was perhaps the set’s most powerful cut.  On the album’s lone cover, Dudley takes Warren Haynes’ “If Heartaches Were Nickels, I’d be the richest fool alive,” and slows it down to reveal the emotion and angst within our hero as he struggles with an uncaring lover.

Dudley Taft is a man at peace with himself, and it shows on these incredible grooves.  Heck–he put pics of his wife, his dogs, and himself all over the album cover, proving he’s found that “Simple Life” he always wanted!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Jordan Whitmore review…August 28, 2019….

JORDAN WHITMORE

GOOD THINGS

SOMETHING DIFFERENT–ALL MY MIGHT–CHANGING YOUR MIND–WHAT IF–GOOD THINGS–I WISH YOU WOULD

For her fifth overall set, Texas-based Jordan Whitmore offers fans “Good Things,” literally.  This six-song EP is the result of going thru a year or so of difficult times and challenges in her life.  The arrangements are built around her smooth vocal delivery and the guitar work of Jacob Hildebrand.  Some are more along the “pop” vein, but all convey her message of surviving tough times and getting much sought-after redemption, all the while keeping an eye on life’s positives.

The proceedings open with a song that shows our heroine has “worked out the kinks” and is focusing her life on “Something Different,” where “the future and the present are incompatible.”  “All My Might” is her profession of undying love “for the rest of my life,” while “What If” turns the concept of love inside-out and upside-down, pondering the musical question, “the hunter or the prey–where will I be?”

The set closed with two of our favorites.  Grungy guitar and a sticks-in-your-brain riff from Jacob rides over a test of one’s patience, as our girl wonders “how long will I hear them say Good Things come to those who wait.”  The final cut finds her seeking that hopeful redemption, as she begs a lover to “lay it all down” and “wait for what’s good,” the somber “I Wish You Would.”

As is often the case with great songwriters, a period of personal strife oft leads to a period of equally-tremendous creativity.  Thus are the “Good Things” from Jordan Whitmore.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Ronnie Earl review…August 26, 2019….

RONNIE EARL AND THE BROADCASTERS

BEYOND THE BLUE DOOR

STONY PLAIN CD  SPCD 1407

BRAND NEW ME–BABY HOW LONG–DROWN IN MY OWN TEARS–ALEXIS’ SONG–THE SWEETEST MAN–IT TAKES A LOT TO LAUGH, IT TAKES A TRAIN TO CRY–A SOUL THAT’S BEEN ABUSED–WHY CAN’T WE LIVE TOGETHER–BLUES WITH A FEELING–T-BONE STOMP–WOLF SONG–PEACE OF MIND–DROWNING IN A SEA OF LOVE–BRINGING LIGHT (TO A DARK TIME)–BLUES FOR CHARLOTTESVILLE

Guitarist Ronnie Earl is a staunch believer, as are we, that music has the power to heal a tortured soul, and, Lord knows, this world is full of trouble that needs a healing.  He and The Broadcasters have whipped up a powerful batch of music to soothe society’s pain.  It’s a fairly even mix of covers and originals that is entitled “Beyond The Blue Door,” for Stony Plain.

Ronnie and The Broadcasters have been playing as a unit for years now, and this set features special guests Kim Wilson, Greg Piccolo, and David Bromberg.  The set opens on a swingin’ note as vocalist Diane Blue offers a jazzy rendition of Aretha’s “Brand New Me.”  She returns a bit later with a topical, gritty read of Little Timmy Thomas’ Seventies’ classic, “Why Can’t We Live Together.”  She provides one of our favorites with a smoldering, sultry version of the lover who’s “been down two times,” and who is now, “Drowning In A Sea Of Love.”

Kim Wilson is on vocals and harp for two more favorites.  It’s straight, no chaser, Chicago blues all the way with Howlin’ Wolf’s “How Long Baby,” and again with Marion Walter Jacobs’ “Blues With A Feeling.”

Ronnie’s instrumentals rounded out the favorites.  Dave Limina’s keys work is the perfect complement to Ronnie’s soulful leads on “Drown In My Own Tears,” while “The Wolf Song” takes one back to the halcyon days of Chess Records as Ronnie re-creates that vintage sound, featuring Kim Wilson on harp.  The set closes with a moving tribute to the tragic events of August 11th and 12th of 2017, Ronnie’s poignant “Blues For Charlottesville,” his slow-blues leads ably capturing the angst of that tragic weekend.

Ronnie Earl is an incredible artist, and The Broadcasters are equally as brilliant.  Together, they set about to heal a troubled nation thru offering up some of the best in contemporary blues with “Beyond The Blue Door.”   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Tennessee Redemption review…August 24, 2019…..

TENNESSEE REDEMPTION

TENNESSEE REDEMPTION

GLAD TO BE–WE GOT A THING GOING ON–SOULS IN THE WATER–BACK TO TENNESSEE–LEAVE MY BODY–SEE ABOUT ME–COME ON UP TO THE HOUSE–YOU DON’T LOVE ME–WATCH YOURSELF–I’M GOING TO MEXICO

It is a refreshing concept when two incredibly-talented individuals pool their vast abilities and create some fantastic music as a team.  A few years ago, it was Damon Fowler and Victor Wainwright with Southern Hospitality, and now we introduce the debut from guitarist Jeff Jensen and harpoon man Brandon Santini and Tennessee Redemption.  This set consists of eight originals and two brilliantly-done covers.  A core of musicians this formidable must have like-minded folks behind them, and bassist Bill Ruffino, drummer David Green, and second guitarist Timo Arthur more than fill the bill.

There are numerous highlights herein.  Both Jeff and Brandon spent plenty of time earlier in their careers down on Beale, “collecting dreams in a plastic cup,”  and those heady times are chronicled in the set’s opener, “Glad To Be,” with Jeff on vocals.  A shot of “blues gospel” features Brandon on vocals and is a smooth, harp-drenched ode to the Mighty Mississippi, “where the blues comes from,” and Brandon urges all his children to “come on down,” for “the Souls In The Water.”  Jeff gives that same, laid-back Sunday morning treatment to Tom Waits’ “Come On Up To The House,” for “this world is not my home, I’m only passing thru.”  Both Jeff and Brandon wrote “Back To Tennessee,” as Brandon realizes that “reckless sin leads to an empty heart,” and, sho’ nuff, “she ain’t coming back.”  They both re-worked Marion Walter Jacobs’ “Watch Yourself,” giving it a stompin’ beat that’ll walk you all the way from Malcolm Anthony’s Memphis Music store to waaay past Silky’s!

A group as strong as Tennessee Redemption brings truth to the saying that, sometimes, indeed, the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.  They are bent on creating outstanding blues and roots music, and, just as with their audiences on Beale back in the day, this music connects with everyone who hears it!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Hannah Frank review…August 23, 2019….

HANNAH FRANK

COMES LOVE B/W WALKIN AFTER MIDNIGHT

RANDOM CHANCE RECORDS

Hannah Frank has been a folk/roots-based singer throughout the clubs of Chicago for over a decade.  Her voice has that sultry, jazzy tone, tho, and one realizes when they hear her that she can sing anything she wants.  Her latest release is a single entitled “Comes Love,” and it is backed with the classic “Walkin’ After Midnight,” released on June 21 on Random Chance Records, based in New York.  “Comes Love” is a story of people who realize they can handle most of life’s daily challenges, that is until “Comes Love, then nothing can be done!”  It has a “Hot Club” feel, thanks mightily to the contributions of the backing players—Chicago jazz legend Dennis Luxion is on piano, and multiple-Grammy winner Billy Flynn is on guitar!  That “B side” is a similarly-smooth re-working of Patsy Cline’s classic.  Hannah’s roots background and her torch-y delivery are a perfect fit on this chestnut.

Hannah Frank has been on the scene for a while now, and here’s hoping this single will lead to a full-length effort soon from this versatile, easily-listenable vocalist!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Alex Lopez review….August 22, 2019….

ALEX LOPEZ

YOURS TRULY…ME

MAREMIL MUSIC AND RECORDS 2019

WOE IS ME–TUSH–TAKE ME BACK HOME–I’M A WORKING MAN–I’M A LOSING IT–I LOVE YOU BLUES–I CAN’T STOP–I WILL MISS YOU–CHASE MY BLUES AWAY–ALL I REALLY WANT IS YOU–SINFUL–CHEATING BLUES

Alex Lopez was born in rock-centric Cleveland, Ohio, and began his musical odyssey by playing keyboards.  His passion for British Invasion blues, tho, soon led him to the guitar.  His fourth release is entitled, “Yours Truly, Me….,” and is eleven original cuts and one cool reworked cover.  These are songs that, as Alex puts it, had no particular theme, but were just the best possible music at the time of their creation.  Several are re-invented from versions on earlier albums, but all his influences are here–blues, rock, British Invasion, and even some nods to Latino music.

Alex is on guitars and vocals, with his backing band, The Xpress.  They are Kenny Hoye on keys, Steve Roberts on bass, and David Nunez on drums.

Let’s get on to the highlights.  Gritty guitar drives the pounding, percussive ode to all us 9-to-5’ers, “giving all I have to give,” “I’m A Working Man.”  On the acoustic-themed “Take Me Back Home,” I swear it sounds like a long-lost cut from “The Layla Sessions.”  The set closes with a Stones-y, rocker, complete with horns, the balls-to-the-wall story of our hero who tells his lover to “quit looking hi and low,” ’cause “I got the Cheating Blues!”

We had two favorites, too.  The Hooker-esque boogie of ZZ Top’s “Tush” is replaced here with a polished, uptown funky groove and, hells yeah, it works!  The other featured Ellie Carr on duet vocals as our “Fever-ish” lovers realize they are “Sinful,” and the pleasure always leads to pain, but their carnal lust of youth always wins out.

Alex Lopez is a formidable force in contemporary blues, and we look forward to more from this outstanding young artist.  Please enjoy “Yours Truly, Me….”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.