Archive for September, 2019

HeavyDrunk review…September 29, 2019…..

HEAVYDRUNK

HOLY WATER

4142 RECORDS

IF I LOVED YOU HARD ENOUGH–WALKING TO THE MISSION IN THE RAIN–HEAVYDRUNK/HOLYWATER–ONE DANCING FOOL–I CAN’T BE SATISFIED–KEEPING UP WITH THE KID–HIGH ON LOVE–MEMPHIS–SOMEBODY’S GOT TO TAKE THEM PANTIES OFF–PICK YOU UP ALONG THE WAY–SLAVE–MIDNIGHT IN HARLEM–SHINE ON

Rob Robinson is the leader and driving force behind the nine-piece soul/blues/R & B unit named HeavyDrunk.  Rob is also the barbecue pit master at Puckett’s in Franklin, TN, a gig he’s had since 2008.  The group has found the time to release their latest for 4142 Records, “Holy Water,” eleven originals and two sweet covers that showcases this band’s eclecticism and diversity.

The fun starts with a tale of dysfunctional love built around a cool stop-time groove and allusions to “a hot pink flip-flop” in “the Piggly Wiggly parking lot,” entitled “If I Loved You Hard Enough.”  A song inspired by one of the band’s female singers, Gina Pittman, deals with that one “cool mother for ya,” that “One Dancing Fool,” featuring some Fred Wesley-inspired horn lines.  “Memphis” hits an old-school STAX groove, dealing with young love, as the Bluff City acts as the backdrop.  Its uplifting vibe made it one of our favorites, as was the band’s read of the Tedeschi-Trucks Band’s “Midnight In Harlem,” and its summery-soul groove.  A similarly-themed tune closed the set, “Shine On.”  In a world gripped by hatred and greed, this cut reminds us to let our light shine out to others, no matter how bleak the circumstances.

Our other favorite was the funniest cut on the set.  A parody done in the old-school style of Barry White, “Somebody’s Got To Take Them Panties Off” offers up a hilarious crash course in the art of, er, um, “female seduction!”

HeavyDrunk got its name from a comment made by Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown long ago, regarding a man with a penchant for over-imbibing the distilled spirits, and “Holy Water” is a fun romp spiced with blues, soul, gospel, and good times from the ol’ pit master, Rob Robinson!  Head on down to Puckett’s and tell him the Crows sent you!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Lizanne Knott review….September 28, 2019….

LIZANNE KNOTT

BONES AND GRAVITY

WALK AWAY–KEEP ME ALIVE–BONES AND GRAVITY–CAROLINE–LAY HIM DOWN–EMMYLOU–HURRICANE–TIRED–KINDNESS–LIKE I LOVE MY DOG–I WAS A BIRD

Lizanne Knott has been on our radar for quite some time now, and is set to release her sixth album on October 4, 2019, entitled “Bones And Gravity.” Within these eleven originals, she shares with us her own personal manifesto that we, as individuals, forge our own paths. The songs came about during a personal “housecleaning” of sorts, where she sorted out partially-finished sets of lyrics packed in boxes and melodies recorded on her phone.  She condensed everything into these originals, and they are not only cohesive, but are deeply personal to her.

As one listens, you can feel Lizanne’s heartbreak and anguish caused by one broken relationship after another, and a few songs go into some really dark places.  The set opens as our lovelorn heroine has given up on a lost lover, this time vowing to, after “a hundred days,” ” just “Walk Away.”  A similarly-themed song follows, as she knows “you’re not coming back,” and, thus, goes into her dark place, including “a couple lines of cocaine” from the Mission.  The end result finds her crying out for “somebody to hold me and Keep Me Alive.”  One of the set’s lighter moments is Lizanne’s message to a current lover–“I don’t love you Like I Love My Dog,” as ol’ Jake is unconditionally loyal, and people will “leave you and let you down.”

The song that treads the darkest path of all served as our favorite.  Over a foreboding, “chain gang” percussive groove, our heroine is trapped in an abusive relationship with a whiskey-soaked “man who’ll never change,” and the only way out is a shotgun to permanently “Lay Him Down.”  Tom Hampton adds to the eerie vibe of this one with his bluesy, Delta-fied dobro.

Lizanne Knott has appeared on WSMV-TV and “Nashville Today,” as well as festivals all over the USA, UK, Spain, and Ireland.  “Bones And Gravity” stands to add to her growing legacy as one of the most exciting performers on the Americana scene!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Bill Crosby review…September 27, 2019…..

BILL CROSBY

THREE BONES

WINTER ZEN MUSIC

THREE BONES–BEARS LOVE CUPCAKES–BAHAMA MAMA LLAMA DRAMA–THE REPEATING SONG (OVER AND OVER AGAIN)–WORD NERD–LEARNING TO WALK–YETI FOR NETTI–WHO POOPED IN THE NORTH WOODS–BEAUTIFUL DAY (REMIX)

Guitarist/vocalist/composer Bill Crosby grew up in upstate New York, where he played his brother’s guitar more often than his sibling.  He worked his way southward, first in Ohio, before making it to Music City in 1997.  His latest album is entitled “Three Bones,” and is tailored for the kid in all of us from 8 to 80!  The original songs are excellent tools to teach young folks the different styles of music, with all his characters teaching an important lesson.

The party starts with the title cut, where, according to a true story in Florida where a woman celebrated her 100th birthday, she shared her secret of longevity—“you need Three Bones–a wish bone, a back bone, and a funny bone!”  “Loose Tooth” is another true story, this time courtesy of a young fan in attendance at Bill’s regular Family Wash gig in East Nashville.  It’s complete with a backing chorus and a horn section!  “Word Nerd” is for all us smart kids who love to read, and it’s done up in a power-pop, funky, Eighties style, while “Yeti For Netti” is a country-tinged tune about a young girl and her most unusual pet, straight from the Himalayas!

We had two favorites, too, both of the ursine nature.  First off, it’s easy to figure out the “before picture of an aftermath,” “Who Pooped In The North Woods?”  Our other favorite also came from the true account of a bear who entered a person’s home while they were baking, giving way to the Louisiana-zydeco with a touch of Johnny Cash twang tale of “Bears Love Cupcakes!”

Bill Crosby takes a little bit of pop and mixes it with a dash of country and stirs it all up with a big leaf from Shel Silverstein’s tree.  The result is “Three Bones,” and it is guaranteed fun for everyone!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Brad Heller review…September 26, 2019….

BRAD HELLER

THE SENTENCE

ETERNAL SEASON–THOUSAND DAYS–THE SENTENCE–GONE–THE RUNNER–THE GREATEST CRIME–BOUND FOR NOTHING–TIME’S THE ENEMY–CHASING WOLVES–EUCHARIST–COMES A TIME–THE GARDEN TREE

Roots-rocker Brad Heller has become a voice for the common man,  using his music to call attention to the myriad of society’s problems.  His latest album and fifth overall, is the all-original set entitled “The Sentence,” and is full of topical social commentary that the fans of his legendary live shows have come to love.

The set opens with the jangly guitars over Brad’s story of the gradual dissolution of the American middle class over a “decade lost beyond reason,” and entitled “Eternal Season.”  A Chris Isaak-ish vocal delivery conveys the various reasons why our hero hasn’t “prayed in a Thousand Days,” while the Spanish waltz groove of “The Runner” finds our hero as a platoon leader vowing to run his charges until “it melts the steel in their blood.”

Brad copes with the loss of his father with two tunes.  First, the heartland rock of “Time’s The Enemy,” then with the somber poignancy of “Chasing Wolves.”  The set closes with Brad’s offer of hope and better days to come, beneath “the shade of The Garden Tree.”

Our favorite was an easy choice.   “Eucharist” deals not only with the consequences of addiction, but also the abandonment of one’s faith in the process.

Brad Heller, a transplanted North Carolina native, continues to forge his own identity on the Americana-roots scene.  A consummate storyteller, his songs reverberate within Everyman, tackling today’s societal challenges while offering a ray of hope in the end.  Please enjoy “The Sentence.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Randy Lewis Brown review…September 25, 2019…..

RANDY LEWIS BROWN

RED CROW

BERKALIN RECORDS

ONE HORSE TOWN–TROUBLE WITH ME–NOT READY YET–OCTOBER AGAIN–SHE’S THE ONLY WOMAN–TRUST THE SUN–RED CROW–ANY OLD TRAIN–ABOVE TIMBERLINE–OTHER CAMPFIRES–GOOD OLD DAYS–BARLOW ROAD–GOODNIGHT GOOD LUCK

Randy Lewis Brown is an extraordinary storyteller.  He was born in Shreveport, spending his childhood in pre-Civil Rights Louisiana.  At age twelve, his family moved to Houston, and that began his musical journey.  His characters and the stories they have to share with listeners show the constant struggles of life with that slimmest of a thread of eternal hope.

His latest album, “Red Crow,” is thirteen originals, (four are co-writes), that opens with the somber story of a widower of thirteen years who lives thru the slow demise of a “One Horse Town,” where, now, “the graveyard’s all that grows.”  Another pair of long-time lovers, one 93, the other, 98, still share a vibrant relationship, and, unlike the birds who soar around them, are “Not Ready Yet” to fly away!  Lonesome fiddle from Cody Braun helps chronicle a man’s quest for inner peace, “far above cities,  chaos, and clouds,” way “up here Above Timberline!”  A similarly-themed song recalls the “Good Old Days,” when kids were polite and the world was the way it’s supposed to be–for Randy, it was 1963, for me, 1956.

Our favorite was built around a haunting cello and the metaphor of Moses never reaching the Promised Land,   It describes the hardships of pioneer settlers traveling from Iowa to Oregon in 1848, and is entitled “Barlow Road.”

Randy Lewis Brown builds a dazzling array of characters throughout “Red Crow,” who are often no different than any of us.  Flawed?–Hell, yes, but they soldier on, and Randy and the other talented musicians on this project bring them all into vivid focus.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Will Jacobs and Marcos Coll review…September 22, 2019….

WILL JACOBS AND MARCOS COLL

TAKIN’ OUR TIME

IT AIN’T SAFE–GOIN’ TO BERLIN–WHAT YOU DOIN’–C. J.’S BOUNCE–STRANDED–HEY BABY–BLUES CAZORLA BOOGIE–ONE TOO MANY TIMES–GOIN TO BERLIN (LIVE)

Will Jacobs is an outstanding twenty-six-years-young guitarist, singer, and composer who has found his calling within the blues community not in someplace such as Chicago or Memphis, but, rather, in his base in Berlin, Germany!  He has forged a working friendship with harmonica monster Marcos Coll, founder of the group, Los Reyes del KO.  These two giant players have pooled their talents and just released “Takin’ Our Time,” nine prime  cuts of what can best be explained as authentic, Chicago-styled blues.  The whole thing reminds me of the good ole days around the turn of the century when Albert Castiglia was Junior Wells’ guitarist and bandleader just before Junior’s passing.  These guys have that same telepathic feel for each other’s music that Albert and Junior had, and they have that kickass swagger and ‘tude, too.

Leading off is the blasting funk of “It Ain’t Safe,” where Will tells a lover that it’d be “safer to for you to choke a gorilla with a shoestring,” ’cause “It Ain’t Safe to mess around on me!”  Will finds out the hard way that lyin’ don’t pay, and she gives him the boot after “One Too Many Times.”  The band hits a low-down, Muddy groove on their “theme song,” of sorts, “Goin’ To Berlin, gonna do it right!”  It is presented in two versions, as the set closes with a live version, with Will on a twangy guitar and stompin’ percussion that gives it a true Delta feel.

Our favorite was a shot of soul-blues funk that has that good, South Side gritty feel, as Will asks a lover “What You Doin’ to me,” ’cause “sometimes I don’t know where my head’s at!”  Marcos’ harp on this one runs up and down the scales with a Sugar Blue or John Popper feistiness!.

Will Jacobs and Marcos Coll play the blues as if they grew up backstage at Theresa’s or The Kingston Mines.  nowhere near Berlin, Germany.  Dig the authentic sounds they’re puttin’ down in “Takin’ Our Time!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

WEntus Blues Band review…September 21, 2019….

WENTUS BLUES BAND

WITH DUKE ROBILLARD

TOO MUCH MUSTARD

RAMASOUND 1419

STAYED AT THE PARTY–2:19–JUDGMENT DAY–FIRST WE TAKE MANHATTAN–SHE’S A KILLER HOT BLONDE–RIGHT IN YOUR ARMS–TOO MUCH MUSTARD–SHE MADE MY MIND–I HEAR YOU KNOCKIN’–MIRANDA–YOU GOT MY LOVE–SELMA–FEELS SO BAD–WHERE HAVE ALL THE SONGBIRDS GONE–PASSIONATE KISS

Duke Robillard first met the young men of the Wentus Blues Band during a Scandinavian tour back in 1987.  Then, they were so young that their parents had to act as chaperones.  Fast-forward some thirty years, and Wentus is one of the most solid, in-demand groups all over Europe and Scandinavia.  When they asked the Duke to produce and play on their latest album, his answer was a resounding “YES!!”  Thus, they all headed up to the Lakewest Recording in West Greenwich, RI, and the results are astounding, with “Too Much Mustard!”  The fellows mix some of their own material with some of Duke’s, and some well-known standards.

Our hero knows he did her wrong, and now all he’s got left is “the whistle and the steam,” ’cause “my baby’s leavin on the 2:19!”  Duke puts his Berry-pickin’ licks to good use on the Fifties’-inspired band original, “She’s A Killer Hot Blonde and she loves the blues!”  Pekka Grohn is all over the 88’s in the scaldin’-hot boogie instrumental that is the title cut, with dueling guitars from Duke and Niko Rippa, and they do a killer job on one of Duke’s originals, the minor-key, voodoo-vibe of “You Made My Mind, and now I’m walkin’ in circles just thinkin’ about you!”

Our favorite was a sweet, pastoral shot of soul. It’s a universal call for peace as our hero begs for “help from the sky” in “Where Have All The Songbirds Gone?”

The thing that impressed Duke about these young fellows back in 1987 was their deep respect for the vintage blues and R & B and its players, and that reverence carries over into today.  Duke’s friendship and his guidance as producer and fellow musician has made the Wentus Blues Band and “Too Much Mustard,” a joyous listen, indeed!!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.