Archive for September, 2019

The McNaMarr Project review…September 18, 2019…..

THE MC NA MARR PROJECT

HOLLA AND MOAN

BAHOOL RECORDS

HOLLA AND MOAN–MISSING YOU–THROWING DOWN A LITTLE LOVE–HISTORY–CRY WITH ME–KEEP IT ROLLIN–CAN YOU TAKE THE HEAT–NO MORE CHAINS–SOMETHING THAT’S REAL–BLUES BROUGHT ME HERE

The McNaMarr Project is the brainchild of two of Australia’s most-beloved blues artists, Andrea Marr and John McNamara.  Their latest collabo is called “Holla And Moan,” and, when one listens to it, it is almost as if Chess, Stax, and Hi Records all packed up and moved Down Under.  Andrea Marr is as soulful a vocalist as they come, evoking comparisons to Tina Turner and Sharon Jones.  Toss in John’s guitar lines and his own bluesy vocals, and these two make a dynamite pair!

The ten originals are mixtures of Memphis grease and Chicago grit, and the festivities begin with our lusty pair trying not to argue with each other, but, rather, to re-focus the energy of “Holla And Moan” for when “we burn up the sheets in the heat of the night!”  This one is pure old-school, call-and-response soul. They keep the pot boilin’ with another tale of “when the lights go down,” “Throwing Down A Little Love.”  They both get into full-on ballad mode with one of our favorites. Our two lovers are kept from reaching the heights they once had, but, “time broke us down” in the lovelorn “History.”  Another favorite is a cool throwback to the glory days of Tina Turner, as Andrea and John are looking for real love, in the punchy grooves of “Can You Take The Heat?”  The set closes as our duo take us all down to Blues Church with a testifyin’ shout-out to many blues legends with “Blues Brought Me Here.”

Fans, records such as The McNaMarr Project’s “Holla And Moan” are a rare find these days.  Andrea Marr and John McNamara are household names in Australia’s contemporary scene, and this set is about to make a big splash stateside!!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

 

Michael Bloom review…September 16, 2019…

MICHAEL BLOOM

AND THE BLUES PROPHECY

WHISPER IN THE WIND

TIME ON MY HANDS–WHISPER IN THE WIND–JUST CAN’T WIN–I REMEMBER LOVE–BROWNSVILLE–OLD MAN BLUES–TILL I MET YOU–NO LUCK AT ALL–LISA–I AIN’T GOT THE BLUES–DUST MY BROOM

Michael Bloom is a native Chicagoan who is a classically-trained guitarist.  He found his calling, tho,  in the blues of his home base, thru Muddy, Milton, Jimmy Reed, and others.  For his latest set, “Whisper In The Wind,” Michael combines eight originals, written in the “traditional” styles of the aforementioned masters, and three covers that pay tribute to them and the influences they had upon him.

The party begins with a slide-fueled, topical tune that teaches a good blues lesson–“if trouble was money, I’d be fine, but I ain’t got money–just Time On My Hands!”  Another Chicago legend, Mary Lane, joins in on the title cut, a look at the frailties of love, which is described as nothing more than a “Whisper In The Wind,” where, “you can build yourself a castle, but you can’t go in.”  Piano on this one is from yet another Chicago icon, Ariyo Ariyoshi.  “Brownsville,” from the pen of Furry Lewis, is a great vehicle to show how Michael adapts the songs of the pre-WWII masters to today’s contemporary sound.

Our two favorites closed the set.  A man who seemingly has it all still  has that troubling “hole in my soul,” ’cause, “I Ain’t Got The Blues.”  Mary Lane offers a playful vocal over Michael’s dobro and Michael Damian’s 88’s on a fun read of blues at its best,  Robert Johnson’s “Dust My Broom!”

Michael Bloom believes, as do we, that the blues is more than just notes and words.  The blues is a feeling that begins in your soul, and comes out thru the words and music.  Judge for yourself after you listen to “Whisper In The Wind.”  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow.

Sparky Parker review…September 5, 2019….

SPARKY PARKER

IN THE DARK

SP0002

IN THE DARK–THIS OLD THING–8 DAYS IN THE DOG HOUSE–GAMES–SLEEPY TOWN–GOOD MAN–TREAT A DOG–DEAD FLOWERS–ESCAPE TO QUINTANA–SHAKE YOUR HIPS

Houston-based Sparky Parker started out playing guitar straight outta high school, playing for local bands such as Bayou Master and Funky Mustard, (a gig he still holds!), and national luminaries such as Diunna Greenleaf and sax lady Vanessa Collier.  He has really found his calling, tho, as the frontman for the power trio that includes Sparky on vocals and guitar, Phillip Lock on bass, Kevin Berry on drums, and additional keys from William Gorman.  Sparky’s latest set combines seven blues-rock-flavored originals and three monster covers for “In The Dark.”

The tunes herein offer up several surprises from such a young player.  He begins with a throwback to the days of disco balls and Blaxploitation soundtracks, the wah-wah-infused title cut of two lovers who can’t quite decide in which direction they are heading, muddling along “In The Dark.”  He has sho’ nuff done his homework regarding his guitar heroes, too.  Check out the slow lope of the Guitar Slim-inspired “Games–all the games that we play!”  He gets his Dick Dale groove on with the surf-twang instrumental, “Escape To Quintana,” and closes the set with the frenetic-paced, rapid-fire Harpo-meets-Hooker down where you go to “Shake Your Hips”

We had two favorites, too—one cover and one original.  “8 Days In The Doghouse” is pure roadhouse bliss, as our hero, on the outs with a lover, is beggin’ her to “throw me a bone!”  The cover is a damn good one, too, as Sparky captures the feel of vintage, “Sticky Fingers”- era Stones by way of a brilliant read of “Dead Flowers.”

Somewhat shy and unassuming when not performing, Sparky Parker has given fans a Texas-sized reason to dig his style of blues with the release of “In The Dark!”  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

 

Bruce Cockburn review….September 14, 2019…..

BRUCE COCKBURN

CROWING IGNITES

TRUE NORTH RECORDS   TND 737

BARDO PUSH–EASTER–APRIL IN MEMPHIS–BLIND WILLIE–SEVEN DAGGERS==THE MT LEFROY WALTZ–SWEETNESS AND LIGHT–ANGELS IN THE HALF LIGHT–THE GROAN–PIBROCH: THE WIND IN THE VALLEY–BELLS OF GESTHEMANE

Guitarist Bruce Cockburn has received some of the highest awards bestowed by his native Canada.  They include the prestigious Order Of Canada, a 2018 Juno Award for “Bone On Bone,” voted Contemporary Roots Album Of The Year, and countless others.  He is likely to add to his impressive collection of accolades with his latest set, his 34th total.  It is an all-instrumental, acoustic affair entitled “Crowing Ignites,” for True North Records.  It was laid down in Frisco at The Firehouse, with friend and long-time musical collaborator Colin Linden producing and adding instrumentation.

The album’s title is a translation of Bruce’s family crest and his Scottish heritage, and is brimming with highlights of Bruce’s incredible fingerpicking skills.  “Easter,” composed on Easter Sunday, and “April In Memphis,” composed on Martin Luther King Day, are both passionate, pastoral, and reverential in their nature, the latter featuring Bruce on those “tollin’ bells” chimes!  “Blind Willie” is done in honor of Blind Willie Johnson, with a bluesy feel throughout, and has Colin on dobro.  “The Groan” further expounds upon the theme of Delta blues, with Colin on mandolin and a backing chorus of “chain gang” handclaps. to add to the song’s ambience.  Originally composed by Bruce for Les Stroud’s documentary, “La Loche,” it makes its debut appearance herein.

Our favorite showed Bruce’s incredible guitar virtuosity.  Built around the centuries-old, traditional bagpipe music of Scotland, “Pibroch:  The Wind In The Valley,”  finds Bruce’s guitar literally mimicking the sounds of the bagpipes, with his own backing on dulcimer, and keyboards from Janice Powers.

Bruce Cockburn’s name is often mentioned in the same breath as Segovia, Django, and Mississippi John Hurt.  He is playfully referred to as having the “hardest-working right thumb in show business,” and will celebrate the release of “Crowing Ignites” at Nashville’s City Winery on September 20.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Janiva Magness review…September 13, 2019….

JANIVA MAGNESS

SINGS JOHN FOGERTY:

CHANGE IN THE WEATHER

BLUE ELAN’ RECORDS

CHANGE IN THE WEATHER–LODI–SOMEDAY NEVER COMES–WROTE A SONG FOR EVERYONE–DON’T YOU WISH IT WAS TRUE–HAVE YOU EVER SEEN THE RAIN–BAD MOON RISING–BLUEBOY–FORTUNATE SON–DEJA VU (ALL OVER AGAIN)–A HUNDRED AND TEN IN THE SHADE–LOOKIN OUT MY BACK DOOR

The music of John Fogerty, whether as a member of Creedence Clearwater Revival or as a solo performer,  is some of the most revered and loved music in the annals of rock music.  It takes a mighty, mighty singer to even attempt to cover these classics, let alone to re-invent them, but that is exactly what fellow Detroiter Janiva Magness has done on her latest for Blue Elan’ Records, “Change In The Weather.”  Herein, she plies her big, bold, soulful, bluesy voice to some of Fogerty’s most iconic songs.

That big voice leaves its mark on the opening track, as she gives “Change In The Weather” a Hill-Country-meets-Sunday-morning-gospel, where “there’s nothin’ left after that hurricane!”  The poignant, coming-of-age tale teaches us that, no matter how hard we want to believe,  “Someday Never Comes,.” while the Viet Nam era protest vehicle, “Have You Ever Seen The Rain,” is slowed-down and played over an organ/guitar arrangement to complement Janiva’s soul-drenched delivery.

She has plenty of fun on this set, too.  Acoustic guitar adds a Delta flavor to the tale of ol’ Dooley, with “let the Blueboy play!”  The set closes on a similar note, with a country-blues interpretation of “Lookin’ Out My Back Door,” augmented by acoustic dobro.

Favorites were easy.  “I ain’t no Fortunate Son” rings as true today as it did at he height of the war protests fifty years ago, as does the more recent look at too many wars in this world, “Deja Vu (All Over Again).”  Janiva and bluesman Taj Mahal offer up a playful duet of a Heavenly dream where “everybody was your friend,” the acoustic “Lord, Don’t You Wish It Was True.”

Janiva Magness has won many Blues Awards, including the coveted Entertainer Of The Year in 2009.  We were there to see it presented to her, by both B. B. and Bonnie Raitt.   Her legacy as one of the premier voices in contemporary blues is further solidified with this most excellent tribute album, “Change In The Weather.”  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow.

 

 

Bob Bradshaw review…Sept. 11, 2019….

BOB BRADSHAW

QUEEN OF THE WEST

FLUKE RECORDS   FR10

QUEEN OF THE WEST–ROLE OF A LIFETIME–RUBY BLACK–1-800-SOSAINT–CHILD–THE WEARING OF THE BLACK–STORY GOES–HIGH HORSE–ALBUQUERQUE–EVERY LITTLE THING–HOW YOU DISAPPEAR–TAKE ME TO THE EAST–YOUR SONG

Singer/composer/storyteller extraordinaire Bob Bradshaw is based outta Boston, but his roots lie in Ireland.  His latest album is rather a rarity these days, a concept album entitled “Queen Of The West.” that draws comparisons to the frontiers of the Old West with his native Ireland.  The lovable characters involved tell their tales of love, loss, and an eternal search for redemption.  The set plays out in such a way that each individual song is likened to pieces of a quilt, which, when pieced together, provide a broader perspective.

Bob’s inviting voice is perfect for storytelling, and the instrumentation is predominantly guitar, fiddle, and pedal steel, with unique drum patterns depending upon the mood of the song.  You gotta love ol’ Ruby Black, literally born into “The Role Of A Lifetime,” as our “Queen Of The West.”  Yeah, she’s a “light sleeper” and a “straighter shot” than most, who’s been known to “pull a real gun out of her boot!”  Hey–“She’s killed a dozen men and wed a dozen more!”  She loves her son, mistakes and all, and prays for his soul in “1-800-SOSAINT,” and “The Wearing Of The Black.”  Lovers in this set find life not a bed of roses especially in “Every Little Thing,” and, “How You Disappear.”  However, long-sought redemption is found at the end, as “I heard Your Song of hope,” with backing vocal from Kris Deimhorst.

Bob Bradshaw has captured a unique vision within the characters and tales of “Queen Of The West.”  You can’t help but love ’em, and wish them the inner peace they seek throughout this enlightening and entertaining set!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

The Quebe Sisters review….September 9, 2019…..

THE QUEBE SISTERS

THE QUEBE SISTERS

ALWAYS SEEM TO GET THINGS WRONG–MY LOVE MY LIFE MY FRIEND–PIERCE THE BLUE–LOAD AT 7 (LEAVE AT 8)–SUMMER OF ROSES–LONESOME ROAD–LULLABY OF THE LEAVES–THE WALTZ YOU SAVED FOR ME–BLUEGRASS IN THE BACKWOODS–TWILIGHT ON THE TRAIL

The Quebe Sisters–Grace, Sophia, and Hulda–have been delighting fans of authentic Western swing for some fifteen years, and are experts in the triple-fiddle and sibling harmonies that make this music so endearing.  For their fourth album, a self-titled affair,  they also feature Simon Stipp on guitar and Daniel Parr on the doghouse bass to round out the five-piece.  They branch out a bit from their comfort zone somewhat on this set, looking for ways for each sister to spotlight her individual talents, They also include original material on an album for the first time, with Sophia, Grace, and Daniel Parr writing three of the ten cuts.

The two-step’s the thing on Sophia’s original ode to true love, “My Love, My Life, My Friend.”  The ladies shift into 3/4 time on “The Waltz You Saved For Me,” and no Quebe Sisters set would be complete without a breathtaking instrumental.  Herein, it’s an old Kenny Baker tune, the scintillating workout of “Bluegrass In The Backwoods.”

Our favorite was impressive, indeed.  The traditional sounds of “look down, look down, that Lonesome Road,” has an acoustic, guitar-and-vocal intro, before everyone gets involved and turns this into a Django-Stephane-styled tour-de-force!

The harmonies of the Quebe Sisters are as sweet and pure as honey in the rock.  On this self-titled set, they continue their legacy as innovators in Western Swing while staying true to its roots.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Jesse Terry And Alex Wong review…September 8, 2019……

JESSE TERRY AND ALEX WONG

KIVALINA

LANDFALL–NOWHERE–DANGEROUS TIMES–THIEVES–TEN MORE YEARS–FIGHT OR FLIGHT

For those who continue to contend that global warming is a Chinese hoax or fake news, please allow us to educate you in the plight of the native people of the Alaskan village of Kivalina.  It sits along the Chukchi Sea, and, for generations, the citizens there have set up camps along the sea ice to carve out a meager existence thru hunting whales.  Over the course of time, the ice has melted underneath, and continues to do so.  As such, the hunting of whales is becoming increasingly difficult, and true scientists believe that within the next ten years, the entire region will become uninhabitable, and all the villagers will be homeless refugees, caused by the melting ice.

These folks have some stories to tell, and, they ain’t pretty.  That brings us to the powerful collaboration between Jesse Terry and Alex Wong, long-time musical friends who have worked up the six-song EP entitled “Kivalina,” laid down at Angelhouse South in Music City.

These two amazing artists blend their voices perfectly to show the plight of this fiercely-loyal tribe of hunters.  Alex’s original, “Landfall,” opens, asking the musical question, “who would believe such a crazy thing” would happen in the USA.  Percussion drives the song about the people themselves, who “fought no wars,” yet are caught in the middle of “Nowhere.”  “Dangerous Times” chronicles the fact that, “the ice is too thin to trod upon,” while the doomsayers give them, perhaps, “Ten More Years,” then, “no hunters on the shores.”

The set closes with perhaps its most powerful statement as our two vocalists pray for faith and strength to “get me through this,” before being faced with the penultimate choice of “Fight Or Flight.”

This nation should be the pacesetter in the fight for climate change, but, has instead regressed into the 19th Century, refuting any evidence of dangers ahead.  Natch’l fact is, all you’ll get from the White House is a damned roll of paper towels.  By calling attention to the plight of “Kivalina,” perhaps Jesse Terry and Alex Wong can make enough noise to bring a much-needed change!  This is one of the most socially-conscious pieces we have heard this year, and, gentlemen, your efforts are greatly applauded!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

The Paul DesLauriers Band review…September 7, 2019….

THE PAUL DESLAURIERS BAND

BOUNCE

VIZZTONE RECORDS/BROS  VT-BROS 11901

HERE WE GO–ITS ALL ON YOU–LET ME GO DOWN IN FLAMES–TAKE ME TO THE BRINK–HAPPY WASTING TIME WITH YOU–DRIVING ME INSANE–JUMPIN AT SHADOWS–WORKING MY WAY BACK HOME–PICKED A BAD DAY (FEATURING JP SOARS)–WHEN THE DARKNESS COMES–FEELING ALL KINDS OF GOOD–LOOSY GOOSY JAM #769–WAITING ON YOU

The Paul DesLauriers Band hail from Montreal, and features Paul on guitars and vocals, Sam Harrison on drums, and Alec McElcheran on bass.  These guys are no strangers to the limelight, having won a Canadian Maple Blues Award for Electric Act Of The Year, and took second place down in Memphis at the 2016 IBC’s.  They have just released their latest for Vizztone, entitled “Bounce.”  It is twelve originals and one sweet cover, with a fun collabo with another of our favorite bluesmen, JP Soars.

If you are a fan of guitar-heavy, power trio blues and blues-rock, you are gonna LOVE “Bounce.”  The album is full of highlights.  Paul fires up the slide guitar on the story of a man who was always aloof to love, until his latest, who “pushes all my buttons, baby,” “Let Me Go Down In Flames.”  The pace picks up with the blistering blues story of a man who was always in a hurry, but, now, is “Happy Wasting Time With You!”  Snarling guitars are the order of the day on a strong duet with JP Soars, as our hero is having nothin but bad luck, and, sho’ nuff, “Picked A Bad Day to stop drinking!”  There’s a great tribute to Peter Green-era Mac with “Jumpin’ At Shadows,” and even a splash of Sun with the rockabilly-flavored, “Feeling All Kinds Of Good!”

The set closed with our favorite.  A slow-blues jam and vocal is how “Waiting For You,” begins, as our hero is “drowning in my own dreams,” and the vocal ends after about four minutes.  Over the next six minutes, we are treated to what Paul DesLauriers is all about.  With one incredible solo on top of another, each one more dazzling than its predecessor, he channels his inner Clapton, Townshend, and a myriad of other influences in this example of blues-rock bliss!

The Paul DesLauriers Band continue to bring the heat in guitar-heavy contemporary blues.  Hey y’all—let’s “Bounce!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Paul Gabriel review…September 6, 2019…..

PAUL GABRIEL

MAN OF MANY BLUES

SMOKE RING RECORDS

I FEEL GOOD–MAYBE WE CAN TALK AWHILE–COLD COLD COLD–IT BE THAT WAY SOMETIMES–NO FINANCE, NO ROMANCE–BLUES FOR GEORGIA–SECOND STORY MAN–MAN OF MANY BLUES-FACE FULL OF FROWN–ON THAT TRAIN–JUST A BITTERNESS–ANGEL–DEAR JOHN LETTER

New England-based guitarist/vocalist/composer Paul Gabriel has been nominated for Blues Music Awards, and received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award for Guitar excellence from the Connecticut Blues Society.  For his sophomore solo release, both of which were produced by Duke Robillard, he has written or co-written thirteen original unique and varied forays into the blues culture, aptly-entitled, “Man Of Many Blues,” for Smoke Ring Records.  The set also features Duke on guitar and Sugar Ray Norcia on harp as special guests.

The set opens with a cool, rhumba-rocked tribute to the Bluff City, with references to The Pyramid, Beale Street, and that good ‘cue from The Rendezvous, “music in the air, blues everywhere, I Feel Good.”  Our hero gets waay more than he bargained for after answering a shady lady’s call, “Maybe We Can Talk Awhile,” set over a jazzy, midtempo groove.  He keeps that groove goin’ with the title cut, the story of a man, who,  “in the face of temptation, did not fail,” a “Man Of Many Blues.”

We had three favorites, too.  A song built around advice given him by his late father teaches us all that there’s no real explanation for things, except “It Be That Way Sometimes!”  This one features harp from Sugar Ray.  Howard Eldredge is the guest duet vocalist on a jumpin’ tune about lovin’ a hi-maintenance woman, “No Finance, No Romance, that’s the way it is!”  The instrumental “Blues For Georgia” is a guitar-centric ode to the woman to whom the entire st is dedicated.  Georgia Louis was a gospel and blues vocalist with whom Paul spent many years working alongside.

Paul Gabriel’ versatility within many styles is his forte’.  He solidifies his legacy as one of the planet’s best guitarists on the strength of  “Man Of Many Blues.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.