Archive for December, 2019

Rae Gordon Band review…December 12, 2019….

RAE GORDON BAND

WRONG KIND OF LOVE

RAE GORDON MUSIC

COMIN BACK FOR MORE–DON’T LOOK NOW–HOW YOU GONNA–MIGHT AS WELL BE YOU–SEA OF BLUE–WRONG KIND OF LOVE–HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU SO–GOT TO HAVE YOU–LAST CALL–GET RIGHT WITH THE WORLD

Many fans will remember the Rae Gordon Band from their third-place finish at the 2017 IBC’s in Memphis, and  subsequent set, “Better Than I Was.”  More recently, Rae was a featured vocalist on Rockin’ Johnny Burgin’s latest Live set for Delmark, singing on four cuts.  The band is back and coming out swinging on their latest, “Wrong Kind Of Love,” laid down in Portland, OR, at Jimi Bott’s Roseleaf Studio.  The ten cuts feature six songs penned by keyboard man Pat McDougall, three co-writes from Pat and Rae, and one from Portland guitarist Rod Furlott.

One thing about this band, y’all, is that they’ve got plenty of soul!  Big-voiced Rae leads things off with the soulful funk of our girl who’s so much in love, she’s “Comin’ Back For More!!”  A cheatin’ dog tries to cover his tracks, but “Don’t Look Now,” Rae’s “about to tear your playhouse down!” “Might As Well Be You” is all about that 3 AM hookup, set over some cool Jimmy Nolen-inspired, scratchin’ guitar licks while the title cut served as one of our favorites.  Kivett Bednar opens with some driving, freight train-slide, as our girl finds out that the one she thought was Mr. Right “had The Wrong Kind Of Love.”  “Last Call For Alcohol” is a cool slow-blues, where, for another  poor excuse for a lover, “it’s last call for you, too!”  This one has a great sax solo from Scott Franklin followed by an equally-impressive solo from trumpet man (and arranger) Allan Kalik.

The set closes with our other favorite, as Rae’s voice takes on some gospel fire to remind us all to “let your voice be heard,” and “Get Right With The World.”

Rae Gordon and her hi-octane band have appeared in festivals from Florida to Canada, and have garnered many awards from the Pacific Northwest’s Cascade Blues Society.  Cue up another great set with “Wrong Kind Of Love!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Sugar Blue review…December 11, 2019….

SUGAR BLUE

COLORS

BEEBLE MUSIC  BB805

AND THE DEVIL TOO–BASS REEVES–WE;LL BE ALL RIGHT–(FEAT. AFRIKA RIZ)–DAY TRIPPER–GOOD OLD DAYS–DIRTY OLE MAN–MAN LIKE ME–SHANGHAI SUNSET (FEAT. LING BO)–DOWNHILL–BONNIE AND CLYDE–KEEP ON

Ok, folks…Dig deep into the CD players in your mind, and cue up the Rolling Stones and “Miss You,” from 1978.  That cool harp riff all thru it belongs to none other than Sugar Blue, who continues to be a powerful player in contemporary blues, and one of our favorite harp men that ever blew a note.  His latest is “Colors,” ten originals and a funkified cover of “Day Tripper,” making this set one of his most versatile.

Leading off, Blue gives the boot to a no-good lover, wishing her all the worst, in “God bless you, And The Devil, Too!”  The cool thing about this one?  It rides that ‘Diddley beat” all the way thru!   Blue shows off his storytelling chops on two cuts.  First up, it’s the story of a true American hero of the Old West, “Bass Reeves, the nemesis of any man on the wrong side of the law,” and the legend on which The Lone Ranger was based.  At the opposite end of the spectrum,  Max DeBernardi is on dobro as Blue and his harp explain the hard-luck beginnings of America’s most dangerous criminal duo, “Bonnie And Clyde.”

This set includes some fine examples of serene, uplifting songs, also.  “We’ll Be All Right,” features the collective voices of the Afrika Riz chorus, while Ling Bo works his magic on the traditional Chinese sheng on “Shanghai Sunset.”  The set closes with the empowering tale of continuing to fight for what’s right, “Keep On.”

OK—we picked the low-down dirty blues cut as our favorite.  Yeah, fellas, it is sho’ nuff hell gettin’ old, and Blue is all over it, praising the “little blue pills” and “going to See Alice,” in the hilarious bump-and-grind of “Dirty Ole Man,” a shot of Chicago blues at its fun-loving best.

The uniqueness of “Colors” is no doubt due to the four places in which this set was recorded, literally the four corners of the world.  Parts were done in Milan, Italy, Shanghai, Chicago, and (have you heard what is the word from) Johannesburg.  and Sugar Blue has created the most powerful and personal album of his illustrious career!  Blue, we love you, man!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

 

Jack Mack And The Heart Attack review…December 9, 2019….

JACK MACK AND THE HEART ATTACK

LIVE FROM CENTENNIAL PARK–ATLANTA 1996

SSR FREE ROLL RECORDS

MORE SOUL–BREAKING DOWN THE WALLS–WOMAN THING–I’LL TAKE YOU THERE–SOMETHING ABOUT YA–RESPECT YOURSELF–SEX MACHINE–LIVIN IT UP–TAKE ME TO THE RIVER–SLY MEDLEY–I WALKED ALONE

Hearken back to the XXVI Olympiad on July 27, 1996, from Atlanta.  With everybody in the mood to party, hot weather, and world-wide coverage, the stage at Centennial Park was rockin’ to the sounds of “the hardest working band in soul business,” Jack Mack And The Heart Attack  They did a fiery set of eleven originals and covers that was geared to get everybody up and dancing.  They covered STAX, Al Green, Sly Stone and James Brown, and their originals were written in that same vein.  SSR Free Roll Records has just released this historic concert as “Live From Centennial Park, Atlanta 1996,” in conjunction with the December 13 release of the Clint Eastwood/Leonardo diCaprio film that accompanies it, “Richard Jewell,” the story of the man originally wrongfully accused of setting off the pipe bomb that killed one and injured 111 others.

This iconic band appeared on the ABC-TV sitcom, “Laverne And Shirley,” in the early-Eighties, and they’ve been filling dance floors all thru the last 40 years., and this night was no different until its conclusion.  They kick off with “More Soul,” a cool re-working of the Dyke And The Blazers cut from 1968.  Next up, the groove’s the thing, in the horn-fired original song of social consciousness, the ironic “Breaking Down The Walls, to overcome!”  Vocalist TC Moses expounds on the one thing that can ease a man’s pain–“it’s a Woman thing!”  This one has an excellent call-and-response chorus, and digs back into classic STAX territory, while  “Something About Ya,” “keeps the party goin’, y’all,”   “Livin’ It Up” is another dynamite original party anthem, while the twelve-minute funkathon of the “Sly Medley,” which joins “sing a Simple Song,” “Stand,” “I Want To Thank You,” and “I Want To Take You Higher,” would have been a dazzling place to stop, but the band offered up one other original.  It is “I Walked Alone,’til I found you,” a sweet love groove with a classic feel.  As this song ends, the pipe bomb exposion brings the night to an abrupt, chilling, climax.

Two songs from this live footage will be included in the film, a sweet read on “I’ll Take You There,” and, the aforementioned, “I Walked Alone.”  The film is dedicated to Alice Hawthorne, Jewell, and all affected by this senseless act of violence. The CD puts you “there,” to dig the party grooves laid down by Jack Mack And The Heart Attack, and “Live From Centennial Park–Atlanta 1996.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

 

 

Kern Pratt review…December 7, 2019….

KERN PRATT

GREENVILLE, MS….WHAT ABOUT YOU?

ENDLESS BLUES RECORDS KPEBR 1032019

LOVING THAT FEELING–HARD WORKING MAN–BABY’S GOT ANOTHER LOVER–TORN BETWEEN LOVE AND HATE–SOMETHING’S GONE WRONG–RITA–WAY SHE WEARS HER CLOTHES–NOLA–WHATCHA GONNA DO?–CHICKEN HEADS

Guitarist/vocalist/composer Kern Pratt is the natch’l born embodiment of today’s contemporary blues.  Growing up in Greenville, he was surrounded by the sounds of Little Milton, Bobby Rush, and tons of others that put the blues in his soul.  His latest set for Endless Blues Records is entitled, “Greenville, MS…What About You,” and features a “Who’s Who” in today’s blues as guest players, including Jeff Jensen, Bill Ruffino, Shannon Goree, and a slew of others.

The funk sho’ nuff hits the fan on the opening cut, featuring Chris Gill on slide guitar as Kern is “Loving That Feeling,” of recalling past good times!.  We all know he’s a “Hard Working, hard-lovin’ Man,” guaranteed to give you more than just a one-night stand!  This one features keys from the legend, Clayton Ivey.  Kern positively wails on the slow-burn of fellow Mississippian Mick Kolassa’s “Baby’s Got Another Lover,” a song dealing with a lover’s addiction, while he composed “Something’s Gone Wrong” after a fight with his lover during the process of making this record.  It’s another excellent slow-blues, and the added horn section recalls vintage Little Milton.

It’s juke joint Saturday night on the rockin’ “love the Way She Wears Her Clothes,” and the good times just keep rollin’ with the guitar-centric frenzy of “Whatcha Gonna Do when your man is gone?”

We had two favorites.  Another poignant ode to addiction and its final and fatal consequences is “Rita don’t live here any more,” with Denise Owen on the duet vocals.  This one was written by another great keys man, one of our best friends for many years, Nashville’s own Larry Van Loon.  The set closes with a stone party, as the wah-wah kicks @$$ all over the place with a lowdown cover of Bobby Rush’s “Chicken Heads!”  Kern is joined here by Jeff Jensen, Bill Ruffino, David Green and Denise Owen.

Kern Pratt’s daddy ran the Western Auto store in beautiful downtown Greenville, and the day Kern saw the flyer for the 1980 Mississippi Blues And Heritage Festival,  the young man was hooked for good!  Kern writes from personal experience, which is what we love about him.  That makes his playing and singing honest and from the heart, and, myself, I’m ’bout ready to head south to “Greenville, MS…What About You?”   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Hudspeth And Taylor review,,,,December 6, 2019….

HUDPETH AND TAYLOR

FOLIE A DEUX

BIG FAT HAIRY LIE–WALKING DOWN THE ROAD…–I’LL BE RIGHT BACK–I KNOW IT’S GONNA RAIN AGAIN–CANDY MAN–SILLY BILLY–ROCK WITH ME BABY–LOW DOWN DEALER MAN–SOMETIMES YOU ACT CRAZY–FOLIS A DEUX–FUTURE–WHEN YOU COMIN’ HOME–DADDY BABY

Friends for over twenty years, guitarist Brandon Hudspeth and vocalist/percussionist Jaisson Taylor met on the Kansas City scene when Brandon was seeking a duet partner.  They built a following thru local gigs, and the whole thing sort of  mushroomed.  Brandon is on all the guitars, and Jaisson is on vocals, augmented by his use of various percussion instruments to pump up the duo’s sound, built around the traditional African instrument, the cajon, literally translated as “the box.”  Their debut is entitled “Folie A Deux,” which showcases how these two great talents mesh to form a unique and solid sound.

Slide guitar drives the opening cut, as the smooth-voiced Jaisson knows that nothin’ busts up a love affair faster than a “Big Fat Hairy Lie!”  “Walkin’ Down The Road” follows that good ole Jimmy Reed lope, while bad love and bad weather are the perfect partners in “I Know It’s Gonna Rain Again.”  “Silly Billy,” that “dancin’ fool,” who “keeps an eye on all he skirts,” is done up in a jazzy, Django-ish groove, while that “Low Down Dealer Man” is the story of a blackjack dealer hell bent on taking all our hero’s money!!  Brandon’s excellent dobro sets the tone on this one, too.

We had three favorites,  “Candy Man” is traditional blues at its best , a lively tale of a young man who makes all the wrong choices, and suffers the consequences.  Moody chicks are the subject of the slow-blues story of our hero just tryin’ to cope, but, “Sometimes You Act Crazy,” and, then, “crazy is yo’ middle name!! The set closes with Jaisson’s percussive skills settin’ the tone on the call-and-response of the raucous “I wanna be your Daddy Baby!”

Brandon Hudspeth and Jaisson Taylor take the “blues as a duo” format and turn it into something powerful and passionate. “Folie A Deux” brings together two exceptional talents for a fun ride down the blues highway!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Katy Hobgood Ray review…December 2, 2019…

KATY HOBGOOD RAY

FEAT. DAVE RAY

I DREAM OF WATER

OUT OF THE PAST RECORDS   OOTP 012

LOLLIE BOTTOMS–WASHED AWAY–OH DEVIL–I DREAM OF WATER–HOUSE DIVIDED–DIRTY WATER–LITTLE CHILDREN’S BLUES–DES ALLEMANDS–THAT REALLY MATTERS–KINGS, QUEENS, AND JESTERS

Katy Hobgood Ray and Dave Ray met at a Writer’s Night in 2001 in their hometown of Shreveport, LA.  They belong to the Friends Of Leadbelly, a group of musicians dedicated to preserving the music of blues/folk legend Huddie Ledbetter, and Katy has won several awards for her artistry in children’s music.  Both recently took jobs in Memphis, and now split time between there and New Orleans, and their latest album, “I Dream Of Water,” for Out Of The Past Records, chronicles their time spent in Louisiana.

The music is “Southern soul,” for sure, but it is more Delta-centric than STAX-oriented, and deals more with the connotations of the mighty Mississippi than the “deal-makin” goin’ on down at the Crossroads.  An excellent example opens the set, as those who depend on the river to eke out a sustenance are also frightened to death of its capability to destroy.  It’s “one more day in Lollie Bottoms,” while “Washed Away” is a gospel-fired ode to not  necessarily the unsaved souls, but those whose remains have been disturbed thru past floods, their ghosts walking after sundown seeking solace.  .

Greg Spradlin’s guitar, over Katy’s vocals, brings to life one of our favorites, a loving tribute to Huddie himself, the sprightly-tempo of “Little Children’s Blues.”  Dave takes the lead vocal on a loping tune that deals with love and friendship, all the things “That Really Matter(s).”

We had two other favorites, as well.  Jazz is the rule as the set closes.  Katy is accompanoed by the venerable Chuck Dodson on piano,  and the band adds the bass and brush-stroked drums as Katy reminds us all of the relative brevity of life, as we are all “Kings, Queens, And Jesters,” and should enjoy each day to the fullest!   Dave is on the lead vocal in “living in a House Divided,” dealing with not only relationship problems among lovers, but, also, the sad state of the nation’s affairs today.  Set over a rhumba-fied groove, the drums from Dave Hoffpaiur and percussion from Dylan Turner add the perfect spice!

With “I Dream Of Water,” Katy Hobgood Ray and Dave Ray offer up a set that is a true account of the more plaintive side of the sounds of the Delta from two who have been a part of it their entire careers!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.