Archive for December, 2019

Cass Clayton Band review…December 18, 2019….

CASS CLAYTON BAND

PLAY NICE

DAWES COUNTY–LITTLE THINGS–PLAY NICE–B SIDE–NO USE IN CRYING–TATTERED AND TORN–YOU’LL SEE–THE MOST BEAUTIFUL–DOESN’T MAKE SENSE–FLOWERS AT MY FEET–SLOW KISS–STRANGE CONVERSATION

Cass Clayton’s father was always playing the blues around their house when she was growing up, and she always knew that singing was the path she’d travel.  She  preferred writing her own material, as she had things to say that no one else on the contemporary scene was putting down.  As well as blues, Cass weaves soul, funk, jazz, and roots into the mix, and the results can be heard on her latest album, “Play Nice.”  This is twelve strong cuts of all-original material, save for one cut, and all the rest are co-writes with Cass and guitarist Taylor Scott.

Leading off, Cass leaves life in a small town, with “fifteen churches, but you can’t buy a drink,” in “Dawes County,” to forge a better life for herself.   A chance encounter with a guitarist in a bar sets the theme for the hookup in “Play Nice,” set over a percussive, primitive, pounding groove.  That thumping groove bleeds over into the next cut, as a lover is compared to “the A Side” of a record, but, “sooner or later,”  “The B Side” has to be addressed, warts and all!  Another lover who always seems to be at odds with himself is consoled by Cass in “Tattered And Torn,” while  the funky strut of “Doesn’t Make Sense at all” has our girl swearing off men for good, that is, “until you took me down!”

The set closes with our favorite.  Again set over that percussive groove, Cass has a “Strange Conversation” with her soon-to-be-ex, who’s ready to leave.  She begs him back, and her soulful voice reaches soaring heights in her pleas, for “without your touch, I have no love.”  A powerful ending, indeed.

One cannot put Cass Clayton into any one particular genre’.   She may have roots in the blues, but her command of soul, R & B, funk, and even gospel into the equation makes “Play Nice” a set that is not to be missed!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Randy McAllister review…December 16, 2019…..

RANDY MCALLISTER

SPITBALL, SHATTER, AND PATCH

REACTION RECORDS

RELAX WATCH THE CRASH–THE LOUDEST CHICKEN–MY DRAWL CAUSED IT ALL–KINGSLAND–ROLLING UP MY SLEEVES–STRAIGHT UP TRUCKIN–THE SONG THAT WRITES ITSELF–PACTOLA–LAID BACK JACK–THE GIRL’S IN LOVE (WITH HERSELF)

East Texas spitfire Randy McAllister started out writing more traditional blues songs, but, after some 30 years in this bidness, he’s stretched out to incorporate more  soul, roots, gospel, Americana, Muscle Shoals, and Texas boogie-woogie.  All of this and more is on display on his latest set, “Spitball, Shatter, And Patch.”  The title is a loose translation of a good lesson in life, where you “make, break, and repair” things all throughout one’s life.

Randy leads off with a dobro-licious tale of “takin’ it easy” in life, with “Relax Watch The Crash.”  This one features Brandon Hudspeth on guitar, and Heather Newman on backing vocals as well as the ultra-cool tuba-as-bass from Bill Mckemy.  Randy blows some mean harp on the story of a crazy lover that’s gotta go, in the frenetic, slide-filled “Loudest Chicken in the henhouse!”  Brandon’s guitar lines give “Straight Up Truckin’, walkin’ with a purpose,” a good ole Southern soul vibe, while Heather joins the fun on the laid-back funk of our hero looking to head south, needing a ride “down to Lake Pactola!” You can’t deny the groove in Brandon’s slide on this one, too!  (Think Warren Haynes!).

We had two favorites.  We could all learn a few things from “Laid Back Jack,” a country-blues tune about not judging or putting down folks, and trying to find the good in everyone.  Randy’s harp adds to the “take it slow” groove of this one.  Heather’s third appearance as backing vocalist is on a classic case of misinformation between lovers, because, as us Southern guys know, sometimes, “My Drawl Caused It All!”

With “Spitball, Shatter, And Patch,” Randy McAllister strikes a balance between blues and soul, to give us all a good lesson in putting–and keeping–things together, and thus, has created one of the most personal and powerful albums of his career!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Dudley Harris review…December 4, 2019…

DUDLEY HARRIS

THE MONEY’S ALL GONE

BBH PRODUCTIONS

TIRED BABY–JACK RABBIT–LOVE ME–NOBODY KNOWS–HARD TIMES–CINNAMON ROLL–KING SNAKE–FEEL SO BAD (TELL JODY RILEY)–GO GET MY GUN–SWEET HONEY BEE

I’ve been in West Tennessee bluesman Elam McKnight’s camp since his 203 release of “Braid My Hair.”  He and I are both fellow graduates of Austin Peay State University (albeit sixteen years apart!), and it is thru the efforts of Elam that we have been introduced to the talents of Dudley Harris. He is one of the last of the West Tennessee juke joint bluesmen, having been on that scene in his home of West Tennessee, as well as throughout the Southeast for some 45 years, with no album to show for it.  Again, thanks to the efforts of Elam, The West Tennessee Blues Society, and with funding from the Tennessee Arts Commission, “The Money’s All Gone”is now a reality.  The ten cuts offer pure, honest blues that are at times humorous, and take hard looks at life and its experiences. Laid down in Nashville at the Switchyard Studios, Elam served as executive producer, as well as playing slide on part of the cuts.  Producers are the legendary Michael Saint-Leon, who doubles on bass and guitar, and Bob Bogdal, also on harp.

Dudley’s on guitar and vocals, and kicks things off with what turns into the title cut.  It swigs right outta the gate, but Dudley’s got himself a “no good doney,” and “all the money’s gone” and now she is, too, on “Tired Baby!”   That theme is revisited a bit later.   No blues album is complete without a visit from “Jody,” and on this cut, Dudley is accompanied only by guitar on the minor-key, slow-blues of another lover who “walked away,”right into Jody’s arms, in “Feel So Bad (Tell Jody Riley) he can have her!”

Dudley’s got some good women on here, tho, including that cute little “Cinnamon Roll, sweet right down to her hole!”  The set closes with the driving beat of “my sweet Honey Bee,” who “gives me all her money!”

Our favorite was easy.  If you can’t get down to this one, there’s no hope for you.  Yeah, she’s a “medieval woman,” who’s “done me wrong ” for the last time.  He’s ready for “your funeral and my trial” : in “Go Get My Gun,” and the dance groove is irresistible.

Dudley Harris is one of those blues singers that “they just don’t make no more.”  Hearty thanks to all those involved in the creation of this project, to make “The Money’s All Gone” a reality.  Until next time…Don and Sheryl Crow.

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.