Jeff Chaz review…October 14, 2019….

JEFF CHAZ

NO PAINT

TURN BACK THE HANDS OF TIME–THE STARS ARE OUT–WE AIN’T SHACKIN NO MORE–YOU GOTTA SHOW ME–LOWDOWN DIRTY BLUES–LIFE IS LIKE COFFEE–BLUES BUFFET–LITTLE SIPS–SHE’S THE SWEETEST THING–DEET, DEET, DEET

Jeff Chaz is a veteran of the vibrant New Orleans blues scene.  A dazzling guitarist, singer, and composer, his first album in three years, “No Paint,” showcases nine originals and one sweet cover that are full of Jeff’s looks at life, love, and everything in between, all tempered with his wry, witty, sense of humor and red-hot guitar licks.

Jeff is on guitar and vocals, and the power trio is rounded out by Augie Joachim on bass, and Rick Jones on drums.  They open the show with the lone cover, one of our favorite songs of all time.  It is a spirited cover of Tyrone Davis’ soul classic, “Turn Back The Hands Of Time,” featuring Jeff on a unique, echo-washed guitar.  That sense of humor shows itself in the funky strut of a man intent on doin’ the right thing, “We Ain’t Shackin No More, I’m gonna make you mine!”  A minor-key, uptempo shuffle recounts the tale of a lover who’s not all she’s cracked up to be, prompting our hero to compare her to “Life Is Like Coffee–it never tastes as good as it smells!!”  Another no-good lover serves up “fights,” “I don’t love you no more’s,” and “you don’t take me out as much as you used to,”  hot and straight off of the “Blues Buffet!”  Jeff gets into a swingin’ Albert King groove on guitar with “you only give me Little Sips of your love–when you gonna fix me a drink?”

One can ascertain after listening,  Jeff Chaz and his deft sense of humor and clever knack for a lyric are on full display on “No Paint.”  Toss in excellent musicianship, and this Crescent City bluesman is indeed hitting his stride!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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Ghalia review…October 13, 2019…

GHALIA

MISSISSIPPI BLEND

RUF RECORDS 1272

GYPSY LADY–MEET YOU DOWN THE ROAD–SQUEEZE–FIRST TIME I DIED–LUCKY NUMBER–WADE IN THE WATER–DRAG ME DOWN–SHAKE AND REPEAT–RELEASE ME–WHY DON’T YOU SELL YOUR CHILDREN–I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU NOT TO TELL THEM

Ghalia (Volt) is a Brussels-born blueswoman who’s been making a lotta racket on the contemporary scene ever since her 2017 debut, the New Orleans-influenced “Let The Demons Out.”  She spent some creative time in Chicago, Memphis, and even here in Music City, but longed to record a set in the Hill Country of Mississippi.  As such, she ventured down to Coldwater and the Dickinson brothers’ Zebra Ranch studio, intent on making an album “so raw it bled,” and the stunning results are in, with the release of “Mississippi Blend,” for Ruf Records.  Ghalia is on vocals, slide, and dobro, and bassist Dean Zucchero and guitarist Smokehouse Brown return from the debut album.  There are several special guests that add to the “local color” of this project, too, including Cedric Burnside, Lightnin’ Malcolm, and Cody Dickinson.

The party starts with Ghalia’s fiery ode to that sly and sexy “Gypsy Lady,” who only needs the “music in my head.”  Along with Ghalia, this one features Hill Country icon Lightnin’ Malcolm on guitar.  “Meet You Down The Road” finds our lass missing a departed lover, leaving her trapped on an “Earth without sun.”  Watermelon Slim blows harp on this one, and returns a bit later for one of our favorites.  He and Ghalia duet on the traditional gospel-blues of “Wade In The Water,” with “the Holy Ghost comin’ on me!”

“Squeeze” finds our heroine head-over-heels in love, and shows it in a true blues-meets-Sun-rockabilly groove, with Cody Dickinson on drums!  That groove continues and closes the set with our girl doin’ her best Wanda Jackson on the blistering, stop-time rocker, “I Thought I Told You Not To Tell Them,” with Malcolm and Smokehouse tearin’ up the frets!

If such a thing can be possible, Ghalia has crafted a set that smokes hotter than her debut!  “Mississipi Blend” is raw, powerful, and a sho’ nuff potent statement from one of our favorite players in all of contemporary blues!!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Lost Bayou Ramblers review…October 12, 2019…

LOST BAYOU RAMBLERS

ASTEUR (CD) and ON VA CONTINUER (DVD)

LOST BAYOU RECORDS

STEH–BOSCO STOMP/NEW IBERIA HAIRCUT–SI J’URAIS DES AILES–COTE CLAIR–GRANNY SMITH–FREE TOWN CRAWL/FIGHTEN’VILLE BRAWL–RICE PUMP–AMEDE CHOPIQUE–TOUS LES MATINS–HWY 90–KALENDA–TUNE UP–DANSE LES PINS–VERMILLON VORTEX–LES MARDI GRAS

The Lost Bayou Ramblers are a Grammy-winning band with a progressive sound that looks to carry on the traditional Cajun songs.  To boot, they are celebrating their 20th anniversary with a brilliant CD/DVD combo release.  The CD is entitled “Asteur,” and translates into where the band is “in this moment,” twenty years on.  The DVD is entitled “On Va Continuer,” and documents not only the band’s making of that Grammy-winning album, “Kalenda,” but their determination to record in authentic Cajun French, and utilize the accordion and fiddle in this musical tradition.

The band, formed in 1999, features Louis Michot on fiddle and vocals, brother Andre on accordion and lapsteel, Johnny Campos on electric guitar, Eric Heigle on acoustic guitar and drums, and Kirkland Middleton on drums and percussion.  The tunes are such that laissez les bon temps roulet is the order of the day.  The fellows shout out to the crowd at Tipitina’s with the boisterous “Bosco Stomp” and “New Iberia Haircut,” and play to the good folks from Lafayette with unique accordion sounds that fuel the “Free Town Crawl” and “Fighten ‘Ville Brawl.” The CD closes with an ode to something now less than five months away, “Les Mardi Gras.”

The DVD chronicles the making of “Kalenda,” fun times with cooking a “hamdog,” and the band’s Grammy acceptance for Best Regional Roots Music Album.  The special features include a performance of “Granny Smith” at the Preservation Hall, also.

The Lost Bayou Ramblers, with “On Va Continuer,” and “Asteur,” offer up original songs and tunes they’ve never recorded before, to ensure that the Cajun French language, music, and customs are never forgotten. An excellent set that shows this band at its best, with a Grammy to prove it!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Mike Duke review…October 11, 2019…..

THE MIKE DUKE PROJECT

….TOOK A WHILE

LITTLE VILLAGE FOUNDATION   LVF 1032

LITTLE MISS PONYTAIL–HOPE YOU LOVE ME LIKE YOU SAY YOU DO–DOIN’ IT ALL FOR MY BABY–LET HER GO AND START OVER–LET ME BE YOUR FOOL TONIGHT–THAT’S WHAT’S SO GOOD ABOUT THE SOUTH–I’M NOT SAD TONIGHT–AIN’T NO EASY WAY–HONEY I LOVE YOU–TORN AND SCARRED–I CAN’T LET YOU GO–THAT’S WHAT SHE DOES FOR ME–WHEN YOU HAD IT ALL–COMING ‘ROUND AGAIN–NICASIO (LIVE)

Mike Duke has really “gotten around” in his some 45 years in the music business.  A consummate writer, singer, and keyboard master, Mike has been a part of Wet Willie, The Outlaws, Delbert McClinton’s outfit, as well as serving as bandleader at the Rancho Nicasio juke joint since 1998, meaning he has spent time in the Bay Area and down here in the South.   After all this traveling, he has finally released his debut CD, which,, obviously, “…took a while,”but it is here, and full of fifteen of Mike’s originals, done up in the vein of Muscle Shoals and the Southern rock community in which he has spent his career.

Kicking off with an original from 1981, Mike offers one of those Southern-soul odes to lustful youth, and “Little Miss Ponytail,” then goes into full-on Wicked Pickett mode for a song covered by Huey Lewis on his second LP, entitled “Hope You Love Me Like You Say You Do.”  This version was the “demo tape” sent to Bob Brown in 1981, and features Jimmy Hall on sax and Jack Hall on bass.  Two other tunes appear herein that were also covered by Lewis, a classic break-up song, “Let Her Go And Start Over,” and “Doin’ It All For My Baby.”  (Go check out that video from 1987 on MTV on YouTube!)

Mike’s gospel roots run deep, too.  Backed only by his piano, Kid Andersen’s bass, and a chorus of handclaps, Mike offers “Torn And Scarred” with a Sunday-morning fervor and a testifyin’ delivery.

We had three favorites, too.  The Fifties-flavored “I Can’t Let You Go” features Elvin Bishop on guitar.  A tale of fantasies brought to life was done in 1987, and is only Mike’s vocal, and him on a synth and drum machine, and is entitled “That’s What She Does For Me.”  Repeated listenings may bring to mind vintage Hall and Oates, also from that era.  And, a beautiful, sweet as molasses, laid-back, Dixie-fried loping groove drives the story of all the fine things below the Mason-Dixon Line, as Mike offers “That’s What’s So Good About The South,” with Jack Pearson on guitar.

Mike Duke has been a fixture in the Southern rock community since its beginnings, and now finds himself equally at home with the Bay Area’s best players.  It’s great to hear his debut, even tho it sho’ nuff  “,,,took a while!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Libby Koch review…October 10, 2019….

LIBBY KOCH

REDEMPTION 10

LIVE AT BLUE ROCK

BERKALIN RECORDS

Ten years ago, Libby Koch was a young attorney in a Houston law firm, never dreaming that, after her debut release, “Redemption,” she’d be entering into a career in music.  However, five albums later, Libby took a unique approach to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of the “Redemption” release.  She re-recorded it, track-for-track, but this time added a live audience at the legendary Blue Rock Artist Ranch And Studio in Wimberley, TX.   It’s entitled, “Redemption 10,” and the crowd is enthusiastically into it, and becomes more so as the evening progresses.

The set begins with our heroine “starting out anew,” bidding “farewell to Tennessee,” and “headin’ back to Houston.”  Heartbreak is the underlying theme of the two lovers trying to reconnect with “Just The Way,” while, in the title cut, our lass struggles to communicate with “the man I love,” and begs forgiveness and a little “Redemption.”  She closes the set with a sweet read of “I Still Miss Someone,” with mandolin from bandleader Patterson Barrett,

Our favorite was easy.  Honky-tonkin, well Libby’s done her some, and, this time, is on the mend after being “stuck in a rut where everything hurts.”  That means “tonight, I’m goin’ Down to the bar,” and is complete with barroom piano from Patterson.  Everyone in the crowd is into it, and it’s worth the price of admission!

Doing “Redemption 10” gave Libby Koch a chance to reflect not only on her career, but the friendships forged and good times had along the way.  Now, as Libby says, “It’s time to drink!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

 

Helene Cronin review…October 9, 2019….

HELENE CRONIN

OLD GHOSTS AND LOST CAUSES

CARELESS WITH A HEART–MEAN BONE–HUMANKIND–DEVIL I KNOW–RIDING THE GRAY LINE–EL CAMINO FLY–IN A KISS–THE LAST COWBOY–GOD DOESN’T–MONGRELS AND MUTTS–GHOST

Helene Cronin labored for fifteen years playing and writing songs for other people before deciding to follow her own Muse and write and record for herself.  Her first full-length set is entitled “Old Ghosts And Lost Causes,” eleven originals written wholly or in part by Helene.  The set also features Kenny Vaughan on guitar, Heidi Newfield on harp, and Bobby Terry on acoustic and steel guitars and mandolin.

It’s Helene’s deep emotion and honesty that grabs you in this collection.  She opens the proceedings with a tune that begins with youthful lust, and ends with a deeper, more mature understanding of how not to be “Careless With A Heart.”  “Mean Bone,” one of our favorites, traces the genetics of a family filled with abusive men, blamed on DNA and that “mean bone” in all of ’em.  Helene’s voice is at its most bluesy on this cut.

We had two other favorites, too.  Showing love and compassion to others, something sorely lacking in society today, is the message in “nothin’ eases human pain like Humankind.” Our other favorite closed the set.  Uniquely told from the perspective of the deceased husband, the “Ghost” of the departed torturously  watches over the wife through a subsequent marriage, the family he never had, all the way thru her ensuing demise.  It is a somber and thought-provoking piece, and a brilliant closing statement.

Helene  Cronin’s songwriting and storytelling encompass Everyman.  She faithfully stands beside the hopeless, the hopeful, and the mongrels and mutts in all of us and documents it to the fullest in “Old Ghosts And Lost Causes.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Junior Watson review…October 7, 2019….

JUNIOR WATSON

NOTHIN TO IT BUT TO DO IT

LITTLE VILLAGE FOUNDATION  LVF 1033

UP AND OUT–DON’T FREEZE ON ME–LOUELLA–SKA-RA-VAN–A SHOT IN THE DARK–WHOLE LOT OF LOVIN–SUMMER LOVE–THAT’S TOUGH–ONE WAY STREET–WELL, YOU KNOW–SPACE FLIGHT–I FOUND YOU–SO GLAD SHE’S MINE–THE PEE WEE CLASSIC-YOU’RE GONNA NEED ME BEFORE I NEED YOU

Junior Watson is one of the most unique guitarists in all of contemporary blues.  He was a founding member of the Mighty Flyers, along with Rod Piazza and Miss Honey.  He spent ten years with them, and the ensuing ten with Canned Heat, before touring with Lynwood Slim.  He’s played onstage at The Blues Music Awards, and with Finis Tasby, George Smith, Shakey Jake, and about a bajillion others.  He was influenced by all the greats, and his fat-toned amalgam of blues, jazz, and vintage R & B is the theme of his latest album, “Nothin’ To It But To Do It.”  Recorded at Kid Andersen’s Greaseland Studios, both Junior and Kid produced,

Junior is on guitar and vocals on a few cuts,  as is Alabama Mike, and Kid’s wife, Lisa Leuschner-Andersen, stepping in front of the mic after a stint as backing vocalist.  The whole set is a collection of original tunes and several obscure R & B gems re-booted specifically for this set, all well-known by Junior.

Of the varied instrumentals, we had two favorites.  First, Sax Gordon Beadle adds the horn over Junior’s jumpin’ guitar lines in a cool tribute to Pee Wee Crayton, the aptly-titled “Pee Wee Classic.”  Done up in a unique ska-groove, everyone has a great time with a re-working of Duke Ellington’s “Caravan,” presented here is “Ska-Ra-Van.”

On the vocal side, we had three highlights.  Lisa shows her chops as lead vocalist on the Fifties’-inspired set-closer, Chuck Sims’ classic, “You’re Gonna Need Me Before I Need You.”  Next up, Junior takes lead vocal n the Chicago-styled blues of “Well, You Know,” featuring Gary Smith on harp and Jim Pugh on keys.  Finally, Alabama Mike is on vocal on a tune he co-wrote with Junior, the slash-and-burn slow blues of “A Shot In The Dark.”

Junior Watson plays whatever he feels at any given moment.  That spontaneity coupled with his brilliant guitar tones and stylings make “Nothin’ To It But To Do It” a real crowd-pleaser!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.