Tomislav Goluban review…January 6, 2020….

TOMISLAV GOLUBAN

MEMPHIS LIGHT

SPONA RECORDS 2020

HAYLOFT BLUES–FUN STARTS HERE–COUNTRY BAG–DISAPPEAR FOR GOOD–MEMPHIS LIGHT–HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN–SPIRIT WILL NEVER GET OLD–PARTY TIME BLUES–WOMAN NEEDS A MAN–CAN I BE WHAT I WANT

Just about a year ago, we had the great privilege and pleasure to review harp wizard extraordinaire Tomislav Goluban’s tribute to Windy City blues, his “Chicago Rambler!”  For his latest, he’s motored south-by-southwest on down to Memphis for the nine originals and one scintillating cover that comprises “Memphis Light.”  Laid down at Ardent Studious, Tomislav, on harp and vocals, is joined by some of New York’s Finest as backing musicians, including Jeff Jensen on guitars, Mark Johnson on slide guitar, Rick Steff on keys, and Bill Ruffino on bass.  Special guests include Memphis singer and harpman Vince Johnson, and backing vocalists Joseph Franher, Daunielle Hill, and Reba Russell.

Check out the rollicking, slow blues of “Fun Starts Here,” featuring Vince Johnson on vocals, dealing with those women who have “ways that’ll turn a good man wild!”  “Disappear For Good” is set over a jazzy, rhumba groove, and deals with that innate fear of losing a loved one.  An upbeat tune is “Spirit Will Never Get Old,” done in tribute to a grandfather who had flaws, as do we all, but stood his ground when it came to courage, honesty, and wisdom.  Mark Johnson adds to the vibe of this song with his excellent slide.

You can’t go to Memphis without goin’ to a party, and the rockin’ “Party Time Blues” recounts a party that “lasts from dusk ’til dawn!”  Staying in that groove, we have “Woman Needs A Man,” built around the break-up of a relationship, again featuring Vince on vocals and fine keys from Rick.

We had two favorites, too.  “The House Of The Rising Sun” has been interpreted in many different ways over time, and herein, Tomislav and the fellows give this classic an uptempo, honky-tonk-ish read!  The title cut finds Tomislav being “struck by Memphis Light,” “the home of the blues, the birthplace of rock and roll, and the cradle of gospel and soul.”

Mentored by the late Philadelphia Jerry Ricks, Tomislav Goluban shines a huge “Memphis Light” over the blues community with this powerful and well-crafted set!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Angel Forrest review…January 4, 2020….

ANGEL FORREST

HELL BENT WITH GRACE

MENIE THE MONSTER–GET IT ON–BEA–AIN’T NO DOUBT–GRACE–INDIAN MOON–THE BLAME GAME–LOOKING GLASS–MOTHER LOVER–MARIGOLD–BANE LORRAINE

In 1996, Canadian woman of the blues Angel Forrest began her musical career, which is still going strong.  Her big. soulful voice is undeniable, and she gained a measure of public notoriety thru her tribute shows to Janis Joplin and the subsequent release of “Angel Sings Janis–Live.”  Her latest album, “Hell Bent With Grace,” finds Angel taking some highly-introspective looks at her own life and those she loves.

The opener is a real tongue-in-cheek look at the onset of menopause, and is entitled “Menie The Monster,” who “takes my sexy away!”  “Get It On” is a stone party anthem, while “The Blame Game” takes a hard look at mental illness and the effects it has on everyone in its path.

We had two favorites, too.  First up, our heroine is involved with a man living in a “web of lies,” and is a real “Mother Lover!”  The set closes on a positively psychedelic note.  “Bane Lorraine” plays out as a modern-day “Jolene,” with a penchant for stealing other women’s men, “losing him to your toxic hand!”  At mid-song, a psychedelic chorus of drums and guitar leads back to Angel’s pleas to “stay away from my man!”

Angel Forrest’s vocal prowess led her to a Semi-Finalist spot in the 2018 IBC’s in Memphis.  “Hell Bent With Grace” solidifies her as one of the most powerful and exciting singers in all of contemporary blues!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

 

The Jimmys review…January 3, 2020….

THE JIMMYS

GOTTA HAVE IT

BROWN COW RECORDS  BCP 006

AIN’T SEEN NOTHIN’ YET–GRIM REAPER–WRITE A HIT–SHE GOTTA HAVE IT–STARTED UP AGAIN–HOTEL STEBBINS–DRINKIN–WHEN YOU GOT LOVE–ALWAYS A WOMAN–WORDS AND ACTIONS–SOMEDAY BABY–TAKE YOU BACK–JOSE

The Jimmys, led by keyboard man, composer, and vocalist Jimmy Voegeli. hail from Madison, WI, and have been playin’ their brand of booty-kickin’ high octans soul, blues, and horn-infused R &B for some twelve years now, and with their latest set, thirteen cuts that make up “Gotta Have It,” they show no signs of lettin’ off the gas!  It’s on Brown Cow Records, and was produced by Grammy-winner Tony Braunagel,  and features guest spots from Marcia Ball co-writing and performing on “Write A Hit,” and singing on “When You Got Love.”

This set is tailor-made for the dance floor, and, leading off,  the title cut sez it all–our hero and backing vocalist Melodye Perry offer up a rockin’ headline, “you Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet!”  Marcia Ball joins the party on the tale of a pair of cheatin’ lovers who now have to “Write A Hit” to get things back to normal!  A cool, stop-time rocker dealing with a girl who has very expensive tastes is “she’s Gotta Have It, but she can’t get it from me!!”  This one served as one of our favorites.  Another favorite is the Jimmy Liggins-inspired, slow-walk of “Drinkin,” that gets me in trouble every time!”

We had two other favorites, too.  Greg Koch adds some tasty slide guitar to the Mardi Gras-flavored life lesson, “When You Got Love,” with duet vocals from Marcia Ball.  Our other favorite was written by Nashville legends Gary Nicholson and Kevin McKendree, as the fellows dig on a Brother Ray groove about a man’s biggest problem, which, invariably,  is “Always A Woman!”

The Jimmys can always be counted on to bring the best in blues and butt-rockin’ R & B to the party.  Hey–when they show up, they gon’ show out, and “Gotta Have It”  serves as their breakout album!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Jimmy Johnson review…January 2, 2020…..

JIMMY JOHNSON

EVERY DAY OF YOUR LIFE

DELMARK RECORDS DE 861

EVERY DAY OF YOUR LIFE–I NEED YOU SO BAD–MY RING–RATTLESNAKE–SOMEBODY LOAN ME A DIME–DOWN IN THE VALLEY–STRANGE THINGS HAPPENING–BETTER WHEN IT’S WET–LEAD ME ON

Chicago legend, guitarist and vocalist Jimmy Johnson is one of the most brilliant bluesmen of our lifetime.  His debut album for Delmark, “Johnson’s Whacks,” came out some four decades ago, and now, at age 90,  he has come full-circle.  Once again with the Delmark label, he has just released the nine cuts that comprise “Every Day Of Your Life.”  His beautiful, upper-register vocals haven’t lost a stroke since we saw him back in the mid-Nineties at the old Boardwalk Cafe, and are on beautiful display throughout this one.  .

This set is full of the classic Chicago blues sound that he has been playing his entire career.  He begins the set with the funky life lesson that is the title cut, “live Every Day OF Your Life like it’s your last!”  Jimmy revisits the good  ol’ days with “I Need You So Bad,” with Roosevelt Purifoy on piano, and again with “Down In The Valley,” with Brother John Kattke on keys.

We had three favorites.  Jimmy’s at his best with a minor-key slow blues, and his vocals are spot-on with “Strange Things Happening,” and a beautiful, smooth read of Fenton Robinson’s “Somebody Loan Me A Dime.”  Jimmy closes on a brilliant note.  Showing a side we have never seen, he backs himself on piano on the gospel-ish read of Don Robey’s, “darling, take my hand and just Lead Me On!”

Jimmy Johnson is still going strong, and blues fans all over the whole round world can enjoy this living legend’s latest, “Every Day Of Your Life.”   Until next time…..Sheryl and Don Crow.

Looking ahead to 2020!!

We’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a safe and Happy New Year!  We thank all the PR folks that keep us supplied with the absolute best in contemporary blues, and all the folks that read and comment on our posts.  Without you guys, we wouldn’t have anything to Blog about!!

 

Love to all

 

Until next time…

 

Sheryl and Don Crow

11 Guys Quartet review…December 30, 2019…..

11 GUYS QUARTET

SMALL BLUES AND GROOVES

VIZZTONE RECORDS   VT-1141

ROAD TRIPPIN–JACKRABBIT–SWEET TASTE–DOGGIN’ IT–SLEEPLESS–EAST CAMBRIDGE CANNONBALL–SPEAKEASY SERENADE–FOUR MAYPOPS–DOWN AND DIRTY–SWING LOW–HEY DADDYO–MIDNIGHT STREETVCAR–RHUMBA BOGALOO–SWAMP RIDE

Back in the early Eighties, guitarist Paul Lenart, bassist Coach Mather, drummer Chuck Purro, and harpman (and Vizztone Records president) Richard “Rosy” Rosenblatt were one helluva blues quartet, tearin’ up clubs all over the Boston area.  They also hold the distinction of having the debut release (on vinyl, of course), of the Tone-Cool label.  They were known back then as the 11TH Hour Band.  Time changes everything, and the fellows all pursued other musical avenues, but, they always had that “chemistry” as a group.  In 2008, the fellows decided to record an album of all-original instrumentals, but they put the whole thing on ice for yet another decade.  Finally, “Small Blues And Grooves” from the 11 Guys Quartet is available for blues fans everywhere to enjoy!

The party starts with “Road Trippin’, a smooth groove set over a Freddie King-ish arrangement.  “Jackrabbit” rocks along at a frenetic pace, and whether the guys intended to or not, we heard an element of old-time gospel down that rabbit hole!  “Sleepless” is an excellent foray into slow blues, while Paul’s guitar takes on a grungy tone in the push-and-pull between guitar and harp that is “Down And Dirty.”  “Hey Daddyo” will get you in a Mardi Gras mood, as will the strut of “Rhumba Boogaloo.”

The set closed with our favorite.  “Swamp Ride” will sho’ nuff take you right into Ernie Young’s Excello recording booth, and that back-scratchin’ riff makes this one a cool take on a vintage style.

The 11 Guys Quartet haven’t missed a beat since their mid-Eighties’ heyday.  “Small Blues And Grooves”  are instrumentals the way they ought to be–nothing real fancy, and every song clocks in at no more than four minutes or so.  Guys, this is the stuff that never gets old, and thanks for sharing these with us blues fans all over the whole round world!  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow.

Mark Hummel review…December 28, 2019……

MARK HUMMEL

WAYBACK MACHINE

ELECTRO-FI RECORDS 3459

FLIM FLAM–HELLO STRANGER–SO MUCH TROUBLE–CUT THAT OUT–ROAD DOG–PLAY WITH YOUR POODLE–BREATHTAKING BLUES–CRAZY ABOUT YOU–PEPPER MAMA–GILLUM’S WINDY BLUES–RAG MAMA RAG–GOOD GAL–REEFER HEAD WOMAN–FIVE LONG YEARS–SAY YOU WILL–MEAN OLD FRISCO

Mark Hummel is a Grammy-nominated harpblaster, singer, composer, and bandleader.  He was born in New Haven, CT, but his family soon relocated to L. A.  Growing up, he found a passion for blues harp, and has never looked back.

On each new album, Mark looks for a different, fresh angle, and “Wayback Machine” is no different.  On this set of sixteen mixed originals and covers,  Mark takes us back to the days of the “country blues” era of the Bluebird record label, doing everything in a stripped-down manner.  Mark produced the set at Kid Andersen’s Greaseland Studios in San Jose, and all these cuts have that vintage feel and sound.

Up first, Mark is on vocal on the cautionary, topical tale of  “the chief Denier,” and three guesses as to whom “Flim Flam” is referring.  This one has Aaron Hammerman on keys and Dave Eagle on percussion, better known as the Deep Basement Shakers.  Mark has a lot of fun with “Cut That Out,” with fine guitar from Billy Flynn, “Play With Your Poodle,” and “Rag Mama Rag,” this one featuring Aaron on vocals.

Joe Beard, one of the last remaining true Mississippi bluesmen, and a great personal friend to Mark, is on vocals and guitar on the three acoustic cuts that close the set.   First up is the pleading slow-blues read of “Five Long Years,” giving way to Mark’s original, “Say You Will,” which has a good ol’ Lightnin’ Hopkins feel.  Closing the set, we all get a ride on that “Mean Old Frisco, and that lowdown Santa Fe!”

Mark Hummel’s vision to create a “country blues” album built around his harp and the excellent talents of the special guests who are accompanying him makes “Wayback Machine” a killer set of traditional blues with a cool contemporary twist!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.