Juliet Simmons Dinallo review…January 21, 2019….

JULIET SIMMONS DINALLO

DREAM GIRL

BFD 140

DREAM GIRL–MOONSHINE AND SWEET TEA–THE ABYSS–SOMEONE FOR YOU–TENNESSEE–FLY (A PRAYER FOR SANDY HOOK)–DON’T GOT MUCH–UNTIL I GO–CURIOUS GEORGE–IN THE CORNER

Juliet Simmons Dinallo grew up in Maine and Boston, but now resides amidst the musically-fertile ground of East Nashville.  Drawing on a style that is playfully described as “Boston roots and cowgirl boots,” she has just released her latest album, “Dream Girl.”  Her rich, supple voice pulls in elements of both Nashville and Memphis, and this set deals with the challenges involved with moving, growing up, and getting older.

The set begins with the title cut, written by Juliet’s husband for their daughter, Annabel.  (Thus its actual title, “Dream Girl (Annabel’s Lullaby.”)  This breezy track finds our heroine looking at the world thru a child’s perspective, “dreamin; of a better world,” and is reprised at the end of the set, with Annabel’s recording debut, singing the track!  In between, there is a poignant look at the Sandy Hook tragedy, “Fly (A Prayer For Sandy Hook)”, with additional backing vocals from fellow Bostonians Amber Casares and Anita Sahanin.  They also add backing vocals to a beautiful, waltz-time number, “Moonshine And Sweet Tea,” with the authentic instrumentation provided by Tim Carter, a direct link to the Carter Family.

Our favorites leaned more toward Juliet’s bluesier side.  A mythical 200-mile road trip evokes memories of “white picket fences, all the way from Nashville to Memphis,” the bright-and-breezy “Tennessee.”  And, “Curious George”is rocked-up, stones style, and deals with spoiled-brat rich kids, who, sadly, grow into spoiled-brat adults, wondering “what their money won’t buy!”

Juliet Simmons Dinallo is touring throughout Tennessee, and makes a couple of stops in Cleveland and Cincinnati, and one in Acton, MA.  Get out and support her and her brilliant voice and “Dream Girl.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

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Benny Turner and Cash McCall review…January 21, Martin Luther King Day, 2019….

BENNY TURNER AND CASH MCCALL

GOING BACK HOME

NOLA BLUE RECORDS  NB 007

GOT TO FIND A WAY–SPOONFUL–POISON IVY–MONEY–SHAKE YOUR MONEYMAKER–IT HURTS ME TOO–IT’S A MAN DOWN THERE–THE DIRTY DOZENS–BUILT FOR COMFORT–BRING IT ON HOME

There just ain’t nothin’ better than two veteran blues men doing what they do best–gettin’ together to get down on some of the classics from the cream of the entire blues canon.  That’s what we have with the latest from Benny Turner and Cash McCall, affectionately-entitled “Going Back Home,” for the NOLA Blue label.

Benny, the younger brother of the great Freddie King, and Cash, met in the clubs on the South and West Side of Chicago over sixty years ago. They decided to put together a set of standards and originals done up in the old-school way, just the way they rocked the house back in the good ol’ days.

The party starts with a good-old horn-fueled soul shouter, “I Got To Find A Way to get you back,” as Benny’s daughters, the Turner Sisters, give this one a gospel-ish, Staples Singers vibe.  Benny is on vocal, with Cash on rhythm guitar on the iconic “I’m like Poison Ivy, I’ll break out all over you!”  The fun just keeps on comin’ with good-time takes on Elmore’s “Shake Your Moneymaker” and a cool re-working of his “One Way Out,” with different lyrics that play out as “It’s A Man Down There–might be yo’ man, I don’t know.”

This whole thing is juiced and loose like a long-necked goose, and Cash’s vocals prove that he’s still got it goin’ on.  Check out his original, “Money,” about tough times in the world today, where “talk is cheap, except when there’s 20% inflation!”  And he goes right on down to the alley behind Memphis Music for “The Dirty Dozens,” where, as Roosevelt Sykes used to say, it’s a dirty mother for you, don’t you know!”

These weren’t even our favorites.  Cash is on vocal and Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone is on the harp for “Spoonful.”  Now, the story always was that it was Hubert Sumlin on guitar on the Chess original, but recent statements show that it was more likely Benny’s brother, Freddie King on the original, and, with Benny on rhythm herein, this song comes full-circle.  The set closes with a stone blues party as Billy Branch joins in on vocals and harp on Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Bring It On Home.”  As the festivities draw to a close, Billy, Cash, and Benny recall tales of their youth in the clubs of Chicago!

Fans, this was a whole lot of fun.  Benny and Cash are having their CD release party down at Malcolm Anthony’s Memphis Music at 149 Beale, from 1:30-4:30 PM on Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019.  If you can make it, please do so, and purchase a copy of “Going Back Home” and a T-shirt to help defray Cash’s medical expenses, then do one more thing—shake their hands, pose for a selfie, and tell them how much you appreciate them and their talents, and how much their music, and the music of their all-too-few remaining contemporaries means to you!  Fellows, we got the pork chop sandwiches covered, and we love you!  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow, the Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Chris O’ Leary review…January 19, 2019….

CHRIS O’LEARY

7 MINUTES LATE

AMERICAN SHOWPLACE MUSIC  ASM 7607

WHAT THE DEVIL MADE ME DO–YOUR DAY WILL COME–ONE MORE CHANCE AT LOVE–SECOND TIME AROUND–SHE AIN’T COMING BACK–CIRCUS JUST LEFT TOWN–7 MINUTES LATE–UNBELIEVABLE–BONES–HEARTBREAK WAITING TO HAPPEN–DRIVING ME CRAZY–DADDY’S HERE

Former U. S. Marine and lead singer for Levon Helm’s Barnburners, Chris O’ Leary is back with a dozen new tales of love, lust, and life in general.  It’s entitled “7 Minutes Late,” for American Showplace Music.  This harp-blasting singer/songwriter first came to our attention with his critically-acclaimed debut, “Mr. Used To Be,” and he’s been a consistent performer since that time.  He’s also recorded alongside Bill Perry, Hubert Sumlin, and a host of others.

Leading off is the pounding, thump-thump-thumpin’ tale that finds our hero asking for “1000 miles to drink, a couple hundred more to think” about “What The Devil Made Me Do.”  Funky guitars wind around Chris and his request for “One More Chance At Love,” but she stone puts him down for too much carousin’ in “Second Time Around.”  “Unbelievable” is just that—hitting a sweet, soulful, Stax-like vintage groove,  while you can pitch a boogie with the roadhouse-rockin’ tale of that girl we all know, with that smile that “oughta be against the law,” the “Heartbreak Waiting To Happen.”

Two powerful cuts stood out for us.  Twangin’, old-west-styled guitars over Chris’ vocal, that calls out all the haters and those who take advantage of others, and seeks “judgment on the content of character rather than the color of one’s skin,”  is called “Your Day Will Come.”  The chilling title cut is the tragic story of the sad endings of three lives in the love triangle caused by “the 7:05 running Seven Minutes Late.”

Chris O’Leary is the consummate performer.  With a Marine work ethic and a career honed by years fronting for Levon Helm, his solo career continues to impress, especially with the brilliant material that comprises “7 Minutes Late!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Vin Mott review…January 18, 2019…..

VIN MOTT

ROGUE HUNTER

CAR TROUBLES MADE ME A GOOD BLUES SINGER–GIVE ME CORNBREAD–ROGUE HUNTER–ICE COLD BEER–HONEY–WHISTLIN’ BY THE GRAVEYARD–PATERSON IS CRUMBLING–I GOT THE BLUES ON MY MIND–COUNTIN’ ON THEM CHICKENS–FIRE TO YOUR FLAME–PLEASE MR. DEVIL–GREASER

Another fine bluesman from New Jersey is harpman Vin Mott.  He got a drum kit at age seven, and he ain’t looked back.  In high school, he settled on the harp, and graduated from the prestigious Berklee College Of Music in Boston.  For his latest album, he wrote all twelve of the cuts, and goes over and above the call of the blues on “Rogue Hunter.”  Vin is on vocal and harp, with Dean Shot on guitar, Pretty Boy Kirsty on bass, and Matt Niedbalski on drums.

Fans, the more you listen to this 28-year-old bluesman, the more fun you’ll have.  The fun starts with a shufflin’ ode to all the lemons he’s driven, and how “Car Troubles Made Me A Good Blues Singer!”  “Ice Cold Beer,” with its built-in call-and-response mechanism, is a stone party anthem, and is a damn good reason to “stay drunk all thru the year.”  “Honey” lopes along, full of the spirit of Jimmy Reed, and that theme surfaces a bit later with “Fire To Your Flame.”  The somber slow-blues of “Paterson Is Crumbling” details how this once-great city has been ravaged by urban blight and hard times.

We had two favorites, too.  “Rogue Hunter” re-visits the Bo Diddley classic, “Roadrunner, baby,” into a slide-driven tale of spit and swagger that has our hero feelin’ like a “black bear in the woods!”  And, he practically begs ol’ Lucifer to “come on out and play” down at the Crossroads, with the dark humor of “Please Mr. Devil.”

Rare is the artist who can inject such a degree of humor into his blues, but that’s part of the draw of Vin Mott.  If you love good ol’ harp-and-slide-driven combo styled blues, getcha a big plate of cornbread and have lunch with a real “Rogue Hunter!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Trevor B. Power Band review….January 17, 2019…..

TREVOR B. POWER BAND

EVERYDAY ANGEL

JACK–YOU AIN’T ACTIN’ RIGHT–FUTURE PLANS–SADDEST THING–STORM BREWIN’–BABY I’M THROUGH WITH YOU–I WROTE IT DOWN–MURDER IN THE FIRST DEGREE–LORD HAVE MERCY–EVERYDAY ANGEL

Trevor B. Power is a bluesman, composer, and radio personality from norther New Jersey.  He’s been playing guitar since his teens, and his life credo of “practice, practice, practice” has paid off with the release of The Trevor B. Power Band’s debut, “Everyday Angel.”  Trevor’s on guitar and vocals, and fellow Jersey-ites Billy Gensch on guitar, Mark Enright on bass, and Tom DiCianni on drums round out the ensemble.

This set offers not only straight blues, but some strong, heartland-style rockers. (Think Springsteen or Tom Petty).  This set also offers up a message of love and a reminder of the frailty of life.  One of those blistering rockers opens up, “Jack,” who’s on “that train ride to nowhere,” and resurfaces a bit later on with “Murder In The First Degree.”  Trevor gets into a rockin; roadhouse groove with the ultimate kiss-off song, “Future Plans,” flatly tellin’ her “I don’t want you to be happy!”  This one has a cool, Replacements vibe, and features John Ginty on keys and Nick Conti on sax.  That theme continues on “I’m Through With You,” with Bob Lanza on guitar.

We had two favorites, too.  A cheatin’ lover gets called out, ’cause “You Ain’t Actin’ Right,” with Nick back on the sax, John on keys, and Bob Lanza on guitar.  The set closes with a beautiful ode to Trevor’s daughter, his “Everyday Angel,” and his unending devotion to her.  This wistful, breezy tune has sweet slide guitar from one of the original Dominos, Bobby Whitlock, and subtle sax and backing vocals from Bobby’s wife, CoCo Carmel.

There’s something for everyone with Trevor B. Power and “Everyday Angel.”  Inspiration from Bobby Whitlock and his wife led to the writing and performing of his own material, and this set bears out that he made the right decision!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Michael McDermott review…January 14, 2019….

MICHAEL MCDERMOTT

ORPHANS

PAUPER SKY RECORDS

TELL TALE HEART–THE LAST THING I EVER DO–NE’ER DO WELL–MEADOWLARK–SOMETIMES WHEN IT RAINS IN MEMPHIS–GIVIN’ UP THE GHOST–BLACK TREE, BLUE SKY–THE WRONG SIDE OF TOWN–FULL MOON GOODBYE–RICHMOND–LOS ANGELES, A LIFETIME AGO–WHAT IF TODAY WERE MY LAST

Michael McDermott first tasted success in his early 20’s, going all the way back to his critically-acclaimed “620 West Surf” for the Warner Bros. label in 1991. It thrust him into the limelight, perhaps before he was ready, leading down a path of self-destruction.  He’s older, wiser, and now has a child with writing partner Heather Lynne Horton, and is four years clean and sober.  For his latest release, Michael took a rather unique approach.  Over the last three years, he’s been touring almost non-stop in support of his last two albums, “Willow Springs,” and “Out From Under.”  And, as with many writers, there are usually a plethora of songs that do not appear as part of the “finished product.”  That is the backstory of the twelve “Orphans” on this set.  They are songs that Michael believed he simply could not just discard, so, here they are.  They deal with a myriad of emotions, mostly dealing with the acute loneliness he felt while on the road for so long, in addition to losing his parents.  As such, they are small glimpses into his soul, and how he has used music to cope with life.

Assisted by Heather, Will Kimbrough, Lex Price, John Deaderick, and a host of other A-listers, the set begins with a nod to Edgar Allan Poe and “Tell Tale Heart.”  This excellent piece of jangly-pop also shouts out to Dorian Grey and hunger-strike icon Bobby Sands.  The wistful “Ne’er Do Well” has “Miss Browning to help me count the ways,” and, altho he may not have much, “at least you are still mine.”

The loneliness of being on the road constantly and away from loved ones is spelled out in “Meadowlark,” and “Black Tree, Blue Sky.” while his time spent in California, a somewhat dark period in his life, is documented in “Los Angeles, A Lifetime Ago.”

We had two favorites, too.  “Once we were like warriors/once we were like kings,” sadly ends with our lovers “Givin’ Up The Ghost.”  And, in a nod to one of our favorite places, the two lovers of “Sometimes It Rains In Memphis” just can’t keep things together, either–“maybe we were just too dumb to realize these were the best times of our lives.”

It’s not every writer in this town who’d be at ease sharing some his most vulnerable emotions with listeners, but for Michael McDermott’s “Orphans,” it is that personal touch that ties them all together.  Further, they give him optimism for the future, and this serves as his best work to date!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

The GroovaLottos review…January 12, 2019….

THE GROOVALOTTOS

ASK YO’ MAMA

MGR 118

EVER SO CLOSE–WBAR–THE MEDIUM RARE GROOVE SHOW–ASK YO’ MAMA (IMA GROOVALOTTO)–DO YOU MIND (IFWEDANCEWITYODATES)–WBAR–THE REAL DEAL–JUST IS…–M.I.L.E.–TEMPLE OF A SACRED CLOWN–WILL I EVER–DEM BIG GIRLS–JUST FRIEND BLUES–THIEF IN THE NIGHT–AUTUMN MOON–WBAR–TO BE A GROOVALOTTO–THE STORM–IMAPHUNKYA!

The South-coastal, MA, funk brigade known as the GroovaLottos have just released their debut album, “Ask Yo’ Mama!”  All the songs on this hour-plus of stone cold funk are originals written by Mwalim DaPhunkee Professor, who doubles down on keys and vocals.  This is, if you will, more of a “concept” album, as the songs are interspersed throughout by humorous asides and snippets based on characters from a play written by Mwalim, built around a fictional radio station, WBAR-FM.

Obviously, this band is all about the funk all the time, and is full of irresistible dance grooves that guarantee a funky good time.  The players “introduce” themselves and this album on “WBAR–The Medium Rare Groove Show,” and get into a rowdy comedy routine that plays out like a modern-day “Who’s On First,” in trying to explain the album’s title.  They get into a Sly and the Family Stone groove on “Ima GroovaLotto,” before settling into what this band is all about.  They borrow a line from the iconic “Animal House” movie, and build a funky groove around it, “Do You Mind If We Dance Wit’ Yo’ Dates?”  “Just Is” follows a sweet, soulful piano lead, as our hero explains to a lover that “not everything needs words–it just is.”  Cheaters get called out in the tale of “those four women who are just friends,” entitled “Just Friend Blues.”

We picked two stone solid favorites, too.  Percussion-driven and piano-fired, everybody knows “real men need the meat,” on the ultra-cool “Dem Big Girls!”  The set closes on perhaps the rowdiest note of all–“ImaPhunkYa like you owe me money,” seven minutes of hot-buttered funky bliss!

It is no surprise that the GroovaLottos put the “fun” in “funk,” everywhere they go!  Hey–you wanna know who’s got  the best funk in town??  Just “Ask Yo’ Mama!!”   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.