The Texas Horns review…May 19, 2019….

THE TEXAS HORNS

GET HERE QUICK

SEVERN RECORDS  CD 0075

GUITAR TOWN–I’M DOIN’ ALRIGHT, AT LEAST FOR TONIGHT–FEELIN NO PAIN–FIX YOUR FACE–BETTER GET HERE QUICK–LOVE IS GONE–2018–SUNDOWN TALKIN’–FUNKY APE–SOULSHINE–YOU CAN’T BE SERIOUS–TRUCKLOAD OF TROUBLE

Kaz Kazanoff and John Mills formed the Texas Horns in 1997, and trumpet man Al Gomez joined some twelve years ago.  Together, they are a formidable unit, able to play anything in any style, either pre-arranged or improvising in a jam-style setting.  That’s why they will be the “house horn” section for the upcoming Ottawa Bluesfest on July 6.  Meanwhile, they have finished their Severn Records debut, “Get Here Quick,” releasing May 24.  It features vocals and guitars from a veritable “Who’s who in contemporary blues,” including, on the vocal roster, John Nemeth, Curtis Salgado, Gary Nicholson, Guy Forsyth, and Kaz.  The guitar players are just as stellar, featuring Anson Funderburgh, Ronnie Earl, Johnny Moeller, Denny Freeman, Derek O’Brien, and Jonn Del Toro Richardson.

There are five outstanding instrumentals that fuse elements of vintage soul, blues, and, even a nod to The Big Easy.  The varied slate of vocalists give a unique spin to the band originals and the two Gary Nicholson-penned songs, “Fix Your Face,” and “Soulshine.”  Carolyn Wonderland plays the jilted lover to the hilt, vowing to land on her feet, “I’m Doing Alright, At Least For Tonight.”  Curtis Salgado looks at the same lost love from the guy’s point of view, this time seeking the cool, dark of the evening for solace, sadly realizing that “it’s just the Sundown Talkin.”

Our favorite was easy.  Set over a scathing groove with Kaz on echo-effect vocals, “You Can’t Be Serious” calls out the current powers-that-be for catering to “a rich man’s paradise,” “taking from the many, giving to the few,” and, “I can’t believe this mess belongs to you!”

The Texas Horns worked for a year or so on “Get Here Quick,” juggling the schedules of the plethora of great players who appear herein to get as many at one time as they could into the studio.  The final product was well-worth the wait, tho, with some brilliant, horn-driven blues!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

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RJ Cowdery review…May 18, 2019….

RJ COWDERY

WHAT IF THIS IS ALL THERE IS

SOMEWHERE A PLACE–WHAT IF THIS IS ALL THERE IS–SECRETS OF MY DREAMS–BROKEN WHEEL–DON’T GIVE UP–IS THERE TIME–SHOTGUN RIDER–GIRL IN THE WAR–GET OUT OF HERE–LOST AND FOUND

Columbus, Ohio-based singer-songwriter RJ Cowdery has been writing songs for some three decades, but only within the last few years did she decide to pursue her music on a full-time basis.  “What If This Is All There Is,” is her latest collection, nine originals and one brilliant cover of Josh Ritter’s  poignant “Girl In The War.”

RJ begins with the story of a woman left alone to raise a child after the father took off to “the arms of another town,” entitled, “Somewhere A Place.”  She doubles-down on the love emotion, begging the musical question, “what if this is all the love I’m ever gonna get,” and “What If This Is All There Is?”  It is embellished by standout piano work from Jen Gunderman.  RJ writes songs that come from her own personal experiences, or the experiences of those she knows or are closest to her.  Those qualities are what make her songs easy for everyone to relate to, and our two favorites expound upon that premise.

First up, the bluesy “Shotgun Rider” has our heroine Hell-bent on hunting down the one who done her wrong, complete with a .45 and an attitude!  It is augmented by a haunting banjo from Justin Moses.  “Broken Wheel” is the bittersweet tale of an emotionally-drained woman who feels overwhelmed by life and the “falling down and you can’t get up” feeling, and her subsequent downward spiral.

For RJ Cowdery, life is a line drive in a beehive, and she’s older and wiser now, with the scars to prove it!  Fans, drink deeply from the wellspring of the excellent stories-in-song that make up “What If This Is All There Is?”   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

 

Albert Castiglia review…May 17, 2019….

ALBERT CASTIGLIA

MASTERPIECE

GULF COAST RECORDS

BRING ON THE RAIN–I TRIED TO TELL YA–HEAVY–KEEP ON SWINGING–MASTERPIECE–THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS–TOO MUCH SECONAL–CATCH MY BREATH–RED TIDE BLUES–LOVE WILL WIN THE WAR–I WANNA GO HOME

For his last album, South-Florida blues man Albert Castiglia was “Up All Night,” headin’ to the next town.  Well, since that time, Albert has had a sho’ nuff life-changing Epiphany,, that has resulted in perhaps the finest album of his career, “Masterpiece,” for producer Mike Zito’s Gulf Coast Records.  Natch’l fact is, only Albert and Zito play on the whole album.  Albert is on vocals, both switch off on bass and guitars, and Zito is on keys.

Albert’s life-altering moment?  A connection to a daughter he never knew he had, and the two “new” grandchildren.  The subsequent changes in his life have led to some of the most powerful, statement-making material he has ever written or recorded.

Leading off is the scorching “Bring On The Rain,” where finding his daughter literally closed “the hole in my heart.”  “I Tried To Tell Ya, the man was one big lie,” is set over a Doomsday backbeat and Albert’s Hellhound guitar licks, while “Heavy” looks at the hatred in today’s society directed at those members  who are different, for whatever reason.  This cut preaches tolerance and a hope for the future, but, “times ain’t getting tough, they’re gettin’ Heavy.”

Albert offers up a couple of cool covers, too.  First up, we go back to Junior year of high school in ’73, with Albert’s echo-washed read of Johnny Winter’s “Too Much Secanol,” and closes the set with Muddy on his mind, and “I Wanna Go Home, to my baby, sometime!”

We had two favorites.  The title cut is an upbeat, Dylan-esque look at his new-found daughter, who is truly his “Masterpiece.”  With the new folks in his life, it’s natural for Albert to worry for their safety.  Albert’s answer to the stupefying, almost-daily, senseless mass shootings across this country is a sweeping ode to the victims and a hope that, one day, altho “hate may win some battles, Love Will Win The War.”

Albert Castiglia has always been one of the premier artists in all of contemporary blues.  For four years now, the blues has been without its King.  With “Masterpiece,” Albert certainly can lay claim to the throne!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Arthur James review…May 16, 2019….

ARTHUR JAMES

HEY…I’M STILL HERE

ROLLIN–I MELT WITH YOU–ANGEL FROM MONTGOMERY–IF I WERE A CARPENTER–IN MY ROOM–WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN–IF I HAD POSSESSION OVER JUDGMENT DAY–DRIFTIN BLUES–ROCK ME BABY–BIG ROAD BLUES–PARCHMAN FARM–SPOONFUL–LITTLE RED ROOSTER–GOOD MORNIN BLUES–RAMBLIN ON MY MIND–MAGGIE’S FARM–TRIMMED AND BURNING–SUSAN’S SONG

New Hampshire bluesman Arthur James has been playin’ these blues for a mighty long time now, and never fails to keep his audiences not only entertained, but on their collective toes as well, introducing nuances and subtleties throughout his material that sometimes veers from the norm.  For his last go-round, “Me.Myself, And I,” Arthur concentrated more on his original material, but this time, he’s taken a mix of eighteen of his favorites, a few originals, some fan favorites, as well as some of the best-known songs in all of the blues’ canon and turned it into “Hey…I’m Still Here.”

There are so many highlights, we’ll start with one of our favorites.  His vocal takes on a Dylan-esque timbre in a cool read of ol’ Bobby Zimmerman’s “Down On Maggie’s Farm.”  “Rock Me Baby” bristles with the spark of “how good Arthur James can feel,” when “yo’ back ain’t got no bone!”  Arthur hits the upper register of his range as he begins Robert Johnson’s iconic “Ramblin’ On My Mind,” and sings like a man running from a Hellhound on “If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day.”

We had two additional favorites.  He puts an old-time Delta spin on Modern English’s 1982 hit, “I Melt With You,” turning it into a bluesy tour-de-force.  He also uses a throaty vocal delivery to its fullest on that tale of “if dreams were lightning and thunder was desire,” that “Angel From Montgomery.”

Arthur James uses  only his voice and guitar to convey some of the deepest and most primitive blues this side of Clarksdale, and wants everybody to know, “Hey…I’m Still Here!”   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Adam Holt review…May 15, 2019…..

ADAM HOLT

KIND OF BLUES

ZENITH ZAH 1905

MR. MORNING DRIVE–DON’T GIVE UP ON ME BABY–BOBBY–I’M STILL HOLDIN ON–BEFORE I TRUSTED YOU–GIVE THE DOG A BONE–THE STORY MUST GO ON–THE BOURGEOISIE–THE END–LAY LADY LAY

Alabama blues man Adam Holt blends blues, Southern rock, country and roots music into a deeply-soulful outing entitled “Kind Of Blues” for Zenith Records.  Nine of the ten cuts are Adam originals, with the lone cover, a cool read of Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay.” closing the set.  The album’s title is not only a nod to the type of music within the album, but also to young Adam’s collegiate and trumpet-playing days, when his favorite listening included Miles Davis’ classic “Kind Of Blue.”

On this set, Adam is on vocals, guitars, and keys, and opens the set with one of the more unique cuts on the album.  “Mr. Morning Drive,” co-written with his wife, Jillian, is a sweet tribute to her grandfather, Jack Bell, who was a DJ for 50 years, retiring at age 90!  You hear his actual voice shouting-out to all the nine-to-fivers on their way to work, interspersed with Adam’s rocked-up vocals.  “Still Holdin’ On” is a country-flavored tale of a man who refuses to let go of the past, and, especially a long-gone lover, while a low-down lover gets her come-uppance as our hero would rather “give my vote to Nixon,” “Before I Trusted You.”

Perhaps the album’s centerpiece served as our favorite.  As bittersweet as it is statement-making, “The Story Must Go On,” traces the Civil Rights movement from its infancy to the sad struggles that continue today, and Adam preaches that the war for freedom for all is a never-ending battle–only the characters change.

Adam Holt makes it clear with “Kinds Of Blue” that these songs speak from his heart.  They were borne of his own life experiences or those of the ones he loves, and he is an artist who always stays true to his own convictions.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

The B B King Blues Band review…May 14, 2019…..

THE BB KING BLUES BAND

THE SOUL OF THE KING

RUF  RECORDS  RUF 1268

IRENE IRENE–SWEET LITTLE ANGEL–THERE MUST BE A BETTER WORLD SOMEWHERE–PAYING THE COST TO BE THE BOSS–TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS–BECOMING THE BLUES–HEY THERE PRETTY WOMAN–HERE TODAY, GONE TOMORROW–REGAL BLUES (A TRIBUTE TO THE KING)–POCKET FULL OF MONEY–THE THRILL IS GONE

On May 14, 2015, the blues world lost its King, with the sad passing of Riley “Blues Boy” King.  In the four years hence, the remaining band members, many of whom backed the legend for 30-plus years, are carrying on and writing the next chapter, determined to keep the music of their beloved leader alive, and to introduce it to a whole new generation of fans and to those who may have never had the opportunity to see him live.  Thus, the BB King Blues Band and Ruf Records proudly introduce “The Soul Of The King.”  The thirteen cuts represent new material written by the band members, as well as covers chosen by the A-list guests who also contributed to this wonderful project.

Bassist Russell Jackson handles most of the vocals not done by the guests.  The party starts with Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s intro to “Irene Irene, how could you be so mean,” with Russell on vocals.  Everybody gets into the funky good times of the band’s “mission statement,” going all over the world and “Taking Care Of Business”–The BLUES business!!  This one has Jonn Del Toro Richardson on backing vocals.  Mary Griffin and Taj Mahal, who is on guitar, have the most fun, on a jumpin’ “Paying The Cost To Be The Boss,” one of our favorites.  Russell checks in with another one of our favorites, the low down and dirty ode to hard times, “I got a Pocket Full Of Money, but don’t none of it belong to me!”

Our other two favorites employed two more special guests.  First, Kenny Neal, now the reigning Contemporary Blues Male Artist Of The Year, gives a special read of “Sweet Little Angel,” while Joe Louis Walker makes “Regal Blues (A Tribute To The King)” his own, singing ’bout “when I first heard Lucille,” inspiring him to become a bluesman.

The members of The B B King Blues Band stood alongside the most charismatic talent the blues world has ever known.  In his honor, and on the fourth anniversary of his death, please enjoy “The Soul Of The King.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Steve Howell and Jason Weinheimer review…May 13, 2019….

STEVE HOWELL AND

JASON WEINHEIMER

FEAT.  DAN SUMNER AND DAVID DODSON

HISTORY RHYMES

OUT OF THE PAST RECORDS  OOTP 010

THERE’LL BE SOME CHANGES MADE–BLUES IN THE NIGHT–SHUCKIN SUGAR–JACK OF DIAMONDS–FROSTY MORN–IF I HAD MY WAY–EVERYBODY LOVES MY BABY–YOU DON’T KNOW ME–I GOT A RIGHT TO SING THE BLUES–TEXAS RANGERS–THE FALLS OF RICHMOND–TITANIC–PINE BLUFF, ARKANSAS

Steve Howell is a brilliant musical archivist–he takes songs from the Great American Songbook and introduces them to a whole new audience thru his interpretations and instrumentation.  His eighth album, “History Rhymes,” takes a look at twelve of the classic songs from the first half of the 20th Century.  Done acoustically, this collection also features some excellent backing musicians, all steeped in the same traditions as Steve, those of the classic Delta bluesmen and folk artists represented herein.

Steve is of course on vocals and guitars, with Jason Weinheimer on bass, Dan Sumner on archtop guitar, and David Dodson on banjo and mandolin.  Things get off to a lively start with that “change in the weather, change in the sea,” from the always-fun, “There’ll Be Some Changes Made,” giving way to the Johnny Mercer-Harold Arlen Academy-Award-nominated classic, “Blues In The Night,” where a young man learns quickly about what “my momma done told me,” that “a woman is two-faced!”

We chose three unique favorites.  The Rev. Gary Davis wrote the Biblical, Old Testament-themed, “If I Had My Way,” and Steve sounds as if he is a modern day Paul preaching to the Romans that it’s time to “tear the whole building down” and give things another go.  “Titanic” is powerfully presented here, as Leadbelly Ledbetter wrote it.  It has it all, fans–Jack Johnson, the band playing “Nearer My God To Thee,” and the surviving women praying for their men.  A tune that was always a family favorite in the Crow house was written by Eddie Arnold and Cindy Walker, a bittersweet tale of unrequited love, entitled “You Don’t Know Me.”  Steve, herein, beautifully whispers the vocal.

Steve Howell is known from Natchez to Mobile, and from Memphis to St. Joe, and every stop in between.  He breathes new life into some timeless classics with “History Rhymes!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.