Billy Walton Band review…January 16, 2018….

BILLY WALTON BAND

SOUL OF A MAN

NO FRET/VIZZTONE  VTNF-07

SAVE THE LAST DANCE–I DON’T KNOW–HELL N HIGH WATER–SOMETHING BETTER–MY LITTLE BIRD–LET GO–IT AIN’T TRUE–SHINE THE LIGHT–GREEN RIVER–POISON PILL–MINGLEWOOD–CAN’T KEEP A GOOD MAN DOWN–DAYS LIKE THESE

As one listens to the latest album from the Billy Walton band, “Soul Of A Man,” you might find yourself dreaming of a summer night dancing under the Boardwalk, down by the sea, on the Jersey shore.  Yep–these guys have been a vital part of that scene for ten years now, and celebrate that milestone thru the release of this set for Vizztone.  It’s full of soul-flavored R & B with plenty of horn lines and keyboard flourishes to complement Billy’s killer vocals and topnotch guitar work.

Meet ya on the dance floor as the party starts with the weekend  anthem, “Save The Last Dance on a Saturday night!”  The groove rolls on with the freight train, Hooker-flavored endless boogie of “I Don’t Know,” where you just gotta “lay back and enjoy the ride!”  A sweet shot of summery soul dealing with takin’ a chance on a new romance is “Something Better,” and the horns do the Yeoman’s job in adding to that classic riff that drives those “barefoot girls dancin’ in the moonlight” down on “Green River.”

Billy can turn a straight-blues, too.  Check out a mythical trip “just outside Memphis,” down to “Minglewood, the meanest place around!”  And, he closes the st literally down in the Delta, with acoustic guitars and Jack Gist’s harp telling the tale of a no-good lover who gets what she’s got coming, as Billy reminds her that “mama said there’d be Days Like These!”

As Billy puts it, if you want the blues, you can watch the news.  But, if you want to roll back the rug and dance your troubles away, then please enjoy freely the soul-shakin’ sounds of the Billy Walton Band and “Soul Of A Man!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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Christine Rosander review…January 15, 2018…

CHRISTINE ROSANDER

BEEN A LONG TIME

DEVCAT RECORDS

HONEY FOR MY SOUL–LOVE REMAINS–BEEN A LONG TIME–INSIDE THIS BODY–LOVE ME THE WAY I AM–SOUL AND BONE–I WANNA BE–HARD HABIT–MY HEART BELIEVES IT”S SO–TRAVELING MERCY–LOVE IS THE ANSWER–THAT’S HOW THE STORY GOES–THE BITTER AND THE SWEET–YOU MADE ME WHO I AM

Christine Rosander cites her mom, and, later in her life, her collegiate voice teacher, as her biggest inspirations for singing.  Add in the influence of her grandfather, who instilled into her the importance of family values, and Christine’s life has been firmly rooted in all these positives.  That healing power of love thru music runs thru her latest album, “Been A Long Time,” on her own Devcat Records label.

Christine’s voice is a beautiful instrument, with a wide range.  She wrote or co-wrote all fourteen original cuts, and, within this material, sometimes wears her heart on her sleeve as she recounts tales of life, love, loss, redemption, and living in fear for her life as the partner of an alcoholic.  She pays tribute to the life lessons taught her by her mother on “Honey For My Soul,” and the poignant, tender, “love crosses over and Love Remains.”  The child that lives inside all of us with no hatred or prejudices is the theme of “Inside This Body,” while the promise of everlasting life is addressed in the lullaby-ish “My Heart Believes It’s So.”

Dealing with an abusive partner and the subsequent consequences has Christine feeling that, at times, she’s left with “nothing but Soul And Bone,” and that continual cycle of abusers who make the same mistakes over and over with different partners is the piano-heavy, and somewhat-bluesy “That’s How The Story Goes.” Christine’s plea for acceptance as she is becomes a clarion call to “break down the walls of hate”in the waltz-time, gospel of “Love Is The Answer.”

“Been A Long Time” is a powerful set from Christine Rosander.  She offers a strong message of love, peace, and unity for a society that needs it now more than ever, and reminds us all to remain positive even during life’s most troubling hours.  Thank you, Christine, for this most outstanding collection!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Johnny Fink And The Intrusion review…January 11, 2018…

JOHNNY FINK AND THE INTRUSION

JFI

OH NO–HEY HEY HEY–THE FALL–LET’S HEAR SOME BLUES–DAMN BROKE–KNEW SHE WAS LOOKING–GO AWAY–PAIN–IT’S ALRIGHT

We first heard Johnny Fink And The Intrusion on the recently-released 2017 IBC compilation CD.  They mix a touch of the old with a nod to the new to create a crowd-pleasing contemporary sound.  They made the Finals in that 2017 IBC, and parlayed that success into their debut release, “JFI>”

Based outta the Cincinnati Blues Society, there’s Johnny Fink on vocals, guitar, and harp, Matt Newman on bass and vocals, and Doug Moore on drums.  They get this party started with some Hastings Street grease on the Hooker-flavored “Oh No.”  They dig down into some deep slow-blues territory with the story of two lovers that know what’s about to happen, and start “bracing for The Fall.”  They keep ridin’ that slow groove on a powerful, minor-key piece, the seven-minute opus of “daily dealings with sorrow and shame—it’s called Pain.”

We liked them at their houserockin’ best, tho.  The track from the IBC compilation, “Let’s Hear Some Blues,”  has everything you’d want–harp, slide, and a riff-check on everybody from Freddie to Wolf to Elmore.  And, Johnny’s slide keeps wailin’ on the humorous tale of an obtuse love triangle, where “I Knew She Was Looking at me when I was looking at you!”

It’s no wonder that these guys were so well-received at last year’s IBC.  They’ve got crowd-pleasing songs, killer riffs and infectious rhythms, all of which makes Johnny Fink And The Intrusion’s “JFI” a blues blockbuster!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Lynn Taylor And The BarFlies review…January 8, 2018

LYNN TAYLOR AND THE BARFLIES

STAGGERED

ROCK PAPER SCISSORS (WITH MY LOVE)–MAGNOLIA BLOOM–TELL ME THE TRUTH–IF YOU’RE GONE–STAGGERED–LEAN INTO ME–SNAKEBIT–MACON–MS. ABELIA–TURN MY WAY–SLAVE TO A FOOL–MOUNTAIN JACK MARMALADE–CRUMBLE AWAY

Lynn Taylor’s “Staggered” tackles one of life’s most difficult assignments–coping with and moving forward from the loss of a spouse.  Lynn’s wife passed last year after a bout with cancer, and these songs play out as a cathartic poultice for his soul, and he openly shares them with us.  All the cuts were written either by Lynn in whole, or in collaboration with either Will Logsdon or long-time cohort Larry O’Brien, and it was all laid down at Howard’s Apartment Studio in East Nashville.

All the cuts deal with love, loss, and carrying on, and all are of an intensely-personal nature to Lynn.  The set starts with the uncertainty involved with a lover who continually plays “Rock, Paper, Scissors with my love,” punctuated by a stinging guitar.  That youthful love, full of promise and “summer nights, gone too soon” is the theme of “Magnolia Bloom,” with fiddle from Jennifer Helenar, set over a marching  beat.  “Lean Into Me” deals with finding your rock to keep you steady during the tough times, while “Ms. Abelia” is the story of that woman we all know, who is “the lightning bug in my Mason jar.”

We had two favorites, too, both dealing with his loss.  First, “it all starts in the morning,” and “uncertainty is the only thing I can count on, If You’re Gone.”  And, the set closes with the somber look at life as the end nears, where “I can’t watch you Crumble Away.”

Tough as it had to be, Lynn Taylor has taken life’s highs, lows, ebbs, and flows  and turned them into the heartfelt sentiments echoed  in the songs of  “Staggered.”  This one reaffirms the power of music as a source of healing, and makes a bold, powerful statement.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Straw Family review…January 8, 2018….

STRAW FAMILY

FAMILY MATTERS

ALIVE–1965–HOT SUNNY DAY–IT’S COLD OUTSIDE–BANG BANG–I HOPE–FAMILY AND FRIENDS–TO A HIGHER PLACE–DREAMING

As one listens to the latest from the Denmark-based Straw Family, entitled “Family Matters,” it will no doubt remind you of the days when the singers made the songs.  The family members, on both lead and backing vocals, are Sally, Carsten, Henriette and Denise Fabricius, with Helge Solberg on bass, Carsten Milner on drums, Frederik Nordvang on guitars.  That sweet family harmony is the common thread that connects all these originals, and, for us, was reminiscent of   groups going back to The Partridge Family and Fleetwood Mac, “Big Yellow Taxi”-era Joni Mitchell, and moving forward to Wilson Phillips, and, even the Haim sisters on today’s contemporary scene.

“Alive” kicks things off, set over a rocked-up beat that finds our heroine proclaiming that, altho times might be tough in the love arena, “at least “I’m Alive!”  “1965,” with it’s tale of living in “paradise” has more of a country-rock vibe, while “Family And Friends” embodies not only the spirit of this group and this album, it also seems to urge us all to find our happy place.

The family does take some more interesting looks at love and relationships.   The rather funky “Hot Sunny Day” is a metaphor for what it is like “every time you’re not here to comfort me,” while “It’s Cold Outside” marches to its own beat as our heroine bemoans “last night, you left my life.”

We had two favorites, too.  “Bang Bang” is the set’s bluesiest cut, while “To A Higher Place” has a cool, Ronstadt/Stone Ponies groove going on, as the virtues of a special lover are extolled.

This is a brilliant debut from the Straw Family.  Their unique use of  harmonies that come straight from the heart make it clear with this set that “Family Matters!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Mare Wakefield And Nomad review…January 6, 2018….

MARE WAKEFIELD AND NOMAD

TIME TO FLY

MARESIE MUSIC  MW 008

REAL BIG LOVE–BREATHE–TIME TO FLY–LAND OF THE FREE–WITH YOUR HEARTBEAT–BERNICE AND BERNADETTE–HENRY–THE BOXER AND THE BEAUTY QUEEN–THE DAY WE BURIED MAMA (AND COUSIN BOBBY JOE GOT WED)–I WILL NOT BE BROKEN–CLOSER TO GOD–FALLING

High;y-acclaimed Americana/folk duo Mare (pronounced “Mary”) Wakefield and Nomad are releasing their latest CD on January 26, 2018, entitled “Time To Fly” on the Maresie Music label.  Mare is the lead vocalist throughout the program, and she wrote all twelve cuts.  The set was recorded in the duo’s studio in Nashville, and they assembled an All-Star cast of backing musicians to pull it all together.  They include Will Kimbrough on guitar, Brian Allen on bass, and Wes Little on drums.  Mare is on guitar, with Nomad on keys, and this ensemble blends elements of jazz, and bluegrass with a classic folk sound, enhanced by Mare’s lilting, emotion-packed delivery.

There were several highlights.  The set begins with Mare’s playful vocal backed by Nomad’s accordion, as she reminds us to “keep your heart in motion” in order to be able to find that one “Real Big Love.”  The poignant “Time To Fly” was written originally as a means of coping with the loss of a loved one, but fans have embraced it to mean any time one has a loved one departing for any length of time.

Our favorites were the lighter moments.  “The Boxer And The Beauty Queen” follows a jazzy, brush-stroked drums arrangement in the tale of two would-be lovers who “met on Channel 17!”  And, the mantra of “someone’s getting married, someone else goes in the ground” propels the bittersweet “The Day We Buried Mama (And Cousin Bobby Got Wed).”  “Bernice And Bernadette” is the story of two lifelong friends, Bernice and Mare’s grandmother, Bernadette.As the story unfolds, the pair, who “met in second grade in 1917,” were inseparable, and ended up as much more than friends.

Mare Wakefield and Nomad, in support of “Time To Fly,” are set to play The Local (formerly known as The Country) at 8 PM on Wednesday, January 17, 2018, and again at Ri’ chard’s Cajun Cafe in Whites Creek, TN, on Saturday,  January 20, 2018.   It’ll be a guaranteed good time, from a duo that melds classic folk sounds with a touch of bluegrass and old-time country for a truly unique listening experience!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Ghalia And Mama’s Boys review…January 1, 2018….

GHALIA AND MAMA’S BOYS

LET THE DEMONS OUT

RUF RECORDS  RUF 1250

4AM FRIED CHICKEN–LET THE DEMONS OUT–PRESS THAT TRIGGER–HAVE YOU SEEN MY WOMAN–HOODOO EVIL MAN–ADDICTION–ALL THE GOOD THINGS–I’M SHAKIN–WAITING–SEE THAT MAN ALONE–HEY LITTLE BABY–HICCUP BOOGIE

The grit and determination of Belgian-born Ghalia Vauthier is the stuff dreams are made of.  Starting out with her guitar in hand by busking on the streets of Brussels, she soon realized there were other worlds to conquer.  When she got stateside,  she rolled thru Chicago, Nashville, Memphis, and Mississippi, but it wasn’t until she got to New Orleans that her mojo really started workin’.  There, she met up with Johnny Mastro And Mama’s Boys, and those guys fit right in with her hi-octane, R & B-fueled, boogie-woogie blues.  She ended up drafting the band to back her on her Ruf Records debut, “Let The Demons Out.”  Twelve tunes that showcase what she absorbed on her tour thru the Midwest and South, one cannot help but be drawn in to her modern spin on traditional blues themes.  Ghalia has a playful, soulful vocal style with that sexy Belgian brogue, backed by her killer guitar instincts.  Along for the ride is Johnny Mastro on guitar and harp, Smokehouse Brown on guitar, and a rhythm section of Dean Zucchero on bass and Rob Lee on drums.

The set blasts off like a Saturn V with our heroine diggin’ that “finger-lickin’ good, 4AM Fried Chicken,” with Johnny blowin’ like Hell in the background.  The title cut is a pounding, swampy exercise in spiritual cleansing thru music, while “Press That Trigger” teems with youthfully-unbridled lust.

Johnny’s harp drives Ghalia’s tale of the juju bein’ spread around by that “Hoodoo Evil Man,” and the band rides that endless boogie groove on the juke-joint rock of “All The Good Things,” and the set-closer, which finds Ghalia playing the coquettish lass who’s imbibed one too many, “The Hiccup Boogie!”

We had two favorites, too.  The ghost of Elmore James guides Johnny and Ghalia in the houserockin’ boogie duet of “Waiting, way down South,” while Ghalia turns “Have You Seen My Woman” into an amped-up, testifyin’ visit to Blues Church!

Obviously a young woman who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to grab the bull by the horns, Ghalia, along with Johnny and Mama’s Boys, have their eyes on the future of the blues.  “Let The Demons Out” is one hip-shakin’, killer debut!  Until next time…Sheryl And Don Crow.