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Bushmaster review…December 27, 2019

BUSHMASTER

FEAT. GARY BROWN

DANCING IN THE BELLY OF THE BEAST

PROFILE–AJAX AND HOT WAX–A SONG FOR FREDDIE GRAY–THE BLUES–NOWHERE TO STAND–MUSHROOM–MISS SEXYFINE–FORTY ACRES AND A MULE–ARMY OF TWO–THE ELEVATOR–PRESSURE COOKER–JEKYLL AND HYDE–PROFIT FROM PAIN–THING BACK HOME

Gary Brown grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D. C., and the varied nature of his parents’ record collection exposed him to blues, funk, rock, and a lot more.  He fell in love with the blues, but, after forming his band, Bushmaster, in 1992, they came with more of a funkier, blues-rock sound.  They’ve released four albums, and their latest is entitled “Dancing In The Belly Of The Beast.”  Laid down in Nashville at The Sound Emporium, Gary is on guitar and vocals.  Two Music City legends are also on board, Tracy Nelson and Vickie Carrico, on backing vocals.

Gary’s versatility in composing is outstanding.  Witness the “Song For Freddie Gray,” dedicated to those oppressed, and a stern lesson to those who “weren’t in my shoes.”  A scathing wah-wah attack is the mid-song solo.  “Nowhere To Stand” is a slow-blues ode to the Black Lives Matter movement and the senseless loss of life thru gun violence on both sides of the badge.

Gary strikes a lighter mode for a love song dedicated to that special one, “Army Of Two.”  He then goes the polar opposite route with the story of a changed lover.  It’s the slow-blues, “long journey” that chronicles living with a “Jekyll And Hyde.”

We had two favorites, that bookend the album.  It’s been nearly fifty years since Marvin Gaye asked “What’s Goin’ On,” and it seems that the nation has returned to Square One in the arena of civil rights.  Gary addresses this symptom of society in the leadoff cut, a spit in the eye to racial profiling, the socially-conscious “Profile.”  The set ends on an acoustic note, firing a roundhouse right into the corpulent belly of the beast himself, and, yeah, we may be “winning bigly,” but, “the SOB is cray!”

Bushmaster featuring Gary Brown and “Dancing In The Belly Of The Beast” is a powerful statement of contemporary blues that takes dead aim at the ills in society today.  This is a brilliant set from one of the most unique players on the scene today!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Oliver Sean single review..Christmas Day, 2019…..

OLIVER SEAN

FEAT. THE REAL INDIE PROJECT

EVERY DAY WILL BE LIKE A HOLIDAY

What better way to convey the spirit of the season than thru music?  That is exactly what Billboard Top Ten artist Oliver Sean has done, with the release of his holiday rendition of the William Bell classic, “Every Day Will Be Like A Holiday, when my baby comes home!”  Sean also enlists the aid of the Real Indie Project, a literal “Who’s who” in the indie rock and blues arena, including Tomiko Dixon, Suzanne Grzanna, Nicki Kris, Damien Wyldes, Christine Gaudet, Devin Leigh, Trevor Sewell, and Syreeta Thompson.  The full-length album will be released in summer, 2020, but, for now, make your holidays just a bit brighter with Oliver Sean’s take on of a true Christmas classic!  Happy Holidays…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Black Cat Bones review…December 21, 2019….

BLACK CAT BONES

TATTERED AND TORN

MANSLAUGHTER–WHEN I GET THAT FEELING–DEAD BROKE BLUES–THE RACE–LED TO BELIEVE–LOWDOWN–LONE LOBO–PAY YOU BACK WITH INTEREST–JUST AROUND THE CORNER–LAYING IN WAIT–NOT SO FUNNY–I DON’T CARE

Black Cat Bones are based out of Tucson, AZ, and formed in 2004, building around founding members Charles Pitts on vocals, and Jeff Daniels on bass, and on occasion, drums.  The band is now a five-piece, with dual lead guitars from Richard Rivera and Gary Davis, and now features Jerry Sommers on drums. They have released four albums, with influences from B B to Muddy and Wolf, and, on the rock side, Savoy Brown and Z Z Top.

Their latest is “Tattered And Torn,” twelve cuts of prime blues all written by the various band members.  The guitar playing lends itself more to a more biting, contemporary sound, and Charles can lay plenty of soul on you thru his vocals.  He gets the party started by taking care of a cheatin’ lover, and, now, he’s “goin’ down on a charge of Manslaughter!”  The sax section–Clay Brown, Carla Brownlee, and Amochip Dabney–spice up the minor-key tale of getting old, with the same sad results–“Father Time always wins The Race!”  “Lowdown” is one of our favorites.  Roadhouse rock at its best, Charles is hooked on a lady who’s got “the Devil inside,” but, he’s “gotta have her!”  This song had one flaw–fellows, it was just too short!  Everybody’s had ’em–the wind blows thru your wallet” when you got them “Dead Broke Blues,” and, sho’ nuff, no matter what you do, “life will Pay You Back With Interest!”  The guitars go into serious wah-wah mode on this one, too!!

Our final favorite closed the set.  “I Don’t Care” settles into a soulful, acoustic groove and the whole thing has a sweet, Tom Petty feel!

Over the course of the last fifteen years, Black Cat Bones have remained true to their original credo–to continue to bring cutting-edge blues to their fans, and “Tattered And Torn” fills the bill!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Jim Roberts And The Resonants review…December 20, 2019….

JIM ROBERTS AND THE RESONANTS

A MONTH OF SUNDAYS

SKEETERS–WHAT HER EVIL DO–BELLE OF THE BALL–A MONTH OF SUNDAYS–MADE A PROMISE–LONG HAIRED MISSISSIPPI HIPPIE–MISS HER LOVE–PAY THE PRICE–MOONSHINE MAIDEN–MISS MOTOR CITY 1963–I’M WALKIN’ ON–STEPPIN’ OUT

It’s been two years since slide guitar master, singer, and composer Jim Roberts And The Resonants last released an album. As such, this latest set from this L. A. -based group is titled “A Month Of Sundays!”  The twelve cuts are all written or co-written by Jim and bassist Rick Hollander, who co-wrote six cuts, and doubles down on mandolin and banjolele on two cuts.  These songs take the listener all along the Blues Highway, out west to up north, ending deep down in the Delta.  The Resonants are some of the West Coast’s finest backing musicians also, all veterans of bands led by such stalwarts as Walter Trout, Philip Sayce, and Jack Roberts Harvey.

Opening the proceedings is the horn-driven, Southern soul of those pesky “Skeeters,” and, er, “hidin’ beneath the covers” to escape them!  Everybody gets in a grungy, Southern-rock flavored groove in the story of the unwanted “Long Haired Mississippi Hippies” in Jim’s town, while his slide goes into full-on revenge mode after a lover does him wrong, because, “when you cut me deep, you’re gonna Pay The Price!”  “Moonshine Maiden ” is pure, home-brewed acoustic Delta bliss, while our hero, as a teen, falls in love with a picture on his dad’s wall calendar, the irresistible “Miss Motor City 1963!”

Our favorite was easy.  A Crossroads-ish, acoustic cautionary tale of cheatin’ women is described in “don’t let that red dress fool you,” fellows.  It’s entitled What Her Evil Do,” and features, along with Jim on the slide, Joey Gomez on harp, and Rick Hollander on mandolin.

Jim Roberts And The Resonants are back with a bristling set of blues that crosses several musical boundaries.  Yeah, it’s sho’ nuff been “A Month Of Sundays,” but, good stuff is always worth the wait!    Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Jay Gordon review…December 19, 2019…..

JAY GORDON’S BLUES VENOM

SLIDE RULES!

DRIPPING BLUES–PAIN–LOST IN TIME–LUCKY 13–DOCKERY’S PLANTATION–STRANGER BLUES–VOODOO BOOGIE–EL DIABLO BLUES–TRAVELIN RIVERSIDE BLUES–PURE GRAIN ALCOHOL–SIX STRING OUTLAW–SWEETHEART BLUES–TRAIN TRAIN

Jay Gordon’s Blues Venom consists of Jay on slide guitar and vocals, Sharon Butcher on vocals and bass, and the power trio is rounded out by Tom “Mr. Groove” Parham on drums.  Jay’s slide plying is ferocious, raw, and powerful, plus he’s a helluva lot of fun to listen to.  Ten originals and three covers comprise his latest exercise in the blues, aptly-titled “Slide Rules!”

The boogie’s the thing throughout, and, leading off, is the Delta-inspired slow burn of “Dripping Blues,” where, “sittin’ in this juke joint, I could see the blues drippin’ from the walls!”  The rapid-fire “Lost In Time in the temple of the king” is a cool roadhouse rocker, as is the tale of mojos, boogie, and ol’ “Lucky 13!”  Another cut inspired by Elmore James  features Jay and his lover “doin’ the Voodoo Boogie all night long,” He takes those “wimmen in Vicksburg, clean up to Tennessee” in a sweet acoustic read of Robert Johnson’s “Travelin Riverside Blues,” This one served as one of our favorites.  Another fave was the 200 proof boogie of “Pure Grain Alcohol,” and Jay close the set with our final favorite.  J. Blackfoot cut it back in the Seventies’, but Jay’s slide is fast and furious on his cool read of “Train, Train, take me on out of this town!”

Jay Gordon’s Blues Venom takes the traditional stylings of Elmore James and Robert Nighthawk and combines them with the mile-a-minute fervor of contemporaries such as Johnny Winter. It all comes together to make “Slide Rules!” a guitar-lover’s dream!  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow.

Cass Clayton Band review…December 18, 2019….

CASS CLAYTON BAND

PLAY NICE

DAWES COUNTY–LITTLE THINGS–PLAY NICE–B SIDE–NO USE IN CRYING–TATTERED AND TORN–YOU’LL SEE–THE MOST BEAUTIFUL–DOESN’T MAKE SENSE–FLOWERS AT MY FEET–SLOW KISS–STRANGE CONVERSATION

Cass Clayton’s father was always playing the blues around their house when she was growing up, and she always knew that singing was the path she’d travel.  She  preferred writing her own material, as she had things to say that no one else on the contemporary scene was putting down.  As well as blues, Cass weaves soul, funk, jazz, and roots into the mix, and the results can be heard on her latest album, “Play Nice.”  This is twelve strong cuts of all-original material, save for one cut, and all the rest are co-writes with Cass and guitarist Taylor Scott.

Leading off, Cass leaves life in a small town, with “fifteen churches, but you can’t buy a drink,” in “Dawes County,” to forge a better life for herself.   A chance encounter with a guitarist in a bar sets the theme for the hookup in “Play Nice,” set over a percussive, primitive, pounding groove.  That thumping groove bleeds over into the next cut, as a lover is compared to “the A Side” of a record, but, “sooner or later,”  “The B Side” has to be addressed, warts and all!  Another lover who always seems to be at odds with himself is consoled by Cass in “Tattered And Torn,” while  the funky strut of “Doesn’t Make Sense at all” has our girl swearing off men for good, that is, “until you took me down!”

The set closes with our favorite.  Again set over that percussive groove, Cass has a “Strange Conversation” with her soon-to-be-ex, who’s ready to leave.  She begs him back, and her soulful voice reaches soaring heights in her pleas, for “without your touch, I have no love.”  A powerful ending, indeed.

One cannot put Cass Clayton into any one particular genre’.   She may have roots in the blues, but her command of soul, R & B, funk, and even gospel into the equation makes “Play Nice” a set that is not to be missed!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Randy McAllister review…December 16, 2019…..

RANDY MCALLISTER

SPITBALL, SHATTER, AND PATCH

REACTION RECORDS

RELAX WATCH THE CRASH–THE LOUDEST CHICKEN–MY DRAWL CAUSED IT ALL–KINGSLAND–ROLLING UP MY SLEEVES–STRAIGHT UP TRUCKIN–THE SONG THAT WRITES ITSELF–PACTOLA–LAID BACK JACK–THE GIRL’S IN LOVE (WITH HERSELF)

East Texas spitfire Randy McAllister started out writing more traditional blues songs, but, after some 30 years in this bidness, he’s stretched out to incorporate more  soul, roots, gospel, Americana, Muscle Shoals, and Texas boogie-woogie.  All of this and more is on display on his latest set, “Spitball, Shatter, And Patch.”  The title is a loose translation of a good lesson in life, where you “make, break, and repair” things all throughout one’s life.

Randy leads off with a dobro-licious tale of “takin’ it easy” in life, with “Relax Watch The Crash.”  This one features Brandon Hudspeth on guitar, and Heather Newman on backing vocals as well as the ultra-cool tuba-as-bass from Bill Mckemy.  Randy blows some mean harp on the story of a crazy lover that’s gotta go, in the frenetic, slide-filled “Loudest Chicken in the henhouse!”  Brandon’s guitar lines give “Straight Up Truckin’, walkin’ with a purpose,” a good ole Southern soul vibe, while Heather joins the fun on the laid-back funk of our hero looking to head south, needing a ride “down to Lake Pactola!” You can’t deny the groove in Brandon’s slide on this one, too!  (Think Warren Haynes!).

We had two favorites.  We could all learn a few things from “Laid Back Jack,” a country-blues tune about not judging or putting down folks, and trying to find the good in everyone.  Randy’s harp adds to the “take it slow” groove of this one.  Heather’s third appearance as backing vocalist is on a classic case of misinformation between lovers, because, as us Southern guys know, sometimes, “My Drawl Caused It All!”

With “Spitball, Shatter, And Patch,” Randy McAllister strikes a balance between blues and soul, to give us all a good lesson in putting–and keeping–things together, and thus, has created one of the most personal and powerful albums of his career!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.