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Mark Cline Bates review…June 12, 2019….

MARK CLINE BATES

KING OF THE CROWS

ANIMALS–MISSISSIPPI–SELF CONTROL–BABY DON’T LIKE–CAGED UP BULL–DEVIL–I DON’T KNOW WHY–APATHETIC MOON–HIGHWAY SIGNS–DON’T WORRY–GINGER–MY HEART IS GOOD

Mark Cline Bates is a consummate songwriter whose material is always honest, thought-provoking, and shared straight from his soul.  The twelve originals that make up his latest, “King Of The Crows,” is exactly that–songs for Everyman of good times, hard times, and the ever-present pull of Man and his myriad of choices, and their subsequent consequences.  This was pretty much a three-man affair, with Mark on vocals and piano, Don Dixon on bass, and Jim Brock on drums, with guest guitar from Michael Lipton.

One of our favorites led off. “Animals” not only looks at the cycle of the four seasons, but, perhaps on a deeper, more intimate level, the cycle of life itself.  “Caged Bull” deals with poor choices from a man who runs from the law, while “Tom Waits is barkin’ on my stereo,” and feels ‘”stuck in between the push and the pull,” awaiting his fate.  “Highway Signs” follows a similar path, as our hero’s lifetime of poor choices is slowly catching up to him, as he readily professes, “I ain’t too good at learnin’ quick.”

We had two more favorites.  “Don’t Worry” was the set’s most upbeat tune, as Mark gets his piano in a rollicking, New Orleans-at-Mardi Gras groove.  And, “Ginger” deals with the plight of many of America’s aging seniors,   It’s the somber story of an 83-year-old woman who lives on Social Security confined to her double wide and a “Chevy Cavalier that I can’ft drive,” eventually throwing herself on the mercy of the never-ending stream of “debt collectors.”

Mark Cline Bates will draw you in with his collection of characters, many of whom we can relate to, and, realistically, save for the grace of God,  go we.  His voice may remind many of Jason Isbell, and “King Of The Crows” shows a young songwriter at the absolute top of his game!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

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The Truehearts review…June 12, 2019…..

THE TRUEHEARTS

SONGS FOR SPIKE

WON’T IT BE SOMETHING–SUNSHINE AND VIOLETS–PFC FRANKIE WALKER–MAMZELLE MARIE–HEY HEY–LET IT SING–32ND STREET–LATE JULY–MILKY WAY–GOODBYE

The Truehearts–Steve McWilliams and Debra Buonaccorsi–originally hailed from the Baltimore/DC area, but came to Music City a few years ago as The Hummingbyrds.  Their latest set, and first as The Truehearts, is “Songs For Spike,” with Dave Coleman producing, at Howard’s Apartment in East Nashville.

This set is full of highlights.  Leading off, Steve sings of “what could’ve been, if I’d only played the game,” “Won’t It Be Something,” with a definitive Petty vibe.  “PFC Frankie Walker” is one of our favorites, and perhaps is the set’s tour de force.  It is a banjo-driven tale of an 18-year old Pennsylvania soldier who meets with tragedy after the June 1944 Normandy Invasion, with the somber lyric, “Mama, I don’t want to die this way.”  “Hey Hey” is by far the most unique cut on the album.  Debra is on lead vocal, and this song is damn near “reggae-punk(!)”  Here, mankind is described as “specks of cosmic dust,” and she sings the verse over a reggae-fied beat before the sonic blast of grungy guitars drive the chorus!  Debra offers up a quieter anthem of empowerment with “don’t let the Devil steal your song—Let It Sing,” while Steve is on vocal on the time-jumping swing of a “honeymoon beyond the Milky Way,” featuring celestial pedal steel from Paul Niehaus.  These two were our other favorites.

“Songs For Spike” is an excellent slice of Americana from start to finish from The Truehearts.  It’s full of clever, compelling stories, set over a quite varied menu of musical styles!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

 

Krief review…June 12, 2019…..

KRIEF

DOVETALE

ROCK RIDGE MUSIC

DAYDREAM LOVER–THE AUTUMN–IDOLS–BLESS MODERN LOVE–THE MOON IS ON MY SHOULDER–MILLION STAR–OSAKA–TAKE THE NIGHT–TONIGHT–DOVETALE–VENUS

(Patrick) Krief is a quite expressive guitarist who is perhaps better-known thru his works as co-writer and lead guitarist for The Dears for over a decade.  He has just released a fine solo effort, “Dovetale,” in which he wrote all the material and played all the instruments!

Krief describes these songs as “love songs,” and they are the predominantly-happy results of the continuing “honeymoon period” of his recent marriage.  On this set, there are lush arrangements, synths, and pop production techniques that will evoke memories of ELO or George Harrison’s solo efforts as the music draws you in.

The leadoff cut sets the tone for the rest of the album, as “Daydream Lover” finds our hero”meant to be a loner, but you were meant to stay a while.”  The uptempo, poppish, “Idols” and “Bless Modern Love” each sound as if they were long-lost gems from the “Pretty In Pink” soundtrack, while “Take The Night” revisits a darker period in Krief’s life, following the nasty break-up of his last relationship.

Our favorite was the title cut.  “Dovetale” uses echo-effects and a guitar-heavy groove to bring back memories of vintage Bowie with over-the-top production and an eerie repetition of “Beelzebub” as the song fades!

“Hey Mr. Bartender, pour another round of dreams,” so that we can all kick back and enjoy the pleasant musical experiment that is Krief and “Dovetale!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Ray Fuller And The BluesRockers review…June 10, 2019….

RAY FULLER

AND THE BLUESROCKERS

PAY THE PRICE

AZURETONE RECORDS

HOODOO TRAIN–PAY THE PRICE–PEARLENE–MOJO HAND–ALABAMA TRAIN–ROLLIN AND TUMBLIN–MEAN AND EVIL WOMAN–I WILL NOT LET YOU GO–BAD LUCK AND TROUBLE–DEVIL WOMAN–KEEP ON KEEPIN ON–DON’T LEAVE THE MAN YOU LOVE–MY FATHER WAS A JOCKEY–TORE UP

Ray Fuller has been tearin’ these blues all to Hell since 1974, after first forming the Ray Fuller Band, which evolved into Ray Fuller And The BluesRockers in 1978.  They’ve got it all, y’all—Ray is well-versed in blues, rockabilly, and good old time rock ‘n’ roll.  You get a good taste of everything Ray is all about on his latest for Azuretone Records, “Pay The Price.’

Over the last few years, Ray’s been concentrating on his slide playing, which was influenced by Earl Hooker and, one of our favorites, Theodore Roosevelt “Hound Dog” Taylor!  There’s plenty of that slide to go around on this robust collection of fourteen cuts, ten originals and four too-cool-for-school covers.

This thang rocks from start to finish!  Leading off, Ray takes off “out of Memphis,” headin’ “down to Louisiana,” with everybody ridin’ on the “Hoodoo Train, past Lake Ponchartrain,” name-checking many blues legends along the route!  The title cut preaches that “life is a gamble,” but, “if you cheat the dealer, you got to Pay The Price!”  “Pearlene” is a sweet shot of rockabilly, while “Mean And Evil Woman” is low-down, slow-blues at its best, with Doc Malone on the harp.  This one served as one of our favorites.

“Bad Luck And Trouble” is a good, stop-time foot stomper, with Ray’s slide runnin’ wild.  It brings us to our other favorites, and they are some stone-cold rockers, folks.  First, Ray goes into full-on Fifties mode with Chuck’s iconic, “I Will Not Let You Go,” and closes the set with a huge shout-out to Hank Ballard And The Midnighters, gettin’ “Tore Up over you, and I just can’t find my way!”

If you want some music that’ll rock your soul, Ray Fuller And The BluesRockers have 40 years on the road to prove they are one of the best outfits on the scene today.  We’ve been digging him for years, and “Pay The Price” stands as his most powerful release to date!   Ray, we love you, man!!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Charlie Roth review….June 9, 2019….

CHARLIE ROTH

I’M THE SMILE

I’M THE SMILE–GOOD TIMES–SERENITY–CLEAN–GLOVES–SAY NEVER–WHERE YOU’LL BE–PRETTY LITTLE LIGHTS OF TOWN–THE POSSIBILITIES OF YOU–MY CHAIR–YANKEE DIME–I’M THE SMILE (REPRISE)

For his eighth album, Charlie Roth’s “I’m The Smile,” looks at the cycle of life–firsts, lasts, beginnings, ends, wins, losses, good and bad, and everything in between.  There are five well-crafted originals and seven covers that fit in as if they were written for this album.

The title cut leads off, as the song, set over a rhumba-fied beat, uses a smile to generate memories of one’s life, from the little things to “when you watch your grandkids grow.”  “Where You’ll Be,” another original, was written as a tribute to his late mother, while “Gloves,” written by George Ensle and Chuck Hawthorne, chronicles a man’s life thru a pair of work gloves passed on to him by his father.  “My Chair” is the tale of a road-weary traveler longing to be home, nearer to his loved ones, while “Yankee Dime” laments a life spent wondering if, when presented with two choices for lovers, he perhaps settled on “the road less traveled.”

The “character” songs herein served as our favorites.  “Good Times” successfully blends a cool harp with a stone Memphis horn section, as Charlie tries to piece a love affair back together.  A child named “Serenity—after the prayer,” deals with coping with an alcoholic father, while “The Pretty Little Lights Of Town turned my baby’s head around!”  This rockin’ tune features both Redd Volkaert and Bill Kirchen on the dueling Telecasters, and is a song we first heard back in the day from the LeRoi Brothers, and, later, by one of the “OG’s” of Americana, Nashville’s own John McMurtry, better-known as Webb Wilder!

Charlie Roth draws you in with his down-home, easy-going delivery and storyteller’s imagination.  He urges us all to “remember where you came from,” as “I’m The Smile” fits him to a T!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Tullie Brae review…June 8, 2019….

TULLIE BRAE

REVELATION

ENDLESS BLUES RECORDS

PRICE OF THE BLUES–SEVEN BRIDGES–MISSISSIPPI RAIN–BREAK THESE CHAINS–NEW SHOES–DEVIL IN DEVILLE–WATCH HER MOVE–SHINE–THANK YOU MOM

Tullie Brae got her start as a singer the way many do–by singing in her church,  down home in Louisiana.  Her latest album is entitled “Revelation,” and it is just that–ten original cuts that allow her huge vocals and tremendous talent to command center stage.  Jeff Jensen produced, and doubles down on percussion, and guitars.  Tullie is on vocals, keys, cigar box guitar, and slide guitar.

The set opens over a booming, Doomsday beat as our heroine serves up her own brand of justice to a chronic abuser, exacting the harsh “Price Of The Blues.”  Next up, she goes back home to church at “Seven Bridges,” to “find the water that washed my soul,”  for a cleansing of sin.   Set over a Hill-Country beat, we find the “woods of Deville,” (which couldn’t be too far from the Crossroads!) for an epic battle between a country preacher and the Ol’ DealMaker himself, the hellhound-slide-filled “Devil In Deville.”

The set closes on some decided notes of positivity.  First up, she encourages us all to be a beacon for good, and “let your light Shine.”  Finally, she pays a heartfelt tribute to the one who always “cheered the loudest,” no matter what, “Thank You Mom.”

Tullie Brae sho’ nuff lets her light shine on the outstanding originals that make up “Revelation.”  She crosses boundaries and genres’ and does so with total passion and fervor!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Grady Champion review…June 7, 2019….

GRADY CHAMPION

STEPPIN IN:  A TRIBUTE TO Z. Z. HILL

MALACO RECORDS  MCD 7553

DOWN HOME BLUES–SHADE TREE MECHANIC–SOMEONE ELSE IS STEPPIN IN–BUMP AND GRIND–I’M A BLUES MAN–OPEN HOUSE AT MY HOUSE–WHO YOU BEEN GIVING IT TO–THREE INTO TWO WON’T GO–CHEATING IN THE NEXT ROOM–RIGHT ARM FOR YOUR LOVE–EVERYBODY KNOWS ABOUT MY GOOD THING–WHEN IT RAINS IT POURS

Grady Champion is no stranger to success.  His smokin’ hot blues style sent him straight to the Winner’s Circle at the 2010 IBC’s, and he’s never looked back.  He’s recorded for Shanachie, his own Grady Shady and GSM imprints, and, since 2013, the legendary Malaco, home to many of Southern soul, blues, and R & B’s finest artists.  One such artist from those iconic vaults of Malaco was Arzell “Z. Z.” Hill, whose smooth, humor-inflected blues was Grady’s mother’s favorite.

That brings us to Grady’s latest set for Malaco, “Steppin In,” a beautiful tribute to Hill (who passed in 1984.), and Grady’s mom, two of the folks closest to his heart.  These twelve cuts were Hill’s fan favorites and biggest chart-toppers, and Grady lays ’em down with skill, fun, and reverence to Z. Z.

Say your party’s jumpin, and everybody’s havin’ a good time?  Well, you gotta get yo’ head bad, and party offa these “Down Home Blues,” Hill’s iconic tune that Grady opens the party with.  Next up, any of you ladies who need your “front end aligned” need only to call the “Shade Tree Mechanic,” featuring Grady on harp!

There are some classic “done me wrong” songs, too.  First up is the classic triangle with a baby on the way, “Three Into Two Won’t Go,” and one of Z. Z.’s earliest hits, “Cheating In The Next Room.”

Our favorites expounded upon that cheating theme, and were a helluva lot of fun to boot.  Grady’s got a few too many “neighbors,” on the humor-filled, Open House At My House,” and, “call the plumber, darlin,”, “Everybody Knows About My Good Thing!”

Grady Champion is the future voice of the legendary Malaco Records.  With “Steppin’ In,” he honors not only his mother, but a legend of blues, Z. Z. Hill!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.