Katarina Pejak review…February 15, 2019….

KATARINA PEJAK

ROADS THAT CROSS

RUF RECORDS 1266

NATURE OF MY BLUES–SEX KILLS–COOL DRIFTER–MOONLIGHT RIDER–OLD PAIN–CHASING SUMMER–TURTLE BLUES–DOWN WITH ME–SHE’S CO,MING AFTER YOU–ROADS THAT CROSS–THE HARDER YOU KICK

Born in Belgrade, Katarina Pejak has traveled the world over during her musical career.  For her latest album, and debut for Ruf Records, Katarina journeyed to Marz Studios in Texas, for “Roads That Cross,” with the Hon. Mike Zito producing.  Theses eleven songs represent not only the many roads she has been down, but also the crossing of genres’ throughout the album.  Herein, Katarina taps into straight blues, torchy jazz, rock, and even country–simply wherever her Muse takes her.

Katarina is a skilled pianist and is on keys and vocals, with Laura Chavez on guitar, and Zito adds guitar and backing vocals on one cut.  The party starts on a James Bond-ish, Sixties-inspired groove, with our heroine layin’ down the law to a lover, and she “ain’t afraid to show the Nature Of My Blues,” with her funky Farfisa-ish organ driving the whole thing.  Laura gets in some solid, Jimmy Nolen-style “chicken scratchin” licks on the soulful, piano-driven “Cool Drifter,” while Katrina gets down ‘n’ dirty on the bump-and-grind tale of treatin’ a man “like I want to, never like I should,” the ultra-cool “Turtle Blues,” obviously one of our favorites!

We had three others, too.  Zito’s slide rides over the tale of “Moonlight Rider,” where our lovelorn girl begs him to “think of me when you’re alone.”  The title cut is another poignant song where, seemingly, “love always fades,” and “Roads That Cross have a way of parting, else they wouldn’t have crossed at all.”  And, Katarina sings over a cool Latin arrangement and plays the femme fatale to the hilt on the slyly-sexy “She’s Coming After You.”

Katarina Pejak, with “Roads That Cross,” grabs the listener by the soul and holds on.  You can feel her pain when she loses, and her joy when she wins, and this set is destined to put her in the blues fast lane!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

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Bloodest Saxophone review…February 13, 2019….

BLOODEST SAXOPHONE

TEXAS QUEENS 5

DIALTONE/VIZZTONE VT-DT0030

I’VE GOT A FEELING–I JUST WANT TO MAKE LOVE TO YOU–LOSING BATTLE–WALKING THE DOG–PORK CHOP CHICK–RUN JOE–IT’S YOUR VOODOO WORKING–DON’T MOVE ME–DON’T HIT ME NO MORE–I DONE DONE IT–THE GRAPE VINE–COCKROACH RUN

Formed in Tokyo, Bloodest Saxophone, behind their leader, “Young Corn” Shintaro, are bent on ruling the world with the saxophone!  They specialize in vintage swing and jump blues, and have played with Big Jay McNeely, as well as on many international stages.  Austin record guru and Dialtone label  chief Eddie Stout, had a unique vision of the young saxmen teaming up with five of Texas’ finest female vocalists.  As such, this set is entitled “Texas Queens 5,” for Dialtone/Vizztone.

The women, powerhouses all, are Diunna Greenleaf, Angela Miller, Lauren Cervantes, Jai Malano, and the one lone non-Texan, Shreveport’s Crystal Thomas.  The women have a lot of fun with this material, and the band drives everything home with their syncopatin’ rhythms and vast knowledge of how jump blues is supposed to sound!

Diunna Greenleaf starts the party with the bold and brassy “I’ve Got A Feelin,’ somebody’s tryin’ to steal my man,” while Jai Malano keeps that torchy vibe grooving with the rhumba-rockin’ “It’s Your Voodoo Workin,’ and I can’t get enough!”  The fellows bust out a couple of fine, jivin’ instrumentals, with “Pork Chop Chick,” and the set-closing “Cockroach Run,” before the ladies return for our favorites.  Crystal Thomas lends a soulful touch to the lovelorn tale of “Fighting a Losing Battle, but I have so much fun tryin’ to win.”  Lauren Cervantes rocks, rolls, and cajoles with a tune dedicated to the enjoyment of wine, “The Grape Vine,” and the band gets into some serious soloing behind Jai Malano and her take on Rufus’ iconic “Walkin’ The Dog.”

Kudos to Eddie Stout for taking an excellent, hard-hitting ensemble of jump and swing masters and pairing them with a full house of the cream of the Southwest’s blues-beltin’ mamas.  Boodest Saxophone and “Texas Queens 5” sho’ nuff jumps, jives, and wails!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Blue Muse review…February 11, 2019…..

VARIOUS ARTISTS

BLUE MUSE

MUSIC MAKER RELIEF FOUNDATION  MMCD 198

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE GROTTO SESSIONS-LA COLLEGIALE  SPIKE DRIVER BLUES–TAJ MAHAL  CAPTAIN LUKE–OLD BLACK BUCK  EDDIE TIGNER–ROUTE 66  I GOT THE BLUES–ALABAMA SLIM  ROBERT FINLEY–AGE DON’T MEAN A THING  POLLY PUT THE KETTLE ON–DOM FLEMONS  HAMBONE–JOHN DEE HOLEMAN  SNAP YOUR FINGERS–ALGIA MAE HINTON  I AM THE LIGHTNIN–WILLIE FARMER  D O C MAN–DAVE MCGREW  SWEET VALENTINE–MARTHA SPENCER AND KELLEY BREIDING  I WANNA BOOGIE–BOOT HANKS AND DOM FLEMONS  MISSISSIPPI BLUES–ERIC CLAPTON AND TIM DUFFY  LANDLORD BLUES–GUITAR GABRIEL  WIDOW WOMAN–DRINK SMALL  CABBAGE MAN–SAM FRAZIER JR.–SING IT LOUDER–CARY MORIN  LOOSE DIAMONDS–IRONING BOARD SAM  I KNOW I’VE BEEN CHANGED–THE BRANCHETTES  SOMETHING WITHIN ME–THEOTIS TAYLOR

The Music Maker Relief Foundation was formed in 1994 as a means to ensure that the heritage and music of the blues, gospel, and folk communities are passed along to future generations.  As such, it is both an honor and a privilege for us to review “Blue Muse,” a CD compilation of a robust twenty-one cuts that cover blues, folk, Americana, and gospel courtesy of a unique group of artists.

These artists come from ll walks of life, many with humble beginnings such as sharecroppers, would-be comedians, street performers, even a turpentine harvester!  And, there are also some of the most famous names in all the blues community herein, too.  But, they all have a sound and a feel for the deepest blues and the purest gospel, and share it freely on this set.

Highlights permeate this entire set.  Taj Mahal chimes in with the traditional sounds of “Spike Driver Blues,” where “this hammer shines like silver and rings like Klondike gold!”  The brilliantly-deep baritone of Captain Luke drives “Old Black Buck,” while Robert Finley channels his days as a street musician from Helena, AR,  into the deep-soul of “Age Don’t Mean A Thing,” with Jimbo Mathus on guitar.

It doesn’t get much deeper or primitive than John Dee Holeman, from Durham, NC, and his a capella, hand-clap-percussion-backed duet of “Hambone,” with Taj Mahal.  You can add Algia Mae Hinton to the cuts that embody raw, pure emotion, thru her original, made popular by Brook Benton, “Snap Your Fingers.”

We had two favorites, too.  Eric Clapton and Tim Duffy join forces for “Mississippi Blues,” an acoustic instrumental written by Willie Brown, while Eddie Tigner, former leader of The Ink Spots, is on vocal and piano on a “big band”-ish, Nat King Cole-inspired take on one of our all-time favorites, a swingin’  “Route 66,” with Paul Linden on harp.

The CD “Blue Muse” is intended to be the “soundtrack,” if you will, to the upcoming book, “Tim Duffy’s Southern Photographs,” featuring photos of many of these artists and the places they live and perform.  The music is strong, powerful, and emotion-packed, and a perfect complement to these iconic photos.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Steve Conn review…February 11, 2019…

STEVE CONN

FLESH AND BONE

NOT REALLY RECORDS   NRR 1922

FAMOUS–FLESH AND BONE–DOING THE BEST I CAN–YOU DON’T KNOW–ANNALEE–LET ME CRY–AROUND AND AROUND–SING ME TO THE OTHER SIDE–SATISFIED–FOREVER SEVENTEEN–GOOD TIMES ARE COMING–WITHOUT A TRACE

Many ascribe to the credo that God has a sense of humor, and music is His way of expressing it.  That makes Steve Conn one of His finest messengers.  We first heard of Steve several years back, with his “River Of Madness” album, and its nods to New Orleans and Fat Tuesday.  That theme runs thru his latest set, “Flesh And Bone,” twelve originals that show him as a master teller of tales.  With an inviting voice that begs you to come along for the ride and dance with the Zulu Queen, these songs celebrate good times, sorrow, hopes, dreams, and the relative fragility of life.

Steve is on vocals, keys, accordion, and alto sax, and is joined by a host of the best session players on the planet.  We got Joe V. McMahan and Sonny Landreth on guitars, Bryan Owings on percussion, Dave Francis on bass, and a slew of others. Steve rides that Mardi Gras groove on the leadoff cut, as our hero wants to smell the roses while he’s living, but has resigned himself to the fact that “I’ll be Famous when I’m dead!”  This one has Sonny Landreth on slide guitar, too.  The title cut has a jazzy feel, as Steve knows that,”sooner or later, we all gotta go home,” and “I’m just borrowing this Flesh And Bone.”  Sonny appears on slide and Steve is on accordion on a tongue-in-cheek look at the many varied world religions on “Around And Around,” while Steve details the story of a child who, despite various letdowns throughout his childhood, is always told “Good Times Are Coming,” whether true or not.

We had two favorites, too.  First love lost and the pain that goes with it is documented by a saved picture that shows her as “Forever Seventeen.”  The set closes with perhaps its most powerful piece, a somber look at taking one’s own life, where “no one noticed Jesse’s tears,” “Without A Trace.”

Steve Conn lives in Tennessee, with his head in Colorado, and a heart that belongs in New Orleans.  Enjoy the music of a true national treasure with “Flesh And Bone.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

James Buddy Rogers review…February 9, 2019….

JAMES BUDDY ROGERS

EVERYTIME

JBR RECORDS

PUDDLE JUMPER–COME BACK TO ME–EVERYTIME–CAN’T GET YOU OFF MY MIND–ALL I NEED

James “Buddy” Rogers picked up on guitar licks from his dad’s record collection and his guitar, beginning around age ten.  By his teens, he was opening for Vancouver, BC’, blues legends such as Jim Byrnes, Muddy Fraser, and former B. B. bassist Russell Jackson, with whom he toured all over the US.  They shared the stage with the likes of Elvin Bishop, Kenny Neal, and a host of others.  Buddy’s fifth album is “Everytime,” a five-song EP of all-original tunes, recorded live “from the board” at The Blues Can in Calgary, Alberta.  Three cuts are brand new, while the other two are culled from his prior works.

Buddy cites as his major influences SRV, The Three Kings, and Johnny Guitar Watson, and you can hear evidence of all of ’em over the course of these five cuts.  Along for the ride is Mike Wedge on bass and Mike Woodford on drums.  “Puddle Jumper” leads off, a rousing, T-Birds-styled instrumental.  “Come Back To Me” lays down a tough, Chicago-edged groove as our hero begs a would-be lover to give him just that one chance!  “Can’t Get You Off My Mind” rocks with roadhouse abandon, as does the set-closer, where Buddy tells this lover, “baby, you’re All I Need.”

Our favorite was smack dab in the middle.  It shows a soulful side to this young artist, and plays out in the slow-burn of the title cut.  “Everytime” deals with our hero’s feelings, as he tells his lover, “Everytime you say my name, I smile!”

Young James “Buddy” Rogers has the chops of a veteran, honed by years of playing clubs and festivals alongside many of his mentors.   “Everytime” shows this young man in a live setting, at his smokin’ best!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance

Eric Gales review….February 8, 2018….

ERIC GALES

THE BOOKENDS

PROVOGUE  PRO 75772

INTRO–SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE (FEAT. B. SLADE)–WHATCHA GON’ DO–IT JUST BEEZ THAT WAY–HOW DO I GET YOU–SOUTHPAW SERENADE (FEAT. DOYLE BRAMHALL II)–REACHING FOR A CHANGE–SOMEBODY LIED–WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS (FEAT. BETH HART)–RESOLUTION–BONUS TRACK: PERAL TO THE METAL (FEAT. B. SLADE)

One of the great blues guitarists, vocalists, and composers in all of contemporary blues is Eric Gales.  Combining the elements of blues, funk, and R & B, he has just released his latest album, “The Bookends,” for Provogue.

All of Eric’s many-faceted guitar stylings are in play on this set.  An opening acoustic intro gives way to a full-on amplified assault on a song that serves as a call to arms for us all, for, surely, “Something’s Gotta Give,” featuring B. Slade on backing vocals.  Another cut finds our hero, a confirmed bachelor, meeting his match with a lover who “turns me on like a light,” the funkfest that is “Whatcha Gon’ Do,” while he shares sage advice from mom and pops in trying to figure out the ways of the world, when, “sometimes, It Just Beez That Way.”  This one has incredible guitar throughout, as does one of our favorites, which also features labelmate Doyle Bramhall II.  It’s a beautiful eight-minute slow-jam entitled “Southpaw Serenade,” ’cause “I’m badder than the law allow!” Our final favorite featured another Provogue labelmate, this time Beth Hart.  This one is brilliant vocally, instrumentally, and from all other aspects, as Beth and Eric lay down a serious duet of “With A Little Help From My Friends.”

Eric Gales challenged himself to develop more as a musician and as a vocalist, beginning with his last album, “Middle Of The Road.”  Well, fans, he’s done it, and much more, with “The Bookends!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Jason Ringenberg review…February 4, 2019….

JASON RINGENBERG

STAND TALL

COURAGEOUS CHICKEN RECORDS   CCECD  016

STAND TALL–LOOKIN’ BACK BLUES–JOHN THE BAPTIST WAS A REAL HUMDINGER–GOD BLESS THE RAMONES–HOBO BILL’S LAST RIDE–I’M WALKING HOME–ALMOST ENOUGH–HERE IN THE SEQUOIAS–JOHN MUIR STOOD HERE–MANY HAPPY HANGOVERS TO YOU–FAREWELL ANGELINA

When “Rolling Stone” magazine states that someone single-handedly re-wrote the history of rock ‘n roll in the South, that’s quite a billing to live up to.  But, when you’re Jason Ringenberg, and you front Jason And The (Nashville) Scorchers, it’s no stretch at all.  After all, back in the early Eighties, when their “Fervor” set hit the charts, they coined their own genre’, affectionately known as “cowpunk!”  Now, three decades later, Jason’s still rockin’ and sharing his stories, this time with “Stand Tall,” his first solo album in fifteen years!

The original songs on this set were written during a time when, while serving as Artist-In-Residence for the Sequoia National Park in Northern California, he stayed in a remote cabin, and, while basically communing with nature, the songs seemed to flow out of him.

Jason’s first band was called Shakespeare’s Riot, and he recruited that rhythm section for this album, with Gary Gibula on bass, and Tom Miller on drums.  A veritable “Who’s Who” of Nashville session men rounded out the players.

The set begins with the title cut, a majestic, multi-layered instrumental as big as the Great Outdoors itself, or at least as big as one of those Sequoias.  “Lookin’ Back Blues, and I don’t mean Luckenbach, Texas,” is a cool shot of  rocked-up alt-country, and a literal “blast from the past,” as is the “answer,” if you will, to a song Jason recorded long ago.  Yep—when “The Life Of The Party’s Killing Me,” she’ll eventually come “stumblin’ thru the house,” and gets a wish for “Many Happy Hangovers To You,” as our hero bids her adieu!  This one features Steve Fishell on pedal steel, too.   A stirring tribute to the brother-against-brother conflict of the War Between The States  is “I’m Walking Home,” with violin and tin whistle from our good friend Fats Kaplin, and electric guitars from George “The Tone Chaperone” Bradfute.

This whole thing was a pleasure to review, and we chose a favorite that hearkened back to the halcyon days of those legendary Saturday nights at Cantrell’s and The Exit/in.  (Yeah, we were there!).  In the spring of 1982, the band was picked to open for The Ramones on a Texas tour, and “God Bless The Ramones” burns with that same fire that made Jason And The Scorchers such an important band.

Thirty-odd years further on up the road, and Jason Ringenberg has sho’ nuff come a long way from the clubs of downtown Nashville to the Sequoia National Park.  A set as big and powerful as “Stand Tall” proves he’ll never lose that “fervor!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.