Susan Gibson review…October 5, 2019….

SUSAN GIBSON

THE HARD STUFF

IMAGINARY LINES–ANTIQUES–THE HARD STUFF–LOOKIN FOR A FIGHT–THE BIG GAME–DIAGNOSTIC HEART–2 FAKE ID’S–HURRICANE–WILDFLOWERS IN THE WEEDS–8 X 10

Susan Gibson scored mainstream notoriety after writing The Dixie Chicks anthemic “Wide Open Spaces,” back in the day.  “The Hard Stuff” marks her first full-length album since 2016.  During that time, she has had to cope with the frailty of life thru the loss of both parents within a four-year span–first her mom, then her dad.  Thus, this set is laced with material that shows a growth and maturity that only physical and mental hardships can bring to the fore.  During those four years, Susan learned that life never prepares you for what is to come, but, thru her deep affinity for family, she not only survived, she thrived.

Arguably, these are the ten best, one-right-after-the-other songs of Susan’s career.  Her parents’ decades-long love story is chronicled in “Antiques,” and, herein, is one of the most powerful of life’s lessons to be learned— “gettin’ old ain’t for the weak–it only happens to the strongest ones.”  A similar theme closes the set, with banjo and fiddle accompanying Susan’s vocals, as “8 X 10” further shows her love for her parents, and of regret for “questions I never thought to ask you why.”  “The Big Game” is a playful look at youthful lust, where our lass tends to “shoot before I aim,” leaving this one a sweet comedy of errors.

The title cut served as our favorite.  STAX-fueled horns play out over Susan’s bluesy vocal of “The Hard Stuff,” where, thru life, “if you’re gonna be stupid, you better be tough.”

My personal credo is fully on display here.  A great writer is always gonna be great.  It doesn’t take a Phi Beta Kappa, tho, to figure out  that great writers who are faced with life-altering experiences often create some of their most powerful material.  Witness and enjoy Susan Gibson and her masterpiece, “The Hard Stuff.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

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Miss Bix review,,,September 30, 2019…..

MISS BIX AND THE BLUES FIX

FEAT. LESLIE BIXLER

WE DON’T OWN THE BLUES

FOLLOW ME DOWN–SLAVE TO THE GRAVE–IF YOU’RE DOING WHAT I’M THINKING–GOTTA GET OFF THIS RIDE–BLACK WIDOW–VOODOO MAN–CRAZY ‘BOUT YOU–YOU’RE A CHILD–WE DON’T OWN THE BLUES–IT WASN’T ME–BABY COME BACK–ALL THE TIME

Miss Bix is the blues nom de plume of one Leslie Bixler (nee’ Letven).  She spent several years on the L. A. scene while her son was growing up, becoming involved in the making of a couple of children’s albums with Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith.  After her son grew up, Miss Bix got the itch to study and record some of the history behind the myths of the blues.  Take it from us, she went to the best place there is to conduct this study–down at the Crossroads itself, in Clarksdale, MS.  Miss Bix spent several months down there, soaking up the local color and learning from the players still active there.  The astonishing results are the twelve cuts that reflect the stories we have heard for a lifetime, dealing with tales that have been passed on thru generations.  The album is entitled “We Don’t Own The Blues,” and every song is a story in itself.

Anyone who has spent any time at all “down South” knows that dysfunctional love is, for some, a way of life.  Our heroine has had enough, tho, for “a body can only endure for so long,” and she’s gettin’ away from the abuse in “Slave To The Grave,” It features slide from Ralph Carter, and a haunting harp from Brian Calway.  A shot of bluesy funk finds our girl knowing somethin’ ain’t right, and, “If You’re Doing What I’m Thinking, I’m gonna break down and cry!”  The title cut is a tale of two more lovers on the outs, full of secrets and lies, with Miss Bix coming to the wise conclusion that this stuff happens to nearly everyone, and “We Don’t Own The Blues.”

Our favorite was a sultry, torchy, cautionary tale for all you fellows out there with a roving eye.  Trust me–SHE KNOWS, and you can’t hide it for long.  Yep–she knows there was someone, and “It Wasn’t Me.”

Miss Bix learned her lessons well on her excursion down to the Crossroads.  She shares her Southern tales of mojos, hoodoos, voodoos, and truths in the most-excellent “We  Don’t Own The Blues.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

HeavyDrunk review…September 29, 2019…..

HEAVYDRUNK

HOLY WATER

4142 RECORDS

IF I LOVED YOU HARD ENOUGH–WALKING TO THE MISSION IN THE RAIN–HEAVYDRUNK/HOLYWATER–ONE DANCING FOOL–I CAN’T BE SATISFIED–KEEPING UP WITH THE KID–HIGH ON LOVE–MEMPHIS–SOMEBODY’S GOT TO TAKE THEM PANTIES OFF–PICK YOU UP ALONG THE WAY–SLAVE–MIDNIGHT IN HARLEM–SHINE ON

Rob Robinson is the leader and driving force behind the nine-piece soul/blues/R & B unit named HeavyDrunk.  Rob is also the barbecue pit master at Puckett’s in Franklin, TN, a gig he’s had since 2008.  The group has found the time to release their latest for 4142 Records, “Holy Water,” eleven originals and two sweet covers that showcases this band’s eclecticism and diversity.

The fun starts with a tale of dysfunctional love built around a cool stop-time groove and allusions to “a hot pink flip-flop” in “the Piggly Wiggly parking lot,” entitled “If I Loved You Hard Enough.”  A song inspired by one of the band’s female singers, Gina Pittman, deals with that one “cool mother for ya,” that “One Dancing Fool,” featuring some Fred Wesley-inspired horn lines.  “Memphis” hits an old-school STAX groove, dealing with young love, as the Bluff City acts as the backdrop.  Its uplifting vibe made it one of our favorites, as was the band’s read of the Tedeschi-Trucks Band’s “Midnight In Harlem,” and its summery-soul groove.  A similarly-themed tune closed the set, “Shine On.”  In a world gripped by hatred and greed, this cut reminds us to let our light shine out to others, no matter how bleak the circumstances.

Our other favorite was the funniest cut on the set.  A parody done in the old-school style of Barry White, “Somebody’s Got To Take Them Panties Off” offers up a hilarious crash course in the art of, er, um, “female seduction!”

HeavyDrunk got its name from a comment made by Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown long ago, regarding a man with a penchant for over-imbibing the distilled spirits, and “Holy Water” is a fun romp spiced with blues, soul, gospel, and good times from the ol’ pit master, Rob Robinson!  Head on down to Puckett’s and tell him the Crows sent you!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Lizanne Knott review….September 28, 2019….

LIZANNE KNOTT

BONES AND GRAVITY

WALK AWAY–KEEP ME ALIVE–BONES AND GRAVITY–CAROLINE–LAY HIM DOWN–EMMYLOU–HURRICANE–TIRED–KINDNESS–LIKE I LOVE MY DOG–I WAS A BIRD

Lizanne Knott has been on our radar for quite some time now, and is set to release her sixth album on October 4, 2019, entitled “Bones And Gravity.” Within these eleven originals, she shares with us her own personal manifesto that we, as individuals, forge our own paths. The songs came about during a personal “housecleaning” of sorts, where she sorted out partially-finished sets of lyrics packed in boxes and melodies recorded on her phone.  She condensed everything into these originals, and they are not only cohesive, but are deeply personal to her.

As one listens, you can feel Lizanne’s heartbreak and anguish caused by one broken relationship after another, and a few songs go into some really dark places.  The set opens as our lovelorn heroine has given up on a lost lover, this time vowing to, after “a hundred days,” ” just “Walk Away.”  A similarly-themed song follows, as she knows “you’re not coming back,” and, thus, goes into her dark place, including “a couple lines of cocaine” from the Mission.  The end result finds her crying out for “somebody to hold me and Keep Me Alive.”  One of the set’s lighter moments is Lizanne’s message to a current lover–“I don’t love you Like I Love My Dog,” as ol’ Jake is unconditionally loyal, and people will “leave you and let you down.”

The song that treads the darkest path of all served as our favorite.  Over a foreboding, “chain gang” percussive groove, our heroine is trapped in an abusive relationship with a whiskey-soaked “man who’ll never change,” and the only way out is a shotgun to permanently “Lay Him Down.”  Tom Hampton adds to the eerie vibe of this one with his bluesy, Delta-fied dobro.

Lizanne Knott has appeared on WSMV-TV and “Nashville Today,” as well as festivals all over the USA, UK, Spain, and Ireland.  “Bones And Gravity” stands to add to her growing legacy as one of the most exciting performers on the Americana scene!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Bill Crosby review…September 27, 2019…..

BILL CROSBY

THREE BONES

WINTER ZEN MUSIC

THREE BONES–BEARS LOVE CUPCAKES–BAHAMA MAMA LLAMA DRAMA–THE REPEATING SONG (OVER AND OVER AGAIN)–WORD NERD–LEARNING TO WALK–YETI FOR NETTI–WHO POOPED IN THE NORTH WOODS–BEAUTIFUL DAY (REMIX)

Guitarist/vocalist/composer Bill Crosby grew up in upstate New York, where he played his brother’s guitar more often than his sibling.  He worked his way southward, first in Ohio, before making it to Music City in 1997.  His latest album is entitled “Three Bones,” and is tailored for the kid in all of us from 8 to 80!  The original songs are excellent tools to teach young folks the different styles of music, with all his characters teaching an important lesson.

The party starts with the title cut, where, according to a true story in Florida where a woman celebrated her 100th birthday, she shared her secret of longevity—“you need Three Bones–a wish bone, a back bone, and a funny bone!”  “Loose Tooth” is another true story, this time courtesy of a young fan in attendance at Bill’s regular Family Wash gig in East Nashville.  It’s complete with a backing chorus and a horn section!  “Word Nerd” is for all us smart kids who love to read, and it’s done up in a power-pop, funky, Eighties style, while “Yeti For Netti” is a country-tinged tune about a young girl and her most unusual pet, straight from the Himalayas!

We had two favorites, too, both of the ursine nature.  First off, it’s easy to figure out the “before picture of an aftermath,” “Who Pooped In The North Woods?”  Our other favorite also came from the true account of a bear who entered a person’s home while they were baking, giving way to the Louisiana-zydeco with a touch of Johnny Cash twang tale of “Bears Love Cupcakes!”

Bill Crosby takes a little bit of pop and mixes it with a dash of country and stirs it all up with a big leaf from Shel Silverstein’s tree.  The result is “Three Bones,” and it is guaranteed fun for everyone!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Brad Heller review…September 26, 2019….

BRAD HELLER

THE SENTENCE

ETERNAL SEASON–THOUSAND DAYS–THE SENTENCE–GONE–THE RUNNER–THE GREATEST CRIME–BOUND FOR NOTHING–TIME’S THE ENEMY–CHASING WOLVES–EUCHARIST–COMES A TIME–THE GARDEN TREE

Roots-rocker Brad Heller has become a voice for the common man,  using his music to call attention to the myriad of society’s problems.  His latest album and fifth overall, is the all-original set entitled “The Sentence,” and is full of topical social commentary that the fans of his legendary live shows have come to love.

The set opens with the jangly guitars over Brad’s story of the gradual dissolution of the American middle class over a “decade lost beyond reason,” and entitled “Eternal Season.”  A Chris Isaak-ish vocal delivery conveys the various reasons why our hero hasn’t “prayed in a Thousand Days,” while the Spanish waltz groove of “The Runner” finds our hero as a platoon leader vowing to run his charges until “it melts the steel in their blood.”

Brad copes with the loss of his father with two tunes.  First, the heartland rock of “Time’s The Enemy,” then with the somber poignancy of “Chasing Wolves.”  The set closes with Brad’s offer of hope and better days to come, beneath “the shade of The Garden Tree.”

Our favorite was an easy choice.   “Eucharist” deals not only with the consequences of addiction, but also the abandonment of one’s faith in the process.

Brad Heller, a transplanted North Carolina native, continues to forge his own identity on the Americana-roots scene.  A consummate storyteller, his songs reverberate within Everyman, tackling today’s societal challenges while offering a ray of hope in the end.  Please enjoy “The Sentence.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Randy Lewis Brown review…September 25, 2019…..

RANDY LEWIS BROWN

RED CROW

BERKALIN RECORDS

ONE HORSE TOWN–TROUBLE WITH ME–NOT READY YET–OCTOBER AGAIN–SHE’S THE ONLY WOMAN–TRUST THE SUN–RED CROW–ANY OLD TRAIN–ABOVE TIMBERLINE–OTHER CAMPFIRES–GOOD OLD DAYS–BARLOW ROAD–GOODNIGHT GOOD LUCK

Randy Lewis Brown is an extraordinary storyteller.  He was born in Shreveport, spending his childhood in pre-Civil Rights Louisiana.  At age twelve, his family moved to Houston, and that began his musical journey.  His characters and the stories they have to share with listeners show the constant struggles of life with that slimmest of a thread of eternal hope.

His latest album, “Red Crow,” is thirteen originals, (four are co-writes), that opens with the somber story of a widower of thirteen years who lives thru the slow demise of a “One Horse Town,” where, now, “the graveyard’s all that grows.”  Another pair of long-time lovers, one 93, the other, 98, still share a vibrant relationship, and, unlike the birds who soar around them, are “Not Ready Yet” to fly away!  Lonesome fiddle from Cody Braun helps chronicle a man’s quest for inner peace, “far above cities,  chaos, and clouds,” way “up here Above Timberline!”  A similarly-themed song recalls the “Good Old Days,” when kids were polite and the world was the way it’s supposed to be–for Randy, it was 1963, for me, 1956.

Our favorite was built around a haunting cello and the metaphor of Moses never reaching the Promised Land,   It describes the hardships of pioneer settlers traveling from Iowa to Oregon in 1848, and is entitled “Barlow Road.”

Randy Lewis Brown builds a dazzling array of characters throughout “Red Crow,” who are often no different than any of us.  Flawed?–Hell, yes, but they soldier on, and Randy and the other talented musicians on this project bring them all into vivid focus.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.