Scottie Miller Band review…August 4, 2017….

SCOTTIE MILLER BAND

STAY ABOVE WATER

BURNED ALL MY BRIDGES–KEEP THIS GOOD THING GOING (FEAT. RUTHIE FOSTER)–STAY ABOVE WATER–FALTER–SAME PAGE–IT BETTER GROOVE–GUARDIAN ANGEL–CIRCLES–IT’S WHAT YOU DO–RIPPIN AND RUNNIN–COME ALONG–GOODBYE

Scottie Miller is a master songwriter and vocalist, who is proficient on a plethora of instruments.  On his latest release, “Stay Above Water,” you’ll find him on all keys and mandolin, along with the remaining band members who include Mark O’Day on drums, Patrick Allen on guitar and vocals, and Dik Shopteau on bass and vocals.  Over the course of these twelve originals, one will find elements of blues, New Orleans-flavored soul, and Americana, and, you just might learn a life lesson or two along the way.

The set opens with a scorcher–the blues-rock swagger of “Burned All My Bridges,” ’cause “I’ve been blacklisted and my whole life’s been twisted!”  The title cut features Scottie’s mandolin, and serves as a reminder not to get too caught up in the things of the world,  and “keep above the deep pool.”

He hits that New Orleans groove for the positive message of “It’s What You Do,” and keeps on strokin’ on the story of the lure of easy money and street hustlin’, as well as the consequences in the end with “Rippin And Runnin,” featuring some funky, Sixties-ish keyboards from Scottie.  And, he closes the set on a rather somber note.  Perhaps the toughest of all human emotions is coping with loss, and Scottie tries to ease that pain with “Goodbye.”

Scottie co-wrote a gospel song with Ruthie Foster a while back, “I Was Called,” and  she returns the favor by adding duet vocals on the good-time strut of a story about hanging on to love, “Keep This Good Thing Going.”   And, the good times keep rolling on a tune made for the dancers, “It Better Groove,” with a cool Dr. John vibe going on!

It’s no wonder Scottie Miller is in the Minnesota Blues Hall Of Fame, and has toured as Ruthie Foster’s keys man for several years.  Insightful lyrics, danceable grooves, and musicianship of the highest order is what you’ll get with “Stay Above Water.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

 

Emily Mure review….August 2, 2017….

EMILY MURE

WORTH

WAITING FOR CHANGE–COME CLEAN–WORTH–AS THE WORLD FALLS DOWN–ROOMMATE’S PREDICAMENT–COPE AND THREAD–WELFARE ISLAND–ALMOST EVERYTHING–DAVID–ALREADY ARE

Folk singer and composer Emily Mure has played concert halls as a classically-trained oboist, and, she has sung for tips on the streets of Ireland.  She possesses an ethereal, pure, beautiful vocal style that brings to vivid life the material that comprises her latest set, “Worth.”  The nine originals and one cover deal with the merry-go-round of human emotions, from love lost, love gained, and, even love that can never be attained.  Joining Emily on this project is the brilliant musician Zachariah Hickman, who lays down darn near all the backing instrumentation.

This set is full of outstanding music.  The title cut is a reminder that all of us “spend too much time concerned with all the many things we just can’t control,” and is brilliantly augmented by cello from Audrey Q. Snyder and violin from Isa Burke, with the string arrangements well-done by Emily.  “David” is a tune of regrets and “what might have been” had our lovers just been a bit more communicative.  Our heroine admits, she left him “for fear that you’d leave me.”  But, when you find that special one, you’ll know it, and each of you will watch over the other for eternity.  So, in “Already Are,” Emily asks her husband  just “to be what you already are.”  Emily wrote this song of trust, forgiveness, and growth alongside each other throughout life as a gift to her husband on their wedding day.

Emily is also unafraid to approach a difficult subject.  Isa’s violin adds to the mystery of  a love that will never be realized, from one woman to another, as one cannot share her feelings with the object of her affection, who loves yet another.  This one is aptly-titled, “Roommate’s Lament.”

Emily Mure’s wish for the songs in “Worth” was that they could perhaps speak to the listener and possibly help them through a difficult time in their lives, or at least let them know that they are not alone.    With her angelic voice and heartfelt original songs, she gives us the strength to face life’s challenges and use her words as a healing poultice.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Brian Lisik review…August 2, 2017…

BRIAN LISIK AND THE UNFORTUNATES

WE’RE SORRY…

CHEROKEE QUEEN RECORDS   CQR 0011

HEY ZELIENOPLE!–DON’T LIKE NOBODY–BYE BI LOVE–ANOTHER FRIDAY NIGHT–IDKWTIC–FEUDAL NIGHTS–INDESCRIBABLE–COLORADO AVENUE–HEART A HAND–TOMBSTONE PHONE CALL–THE SONG REMAINS UNNAMED–DESCRIBABLE–THE MEAT LOCKER/SHUMPERT’S HEAD

For their latest album, Akron-based Brian Lisik And The Unfortunates serve up a healthy, thirteen-cut offering of good ole heartland rock and roll that’ll remind you why you fell in love with rock in the first place.  These guys have a quirky outlook on things in general, too, and that common thread runs thru the whole set.  “We’re Sorry…” is full of hooks, attitude, killer vocals and musicianship, and will evoke memories of classic Seger, Springsteen, Petty, and the Stones.

Brian Lisik is on guitar and vocals, while additional guitars are from bassist Steve Norgrove and Raymond Flanagan, Benjamin Payne on drums, and keys from Tim Longfellow.  Subtlety is a non-factor herein, too, as the fellows blast off with the ultimate false starts that ultimately turn into an “Exile”-era Stones romper entitled “Hey Zelienople!”  The jangly guitars and keys of “Don’t Like Nobody” recall vintage E Street Band, while the punk-rock angst of small-town life is documented in the mile-a-minute revs of “Another Friday Night,” and that pattern closes the set as the fellows channel their inner Minutemen and Ramones with the furious pace of “The Meat Locker/Shumpert’s Head.”

We had two favorites, too.  The pitfalls and pratfalls of young lust are addressed by our hero and his heroine “in the Johnny Cash shirt,” over on “Colorado Avenue.”  And, the set’s most humorous cut takes a tongue-in-cheek look at gender-bending, “Bye Bi Love,” as Brian begs the musical question, “If I was a girl, would I be your girl?”

Brian Lisik And The Unfortunates titled this set “We’re Sorry…” in case folks didn’t like it.  Take it from us, folks—these guys have nothing to apologize for!  Rock on….Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Scott Ellison review…July 31, 2017….

SCOTT ELLISON

GOOD MORNING MIDNIGHT

RED PARLOR RECORDS  RDP 1704

SANCTIFIED–NO MAN’S LAND–GONE FOR GOOD–LAST BREATH–HOPE AND FAITH–ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE–YOU MADE A MESS OUTTA ME–GOOD MORNING MIDNIGHT–TANGLED–WHEELHOUSE–BIG CITY–MYSTERIOUS–WHEN YOU LOVES ME LIKE THIS

We’ve been fans of Scott Ellison for ’bout ten years now, going back to his 2008 set for Michael Frank and Earwig, “Ice Storm.”  Scott goes back further than that, tho, with a career that has spanned more than thirty years.  The Tulsa-based bluesman can always be counted upon to fire up some of the hottest blues guitar one can imagine, with a powerful and soul-drenched voice.  He’s a master at playing various styles, especially jazz-tinged cuts and R & B that’s prevalent down South.

Luckily for us fans, we get a taste of all of it on his latest scorcher, “Good Morning Midnight,” for Red Parlor Records.  Most all of the original cuts are collaborations with co-producer, pianist, and fellow Tulsa legend Walt Richmond.  A percussion-heavy rhumba-rocker leads off, as Scott strikes up a Freddie King groove on guitar, as “your love has me Sanctified!”  His versatility is on display with the reggae-rock of “Hope And Faith,” and, in the tradition of “Ice Storm,” it wouldn’t be a Scott Ellison album without a killer instrumental, and you can hear his jazz influences on the swingin’ “Wheelhouse,” featuring Mike Bennett and Steve Ham on the horns.

As one can glean from these cuts, Scott is, well, “in his wheelhouse” with any style, but our favorites come from his ability to lay down a solid, Chicago-flavored shuffle, and there are three stomp-down good ‘uns up in here.  First up is the Elmo James stride of the story of a man trapped in a one-way love affair due to serious lack of funds, “Another Day In Paradise!”  The title cut has a sweet Chicago-by-way-of-the-Delta rumble, complete with harp from Jimmy Junior Markham.  Those  two close the set in similar fashion, with the Jimmy Reed-ish lope of “When You Loves Me Like This, I know you loves me real!”

A new set from Scott Ellison is cause for celebration here at the Crow manor.  We know, as the kids say, “it’s all good,” deep-down, soulful blues, and “Good Morning Midnight” has everything blues fans are looking for!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

John Pagano Band review…July 30, 2017…

JOHN PAGANO BAND

ONE MORE ROUND

MCP 1003

BOTTOMS UP–LOST IN YOU–TROUBLE ON HEELS–AIN’T MINE–RISE UP AIN’T GONNA LOSE YOU–99 PROBLEMS–O MY MIND–MAKE YOU SHOUT–BAD HABIT–CATCH THAT TRAIN

For Georgia-based indie blues group the John Pagano Band,  their latest set is their fifth overall.  They were known as the JP Blues Band on earlier efforts, but good blues by any other name would still rock just as hard.  “One More Round” does just this, plus it marks the first album under the moniker John Pagano Band, and it is the first set to use John’s Georgia bandmates—Shiloh Bloodworth on drums and Tony Hossri on bass—exclusively.

This power trio has sho’ nuff got the goods, fans.  Over these eleven cuts, the band explores their gritty, blues-rock roots, this time with the use of polyrhythmic, different-than-expected patterns, and the always-dynamite guitar from John .  He leads off with a stone solid summer party anthem, an ode to gettin’ your drink on, the pulsing, slide-drenched “Bottoms Up!,” and his best friends, “Jack and gin!”  “Ain’t Mine” explores the band’s  polyrhythmic approach to the set, as this cut follows a quasi-reggae groove.  “Rise Up” takes you right down to the Crossroads to either make your Deal or seek your redemption, while “Ain’t Gonna Lose You” is a perfect summer party groover, with a funky backbeat over a Southern-rock vibe.

Want some killer, Hendrix-ian guitar?  Then don’t go no further than a cut that pulls no punches about a man who may have “99 Problems,” but “the bitch ain’t one!”  This one grooves off into some fine Sixties-era garage-rock psychedelic guitar from John, and serves as one of our favorites.  The other?  Hey–we all know a girl like the one in this song.  Leather skirt, stilettos, tatts, and a ‘tude–Hell, she’s walkin’ “Trouble On Heels,” and ready to “take you all the way!”

With “One More Round,” the John Pagano Band adds to its growing reputation as one f the powerhouse groups out there that can lay down mean blues-rock with the best of ’em!  Killer guitars plus cool, clever lyrics make this one a must-hear!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Antry review…July 27, 2017

ANTRY

DEVIL DON’T CARE

TRES LOBOS ENTERPRISES

DEVIL DON’T CARE–ALWAYS WITH ME–HOW FAR DOWN–FISHIN–PRINCE OF PEACE–BORROWED ANGELS–DEVIL GONE FISHIN–SENDING ME ANGELS–GET UP–SPECIAL ANGEL

Lately, we have been privy to a spate of releases that offer up a uniquely-intriguing “sub-genre,” if you will, of the blues, this one presenting gospel in its mix.  OK, we know that this has been going on since the days of Blind Lemon Jefferson and Mississippi Fred McDowell,  but contemporary players such as Davis Coen, Joshua Jacobson, and now, vocalist (Steve) Antry (say ANT-tree), give this music an extra kick that makes it appealing to today’s discerning audience.

Antry has an awesome set of pipes, and he uses them well and wisely to convey his message of hope, faith, and redemption in his latest offering,  “Devil Don’t Care.”  Joining him is a fine group of A-listers, too, that include Dan Dugmore on guitar and lap steel,  guitarists Rob McNelly, Pat Buchanan, Brent Mason, and Anthony Gomes, and Shaun Murphy on backing vocals.

The set begins on a scorching blues-rock note with the title cut, an original tune from Antry and Peter Carson, where The Devil Don’t Care,, ’cause the Good Book tells me so!”   The plaintive “Always With Me” lets us know that a higher power is always looking out for us no matter what, while “Borrowed Angels” serves as a testimonial to uplift those who have suffered the loss of a child.

“Get Up” is full of the old-time spirit, and is a call to “be mindful of your blessings” and “get back on the road to truth.”  The same can be said for Leon Russell’s “Prince Of Peace,” as Antry warns us to be more tolerant of others, especially in the world today, for that person you wrongfully judge may just be that Prince returning!  It is set over a rather boisterous, Southern-rock vibe, too.

We had two favorites, too.  Antry uses Don Goodman’s “Fishin” as a parable to not only do unto others, but it also serves as a tribute to his late father.  Their water-borne experiences in Autry’s youth served him well in learning the meaning of life, love, and loyalty.  And, Anthony Gomes adds scalding guitar to a Gary Nicholson tune (with additional lyrics from Antry), “Devil Gone Fishin,” and you can sho’ nuff bet “he got all the good bait,” and  “all he’s gotta do is wait!”

Antry has vocal chops second to none.  His three-octave range breathes the fire and brimstone into this material,  as he reminds us to be steadfast in our faith, because the “Devil Don’t Care!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Joshua Jacobson review…July 27, 2017….

JOSHUA JACOBSON

GOOD LITTLE THING

FATMOUTH RECORDS FRCD 1001

BABY’S MAMA REALLY DON’T CARE–CODEPENDENT KATIE–LONG LONESOME DAY–PISTOL PACKIN’ PAPA–TWERKIN LI’L MAMA–BIPOLAR MAMA–TICKET AGENT–YOU DON’T LOVE ME–ITS A GOOD LITTLE THING–HIDE ME IN THY BOSOM–MIND BLOWIN’ BLUES–BABY IT MUST BE LOVE–CROSS THE RIVER OF JORDAN

Joshua Jacobson is a young Georgia blues man with an old-school soul.  Skilled in the Piedmont-style of blues, this fine guitarist and storyteller has taken some modern-day subjects and mixed them with his authentic style to create a sho’ nuff “Good Little Thing,” thirteen cuts fairly evenly-split between covers and Joshua’s clever originals done up in his inimitable picking style.  Plus, his backing ensemble is as good as they come.

Leading off is one of Joshua’s original, topical-themed songs, where “Daddy’s just doin’ the best he can, but Baby’s Mama Really Don’t Care,” with cool honky-tonkin’ piano from Chris Flowers.  Next up is another original, the story of ol’ “Codependent Katie,” this one featuring harp from a fellow we’ve known since his days as a bass man for Steady Rollin’ Bob Margolin, Mookie Brill.  A bit later, we are introduced to another of Joshua’s many flawed characters, this girl a stone “Bipolar Mama, much too manic for me!”

If you look at the careers of players such as Blind Willie McTell, Son House, and several others, it seems they all were aware that Judgment Day could come at any time, and they all had a bit of the Gospel in their repertoire, just in case.  So it is with Joshua, too, as we are treated to “Hide Me In Thy Bosom,” with Damon Fowler on slide guitar, and the set-closer, just Joshua, his voice, and his slide and 12-string,  “I’ve got to Cross The River Of Jordan on my own.”

We settled on two of Joshua’s originals as our favorites.  Up first, adding an electric element to the proceedings, is the legendary Dickie Betts, still pickin’ on that red guitar, as Joshua weaves the tale of a “Pistol Packin’ Papa,” who “ain’t afraid to let that hammer fall.”  And, by far the most humorous cut on the set is that sexy, “Twerkin’ Little Mama,” who “went to Congress and twerked so hard she repealed Obamacare!!”

Joshua Jacobson channels the stories common in today’s news thru the sepia tones of his authentic Piedmont sounds.  As he himself sings, he’s a “tailor-made” bluesman and “ain’t no hand-me-down,” and “Good Little Thing” is a high-spirited, fun listen!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.