Mighty Mike Schermer review…April 15, 2019….

MIGHTY MIKE SCHERMER

BAD TATTOO

FINEDOG/VIZZTONE RECORDS  VT–FD61041

SHE WON’T BE COMING BACK–LOVER’S HALL OF FAME–HOW MUCH LONGER–I CAN’T LET IT GO–BAD TATTOO–AIN’T THAT THE WAY LOVE GOES–ONE THING ECERY DAY–HEY FRANCINE–BABY DOWN THE WELL–SUFFOCATING LOVE–STOP LOOKING FOR LOVE–UP ALL NIGHT

He’s a stone triple-threat guitarist/vocalist/songwriter, and Mighty Mike Schermer has been the go-to guitarist for so many legends we can’t count ’em all, but they include Pinetop, Elvin Bishop, and, currently, swamp-boogie queen Marcia Ball.  He’s a festival veteran, has a Blues Award nomination, and six previous albums.  Add to that list one more, with his latest, the  humorous, most-excellent “Bad Tattoo” for Finedog/Vizztone.  He headed to Cali to lay this one down at Kid Andersen’s Greaseland Studios, which features visits from Aki Kumar, Rick Estrin, Chris Cain, and Billy Price.  They all lend a hand in showcasing Mike’s mastery of virtually any style.

The set rumbles outta the gate with a rhumba beat behind “my baby;s gone,” and “She Won’t Be Coming Back.”  Austin Delone is on organ, which adds to the cool vibe Mike sets up with this one.  A sweet shot of summery soul is Mike’s break-up song about a girl who’ll get no consideration for “my Lover’s Hall Of Fame,” with congas and backing vocals from Dennis Dove.  Mike and Chris Cain swap some sweet licks in the story of that most vile of relationships, where “she’s gotta be everywhere you are,” that “Suffocating Love.”  Billy Price guests on backing vocals as our hero realizes he’s nothing more than “the latest flavor” with a lover, but, sadly, “I Can’t Let It Go.”  It features a blistering minor-key solo at the 1:30 mark, too.  Rick Estrin adds harp to the gentle lppe of “when you Stop Looking For Love, that’s when you’ll find it!”

Our favorite was the title cut.  It swings from the first note, as Mike laments that “Bad Tattoo” of  another man’s name in a sho’ nuff VERY private place on his latest lover!

If you want some great, Telecaster-driven blues, then do as a great man once told us, and don’t go no further than Mighty Mike Schermer and “Bad Tattoo!!!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

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Adam Carroll review….April 13, 2019….

ADAM CARROLL

I WALKED IN THEM SHOES

I WALKED IN THEM SHOES–CAROLINE–STORMS–CRESCENT CITY ANGELS–IRIS AND THE LONESOME STRANGER–THIS OLD GARAGE–CORDELIA–MY ONLY GOOD SHIRT–THE LAST WORD–NIGHT AT THE SHOW

The Texas songwriter community is as large and diverse as the state itself.  One of the true gems of that community is “the shy kid from Tyler” who grew into Adam Carroll.  He’s just released his ninth album overall, “I Walked In Them Shoes,” consisting of ten originals written either wholly or in part by Adam.  The album was done in one day, down in Dripping Springs, TX, at the Zone Recording Studio.  Usually recording as a trio or full band, this go-round finds Adam with just himself on vocals and guitar, and mentor/producer Lloyd Maines on pedal steel, slide, and the rhythm parts.

The characters in Adam’s songs are Everyman, dealing with the challenges and struggles of life, running the gamut of the human condition, from love, loss, bad luck, and (hopeful) redemption.  The set leads off with the title cut, originally conceived with the Flying Burrito Brothers in mind, but it could be about any band or musician with a life on the road, and offers encouragement to always “stay on track,” ’cause “we can make it thru!”  “Caroline” laments a long-lost love affair and the things that might’ve been, while Adam plays the harmonium in a sweet ode to his wife, “Cordelia,” who can “light up Hell with her laughter,”

We had two favorites, too.  “My Only Good Shirt” traces our hero’s good luck piece, worn everywhere from Paris to the Ryman.  The set closes with its most poignant song.  It is a touching tribute to Lloyd Maines and another mentor, the late club owner, Kent Finlay, who came out of retirement to help further Adam’s  career.  The song is peppered with “tears mixed with laughter,” describing “just another Night At The Show.”

Adam Carroll is in the midst of one of the most creative periods in his twenty-one year career.  He may not be “Viva Las Vegas,” but he’s “Motel 6 famous,” and “I Walked In Them Shoes” is a set for us all!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Tony Campanella review…April 12, 2019….

TONY CAMPANELLA

TAKING IT TO THE STREET

GULF COAST RECORDS

TAKING IT TO THE STREET–PACK IT UP–ONE FOOT IN THE BLUES–YOU DON’T KNOW–GOOD MORNING LITTLE SCHOOLGIRL–FINGER ON THE TRIGGER–MR. CLEANHEAD–CHECKING ON MY BABY–TEXAS CHAINSAW–MY MOTOR’S RUNNING–THOSE ARE THE TIMES

Mike Zito has known blues guitarist Tony Campanella for some 30 years, going back to their days in St. Louis.  Tony’s gritty, biting, rocked-up blues were exactly what Zito and Gulf Coast Records co-founder Guy Hale were looking for when they established the label.  In the natural order of things, Tony was soon on his way to Zito’s Nederland, TX, Marz Studios for his latest set, “Taking It To The Street.”

Tony mentored with many of the legends in the St. Louis area, and his “in your face” guitar style leads off, firing on all 8 with the title cut, the amped-up buzz of our hero letting it be known that his true calling is to share his passion for the blues “with everyone I meet!”  “Pack It Up” pays a sweet tribute to SRV, while he calls out a cheatin’ lover with some fired-up funk, “You Don’t Know, but I know about all your cheatin’, all your lies.”

We had several favorites.  Get out your dancin’ shoes for Tony’s good-time romp thru Junior Wells’ “Checking On My Baby,” then be prepared to be blown away by some emotional slow blues.  The forecast sho’ nuff calls for pain in the somber tale of a man with “nothin’ else to lose,”  “One Foot In The Blues.”  Everybody has a fun time with the bump and grind stop-time groove dedicated to bald men everywhere, “Mr. Cleanhead,” and he spits in the collective eyes of all his naysayers who never gave him much of a chance at success with the layered-guitar, Delta-droning groove of that mighty “Texas Chainsaw.”

Zito himself says Tony Campanella is “pure soul,” and “Taking It To The Street” is the stone-cold, 100-proof truth.  As for this set, listen or get the Hell outta the way!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Shane Dwight review…April 11, 2019….

SHANE DWIGHT

NO ONE LOVES ME BETTER

RED PARLOR RECORDS  RDP 1901

NO ONE LOVES ME BETTER–SHE LIKES TO RIDE–IF YOU AIN’T THE DEVIL–BULLETS AND GASOLINE–SUCKER–STAND UP–WHITE POWDER–LEVY GIRL–SHAKIN–TRIAL OF A POET

Of course, California native and bluesman extraordinaire Shane Dwight is a killer guitarist and vocalist, but it is his uncanny way with a lyric that moves him to the forefront of the contemporary blues scene.  His latest set for Red Parlor is the ten originals that comprise “No One Loves Me Better.”  It was laid down ’bout 30 miles from our house at Kevin McKendree’s Rockhouse Studio over in Franklin,   Kevin is on keys throughout, too, with Shane on guitars and vocals, and Rob McNelly on rhythm.

The songs, as Shane so succintly puts it, deal with “whiskey, wimmin, and the music business” as a whole, with several mini-“morality plays” spread over the ten cuts.  All are driven by a powerful groove, as well.  Leading off, Shane offers up the title cut,  a sweet ode to that one special one, “No One Loves Me Better than you,” which is followed by a bristling tale about women who, seemingly regardless of upbringing, all have a “wild child” streak–yeah, “She Likes To Ride!”  The light-hearted “Sucker” features Shane with a little bit of a rapped delivery, paying tribute to not only his Cali roots, but to the lovely young women who reside there!  Firebrand harp from Mickey Raphael and Shane’s acoustic Delta leanings on guitar trace our hero, who’s “prone to sin” and the consequences of “White Powder.”

That cut set the tone for our two favorites.  Another cut with a home down at the corner of Mississippi highways 61 and 49 is “Bullets And Gasoline,” as our young man makes a tragic choice when his “girlfriend was sleepin’ in the boss’s bed!”  The set closes with another of Shane’s incredible stories-in-song.  This one deals with tryin’ to get to Heaven in a world where “the blues takes hold,” the powerful “Trial Of A Poet.”  This one features backing vocals from another of our favorite women in all blues, Bonnie’s little girl, Bekka Bramlett!

In 2001, Shane Dwight and his band traveled to the Monterey Blues Festival’s Battle of the Bands, which they won.  It was there that Shane realized that he was standing on the same hallowed ground that one of his heroes, Jimi, had also once stood.  He’s never looked back, and “No One Loves Me Better” offers up his strongest and most personal set of songs to date!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Mike Farris review…April 10, 2019….

MIKE FARRIS

SILVER AND STONE

COMPASS RECORDS  74718 2

TENNESSEE GIRL–ARE YOU LONELY FOR ME BABY–CAN I GET A WITNESS?–GOLDEN WINGS–LET ME LOVE YOU BABY–HOPE SHE’LL BE HAPPIER–SNAP YOUR FINGERS–BREATHLESS–MISS SOMEBODY–WHEN MAVIS SINGS–MOVIN ME–I’LL COME RUNNING BACK TO YOU

The first thing you cannot help but notice about Winchester native Mike Farris is that incredible voice that lit up the rock pantheon back in the 90’s as lead singer for the Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies.  He battled addiction during these years, but is now not only clean and sober, but also a born-again Christian.  His fourth overall album, :Shine For All The People,” from 2015, resulted in a Grammy win, and his latest, “Silver And Stone,” is equally as impressive.

Mike assembled a literal “Who’s Who” of Nashville session men for this project.  Mike is on vocals and acoustic guitar, with Rob McNelly, Doug Lancio, Bart Walker, and Blues Award-winning Joe Bonamassa on the other guitars.  On keys, there is Paul Brown, Mark T. Jordan, and the inimitable Reese Wynans, and Jim Hoke and Rahsaan Barber are on sax, along with a host of other luminaries that added just the right touch all over this set.

The majority of the material herein  is dedicated to his steadying force, his wife of 23 years.  Attesting to that fact is the story told in the opening cut, Mike’s original, “Tennessee Girl.”  Mike digs down deep into his soul, lamenting that “last train to Jacksonville,” with the gospel-fired “Are You Lonely For Me, Baby,” while he revisits his “Wheelies” days with a rocked-up read of “Let Me Love You Baby.”  The versatility in his voice is on full display in one of Bill Withers’ most poignant offerings, as our lovelorn hero succumbs to the inevitable in “I Hope She’ll Be Happier with him.”  This cut served as one of our favorites, as did  the sweet soul of “Snap Your Fingers,” and the beautiful ode to one of America’s living treasures, “When Mavis Sings.”

In the case of Mike Farris,  success has given him a look at where he was back in the day and put it in perspective as to where he is in the right now, along with those who have helped him along the way.  He has a soul man’s voice for the ages, and “Silver And Stone” makes a strong and powerful statement.  We love you, man….Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

 

 

Kerry Kearney review…April 8, 2018….

KERRY KEARNEY

SMOKEHOUSE SERENADE

HIGHLANDER RECORDS  2019 DWAZ ENTERTAINMENT

SHAKIN LIKE JELLY–LONG TALL MAMA–STATESBORO BLUES–FIREPLUG–NO WAY BACK BLUES–WAKE ME, SHAKE ME, BAKE ME–SITTIN ON TOP OF THE WORLD–CAMPTOWN RACES/SMOKEHOUSE SERENADE–GIRL FROM MEMPHIS–CREOLE WOMAN–GOIN TO THE MARDI GRAS–PRETTY BABY

Kerry Kearney has long been a favorite of ours in the pantheon of contemporary blues guitarists, and a new album from him is always a cause celebre’ here in the Crow household.  Such is the case with his latest, “Smokehouse Serenade,” for Highlander Records.  It is an even dozen of clever originals and some ultra-cool and somewhat rare covers.  The whole shootin’ match was recorded at Dream Studios in Bellmore, NY, with the whole of the Kerry Kearney Band producing.

The party starts with the raucous, rafter-raising “Shakin’ Like Jelly, I’m your peanut butter boy.” featuring harp from Frank “Kingbee” Latorre.  Herein, we are treated to one dazzling solo after another!  “No Way Back Blues” finds Kerry on acoustic guitar, telling a lover, “I ain’t gonna see you no more, down that lonesome road I go,” evoking memories of Robert Johnson looking for Willie Brown! One of our favorites, “Creole Woman”–that “mocha drunkard’s dream”–is the epitome’ of what Kerry is all about, and a great definition of his “psyche-Delta” approach to the blues!  This one has him all over the electric guitar, with solid support from keys man David Cohen.  Our other favorite was perhaps the set’s most unique cut.  On the instrumental, “Camptown Races/Smokehouse Serenade,” Kerry begins with the Stephen Foster chestnut by playing it on banjo before giving way to the electric guitar to close out the rest of this six-plus minutes of pure blues Heaven!

When one listens to Kerry Kearney, whether he’s burnin’ up the electric fretboards or pickin’ out a sweet, ‘down on Beale” acoustic number, it is easy to see why he is a member of the New York Blues Hall of Fame.  You get a good taste of all his myriad of talents with the most excellent “Smokehouse Serenade!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Luca Kiella review…April 6, 2019…..

LUCA KIELLA

FIGURE IT OUT

TEN O’CLOCK BLUES–UNNECESSARILY MERCENARY–FIGURE IT OUT–I CAN’T STOP LOVING YOU–SO MANY QUESTIONS

Luca Kiella was the long-time keyboard whiz for Chicago’s bus-drivin’ blues man, Toronzo Cannon.  He now proudly steps out on his own with his latest project, the five-song EP entitled “Figure It Out,” which shows off not only his keys and vocal chops, but his writing skills as well, penning three of the five cuts.  Joining him on this excellent foray into the blues, we have Dave Forte on bass, Aaron Weistrop on guitar, and Rick King on drums.  His strong family ties to his Italian heritage permeate this set, as he is constantly evolving as an artist, and looking for ways to “Figure It Out,” both musically and as a person.

Luca has a unique vocal style that fits in well within his love for blues, the modern sounds of country and western music, and New Orleans funk.  Leading off is a humdinger of an instrumental that would be at home in any West or South Side club, the “Ten O’Clock Blues.”  The funk hits the fan over Luca’s keys work on Jon Cleary’s “Unnecessarily Mercenary,” and then he turns the Ray Charles-by-way-of-Don-Gibson classic, “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” positively upside-down, making it a jazzy, jumpin,’ fun-filled romp!  The title cut is a fine, soulful, gospel-ish tribute to his deceased mother, whose advice he always sought to help him “Figure It Out” when times got tough.  The set’s finale follows a similar theme, this time with only Luca’s voice and piano, as “So Many Questions” are yet to be answered along his musical journey.

It takes a strong, confident artist to step out on his own to follow his musical dreams.  Luca Kiella (Chellini) is off to a great start with “Figure It Out,” and we look forward to a full-length set from him soon!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.