The Forrest McDonald Band review…June 17, 2017….

THE FORREST MCDONALD BAND

STAND MY GROUND

WORLD TALENT RECORDS

GUITAR STRING BLUES–CHICKEN SCRATCH BOOGIE–I PUT A SPELL ON YOU–STAND MY GROUND–TURNAROUND BLUES–CERTIFIED BLUE–I AM A STONE–THE FEELING IS GONE–PINEY BROWN–RIVER OF TEARS–TAKE IT TO THE TOP–TILL THE MORNING LIGHT–RIDING ON THE BLUES TRAIN

Whether realizing it or not, most of the readers of these pages have heard Forrest McDonald literally thousands of times.  Yup–that’s his guitar on Seger’s anthemic “Old Time Rock And Roll,” and also on Bobby Womack’s “Roads Of Life,” among countless other classics.  He’s got a bluesman’s soul, too, and you can get a fine taste of what The Forrest McDonald Band is all about on his latest for World Talent Records, “Stand My Ground.”  It’s eleven originals and two ballsy covers that show why his songs about the wins and losses in everyday life are so popular with his fans.  Along with Forrest’s guitar work, which is some of the best anywhere and in any genre’, you simply can’t go wrong with Becky Wright, the band’s dynamite lead singer.

The party starts with the scratchin’ funk of “Guitar String Blues,” where Becky sings “my baby left me last night/took everything but the wallpaper on the wall,” and “my guitar strings, too!”  Pix Ensign is all over the harp, too.  Next up is some of that old-time rock and roll with a bluesy twist,  a downhome barnyard shuffle ’bout that “Chicken Scratch Boogie,” with red-hot piano and  cool horns adding to the fun.

The title cut takes a turn waaaay down south to N’Awlins, where a second-line pattern drives Becky’s vocal about a no-good lover and her determination to “Stand My Ground.”  Another dog who “played me and mislaid me” gives her the “Turnaround Blues,” while the band riffs on a jazzy, slow-blues, walkin’-beat tale of a lover who “put your guilt upon me” and “walked out the door,” leaving Becky “Certified Blue.”  A driving, fiery shuffle kicks off Becky’s tale of redemption and “a little lovin’ to get me through the night”—“Take It To The Top and leave my blues behind!”

We had two favorites, too.  Forrest, Pix, and the whole band get their collective mojo workin’ on a Chicago-styled throwdown all about ol’ “Piney Brown!”  And, “Till The Morning Light” is exactly what this band is all about, y’all.  This one practically jumps outta the grooves as Becky sings about “bumpin’ and grindin’ till that morning light!”  It also features solos from heavy hitters Barry Richman and Valery Lunichkin on guitar, plus Little Ronnie Owens on the harp!  What a helluva party!

That’s the groove throughout this set.  Forrest McDonald cut “Stand My Ground” with a nod to songs that his fans love, and that are a part of his current live show sets.  He dedicates this one to his fans, and we say, “keep on rockin!!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Joseph Veloz review…June 14, 2017….

JOSEPH VELOZ

OFFERINGS

BIG O RECORDS

JUST JAMMIN–GOOD GOOD DAY–MULES FOR BILES (BLUES FOR MILES)–JUKIN AND SHAKIN–HE LOVES ME (GOD’S PROMISE)–I LIKE ME BETTER WHEN I’M WITH YOU–JOLENE–KISS

Joseph Veloz has been a touring bassist for over twenty years.  He’s worked with Mississippi Heat, Lucky Peterson, Matt Murphy, and a host of others.  Also, he’s a highly-skilled producer, arranger, and composer, and his multitude of talents are on display over the course of the eight cuts that comprise “Offerings,” his latest for Big O Records.

Now, Joe has some more good things going for him that deserve a mention.  As are we, he is a true believer in the Lord God our Savior thru whom all things are possible, and knows he has been called to spread the message thru his musical skills to lift up those broken in spirit, and this set exceeds all those goals.

He enlists the aid of some of his good friends to pull this package together, so here we go.  Up first is a blistering combo of blues and jazz wrapped up in the instrumental, “Just Jammin,” which features Shawn Kellerman on guitar.  Eric Goebel adds the guitar on another smooth instrumental, “Mules For Biles (Blues For Miles),” with some serious keys from Jim Alfredson.   Shawn returns on guitar on our favorite of the three instrumentals, “He Loves Me (God’s Promise).”  This one has a quiet, reverent, almost-pastoral vibe that conveys its powerful message.

The vocals are just as strong, too.  You know it’s gonna be a “Good Good Day” when “my baby’s comin’ home on that next train,” and Biscuit Miller really brings the heat on his soulful vocal.  Lucky Peterson is all over the vocal on the funkfest that is “Jukin And Shakin,” over a cool horn section.  Greg Nagy handles the vocals on a sweet contemporary blues love song, the upbeat take of  “giving up on loneliness,” “I Like Me Better When I’m With You.”

We had two favorites among the vocals, too.  If you grew up in the South in the Sixties as did we, you learn all about that “other woman,” named “Jolene.”  The vocal here is from Jennifer Westwood, who has a slightly lower register than the original.  That, coupled with some fantastically-eerie slide guitar from Shawn gives this one a darker, edgier tone.  And, the set closes with one of Prince Rogers Nelson’s finest efforts, “Kiss.”  The whole band gets in a fine workout, including Joe on bass, and Joey Spina’s party-time vocals make this one tailor-made for the dance floor.

Joseph Veloz keeps the heartbeat and the backbeat of these songs right next to his soul.  He knows just what to play and just when to play it, and, with “Offerings,” he has indeed heeded his calling!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Cameron Mitchell review….June 13, 2017….

CAMERON MITCHELL

MASPETH

LET ME TELL YOU HOW–PROMISE NOT TO LEAVE–FREE ADVICE (IS SELDOM CHEAP)–TELL ME–FOLDS IN THE TOWELS–ANOTHER NIGHT (I SUPPOSE)–SOUND OF MUSIC (IF YOU COULDN’T TELL)–HERE COMES THE FUTURE–I NEED A GIRL–I TOLD ALL MY FRIENDS–EAST SIDE TO EAST SIDE

Songwriter Cameron Mitchell has been a solid sideman for some time, finally stepping into the bandleader spotlight with the widely-acclaimed “Chelsea No Evil” from 2015.  His latest, a largely self-produced effort wherein he plays most of the instruments, works out as another cool mix of grunge guitars with pedal steel, mandolin, and fiddle, featuring stories-in-song that hearken back to the days where the singer and the song were the vogue, and bro-country was unheard of.  In “Maspeth,” named for the street of his Brooklyn apartment, he takes a look at life and love with nods to his heroes, John Hiatt, Rodney Crowell, and several others.

Those jangly guitars kick things off with a poignant tribute to the late Scott Weiland, “Let Me Tell You How.”  “Tell Me that you love me and I’ll tell you, too,” and “Promise Not To Leave” are odes to true love, the latter being a part  of Cameron’s wedding vows, punctuated by some sweet fiddle.

There are several examples of what we like to call “damn good country songs” in here, too.  A self-absorbed lover cares “more about the Folds In The Towels than you ever cared about me,” while a great kiss-off song has a rocked-up Eagles feel with sweet honky-tonkin’ piano, where it’s “So long/farewell/that’s the Sound Of Music (If You Couldn’t Tell).”  One of our favorites has Cameron and long-time collaborator Carrie Welling playing a modern-day Johnny and June as the beleaguered lovers of “I  Told All My Friends” trade one barb after another to find out which lover was the worst.  Our other favorite was a cool play on words that has Cameron offering up many good words to live by, with one caveat–“Free Advice (Is Seldom Cheap).”

Cameron Mitchell has taken the eleven cuts that comprise “Maspeth” and told us listeners an autobiographical tale of his past, present, and future within their contents.  Excellent musicianship, writing, and vocals will have you returning to this one, and, each time, you’ll find a new subtlety within this fine set!  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Jason Ricci and the Bad Kind review…June 12, 2017…

JASON RICCI AND THE BAD KIND

APPROVED BY SNAKES

ELLERSOUL RECORDS   ELL 1706

MY TRUE LOVE IS A DOPE WHORE–SOMETHING JUST ARRIVED–DEMON LOVER–MY MOM’S GONNA YELL AT YOU–BROKEN TOY/FINK U FREAKY–LISTEN HERE–TERRORS OF NIGHTLIFE–GOT CLEANED UP–I’M TOO STRONG FOR YOU–DISCONNECT–515

Old-timers in this town might recall back in the Nineties when Jason Ricci blew the harp with Big Al (Lauro) And The Heavyweights.  Jason’s musicianship has just gotten better over time, and his latest album, for EllerSoul Records,  is entitled “Approved By Snakes.”  Joining Jason is one of the most impressive lineups one could assemble.  John Lisi is on lead guitar, with Sam Hotchkiss on rhythm, Andy Kurz on bass, and Adam “A-Bomb” Baumol pounding the skins relentlessly.

This varied set has a lot of blues that will please a wide scope  of fans.  Leading off  is the band original, “My True Love Is A Dope Whore,” recounting the pimps, ho’s and a dealer named “Old School, but his real name was Seymour,” and many other unsavory characters hangin’ out at “the corner of Castiglione and Gentilly.”  “Something Just Arrived fairly bristles with strong New Orleans funk, while Jason lets his harp do some wailin’ as the band has a lot of fun with an extended jam on Eddie Harris’ “Listen Here.”

Jason turns in a fine performance dedicated to all the square pegs in a world full of round holes with the biting, slow-burn of “Broken Toy/Fink U Freaky.”  John Lisi’s original, “Disconnect,” gives out some sage advice we oughta all heed, before giving way to an extended jam, with Jason’s harp exploring the outer fringes of harmonica pyrotechnics.

We had two favorites, too, both from the pen of John Lisi.  Even tho our hero in “Got Cleaned Up” tries to right the ship, seems like everything heads south anyways.  This one rides over a sweet reggae-fied groove, too.  And, you know it’s gonna happen–it’s inevitable–“My Mom’s Gonna Yell At You when you get to Heaven,” because there’s nothing quite like a “Jersey mama” when it comes to her son!

Jason Ricci will tell you straight up that “Approved By Snakes” is one helluva hot mess of an album.  But, just sit back and let these most excellent grooves take you on a cool, celestial musical journey!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

 

The Rosedale Revue review…June 9, 2017….

THE ROSEDALE REVUE

RHYTHM METHOD

PHILLY DOG RECORDS  PDCD 3614

JEFFERSON JUMP–EVERYDAY RUT–I GO CRAZY–SAVE YOUR LOVE FOR ME–MESSAGE TO LOVE–CONGRATULATIONS (I SUPPOSE)–WHAT GOES AROUND–YOU’VE GOT A PROBLEM–FORGET–WHAT ABOUT ME–I SING THE BLUES–SATURDAY NIGHT

It has been our esteemed pleasure to have known drummer/producer Dave Agerholm for lo these last 20 years or so.  We were all a part of the old Music City Blues Society back ’round the turn of the century.  He’s drummed behind Carey Bell, Bob Margolin, Eddy Raven, Earl Thomas Conley, and countless others.  His drumming is the heartbeat of his own group, The Rosedale Revue, since their formation fifteen years ago.  We’d often ask Dave, “When’s the album coming out?,”  and it kinda got to be a running joke with us.  But, the long wait is finally over, and “Rhythm Method” is here!  It’s a fairly even split of band member originals and waay-cool covers that presents the band’s ability to play various styles and provide, literally, something for every taste.

There are fifteen core members of the band, and this set also features a couple of very special guests.  They create a huge sound that comes at you like one of those old-school traveling R & B revue shows, with a big horn section and several different vocalists adding to the mix.  Dave produced, and did the horn arrangements with tenor man Mike Foster.

The set opens with a killer instrumental, “Jefferson Jump,” a reminder of the glory days of the Jefferson Street scene, when icons such as Aretha and Brother Ray rubbed elbows with local legends like Jimmy Church and Nick Nixon.  Dickie Thompson, he of the Steve Miller Band, adds the B-3 intro here.  That Jefferson thread runs thru much of this album, as Jerry Middleton takes lead vocal on a tune popularized by Brother Ray, a horn-fired, stop-time tale of a woman who stays out all night, and, thus, “You’ve Got A Problem.”  And, with Frankie Lee on the vocals and Steve “C” Cirkvencic on the wah-wah guitar, they pay tribute to Jimi, Buddy Miles, and, arguably, Nashville’s most famous bassist, Billy Cox with a slammin, “Message To Love.”

There just ain’t a bad cut on this album, fans, and we had three faves.  The set closes with one of Dave’s originals, a light-hearted romp about a mythical juke joint with “PBR in 12-ounce cans,” as Frankie sings, “I got a pocketful of money, and it’s Saturday Night,” with Gregg Wetzel on the honky-tonkin’ piano.  Gregg also wrote the cut sung here by the great Eddy Raven, “Congratulations, (I Suppose),” regarding a man who loses a lover and bows out gracefully, sorta!  It has that sweet, New Orleans-Fats Domino groove.  And, Amyl Justin rocks a tune that has a fine Delbert feel, about a man tore up over a whole bunch of different women, “What About Me!”  Gregg is on piano, and Jo-El Sonnier is all over the squeeze box!

That’s the cool thing about the music on “Rhythm Method”–many are inter-related even tho the styles in which they are presented are varied.  Hey–we got a shout-out in the liner notes, so come and sit a spell with us on June 30 at the Bourbon Street Blues And Boogie Bar  as the Rosedale  Revue proudly hold the release party for this fine, fine set!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Janiva Magness review…June 7, 2017….

JANIVA MAGNESS

BLUE AGAIN

BLUE ELAN/FATHEAD RECORDS  BER 1045

I CAN TELL–I LOVE YOU MORE THAN YOU’LL EVER KNOW–IF I CAN’T HAVE YOU–TIRED OF WALKING–BUCK–PACK IT UP

Janiva Magness is one of the most dynamic singers on the contemporary scene in any genre’, and the blues is most fortunate to have her within its ranks.  She has just released her thirteenth album overall, “Blue Again,” for Blue Elan’/Fathead Records.  Janiva intended for this EP to be a return to her roots, and it consists of six tunes from her favorite singers, from Freddie King to Nina Simone.  On board behind her are Zach Zunis and Garrett Deloian on guitars, Gary Davenport on bass, Arlan Schierbaum on keys, and Matt Tecu on drums.  They capture the sound and the feel she was looking for on each song.

Want a blues-beltin’ mama?  Janiva fills that bill with the leadoff strut of Bo Diddley’s “I Can Tell–you don’t love me no more,” with that tremolo guitar courtesy of David “Kid” Ramos.  She closes the set in the same manner, this time thru Freddie King’s “Pack It Up,” vowing to put a no-good lover “right outta my mind.”

She gets into her “torch” mode on the heart-on-her-sleeve tale of forever love, “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know,” then turns playful on the straight-up sexy “Buck,” made famous by Nina Simone, and featuring harp from T. J. Norton.  That sexy vibe runs thru our favorite, a cool reboot of a classic Chess duet from Etta James and Harvey Fuqua, “I don’t want nobody If I Can’t Have You,” with Sugaray Rayford as Janiva’s duet partner.

This set indeed takes the listener back to where Janiva Magness came from, musically.  Her voice is both powerful and playful, easily breathing a bluesy life into these favorites of hers that comprise “Blue Again.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

The Great Sadness review…June 4, 2017….

THE GREAT SADNESS

WEEP

ENOUGH–BLIND–DESERTER–BIRDMAN–TONIGHT–DESPERATE–NEVER–WONDERLAND–SUICIDE–UNDERGROUND

If you have ever wondered what would have happened if folks such as Jessie Mae Hemphill or Son House or any other of the Mississippi legends had been exposed to Black Sabbath or Metallica, then you get a pretty fair grip on what’s going down with The Great Sadness.  This Los Angeles-based duo consists of guitarist/vocalist Cathy Cooper and drummer Stephen McNeely.  Their debut is entitled “Weep,” ten originals that are rooted in the sounds of Mississippi, but venture out into heretofore rarely-heard excursions.

Cathy and Stephen took the primal beats of Nick Cave’s group, Birthday Party, and combined them with their own take on the “Delta-meets-Doomsday” approach to the blues.  Cathy’s guitar can stand up with the best of ’em, and her vocal style is unique, to say the least.  She is sho’ nuff a “screamer,” and the listener may feel as if they are in the midst of a death match between the Banshees and the Sirens as she wails these tunes.  Stephen’s drumming is the perfect complement to the Armageddon-esque feeling throughout, adding to the subject matter in most of the cuts of love, lust, angst, and murder.

 

“Birdman” details the story of a lover who “crash-landed into my arms,” and climaxes with Cathy’s primal scream of “may the skies turn black” giving way to a furious guitar break.  “Tonight” is a lust-filled plea for a lover to “hold me, love, tonight,” and, while “Suicide” deals with the absolute solution to a temporary problem, the fuzzed-out guitar climax practically begs a visit from ol’ Colin Clive to declare, “It’s Alive!”

Fans, if you are looking for three chords and a cloud of dust, this just ain’t it.  But, if you are bold enough to take a chance on a duo who will take you sonically to a place we guarantee that few have trod upon, then give a listen to The Great Sadness and “Weep.”  Until next time..Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.