Kara Grainger review…June 1, 2018….

KARA GRAINGER

LIVING WITH YOUR GHOST

STATION HOUSE RECORDS   SHR 0101

LIVING WITH YOUR GHOST–WORKING MY WAY BACK HOME–MAN WITH SOUL–NOWHERE TO BE FOUND–YOU’RE IN NEW ORLEANS–GROOVE TRAIN–REASON TO MY VERSE–BROKEN RECORD–FAVORITE SIN–NOBODY BUT YOU–LOVE WILL GET YOU THROUGH THE DOOR–FREEDOM SONG

Kara Grainger is another world-traveling blueswoman, spreading the good word of the blues everywhere she goes.  From her beginnings in the town of Balmain, Sydney, Austrlia, she and her slide guitar have brought joy to fans as far away as Japan, India, Germany, the UK, here in the USA, and many other places.  Last year, she headed to Austin to write the songs that now comprise her latest set for Station House Records, “Living With Your Ghost.” While in Austin, she connected with fellow guitarist Anders Osborne, who served as co-producer, and who adds guitar and vocals, with Ivan Neville on keys.

Leading off is Kara’s poignant story of “Living With Your Ghost,” and a lifetime of regret, when that one special love gets away, never to return.  She lets that incredible slide guitar do the talking in a story full of “sweet temptation,” offered those who spend their careers on the road, bringing joy to others, and now our heroine is “Working My Way Back Home!”

You can put on your dancin’ shoes, too, and “let your body roam,” when you get on board the “Groove Train,” which features the Texas Horns and Kara layin’ down some mean wah-wah.  And, a tune that encourages peace and unity urges us all to use that love to ensure entering into Heaven, where “Love Will Get You Through The Door.”

We had two favorites, too.   A pounding beat and Kara’s guitar lines are used to describe a lover who’s the literal “smoking gun” and her “Favorite Sin!”  Anders Osborne adds guitar and duet vocals on the breezy, light-hearted look at just how laid-back things are in The Big Easy, “You’re In New Orleans!”

Kara Grainger is a beautifully-talented artist who is woefully-under-recorded.  However, this sweet set, “Living With Your Ghost,” is a fine remedy for now.  Blues sister, please hurry back into the studio, ok?  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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Tas Cru review…June 8, 2018….

TAS CRU

MEMPHIS SONG

SUBCAT RECORDS  0118

HEAL MY SOUL–MEMPHIS SONG–FOOL FOR THE BLUES–GIVE A LITTLE UP–DADDY DIDN’T GIVE YOU MUCH–HAVE A DRINK–THAT LOOK–ONE EYED JACK–QUEEN OF HEARTS–DON’T LIE TO THAT WOMAN–FEEL SO GOOD–CAN’T GET OVER BLUES

Guitarist/vocalist/composer Tas Cru is a consummate blues poet, creating natural hooks in his songs with ease.  For him, it’s always been about the songs, and his latest release, for Subcat Records, entitled “Memphis Song,” is a shout-out to one of his (and our) favorite cities, the Blues Mecca for fans and artists alike.  All twelve cuts are originals, two co-written by Tas and duet vocalist and vocal arranger Mary Ann Casale.

The fun begins down at the Church of the Blues, where, whether you’re down at the river, out on the ocean, or up on the mountain, you’re never too far away for the music to “Heal Your Soul,” which features Dick Earl Ericksen on the harp.  The title cut is the Siren’s call to “come on home and sing your Memphis Song,” to all those captivated by this beautiful music, and piano is courtesy of Victor Wainwright, and slide guitar is from Pat Harrington.  A funky duet with Mary Ann seems to have the answers to all of society’s problems, if we’d all be able just to “Give A Little Up, everybody give a little.”

We had two favorites, too.  You can tell your woman her “behind is too big,” and even “steal money from her purse,” as long as you don’t commit the Eighth Deadly Sin—“Don’t You Lie To That Woman–you won’t live long!”  And, a shot of piano-rockin call-and-response boogie-woogie tells us all to “raise a glass and Have A Little Drink to the blues!”

With Tas Cru, you can always count on killer songs and a good time to be had by all.  So, let the good times roll, drink it by the gallon or drink it by the quart, and always sing your “Memphis Song!”   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Dustin Douglas And The Electric Gentlemen review…June 9, 2018….

DUSTIN DOUGLAS AND THE ELECTRIC GENTLEMEN

BREAK IT DOWN

QUAD-O RECORDS  1000-1

A LITTLE BIT–DESTINY–ON THE DANCE FLOOR–TURN AROUND–GOODBYE–HOLD OF ME–MY TIME IS PRECIOUS–AIN’T NO DENYIN’–OUT OF MY MIND–FAT CAT–YOUR FACE IS STUNNING–TRAGEDY–NO MORE TEARS TO CRY

Dustin Douglas And The Electric Gentlemen hail from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and this power trio, consisting of Dustin on guitar and vocals, Tommy Smallcomb on drums, and Matt Gabriel on bass, take classic blues-rock to an exciting new level.  With these thirteen originals, laid down at the Eight Days A Week Studios in Northumberland, PA, fans, the groove is indeed the thing!  Yep, these cuts are full of just plain “riff-o-riffic” guitar lines and solid propulsion from the rhythm section.  Heck–this thing doesn’t slow down until roughly the halfway point, and then only for just a bit.

Leading off, the funk’s the thang on the struttin’ tale that has Dustin asking for “A Little Bit” of “bass, drums, and whiskey,” to “show you just what I can do!”  “On The Dance Floor” opens with solo acoustic guitar before blasting off into the stratosphere, as Dustin vows to take his lover to heretofore-unreached peaks, from “the early morning until the dark of night!”  “My Time Is Precious” is another stone slab of funk, while the chunka-chunka rhythm of “Fat Cat” finds our hero on the prowl, for there’s “so many pussycats, so little time.”

Our favorite was a take on traditional love stories that go horribly wrong, recounting Adam and Eve, Romeo and Juliet, and Jack and Rose of the Titanic epic.  Set over a staccato rhythm pattern, it is entitled, simply, and aptly, “Tragedy.”

Dustin Douglas And The Electric Gentlemen hit you right in the gut with a heavy dose of grit and swagger from the opening note.  It’s no wonder that their live shows are the stuff of legends, and you can dig it for yourselves by checking out “Break It Down!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Mike Aiken review…June 6, 2018….

MIKE AIKEN

WAYWARD TROUBADOUR

NORTHWIND RECORDS   NW-1553-18

EVERYTHING CHANGED–NASHVILLE SKYLINE–HANGOVER HELPER–TWO LANE HIGHWAY–TRAVELIN’ BONE–REAL MEAN DOG–HARD WORKING WORKING GIRL–A LITTLE LAZY IN YOUR LIFE–DEAD MAN RUNS BEFORE HE WALKS–PENELOPE–CHESAPEAKE

Wayward troubadour?  Mike Aiken is one, sho’ nuff.  He ran away from home at a young age to pursue his musical dreams, along the way becoming a licensed Captain in the U. S. Coast Guard and logging some 30000 miles in his own sailboat.  So, it stands to reason that he would name his latest album “Wayward Troubadour,” on Northwind Records.  He delightfully brings us fans along for this journey, which is the highly-anticipated follow-up to his last album, the Grammy-nominated “Captains And Cowboys.”  Eight of the eleven cuts are originals, six being co-writes with Mike and several notable songcrafters.  As for sidemen, it’s tough to beat a lineup that includes Kenny Vaughan, Dave Roe, Ben Probus, Tom Hurst, Michael Webb, and a host of others.

The cuts lend themselves to traditional country with touches of blues, roots, and even a shot of rockabilly.  The party starts on a two-step note, with Ben’s fiddle adding the spice to Mike’s story of falling in love with that special one, where “Everything Changed.”  They keep that groove going for a jazzy, laid-back and light-hearted look at life at a slower pace, “you gotta have a Little Lazy In Your Life.”  Mike wrote “Nashville Skyline” with Chris P. James, who is on duet vocal, about traveling the world over and always looking forward to getting home to “that 615.”  Mike takes a couple of humorous looks at love and life, too.  First up, when you’ve partied too hard and the next day “everything hurts,” just go to Google and look for a “Hangover Helper.”  And, nothin’ could be worse than having your lover leave you with “A Real Mean Dog, who hates me ’cause she’s gone, and hates me ’cause I’m near,” with Amy Aiken on duet vocals.

Our favorites had deep ties to the blues.  First up, the somber tale of a woman doing whatever she can to survive is the story of that “Hard Working Working Girl.”  And, a song written by Mark Collie and Shawn Camp is the Delta-fied account of a prison break and the subsequent hellhounds on the trail of the escapees, “Dead Man Runs Before He Walks.”

This recording process began in Austin in 2016, and migrated eastward to Leiper’s Fork, TN, before concluding in Deep Creek, VA.  All throughout, Mike Aiken surrounded himself with fellow artists who knew the sound he was trying to achieve.  Indeed, “Wayward Troubadour” is not only a fitting title, but was well-worth the wait!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Deb Ryder review…June 5, 2018…

DEB RYDER

ENJOY THE RIDE

VIZZTONE RECORDS  VTDR-04

A STORM’S COMING–TEMPORARY INSANITY–BRING THE WALLS DOWN–NOTHIN’ TO LOSE–FOR THE LAST TIME–WHAT YOU WANT FROM ME–ENJOY THE RIDE–GOT TO LET IT GO–LIFE FAST FORWARD–SWEET SWEET LOVE–GOODBYE BABY–FOREVER YOURS–RED LINE

Deb Ryder’s fourth album, “Enjoy The Ride” might just be her best all-around set to date.  It is thirteen of her own originals, produced by Tony Braunagel and Ric Ryder, and covers a variety of styles and genres’, all the while offering a message of peace and unity.  She does so with a little help from her friends, in the form of a host of special guests.

Deb opens the proceedings with a call to society to let everybody know that “A Storm’s Coming, there’s dark clouds in the sky.”  It features Coco Montoya on fire-and-brimstone guitar, too.  Eli Fletcher is on guitar for Deb’s look at a love so powerful it causes her to plead “Temporary Insanity,” with Pieter Van Der Pluijm on harp.  She closes the set with a Delta-infused plea for us all to realize the frailty and brevity of life, “Red Line,” where “it’s too late when the well runs dry.”

We had three favorites, too.  Both Big Llou Johnson and Van G. Garrett offer keen spoken-word interludes on a song imploring people to “build bridges of love, not walls of hate,” “Bring The Walls Down,” with Chris Cain on guitar.  A person beset by addiction lives at the “corner of Loss and Pain,” and, yes, the “light at the end of the tunnel is a train,” “Nothin’ To Lose,” with Pieter again on harp.  And, Biblical references to the stories of David, Moses, and Daniel is set over that cool Diddley  beat and attempts to answer “What You Want From Me, Lord?”

Deb Ryder uses that big, bold, brassy and multi-faceted voice of hers to help us fans look toward the future and a reassurance that better days have to be on the horizon.  So, lie back, relax, and “Enjoy The Ride!”   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Dany Franchi review…June 4, 2018……

DANY FRANCHI

PROBLEM CHILD

STATION HOUSE RECORDS  SHR  0100

BACK TO THE RIVER–GIVE ME A SIGN–BIG TOWN PLAYBOY–REAL LOVE–RUN AROUND–YOU DON’T WANT ME–DON’T STEAL MY TIME–SEN-SA-SHUN–MY ONLY ONE–BIG KIND-HEARTED WOMAN–EVERYTHING GONNA BE ALRIGHT–WANNA KNOW–PROBLEM CHILD

Guitarist Dany Franchi was born in Genoa, Italy, in 1990, and has blown up into one of the hottest young players in the world today.  Already a veteran of two prior albums and a globe-trotting festival favorite, Dany joins forces with producer Anson Funderburgh and assistant producer “Andy T” Talamantez,  for “Problem Child,” a brilliant collection of ten of Dany’s originals and three cool covers fueled by his intense playing and authentic vocals.

The set opens with the venerable Jim Pugh on keys as Dany vows that he’s “goin’ back to Memphis, where we should be,” “Back To The River.”  This one features Anson on guitar over the last half of the song.  He gets into a solid Chicago groove with the good-times of “Big Town Playboy,” with Greg Izor on the harp.  A bit later, Dany takes everybody down to the West Cide to honor Otis Rush, Sam Maghett, and the other legends from that part of town with a killer take on “Everything Gonna Be Alright.”  And, to be a true torch-bearer for the future of the blues, you gotta know its past, and Dany is all over Freddie King’s “Sen-Sa-Shun.”

Dany is a fine songwriter, too.  “Don’t Steal My Time” is a cool stop-time blues that features Andy T. on rhythm guitar, as Dany rocks the single-note leads throughout this swingin’ gem.  He lets some Delta roots shine thru, too, on his original that closes the set, the pounding, percussive title cut, “Problem Child,” again with Anson on second guitar.

We had two favorites, too.  Anson and Andy T. have had a measure of success in recordings they have released featuring vocals from Alabama Mike and the late, great James “Nick” Nixon.  They have made excellent use of Dany’s soulful vocal style, punched up by the horn section, and Jim’s keyboard work.  They have that vintage R & B “feel” that can’t be copied—it has to come from the heart.  There are two such cuts herein.  The first finds our hero bemoaning a lover who is always just out of reach, “You Don’t Want Me.”  The other is a blistering roadhouse rocker that gives Dany a chance to let loose on guitar, as he’s on the prowl for a hook-up,  “baby, Give Me A Sign.”

Dany Franchi is full of fire and fury in his playing and singing, and has an “old soul” when it comes to writing.  Anson and Andy T. have done a great job  in bringing out the best this young guitar-slinger has to offer with “ProblemChild.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Bob Corritore And Friends review…June 3, 2018….

BOB CORRITORE AND FRIENDS

DON’T LET THE DEVIL RIDE

VIZZTONE RECORDS

SOUTHWEST MUSICAL ARTS FOUNDATION  SWMAF-12

WENT HOME THIS MORNING–TELL ME MAMA–THE GLIDE–LAUNDROMAT BLUES–FORK IN THE ROAD–LOVEY DOVEY LOVEY ONE–DON’T LET THE DEVIL RIDE–WILLIE MAE–STEAL YOUR JOY–I WAS A FOOL–BLUES WHY YOU WORRY ME–THUNDERING AND RAINING

Bob Corritore continues to be one of the finest harp players on the scene today.  He’s recorded with the likes of Dave Riley and John Primer, as well as having released an album of all harp instrumentals a few years back.  Blues fans are the winners again with his latest set for Vizztone, Records, “Don’t Let The Devil Ride.”  On these twelve cuts, there is an added treat–Bob is paired with a veritable Who’s Who In The Blues as far as guest vocalists and sidemen go, and this one is as good as it gets.  Bob and his best friends serve up some of the finest blues it has been our pleasure to review lately, with such a plethora of talent in one set.  These cuts were laid down over nine different sessions from 2014 to 2017.  OK–let’s play some blues….

Leading off is the ol’ Cell Phone Man himself, Wilie Buck, with one of his originals, “Went Home This Morning, I found my baby gone!”  Sugaray Rayford and Bob get into a loping, Jimmy Reed-ish groove on the humorous tale of that “three-legged horse they call The Glide!”  Alabama Mike is on vocals, and Big Jon Atkinson is on guitar on the slow-smoked story of the “Laundromat Blues,” with Bob workin’ that big ol’ chromatic.  Mike returns for the vocals on the spooky title cut, with its nods to the devil and the Crossroads.  Bill “Howl’N’ Madd” Perry adds vocal on the rapid-fire Fifties-style groove of “Willie Mae,” and Bob and old friend Tail Dragger close the set with the story of a storm brewing on the horizon, “Thundering And Raining,” with piano from the iconic Henry Gray, and guitar from another of our friends, Rockin’ Johnny Burgin.

Henry brings the piano heat on our favorite, too.  Oscar Wilson of the Cash Box Kings is the vocalist as Bob lays down the galloping groove of “Tell Me Mama, when I came in, who went out that back door?”

Ol’ Tail Dragger put it best–“tornado’s coming,” and it’s Bob Corritore blowing up a storm on a harp fest that brings together many of the best players on the planet.  Pour yourself a cold one and enjoy some fine, low-down and down-home blues, “Don’t Let The Devil Ride.”  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.