Vanessa Peters review…October 8, 2018….

VANESSA PETERS

FOXHOLE PRAYERS

IDOL RECORDS

GET STARTED–BEFORE IT FALLS APART–FIGHT–LUCKY–THIS RIDDLE–FOXHOLE PRAYERS–JUST ONE OF THEM–CARNIVAL BARKER–TROLLS–WHAT YOU CAN’T OUTRUN

Dallas-based singer/songwriter Vanessa Peters ramps up her already plentiful creative talents and takes them to a new level on her latest release for Idol Records, “Foxhole Prayers.”  The ten originals included herein run the collective gamut, emotionally, from love, anger, empowerment, fighting back, and everything in between.  The funny thing about this whole set is that Vanessa always wanted to do an album based on the greed, lust, and excesses that accompanied Fitzgerald’s “Great Gatsby” era, but always thought it to be a bit too far-fetched.  However, given the sociopolitical divisiveness permeating the country, she felt the timing couldn’t be better.  Ok, readers, caveat time–Vanessa pulls no punches, so if you can’t stand the heat, get the Hell outta my kitchen–I believe I hear Hannity calling you.

Vanessa gets started with, er, um, “Get Started,” a philosophical look at the fleeting brevity of life, where we will eventually need “every second” featuring jangly guitar from Federico Ciancabilla.  “Fight” is a strong female empowerment anthem, urging people not to be afraid to “show your need,” and “bring ’em to their knees.”  An Armageddon-ish intro defines the title cut, which tackles the “sky falling all around us,” and “surrounded by this fear,” where prayer becomes our heroine’s last hope.

We had two favorites, too.  Name-checking the endless stream of talking heads and even the Teapot Dome Scandal, Vanessa warns us, as history has shown, “you get the circus if you vote for the clown,” filling their coffers at the expense of Main Street, USA.  “Trolls” follows, offering a sliver of hope for redemption, where “the bullies always lose, but it’ll take a long time to beat them.”

Vanessa Peters’ voice stands strong amidst a country struggling for its identity in “Foxhole Prayers.”  Along with powerful looks at the human condition in today’s society, she offers up some of the best protest songs from any of the current crop of contemporary artists.  Bravo!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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Jim Wyly review…October 7, 2018….

JIM WYLY

THE ARTISAN

MR. SNOWMAN–WILDMAN OF THE THICKET–SUDDENLY I’M SINGLE–NOBODY LIGHTS MY HEART LIKE YOU–I DON’T WANNA BE THERE–COYOTES OF LEGEND–RED WATER RIVER QUEEN–SOMEONE’S GONNA LOVE YOU–PLEASE NESSIE–YOU TOOK ME–THE ARTISAN

Jim Wyly has been crafting songs in and around the Austin area for the better part of forty years, and nobody can tell a story quite like Jim.  When we listened to him, we likened him to an older and way wiser version of John Mellencamp.  Figure it out for yourself thru his latest offering, “The Artisan.” Laid down at the King Electric Studios, Jim is on guitars and vocals, and he’s ably backed by another Texas legend with a recent album release of his own, Ray Bonneville, on the harp.  (Ray’s review can be found elsewhere within this forum.)

The arrangements are mostly bare-bones, giving Jim’s vocals and lyrical content to shine through.  Jim Wyly is Everyman, and we are all him, at least in some point in our lives.  Witness the poor guy who never saw it coming in “Suddenly, I’m Single,” with Javier Chaparro on that lonesome fiddle.  He comes home to “new locks on the door” and “all my things scattered on the lawn,” as he catches a cheatin’ lover in the arms of another man in the poignant “I Don’t Wanna Be There when she gets home.”  Ray’s on the harp on the tale of winning and losing it all on one roll down at the “Red Water River Queen,” where “she picks it all up and takes it away.”

Jim plays two pieces that are literally the stuff of legends.  First up, the “Wildman Of The Thicket,” “down in East Texas where the mystery flows,” has a Bigfoot mystique about him, while Jim pleads for the return to the surface of the legendary Loch Ness Monster, to forever solve the story, in “Please, Nessie.”

As one can ascertain from these stories in song, Jim Wyly’s characters sho’ nuff have kicked some booty in their day, but they’ve taken some licks, as well.  They’ve been badly bent but never broke, and are miraculously still standing.  Jim himself states it best in “The Artisan,” where, perhaps the greatest gift of all these folks is humility.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Alright Alright review…October 6, 2018…

ALRIGHT ALRIGHT

NEARBY

HOOVES AND SUGAR RECORD CO.

LITTLE GIRLS, LITTLE BIRDS–THE LIAR–TOO MUCH–WHISPER YOUR NAME–GULF COAST HIGHWAY–BE KIND–BY THE BED–LUCKIEST GIRL IN AMERICA–MY JESUS CARRIES ME

Alright Alright features the collective talents of the husband-wife duo Seth and China Kent.  China is a classically-trained pianist who studied at Vanderbilt, while guitarist Seth is known for his work with Denver-based band The Fray.  They have combined their considerable chops on their first full-length album, “Nearby,” for  Hooves And Sugar Record Co.  China is on vocals, keys, and the string arrangements, while Seth is on vocals and guitars.  The songs are written with both Seth and China as the subjects, albeit some more than others.

The set begins with an open, honest song of empowerment, with China’s lilting vocals front and center on “Little Girls, Little Birds,”  She reprises that theme a bit later in the set with an ode to “manifest destiny,” “The Luckiest Girl In America.”  This one has become a crowd favorite at their live shows, given the current state of the nation’s affairs.  Our heroine wistfully searches for answers from a lover in the old-time, bluegrass-gospel feel of “Too Much,” and they close the set with the song we chose as our favorite.  Both take vocal turns on a shout-out to the One that feeds the sparrow, vowing to weather the storms of life, that, in time, give up their fury, in “My Jesus Carries Me.”

Although China and Seth come from quite varied musical backgrounds, they make the concept of Alright Alright work.  Excellent harmonies, musicianship, and powerful material make “Nearby” a brilliant excursion in folk and Americana!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne review…October 5, 2018….

KENNY “BLUES BOSS” WAYNE

INSPIRED BY THE BLUES

STONY PLAIN RECORDS   SPCD 1401

I KNEW I’D BE PLAYING THE BLUES–START ROCKIN–HOW ‘BOUT THAT–I LIKE THAT WOMAN–JIMMY AND JOHNNY–MAKE UP YOUR MIND–LAKE COUNTRY BOOGIE–MR. BLUEBERRY HILL–AN OLD BRICK WALL–THAT GIRL NEEDS HELP–THAT RAGGEDY SHACK–GEORGIA ON MY MIND (LIVE BONUS TRACK)

One of the big reasons we enjoy Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne’s piano-based boogie-blues is the sheer joy he gets from playing and singing, and that joy carries over onto his recordings.  He always wanted to record an album in tribute to two of his piano heroes who have, sadly, passed on, namely Ray Charles and Fats Domino. That time has come with the release of his latest for Stony Plain, “Inspired By The Blues.”  Along for this sweet ride, we have Duke Robillard guesting on guitar, Billy Branch on the harp, and B. B.’s long-time bassist, Russell Jackson.

Folks, this set is chock-full of favorites.  Leading off is Kenny’s autobiographical tune of being “brought up in church,” but, somehow he “Knew I’d Be Playing The Blues,” with Billy Branch on harp.  Kenny utilizes a horn section on a jumpin’ tune with a heavy Fats feel, “Start Rockin.”  Kenny shows his way with a lyric on the story of “Jimmy And Johnny,” and the girl who nearly implodes a lifelong friendship.  It features a cool trumpet break from Bob Tildesley, and backing vocals from guest Lynne Chwyl.

Another one of Kenny’s influences was Amos Milburn, and he gets in that “down the road apiece” groove down at “That Raggedy Shack,” where you can “eat your chicken while you drink your beer!”

Our last two favorites literally set the tone for the whole album.   A beautiful, reverential read of “Georgia On My Mind” was recorded live in Mexico, and shows Kenny’s love for the music of Brother Ray.  And, “Mr. Blueberry Hill” is done up in that unmistakable Imperial Records style, and Fats is “where the wind and willows blow, on Blueberry Hill.”  It, too, is a timeless ode to the legacy of the Fat Man.

Currently, Kenny Wayne makes his home base in Kelowna, British Columbia, but good luck finding him there.  He’s constantly touring both stateside and in Canada, and his fans can’t get enough of that two-fisted boogie-woogie approach to his music.  He’s definitely been “Inspired By The Blues!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Midnite Johnny review…October 3, 2018….

MIDNITE JOHNNY

LONG ROAD HOME

MOSHER STREET RECORDS   PLP 1850

YOUR NEW OCCUPATION–SLOW BURN INSIDE–CRAZY MAMA–LONG ROAD HOME–LOOKIN GOOD–TIRED OF FOOLIN AROUND–ALL THE BLUES–MOTELS, WHISKEY, AND ME–BETCHA BY NOW–BABY BATTER–HEARD THAT ONE BEFORE–KEY TO THE HIGHWAY–OUTTA TIME–THAT’S ALL YOU GONNA GET–LONG ROAD HOME (ACOUSTIC)

Guitarist Midnite Johnny (Morana) was long a mainstay of the south Florida blues scene,  and, since his relocation to the UK, virtually the whole round blues world knows he’s here!  His latest set is the aptly-titled “Long Road Home,” thirteen originals and one cover that shows his penchant for blues, rock, and roots music.  With a style of playing rooted in that of the masters, he opens the set with a favorite, the infectious boogie of his lover’s “New Occupation–makin’ a fool outta me!”  A fine, jazzy, slow-blues cut might well play out Johnny’s life as a road-warrior bluesman, for, sometimes, all that’s left is “Motels, Whiskey,And Me!”  Johnny hits a strong Clapton-inspired vibe on a tune to which we can all relate, as Steve Zoyes’ acoustic piano rides over Johnny’s shout-out to all his debtors, “I can’t give what I ain’t got, and that’s All You’re Gonna Get!”

Johnny covers two standards in his own inimitable way, too. His slide guitar is the catalyst on an uptempo read of J. J. Cale’s “Crazy Mama,” while Big Bill’s “Key To The Highway” is presented in the spirit in which it was written–Johnny’s vocal and guitar only.

We had two other favorites, too.  “Long Road Home” digs on a Muddy groove, with a rollin’, tumblin slide, as our hero proclaims he “coulda had religion, but bad luck and whiskey would not let me pray!”  The set closes with this song presented in an entirely different light–it is done in an acoustic setting complete with a string section, and becomes an ethereal, almost reverential, beautiful ending to this album.

Midnite Johnny has won over legions of fans “on both sides of the Pond!”  His may have been a “Long Road Home,”  but,we believe he’d say it’s all been worth the ride!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Geoff Achison review….October 1, 2018….

GEOFF ACHISON

SOVEREIGN TOWN

LANDSLIDE RECORDS  GRA CD 20

SKELETON KISS–MINIATURE MEN–WALK AWAY–SOVEREIGN TOWN–WANDSWORTH BRIDGE–MISHA BELLA–SMALL TOWN CRIME–WORLD OF BLUE–SLEEPWALKING–HAND OF FAITH–RESCUE THE PAST–COOLBARDIE SUNRISE

Guitarist/composer Geoff Achison’s latest set for Landslide Records has a decided historical bent to it.  Entitled “Sovereign Town,” its eleven originals and one Ben Harper cover trace the gold rush era of 1850 in the state of Victoria, AU.  The set was actually recorded at the Pilgrimage Studio in Ballarat, AU, to add to its authenticity.  Herein, Geoff recalls memories from his childhood, growing up in the Malmsbury region amidst the still-prevalent abandoned mine shafts and tunnels.

The brave souls who set out on this quest for riches had no idea the pitfalls that they would face, but gave their all to meet the challenge.  The songs were intended for small combo presentation, thus Geoff is on vocals and guitar, Dave Clark is on drums, Andrew Fry is on doghouse bass, Liam Kealy is on Hammond, and backing vocalist on three cuts is John McNamara.  “Miniature Men” laments a long-lost friendship, and our hero ponders, “I wonder what you’d think of it all,” years down the road.  Geoff’s cover of Ben Harper’s “Walk Away” features Liam’s Hammond as Geoff admits to the daily grind of missing that one who “puts the happi-in-my-ness!”  The title cut finds our hero “seven months since I staked my claim,” and all he knows is “where the gold ain’t!”  Our favorite was “Wandsworth Bridge,” with its Garcia-esque guitar lines and the promise to his lover to be “home by Valentine’s Day,” portraying the eternal optimist.    And, anywhere you have men in search of treasure, you’ll always have an abundance of “Small Town Crime.”  Geoff brings the vocal portion of the set to a close with some sage advice–“a new generation can’t Rescue The Past,” fueled by a nice slide solo at the break.

Geoff Achison takes the listeners back into the history books with his brilliant look at the boom/bust of the gold rush days from 1850’s Australia.  “Sovereign Town” continues his penchant for the unique in contemporary blues, setting him apart from the usual suspects of the genre’.  This is a fine set honoring those who sacrificed all for the power of gold!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

September Sunday Nights With Susan Angeletti…September 30, 2018…..

SUSAN ANGELETTI

THINGS YOU THROW AWAY

TOO FAR–BLUE HIGHWAY–NEXT YEAR’S MODEL OF THE BLUES–THE THINGS YOU THROW AWAY–HALF MOON–STICK AROUND–RUEBAN’S TRAIN–LITTLE THINGS–DOMINO–INTO THE FLAME–DON’T WANT YOUR LOVE–LOVE YOU LIKE A WOMAN

Our final installment of September Sunday Nights With Susan Angeletti features a review of her debut CD, “Things You Throw Away.”  For this collection, Susan teamed up with guitarist/producer John Sheldon to write or co-write the originals, which run the gamut from heart-on-her-sleeve love songs to playful, bluesy toe-tappers.

Leading off, we find our heroine a true damsel-in-distress, literally “all tied up and I can’t get loose” from bad relationships, and, ultimately realizes “I’ve come Too Far to turn back now.”  John’s guitar goes into B. B. mode over Susan’s vocal on the title cut, where that love you throw away will “come back and haunt you some day.”  She gets into a soulful, struttin’ groove with the breezy “Half Moon,” and duets with John on a story of two embattled lovers who are headed for trouble because they “can’t do the Little Things any more” to keep things afloat!  And, she closes the set by putting on her pink Tina Turner-inspired stilettos (yep–she’s sho’ nuff got a pair, and you can check ’em out on her Facebook page!) for the funky story of trying to cope with yet another finicky lover, vowing to “Love You Like A Woman, but fight you like a man!”

Her playful side brings us to our favorite, and it’s a good one.  Done as an all-acoustic number, Susan and John again portray the bickering lovers in “Stick Around,” where our heroine plies him with the promises of “good lovin,” but he inexplicably prefers to stay “in the garage playin’ with his hot rod!”  (In his defense, tho, it IS a 1957 Chevy!)

Susan Angeletti’s big, soulful-that’s-wrapped-up-in-a-bow-of-blues voice got her start with “Things You Throw Away.”  We anxiously await new material from Susan, and urge all our readers to visit susanangeletti.net and pick up some of her fabulous music!  This has been a labor of love for us, and we thank you, Susan, for sharing your music for this humble blog.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.