Bees Deluxe review…November 4, 2019..

BEES DELUXE

MOUTHFUL OF BEES

SLAPPING CAT RECORDS  SLAPCD 020

VOODOO DOLL–DAMN YOUR EYES–PRISON OF LOVE–BAD INFLUENCE–WALKING OUT–I WOULDN’T TREAT A DOG (THE WAY YOU TREATED ME)–FOR THE LOVE OF A WOMAN–HOMEWORK–PALACE OF THE KING–BLUE AND YELLOW

Boston’s “most notorious band,” Bees Deluxe, spent the summer of 2019 driving from Maine to Florida, gigging all the way along the Eastern seaboard.  At the tour’s conclusion, the band retreated to the studio to commit some of their stage material to tape,  Their last album was of all-original material, so guitarist/vocalist Conrad Warre thought it might be a good idea to cut some fan and band favorites, several of which are covers. The result is entitled “Mouthful Of Bees,” and features, along with Conrad, Carol Band on vocals, keys, and harp, Allyn Dorr on vocals and bass, and Paul Giovine on drums.

The set starts with a hoodoo vibe, as our hero’s scorned lover got a lock of his hair and a ball of wax, making a “Voodoo Doll,” and cutting him off at the knees, literally!  Next up, she’s still got him under her control, contrary to his beliefs, in the jazzy, “Damn Your Eyes, takin’ my breath away!”  One of our favorites was a song made popular by Robert Cray.  Yep–she’s nothin’ but bad news, and our hero’s getting rid of her “Bad Influence.”  This one is set over a Dire Straits-ish arrangement.   Another favorite is the fast-paced “Walking Out,” finally “glad we called it quits,” and features some of Conrad’s most torrid guitar work!   We had two more favorites, both a couple of cool old-school covers.  First up is the stuttering stop-time of Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac original, “I can’t do my Homework any more!”  The other was penned by John Mayall as a tribute to Freddie King.  It’s built around Freddie traveling abroad, and his longing to get back to Dallas and “The Palace Of The King.”

Bees Deluxe were still riding the high of that whirlwind summer 2019 tour when they laid down the unique arrangements that characterize the excellent material contained in “Mouthful Of Bees!”  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Johnny Rawls review…November 3, 2019….

JOHNNY RAWLS

I MISS OTIS CLAY

THIRD STREET CIGAR RECORDS

CALIFORNIA SHAKING AGAIN–GIVE A TOAST TO THE BLUES–I MISS OTIS CLAY–I CAN’T LET NOBODY–CAN’T READ YOUR MIND–GIVING YOU SOMETHING YOU CAN FEEL–SLOW ROLL IT–MOTION OF THE OCEAN–KISSING AND HUGGING–THE WIND

Otis Clay was one of the great soul men of our generation.  Felled much too soon by a heart attack on January 8, 2016, his secular recordings, such as “Trying To Live My Life Without You,” later popularized by Bob Seger, and “That’s How It Is (When You’re In Love),” as well as his vast gospel repertoire, made him an endearing vocalist to legions of fans.  One of his best friends is still a powerful and viable force in contemporary blues, Johnny Rawls.  For Johnny’s latest set for Third Street Cigar Records, he opted not to just re-create Otis’ works, but, rather, to write ten original songs that offer a heartfelt tribute to his friend, “I Miss Otis Clay.” The cuts are in no way mournful, and are presented in the vintage soul-blues style for which Johnny is noted, and that would make Otis proud.

The set opens with a thumping, dance floor burner that is an ode to the recent West Coast earthquakes, “California Shaking Again.”  Set over a funky guitar from Larry Gold, Johnny urges us all to lift a glass and “Give A Toast To The Blues,” name-checking legends both past and present. One of our favorites also happens to be one of Johnny’s, too.  “I Can’t Let Nobody take you away from me” is a shout-out to all us lovers devoted to one another for the long haul.

We had two favorites, too.  The set closes with the thought-provoking tale of Johnny wishing he could “be The Wind, to blow my troubles away.”  Our other favorite was the title cut.  It was recorded live from a recent trip to Copenhagen, and encapsulates Johnny’s deep love and respect for Otis Clay and his vast talents.

Johnny Rawls is not about to slow down.  Always in the conversation when Awards time rolls around, he loves what he does, and that passion shows up in the grooves of his recordings.  “I Miss Otis Clay” continues this great soul man’s living legacy.  Johnny, we love you, man!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Rockin’ Johnny Burgin review…November 2, 2019….

ROCKIN JOHNNY BURGIN

LIVE

DELMARK RECORDS  DE 858

YOU GOT TO MAKE A CHANGE–CAN’T MAKE IT BLUES–SHE GAVE ME THE SLIP–YOU’RE MY TRINKET–THE LEADING BRAND–I GOT TO FIND ME A WOMAN–LATE NIGHT DATE NIGHT–YOU TOOK THE BAIT–DADDY’S GOT THE PERSONAL TOUCH–LOUISIANA WALK–BLUES FALLING–CALIFORNIA BLUES–WHEN THE BLUESMAN COMES TO TOWN–JODY’S JAZZ

Rockin’ Johnny Burgin has been one of our favorites since his recording career began, back in the Nineties in Chicago when he cut “Straight Outta Chicago” for Delmark Records.  In 2016, he followed Nat King Cole’s advice and motored west, catching on with the lively contemporary scene in the Frisco-San Jose region, also home to guitarist Kid Andersen.  Johnny always preferred playing in front of a crowd, and on January 5, 2019, he did just that, at the Redwood Cafe in Cotati, CA.  The tapes were rolling, and the exquisite results are his latest release for Delmark, “Live.”

This set is fourteen cuts, ten of which are Johnny’s originals and co-writes, and features guests Charlie Musselwhite on harp, Nancy Wright on sax, and Portland, OR, powerhouse Rae Gordon on vocals on four cuts.  The show kicks off with Aki Kumar on harp on the shufflin’, scufflin’, “You Got To Make A Change.”  Next up is a classic, West Side slow-blues jam, recalling the sounds of Magic Sam and Jimmy Dawkins, with Johnny havin’ those “Can’t Make It Blues.”  His playing is passionate and soulful, as is his singing.  One of our favorites has always been Earl Hooker’s instrumental,  “The Leading Brand,” and, on this one, Johnny, Kid, and Aki make it a sweet ride, indeed.

Blues-beltin’ mama Rae Gordon steps to the mic for four great vocals, including the playful duet with Johnny, “Got To Find Me A Woman,” and the rhumba-groovin’ good time of “Daddy’s Got The Personal Touch,” with Nancy Wright on sax.  Our other favorite was one of Johnny’s originals, dealing with his westward travels.  “California Blues” has Charlie Musselwhite on harp.  It begins with a slow intro, then busts out all over the place, and features Kid on piano for this mighty fine, rockin’ road trip!

Johnny Burgin makes like Mr. Chesterfield and sho’ nuff satisfies your blues Jones with this brilliant “Live” set!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Tokyo Tramps review…November 1, 2019….

TOKYO TRAMPS

IF I DIE TOMORROW

VAGABOND ENTERTAINMENT TT50398

FLOWING WATER–IF I DIE TOMORROW–WHY–WOMAN–BLUEBIRD–MISTY FOREST–BETY’S KITCHEN–TALKING TO SOMEONE–MYSTERY MAN–REPROBATES, TRAMPS, AND SAINTS–LOVIN’ MAN–(BONUS TRACKS)–WINTER ALWAYS TURNS TO SPRING–BLUES IN MY BLOOD

We first became acquainted with the Tokyo Tramps thru their contributions within the NoiseTrade community.  With seven albums over a career that has spanned twenty years, the husband-and-wife team of Satoru Nakagawa, who is on vocals and guitars, and Yukiko Fujii on vocals, bass, and keys, moved from Japan to the U. S. to pursue music, meeting by chance in Boston.  The Tramps are rounded out by drummer/vocalist Tim Carman, and their latest album is entitled “If I Die Tomorrow,” produced by Peter Parcek and Ducky Carlisle, who adds additional percussion.

The set has numerous highlights.  The band combines conventional contemporary rock sounds with the traditions of the blues, making this a unique listening experience, indeed.

That contemporary sound leads off with a story of the deep passion our lovers have for one another, “like Flowing Water.”  The title cut has an eerie, voodoo-ish vibe in the vein of Hendrix, while Yukiko takes the lead vocal on “Why,” dealing with the disappointments throughout life.  They get their funk on with the band’s autobiography of sorts, “Betty’s Kitchen,” detailing Satoru’s immigration, “livin’ on Calhoun Street in New Orleans!”

As the set draws near its climax, the band’s love for traditional, Delta-influenced sounds surfaces.  Dig one of our favorites, the Elmore James slide-influenced boogie of “Reprobates, Tramps, And Saints,” all “having a party after the sun goes down!”  The set closes with our other favorite, a romp from Memphis down Highway 61 “haunted by the ghosts of Robert Johnson and more,” the excellent duet that is “Blues In My Blood.”

The Tokyo Tramps went thru a lot of personal struggles during the making of “If I Die Tomorrow.”  That said, they finally achieved the sound they were seeking, and declared it to be the best record in their catalogue.  See for yourself just how great a set it is!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Biscuit Miller And The Mix review…October 31, 2019…

BISCUIT MILLER AND THE MIX

CHICKEN GREASE

AMERICAN SHOWPLACE MUSIC

HERE KITTY KITTY–609–LONELY ROAD–TWO LEGGED DOG–CHICKEN GREASE–WATCHING YOU–TAKE A RIDE–SOUTHERN WOMAN–CREEPING–GET READY

Bass man, vocalist, and composer Biscuit Miller sho’nuff won the Blues Music Award for Best Bass Player in both 2012 and in 2017.  A killer vocalist, he and the fine folks from American Showplace Music have just released “Chicken Grease,” ten originals that are a mix of dance floor burners and old-school jams.  It’s produced by Ben Elliott and John Ginty, and John adds keys throughout.  Biscuit’s on bass and vocals, with Dr. Love on drums, Bobby B. Wilson and Alex “Southside” Smith on guitars.

The whole thing is a  party waiting to bust outta your jukebox.  The wang dang doodle starts with what has to be one of the coolest songs of the year–the story of everyone’s favorite pole-dancing ecdysiast, “Here Kitty Kitty.”  A bit later we learn about that “Two Legged Dog” tryin’ to get back in good with Biscuit’s lover after doing her wrong.  This one is wack with wah-wah-infused fun!  Marcus Randolph adds his unmistakable lap steel on two cuts, the “endless boogie” of “It’s 609, and my baby’s not at home,” and the good-time, funky tale of that lover who loves to cook, using that “Chicken Grease.”

Biscuit lays down some velvety-sweet raps to the ladies on the old-school jam of “I’m Watching You, and you been watching me,” and tells us the age-old story, where, when you pull out and the plumber’s truck pulls in, nothing good’s gonna happen!  It’s the perfect slow-blues, full of John’s organ work, simply titled “Creeping,” The set closes with a call to bring our nation together, as everyone gets involved on the call-and-response story of changes coming, the gospel-influenced “Get Ready.”

You can’t deny the funk from Biscuit Miller And The Mix with “Chicken Grease.”  We know you can’t fight the feelin’, either, so just get on up and dance!!!   Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Teresa James And The Rhythm Tramps review…October 30, 2019….

TERESA JAMES AND THE RHYTHM TRAMPS

LIVE!

JESI-LU MUSIC

IN THE PINK–I LIKE IT LIKE THAT–PUT THE SQUEEZE ON ME–EASIER SAID THAN DONE–FORGETTING YOU–SHE’S GOT A WAY WITH MEN–DON’T MAKE A HABIT OF IT–IF I CAN’T HAVE YOU–SHOORAH SHOORAH–THE DAY THE BLUES CAME TO CALL-EVERYDAY WILL BE LIKE A HOLIDAY–I WANT IT ALL–LONG WAY FROM TEXAS

Houston-born Teresa James and her band,  The Rhythm Tramps, know a thing or two about laying down some fine grooves.  Witness their last album, “Here In Babylon,” which was nominated for a Grammy in 2019.  Still riding that high, she has just released the band’s first live album, aptly-entitled “LIVE!,” six originals and seven favorite band covers laid down at Bogie’s, one of the band’s favorite haunts.  The performances were culled from four nights, with, uniquely, four incarnations of the Rhythm Tramps, providing a truly amazing representation of what this band is all about.   The core of the band, with Teresa on vocals and keys, has her hubby Terry Wilson on bass, and Billy Watts on guitar.  The other players involved are all well-respected members of the blues community, including sax men Ron Dzuibla and Paulie Cerra, and three drummers, one of which was Tony Braunagel.  The varied lineups give a different vibe to the whole set.

There are a tremendous number of highlights. The party starts with one of our favorites, as Teresa calls out some of her blues heroes who led her down this musical path, “since I found the blues, I’m In The Pink!”  A shout-out to a lover is the Fifties-inspired “baby, please Put The Squeeze On Me,” giving way to the Motown romp, “She’s Got A Way With Men, but she isn’t gonna get away with mine!”  Billy Watts duets with Teresa, who’s on piano, on the smoldering, “I can’t love nobody, If I Can’t Have You.”

Another of our favorites came from her Grammy-nominated album, the deeply-moving ode to “The Day The Blues Came To Call,” marking the passing of Gregg Allman.  The set closes with our final favorite.  It’s a roadhouse-rockin’ tale of life on the road, with Teresa again on the 88’s, tellin’ everybody not to worry, “I’m a Long Way From Texas, but I’m gonna make it home tonight!”

Teresa James And The Rhythm Tramps glide easily from blues, roadhouse rock, Big Easy grooves, and powerful ballads.  Please enjoy “LIVE!,” from this Grammy-nominated group of premier players!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Troy Gonyea review…October 28, 2019…..

TROY GONYEA

CLICK CLICK SPARK

LOTUS EATER RECORDS

A FEW WORDS FROM OUR CHARMING HOST–(DO THE) CURL UP AND DIE–THAT’S WHY I’M CRYING–AS I AM–BRING IT ON HOME–TELL HEAVEN–GEORGIA SLOP–JUMPING AT SHADOWS–I AM FEELING SO GOOD (OWED T’DON)

Troy Gonyea first picked up a guitar at age thirteen, and he’s never looked back.  He’s played with Muddy, Booker T., James Harman, Anthony Geraci, and countless others, and did a turn as lead guitarist for The Fabulous Thunderbirds.  He’s played on two Grammy-nominated albums, and was nominated for a Blues Music and a Boston Music Award.

His favorite part of performing, tho, is the spontaneity of performing live, and that’s what we are treated to with his latest set, a nine-cut live set entitled “Click Click Spark.”  Troy’s dazzling guitar and incredibly soulful vocals resound throughout, and he is backed by Marty Ballou on bass, Marty Richards on drums, and Brooks Milgate on keys.  Troy covers several genres’ on this wish-it-was-longer set, opening with the Berry-licious riffing of Troy’s original, “(Do The) Curl Up And Die.”  It’s West Side Rules with the guitar-centric, blistering take of Magic Sam’s “That’s Why I’m Crying,” and keeps the good times rolling with a fun take on Little Walter’s (by way of Willie Dixon) “Bring It On Home,” with Troy on the harp.  Everybody has a good time on one of our favorites, where they “don’t give a hoot about no police,” on Jimmy McCracklin’s “Georgia Slop.”  Brooks offers up some Hell-fire, “Killer” piano here, too!

Two more favorites closed the program.  The soul in Troy’s voice literally drips from the grooves in our hero’s look back at his life, and the “coulda, woulda, shouldas” that might’ve been, in the deep, slow-burn of “Jumping At Shadows.”  The set closes with a Hill Country-by-way-of-Sun Records stomp entitled, “I Am Feeling So Good,” driven by that “endless boogie” originally done by Junior Parker.

Troy Gonyea is one of the most powerful and versatile artists on the contemporary scene.  He loves to play live, and “Click Click Spark” is right in his wheelhouse!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.