Arroyo Rogers review…May 11, 2019….

ARROYO ROGERS

SINGLE WIDE

PROMISED LAND–HITCH HIKE HOME–ELEANOR–ALBUQUERQUE–BROKEN TOWN–THREE SHEETS TO THE WIND–SHE WENT OUT FOR CIGARETTES

Arroyo Rogers is the ultra-hip name of the band founded by husband-and-wife team Kip and Lisa Mednick Powell.  Austin, TX, transplants, they are now residing in the high desert community of Joshua Tree, CA.  They have just released an EP entitled “Single Wide,” seven original cuts of “Bakersfield Sound” twang, and classic country sounds of the Sixties and Seventies, when “country” meant “country.”  Both Kip and Lisa are on vocals, and Kip doubles down on bass and lead guitar, while Lisa does the same on keys, accordion, and clavinet.  The album also features several other fine players backing them.

The twang-fest starts with, if not this band’s autobiography, then surely somebody’s, with our hero being content with “a Single Wide, a water line, and my gal,” featuring Dan Cooper on pedal steel.  Lisa’s on that whorehouse piano as our cheatin’ man “Had To Hitchhike Home from the casino last night,” and she adds accordion on another fine cheatin’ song.  This time, it is she who tells her lover she was “goin’ to Albuquerque, but you smell like Old Milwaukee!”

It’s two-step time as we approach Happy Hour, and our beleaguered lover is sho’ nuff “Three Sheets To The Wind,” and “the only winner is the Blue Ribbon Beer!”  Lisa’s piano and Dan’s steel will make you cry in your beer along with us, as this one stood out as our favorite.

Lisa and Kip cut their musical teeth in that Texas scene in the Nineties, supporting folks such as Alejandro Escovedo, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Radney Foster, and many others.  Tongue-in-cheek humor abounds in the honky-tonk grooves of Arroyo Rogers and “Single Wide.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

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Pack Rat’s Smoke House review…May 10, 2019….

PACK RAT’S SMOKE HOUSE

MEN OF THE SWAMP—LIVE

BLACK FROST MUSIC

DISC 1:  THE NIGHT JACK FROST KILLED POSSUM BROWN–HOO DOO BLUES–HUSH HUSH–LOW DOWN RIDER–SMOKE STACK LIGHTNIN–95 SOUTH–CARESS ME BABY–SMOKEHOUSE BOOGIE–HOO DOO WOMAN BLUES

DISC 2:  YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO–SUE CITY SUE–THEM CREEPIN BLUES–HOO DOO WOMAN BLUES

A great man once told me that “deep down in Florida, the sun shines damn near every day!”  Well, that may be true, but the swamps down in Central Florida evoke visions of steamy pine flatwoods, cypress bottoms, and, yeah, those damn gators!  That region is also home to Packrat’s Smokehouse, a band that is still strokin’ after their formation in 1989.  Back then, Anthony “Packrat” Thompson and Robert “Lightning Boy” Thomas, realized they shared a love for the swampy grooves of Lazy Lester, Lightnin Slim, and Howlin’ Wolf.  “Men Of The Swamp–Live,” is their latest set, and captures them at their gut-bucket best, in two live settings.  The two-CD affair took place at the Babe James Center in New Smyrna Beach, and The Bradfordville Blues Club in Tallahassee.

Their music is deep, raw, powerful, and hypnotic, and evokes the swampy Excello-riffic grooves mixed with the primitive early recordings of Wolf and both Walters.  On both these sets, too, the fellows pay tribute to the great Jimmy Reed on several occasions.

The party starts with Packrat layin’ down the tale of the loss of a good friend, “The Night Jack Frost Killed Possum Brown.”  Lightnin Boy takes the vocal and everybody’s in the mood with that little hoodoo girl, who done hoodooed the hoodoo man, “Hoo Doo Blues.”  Our favorite on Disc One was, hands down, the tale of the trip down “95 South,” where our hero, in his sho’ nuff stone cold Fleetwood Brougham, runs afoul of the “sheriff from Hell and his dog Hitler,” who railroaded him straight to jail!

On Disc Two, you know “Sue City Sue” ain’t up to nothing good, and it’s a sweet slow-jam with Packrat adding harp.  Our other favorite closed both sets.  Packrat wrote those “Hoodoo Woman Blues” about that hoochie mama who’ll “hoodoo with your daddy and turn around and hoodoo with you!”

These guys haven’t missed a beat since their mid-Nineties heyday.  Layin’ it down, “Live” on I-95, Packrat’s Smokehouse and “Men Of The Swamp” leave you with this—“May the swamp be with you,” and “HAMMERCY!!”    Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Randy Kaplan review…May 9, 2019…..

RANDY KAPLAN

SHAKE IT AND BREAK IT

YELLOW THINGS RECORDS AND BOOKS

YT 700030

CANDY MAN BLUES–SHAKE IT AND BREAK IT–BOOGIE CHILLEN–IT HURTS ME TOO/SITTING ON TOP OF THE WORLD–DOING A STRETCH–CHICKEN CHUMP BLUES–BEEN YOUR DOG–ROLL AND TUMBLE BLUES–CROW JANE–FROM FOUR UNTIL LATE–SWINGING ON A STAR–LITTLE BROWN JUG

For his latest album for Yellow Things Records And Books, the master of old-time, Delta-influenced guitar, Randy Kaplan, has taken the songs and lyrics of the pre-WWII masters and toned down their perhaps-a-bit-explicit stories to make them both kids-and-adults-friendly.  It turns out to be a super-fun blues fest entitled “Shake It And Break It,” and, altho it is a set for everyone to enjoy, if you have a young’un at home that you want to introduce to the blues, Randy’s set is an ideal place to start!

We had a ton of favorites.  Leading off is “Candy Man Blues,” a re-working of a Mississippi John Hurt song, where the evils of too much candy are exposed, including “blood sugar thru the roof,” and, as far as brushing, “you’ll be down to one good tooth!”  Randy rides the “endless boogie” of the Hook to teach kids that “The boogie-woogie is in you, and it’s got to come out,” with the Detroit blues of “Boogie Chillen!”  Dealing with folks who call you names when you don’t conform is the ragtimey “Chicken Chump Blues,” while Blind Boy Fuller’s “Been Your Dog,” is, this time around, written from the dog’s point of view, her little doggie life changing when Randy rescued her from the Long Island Expressway!  He closes with a version of “Little Brown Jug” Randy first heard by Mance Lipscomb, and it teaches, among other things, “conciseness,,” and sparing the lives of bugs!

Randy Kaplan has taken many of the more familiar songs from the blues canon and turned them into an exercise “kids” from toddlers to us old-schoolers can all enjoy.  Natch’l fact is, “Shake It And Break It” will fill the bill until those young’uns grow into their “grown-up ears” and discover for themselves where these beautiful tunes originated!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

George Benson review….May 8, 2019….

GEORGE BENSON

WALKING TO NEW ORLEANS

REMEMBERING CHUCK BERRY AND FATS DOMINO

PROVOGUE RECORDS  PRD 75812

NADINE (IS IT YOU)–AIN’T THAT A SHAME–ROCKIN’ CHAIR–YOU CAN’T CATCH ME–HAVANA MOON–I HEAR YOU KNOCKING–MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE–WALKING TO NEW ORLEANS–BLUE MONDAY–HOW YOU’VE CHANGED

George Benson, a ten-time Grammy Award winner, has always had his finger on the pulse of American music.  Witness his early works as leader of the George Benson Quartet with swingin’ versions of Ain’t That Peculiar,” “A Foggy Day In London Town,” and other hits of the day, and continued into the Seventies during his “Breezin” period, with “On Broadway,” and “This Masquerade.”  It is no surprise that his latest album for Provogue remembers two recently-passed American musical legends, Fats Domino and Chuck Berry.  It is entitled “Walking To New Orleans,” and, herein, George and his world-famous Ibanez guitar tackles five cuts from each legend, doing them as only George can do.  The collection was laid down here in Nashville, with Kevin Shirley producing.  George’s backing band includes Rob McNelley on rhythm, Kevin McKendree on keys, and horn men Lee Thornburg, Paulie Cerra, and Ron Dzuibla.

Every cut is a champ, and most fans will know them by heart.  George’s arrangements allow for stretching out a bit, and has more use of the horns to keep a strong Big Easy vibe.  Elements of the originals run thru them all, such as that undeniable riff that drives the story of young love, lust, boats, and rum beneath the “Havana Moon.”  Ditto for “Memphis, Tennessee,” this version speeded-up just a measure.  Kevin channels his inner Fats on a mighty piano break on “Ain’t That A Shame,” and George captures the essence of Berry’s blues influences as the set closes with one of Chuck’s bluesier offerings, “How You’ve Changed,” with Kevin doin’ his best Johnnie Johnson on this cut’s slow groove.

Our favorite was what this whole thing was all about.  The saxes kick off the Fat Man’s ode to the workin’ man, and “how I hate Blue Monday.”

A great man once also said that “it was worth it, for the times that I’ve had,” as these songs by their originators forged the soundtrack to our lives.  Revel in the versions presented by one of the premier guitarists on the planet, and let’s go “Walking To New Orleans” with George Benson!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Bob Corritore And Friends review…May 7, 2019….

BOB CORRITORE AND FRIENDS

DO THE HIP-SHAKE BABY!

VIZZTONE/SWMAF 13

SHAKE YOUR HIPS–GONNA TELL YOUR MOTHER–BITTER SEED–THE TWIST–YOU BETTER SLOW DOWN–WORRIED BLUES–LOVE DEEP AS THE OCEAN–TRYING TO MAKE A LIVING–STAND BY ME–I’M GONNA KEEP WHAT I’VE GOT–I GOT THE WORLD IN A JUG–FEW MORE DAYS–KEEP THE LORD ON WITH YOU

Harmonica master Bob Corritore’s follow-up to his 2018 release, “Don’t Let The Devil Ride,” is here, courtesy of the fine folks at Vizztone Records.  Yep—Bob has compiled cuts from eight different sessions from 2016 to 2018, and “Do The Hip-Shake Baby!” is a cool mix of jump, blues, and even gospel that Bob lovingly refers to as his “Harmonica A- Go-Go” album!  The thing that makes this whole collection so much fun is the mix of band members and different vocalists, that include Oscar Wilson, Sugaray Rayford, Alabama Mike, Mighty Joe Milsap, Bill “Howl’N” Madd” Perry, and Primetime Smith.

The festivities kick off with the title cut, and Mighty Joe Milsap and the Fremonts layin’ down that Excello-riffic groove over Bob’s good-n-greasy harp.  They come back later for the Sixties-inspired soul-blues of “I’m Gonna Keep What I’ve Got.”  Alabama Mike busts out one of our favorites, with the jumpin’ “Gonna Tell Your Mother,” with that too-cool-for-school call-and-response chorus. Oscar Wilson is on vocal on the loping, Jimmy Reed-ish groove of “Bitter Seed,” while Alabama Mike returns, this time with Fred Kaplan on piano for another one of our favorites, the down-home, Sam Cooke-styled “Worried Blues.”  John Primer gets deep into Muddy mode for the Delta-licious “Love Deep As The Ocean,” and the set closes with another favorite.  Sugaray takes us to Blues Church, testifyin’ over the haunting vibe of “Keep The Lord On With You,” featuring Bob’s harp, along with guitars from Kid Ramos and Johnny Main keeping the hellhounds off everybody’s tail!

Bob Corritore remains one of the premier blues harp players on the planet, as well as one of the most personable guys you’d ever want to meet.  He’s no slouch as a photographer, either—it was Bob that took the photo of Don Crow with Jimmie Lee Vaughan eleven years ago at the 2008 Blues Music Awards in Tunica, MS.  that serves as Don’s Facebook page cover photo!  Enjoy some great blues and “Do The Hip Shake, Baby!”   Until next time, Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Terry Klein review…May 6, 2019….

TERRY KLEIN

TEX

SAGAMORE BRIDGE–OKLAHOMA–EVERY OTHER SUNDAY–TOO BLUE TO GET THAT FAR–ANIKA–ANDALUSIA–STRAW HAT–DADDY’S STORE–WHEN THE OCOTILLO BLOOM–STEADY RAIN

Terry Klein is a “recovering trial lawyer” who resides in Austin, TX, and just happens to be one of the upper-echelon writers in all of Americana.  His latest album is called “Tex,” and the ten cuts explore several facets of human emotion.  No less than Mary Gauthier has proclaimed him a “wonderful new voice in songwriting,” and the proceedings begin down on “Sagamore Bridge,” where, “on that strip of sand down in the Atlantic, you can sin like the Kennedys did!”  “Oklahoma” was one of our favorites, as a young man struggles with his own demons as well as coping with the loss of the family matriarch, where he becomes torn between a visit with his grieving father or chucking it all for “a half-pint of Smirnoff.”  A child dealing with divorced parents seems to enjoy the visits with his mother on “Every Other Sunday,” while another poignant tune traces the life of a young man left to deal with an ailing father who also struggles to keep “Daddy’s Store” afloat.

Our other favorite closed the set.  It is a lusty tale, indeed, of an aging spy trying to figure out what’s next for him, spending nights with “Anitta with two T’s,” and making love to the sounds of “Steady Rain.”

Great writers and singers have often sung of that place that provides “pictures of life’s other side.”  Hell–Terry Klein’s characters drop by The Other Side as often as you and I hit  the Seven-Eleven for a Coke.  The only difference is, his folks cut their losses with a bottle of Evan Williams that’s never far away.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

 

Carlo Ditta review…May 5,2019….

CARLO DITTA

HUNGRY FOR LOVE

ORLEANS RECORDS  ORL 2919

HUNGRY FOR LOVE–A GYPSY WOMAN TOLD ME–LA MUCHACHA CHA CHA–AGNES ENGLISH–WORKING SO HARD FOR MY BABY’S LOVE–PASS THE HATCHET–LIFE IN HEAVEN–I’M HERE TO GET MY BABY OUT OF JAIL–IT’S UP TO YOU–THE HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN

Carlo Ditta is a renowned label owner, producer, composer, and recording artist in his own right.  He is also a philanthropic individual, always willing to record and further the careers of many perhaps lesser-known artists who strive to maintain the authenticity of the vintage sounds of New Orleans, the city and region they all call home.

That is precisely the vibe of Carlo’s second solo outing, entitled “Hungry For Love,” for his own Orleans Records label.  Of the ten cuts, two are traditional tunes done up with Carlo’s unique arrangements, three are covers of songs synonymous with some of New Orleans’ famed artists, and five are Carlo’s originals done with the soulful heritage of the Big Easy always in mind.

There are several highlights, fans.  Earl Stanley wrote the Sixties’ pop hit, “A Gypsy Woman Told Me,” and plays bass on this version, over Carlo’s lovelorn vocal and Rick Stelma’s organ.  Carlo checks in with one of our favorites, the cool Latin groove of the story of that lady, who, “if you wanna play, you got to pay,” “La Muchacha Cha Cha!” The fellows do a fantastic job covering Baton Rouge artists John Fred And The Playboys hit, “Agnes English,” and, yep, Andrew Bernard, who wrote the song as part of that band back in the day, appears here on both tenor sax and Wurlitzer!  “Pass The Hatchet,” another of our favorites, is a Carlo original that rides a funky sax-guitar groove, over Carlo’s spoken-word vocal, as he watches a pretty girl from a distance!  He closes  the set with our final favorite, an organ and sax-heavy arrangement done over Carlo’s raspy vocal, decrying a misspent youth at that iconic place of ill repute, “The House Of The Rising Sun!”

Carlo Ditta is a champion of many veteran artists that perhaps history has overlooked.  He brings together many of these storied players and their material mixed in with his own clever originals to produce a set that is sho’ nuff “Hungry For Love!”   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.