Lauren Anderson review…July 11, 2019….

LAUREN ANDERSON

WON’T STAY DOWN

HONEY, CALL ME BABY–TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE–WON’T STAY DOWN–CAKE–WILD AND FREE

Lauren Anderson got her start as an eight-year old on piano, then, later, in her teens, with classical voice training.  She got her Masters in Music from the University Of Kansas, and has recorded three EP’s from 2015 thru 2017, with “The Game,” from 2017, cracking the Top 50 of the Billboard Blues Chart for five weeks.  She’s adopted Nashville as her hometown, and, on July 26 she will release her next EP, “Won’t Stay Down.”

Hey–she’s got a huge voice and talent to boot, and these five songs represent anthems of female empowerment after she became disenchanted with trying to cope with basically a “good-ole-boys” business.  Jimi Greene is on guitar, Hutch is on bass, John Rodrigue is on drums, and William Adkins is on keys.

Our girl definitely don’t take no mess as she lays out these five originals.  Witness the Faces-like groove of the leadoff story of those aforementioned good ole boys who’d just as soon take advantage of her, “Honey, Call Me Baby,”  A cheatin’ lover is brought to task when it’s all over, with the vintage soul of “Too Little, Too Late, to fix things with me.”  Even tho some folks “might throw stones,” she refuses to give up or give in on one of the set’s highlights, “Won’t Stay Down.”  She rocks out over a rhumba beat with the horn-fueled “I want my Cake and eat it, too,” and closes things with another stone guitar rocker, this time the story of a small-town girl with “so much potential,” who “ditched college for a life in L. A,” so she could fulfill her true dream of being “Wild And Free.”

Lauren Anderson is a bold, bluesy, free-spirited singer who knows no boundaries, and is Hell-bent on forging her own sounds and doing things her own way.  “Won’t Stay Down” is sho’ nuff done with no apologies and no regrets!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

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Big Jack Reynolds review…July 11, 2019….

THE MUSIC AND LIFE OF

BIG JACK REYNOLDS

THAT’S A GOOD WAY TO GET TO HEAVEN

THIRD STREET CIGAR RECORDS   TSC 106

HONEST I DO–YOU BETTER LEAVE THAT WOMAN ALONE–GO ON TO SCHOOL–SCRATCH MY BACK–SHAME SHAME SHAME–HELP ME–MEAN OLD PEOPLE–WALK ON UP(BUT KEEP THAT RED DRESS ON)–POOR BOY–AH’W BABY–HOT POTATO–ROCK ME BABY–GONNA LOVE SOMEBODY–GOING DOWN SLOW–IN MY ROOM–MADE IT UP IN YOUR MIND–I HAD A LITTLE DOG–SHE MOVES ME–YOU WON’T TREAT ME RIGHT–SHE MUST BE A MILLIONAIRE

Marshall “Big Jack” Reynolds was always one of those “regional bluesmen” who always seemed to be one step behind the “big break” he always looked for but never materialized.  Accomplished on harp, guitar, and vocals, he cut several sides in Detroit, and, later, in the Toledo area before his untimely passing in 1993.  These sides have all been highly sought-after by collectors, and now, Third Street Cigar Records up in Waterville, OH, have gone the extra mile.  Not only have they compiled all his recordings onto one CD, they also completed the career retrospective with a companion DVD featuring interviews and his only known TV appearance.  The whole thing is entitled, “The Life And Music Of Big Jack Reynolds: That’s A Good Way To Get To Heaven.”

On the CD portion, we find that Big Jack was well-versed in the hits and styles of the performers of the day, likely to please club patrons and dancers in the juke joints he played.  He also wrote his originals in keeping with those same patrons who were also a part of the record-buying public.  He lays down some cool covers of “Honest I Do,” “Scratch My Back,” and a Hooker-esque “read of “Help Me.”  One of the most unique cuts was an instrumental geared toward the dancers, “Hot Potato,” which served as one of our favorites.

Jack’s originals were done up old-school, too.  “Walk On Up (But Keep That Red Dress On)” is a rockin’ good-time number with producer Larry Gold on guitar, while “Made It Up In Your Mind” follows a rhumba beat with some serious percussion driving the groove.

The DVD, directed by Glenn Burris,  is equally as impressive.  It features live footage from 1987 with Big Jack doing “Been Down So Long”  and “She Must Have Ben A Millionaire,” as well as interviews with Eddie Shaw, and Detroit legend Harmonica Shah recounting tales of Big Jack.  There is even a snippet of live video of Sir Mack Rice performing his signature “Mustang Sally,” backed by the Dynatones from 1988!

His “real job” was supposedly as a plasterer, but Big Jack Reynolds was a musician by calling, and a consummate hustler.  He had to hustle to make that next buck, and he was a damn good one.  He may never have been a household name, but those who were fortunate enough to know him or play with him knew he commanded respect as far as music was concerned, and he poured his heart and soul in every performance.  Please enjoy “The Life And Music Of Big Jack Reynolds!”   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Bill Bloomer review…July 8, 2019….

BILL BLOOMER

BOUNTY

DOING THINGS DIFFERENT–EARTHLY SENSATIONS–HARD ACTS TO FOLLOW–LONELY PEOPLE–OUR BOAT AT THE END OF THE WORLD–NO HAY OTRO (THERE’S NO OTHER)–BANKS OF BANGLAMPOO–I ONLY GET HOMESICK AT NIGHT–HOG LEG STEW–ANYWAY I FOUND YOU–THOROUGHBREDS

Bill Bloomer’s latest album, “Bounty,” comes barely a year after his last one, “Jubilee.”  But, great talent knows no timetable nor follows any schedule, and, with Bill, the story’s the thing over the course of these eleven originals, along with that distinctive baritone delivery.  Oh yeah, all the “usual suspects” are here–lonely folks, folks fallin’ in and out of love, and the down-and-outers looking for the next drink, but Bill gives ’em all a ray of hope for something better down the road.

There’s a whole passel of fine backing players, too.  They include producer/guitarist Gar Robertson, Kip and Lisa Mednick Powell, James Pratt, and a host of others.  We had several favorites.  Leading off, James Pratt’s harp sets the hardscrabble tone as our hero realizes he’s no longer “king of a one-horse town,” as “we’re Doing Things Different now.”  Another tale of a down-and-out boxer-turned-stuntman “born to take a fall,” features Myshkin Warbler as the female duet voice, as they hold onto the hope that “the best parts may happen yet, in Our Boat At The End Of The  World.”  “Hog Leg Stew” and its stories of trick dogs served as the set’s bluesiest cut, with fine bottleneck slide from Gar Robertson.

Nothing, tho, was more fun than the tongue-in-cheek, Southern Baptists meet the Twitter generation “in this age of information,” “Earthly Sensations.”  It is set over a horn section sounding as if it is marching down Rampart Street on the way to a Big Easy funeral, and was a hoot from beginning to end!

It takes a unique, visionary songwriter to connect the dots between the “darlings of YouTube,” and the annual return of the swallows to San Juan Capistrano, but Bill Bloomer pulls it off (in “Hard Acts To Follow!), and a whole lot more with the most excellent “Bounty.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

 

Terry Hanck review…July 7, 2019….

TERRY HANCK

I STILL GET EXCITED

VIZZTONE RECORDS  VTTVR-407

I STILL GET EXCITED–SMOOTH TYRONE–EARLY IN THE MORNING–HERE IT COMES–COME ON BACK–WHY PEOPLE LIKE THAT?–HOWLIN FOR MY DARLIN–SPRING (FEAT. TRACY NELSON)–HOLD IT RIGHT THERE–FEEL SO BAD

Tenor man Terry Hanck has won three Blues Music Awards, solidifying his reputation as one of the premier sax players on the planet.  He’s a sho’ nuff stone “triple threat,” too, when you add in that velvety vocal style and strong songwriting chops.  He puts it all on display on his latest set, and one of his best, entitled “I Still Get Excited.”  It features five of Terry’s cool originals and six hot covers from the likes of Lightnin’ Hopkins, Louis Jordan, and other fine bluesmen.  He also enlists the help of a few of his good friends along the way, too.

Leading off, Terry hits a cool Fifties-stride with the title cut, as “I Still Get Excited,” ’cause, in my mind, I’m just a kid!”  His long-time guitarist, Johnny “Cat” Soubrand is on guitar here, and Jim Pugh is on the honky-tonk keys.  “Smooth Tyrone” boogies real low as Terry warns us about that “cat I know” who’ll steal your lady if you turn your back!  “Rosita’ is a perfect, summery instrumental that also hearkens back to the classic days of the Fifties, and Terry turns Bobby Charles Guidry’s “Why People Like That?” into a shake-and-finger pop strut, serving as one of our favorites.

We had two others.  Terry and Rick Estrin get into a sweet sax-harp “duel” of sorts on Terry’s original, “Here It Comes,” while the whole band swings on some fine West Coast-styled jump blues with “Hold It Right There, don’t you go no where!”

Folks, if Terry Hanck is in the mix, you know there’s some good, good rockin’ goin’ on!  Put on your dancin’ shoes and dig his latest, “I Still Get Excited!”   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Ruf Records 25TH Anniversary review…July 6, 2019….

RUF RECORDS

25TH ANNIVERSARY VARIOUS ARTISTS

RUF CD/DVD 1275

CD:  TEXAS HONEY–ALLY VENABLE  STRAITJACKET-JEREMIAH JOHNSON  BACKDOOR MAN–BERNARD ALLISON  LOW DOWN–THE B B KING BLUES BAND  DEEP IN MY SOUL–BIG DADDY WILSON  FIRST CLASS LIFE–MIKE ZITO  HARD WORKING WOMAN–VANJA SKY  WHY DID YOU HOODOO ME–SAVOY BROWN  WEEDS–MICHAEL LEE  GET MINE–INA FORSMAN  BOOGIE DEPRESSION–VICTOR WAINWRIGHT  SHE’S COMING AFTER YOU  FAKER–THE RAGTIME RUMOURS

DVD:  THORBJORN RISAGER AND THE BLACK TORNADO–IF YOU WANNA LEAVE  DANA FUCHS–BLISS AVENUE  ROYAL SOUTHERN BROTHERHOOD–MIDNIGHT OVER THE MISSISSIPPI  JOANNE SHAW TAYLOR–DIAMONDS IN THE DIRT  OLI BROWN–HERE I AM  KATARINA PEJAK, INA FORSMAN, ALLY VENABLE–THE HOUSE IS ROCKING  MIKE ZITO, VANJA SKY, BERNARD ALLISON–LOW DOWN AND DIRTY  BIG DADDY WILSON, VANESSA COLLIER, SI CRANSTOUN–COUNTRY BOY SOUL MEDLEY  INA FORSMAN, LAYLA ZOE, TASHA TAYLOR–HONKY TONK WOMAN  LAURENCE JONES, CHRISTINA SKJOLBERG, ALBERT CASTIGLIA–JOIN ME ON THE BLUES CARAVAN  CANNED HEAT–SO SAD (THE WORLD’S IN A TANGLE)  LUTHER ALLISON–LIVING IN THE HOUSE OF THE BLUES

It is hard to fathom that Ruf Records is twenty-five years old!  Under the stewardship of its leader, Thomas Ruf, this label has been responsible for continuing to carry the torch of contemporary blues thru not only his most excellent stable of artists, but also thru his tireless army of PR folks who see to it that we get the music to present to our readers.

To commemorate this momentous occasion, they have just released “25 Year Anniversary,” a companion CD/DVD of some of the labels’s outstanding players and performances over that time frame, produced by Thomas himself.  For the sake of brevity, the majority of artists represented on the CD have a page or pages dedicated to their Ruf projects within the pages of this humble forum, so we will concentrate on the one group with which we were not familiar.  The Ragtime Rumours close the CD portion of the program with an avant-garde combination of banjo and blues guitar, entitled, “Faker!”

The DVD boasts an incredible array of Ruf’s talented roster.  Opening the proceedings is Thorbjorn Risager And The Black Tornado with the Hooker-infused boogie of “If You Wanna Leave, I’m gonna miss you when the night time comes!”  Dana Fuchs lends her powerful, Joplin-esque vocals to the title cut from her “Bliss Avenue” set, while Joanne Shaw Taylor’s ode to the ups and downs of a relationship is also the title cut of her “Diamonds In The Dirt” CD.  Big Daddy Wilson shouts out to all us good ole “Country Boys” with a little help from Vanessa Collier on sax and Si Cranstoun!

There were a ton of DVD favorites.  Ally Venable, Kat Pejak, and Ina Forsman start it slow, but eventually light a fire under those “bad honky-tonkers really layin’ it down” on SRV’s “The House Is Rockin!”  Laurence Jones, southpaw sensation Christina Skjolberg, and Albert Castiglia send out the rockin’ invitation to “Join Us On The Blues Caravan,” while our final favorite was tracked from the 2018 Blues Caravan, and features Bernard Allison, Mike Zito, and the lovely Vanja Sky on a scorching, fun-filled romp thru one of Bernard’s iconic father’s best-known songs, Luther Allison’s “Low Down And Dirty.”  Luther himself closes the DVD with a scintillating performance of another of his most famous cuts, “Living In The House Of The Blues,” from the “Legend Never Dies” box set.

Ruf Records has become a strong presence in contemporary blues, offering the best of the new talents combined with some of the world’s best-known established stars.  We heartily recommend “Ruf 25TH Anniversary” for all blues fans!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

 

Heather Newman review….July 6, 2019….

HEATHER NEWMAN

RISE FROM THE FLAMES

VIZZTONE RECORDS  VTHN-002

I’M COMING FOR YOU–ZAKARY–SHE SURE LOOKS A LOT LIKE ME–YOU MEAN TO TELL ME–RISE FROM THE FLAMES–WATER AND WINE–LONELY ON BEALE–HIS SOUL–TAKE IT SLOW–COMING HOME–WHAT GOES AROUND–CHEAPSHOT–THAT’S ALL

Heather Newman, bassist/singer/composer extraordinaire, won two Blues Blast Music Awards following her 2017 debut, “Burn Me Alive,” and received a 2019 Blues Music Award nomination for Best Emerging Artist.  She has just released her much-anticipated follow-up, thirteen originals that make up “Rise From The Flames,” playing out as her own personal diary of sorts, following the difficult break-up of a relationship, and coming to grips with the aftermath.  She’s on  bass and vocals, along with her KC-based backing crew, Ryan Matthew on keys and percussion, Keith Ladd on guitar, and Alan Watson on drums.

Leading off, Heather urges us all to “rise, to meet my music,” in “I’m Coming For You.”  She’s had her share of losers, it seems, and calls out several of them herein.  The first guy has the stones to show off his new lover in front of our girl, in the bump ‘n’ grind of “She Sure Looks A Lot Like Me!”  Another no-good lover likes “to kick me when I’m down,” but, “What Goes Around comes around,” this one set over a Latin-esque groove.  Perhaps the unkindest cut of all, tho, served as one of our favorites.  With “Alfred’s front door” serving as the backdrop, her latest cad up and left her, “Lonely On Beale.”  Our other favorite closed the set.  Heather lets her blues light shine in the upbeat, redemptive tale of hope for her future, “That’s All.”

Heather Newman has taken a big bag of lemons and made a lifetime supply of lemonade.  She indeed proved that, given a bad situation, she could and did “Rise From The Flames!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Kate Lush review…July 5, 2019….

KATE LUSH

HEADLINE

HEADLINE–IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT–JACKSON–GOODBYE TO THE RAIN–ROCK THAT WON’T ROLL–WEAKNESS–YOU ALREADY KNOW–FALL DOWN SEVEN TIMES–ONE HEART TO BREAK–HOW WILL I HOLD OUT–SANCTUARY

We first fell in love with Kate Lush and her beautiful voice about a month ago, while listening to Tommy Z’s Sunday Night Blues Show that streams live each Sunday night over at WBFO.org out of Buffalo, NY, from 7 PM to Midnight, EDT (6 PM to 11 PM at our house!).   He featured her latest CD, “Headline,” on his show, and we reached out to Kate via Facebook, and she graciously sent us a copy for review.  It was a considerable “reach,” too—Kate and her band are based in the Newport Beach area of Australia!

This set is all over the musical map, too.  Kate’s voice lends itself well to a variety of genres’, and, over these eleven originals, we are treated to blues, classic soul and R & B, and even a nod to N’Awlins!

The upbeat positivity of the title cut leads off and sets the tone for what is to come as our heroine finds that special one who “makes me feel so whole,” “Headline.”  An ode to life on the road as a traveling musician is the message of “Rock That Won’t Roll,” while she steps into the role of soulful siren,  channeling her inner Shirley Brown as she confronts “the other woman,” with “you don’t know how it feels with One Heart To Break.”  The set closes with a scathing shot aimed at the powers-that-be “building a concrete jungle,” the spot-on “Sanctuary.”

We had three favorites, too.  “If You Don’t Like It” follows a sweet second-line rhythm pattern on the way down to the Big Easy, driven along by fine slide and piano work.  “Jackson” is a stone shot of Delta-fied blues, featuring fellow Aussie and blues legend Dave Hole on the slide guitar.  Our final favorite was a mighty song of empowerment, as our girl seemingly has her heart broken at every turn, but she gallantly will “Fall Down Seven Times, and stand up eight!!”

In today’s fast-paced world of social media, it was a relatively simple task to reach around the world to Kate Lush for a copy of her brilliant “Headline.”  Fans, she’s got vocal chops to handle any song in any setting, and the evidence is in the grooves of this serious “Thunder From Down Under!!”   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.