Little Red Rooster Blues Band review….August 7, 2018…

THE LITTLE RED ROOSTER BLUES BAND

LOCK UP THE LIQUOR

PITCHIN WOO–DRINKIN WINE ON MY DIME–RATHER BE LONESOME–COTTON MOUTH (TRIBUTE TO JAMES COTTON)–READY FOR GOODBYE–JUST A DISTANT MEMORY–THRIFT SHOP RUBBERS–NOTHIN LEFT BETWEEN US–OUGHTA BE A LAW–TROUBLE IN THE JUNGLE–SIX STRONG MEN–LIVIN’ AT JERRY’S HOUSE–4 O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING–CAN’T BELIEVE SHE’S MINE–LOCK UP THE LIQUOR

The Little Red Rooster Blues Band is comprised of a group of stellar musicians who have spent the last thirty years or so spreadin’ the gospel of the blues to hungry fans up and down the East Coast.  They combine a love for both the traditional Chicago sound and jump-blues stylings into a concoction that brews up good times all around, and you can drink your fill from the fifteen original cuts that make up “Lock Up The Liquor,” their latest release.

Kevin McCann is on guitar and vocals, Dave Holtzman is on harp (and vocals on two cuts), Jeff Michael is on bass, and Bob Holden is on drums.  Special guests include Anthony Geraci on keys on seven cuts, and Steve Guyger on harp and vocal for one cut, the killer slow-burn of “4 O’Clock In The Morning!”  Check out the loping swing of “Drinkin’ Wine On My Dime,” where his lover’s “bar bill looks more like the national debt!”  The fellows hit a Little Walter stride with the clippity-clop of “Rather Be Lonesome,” while “Ready For Goodbye” is a true shot of a Fifties-inspired love ballad.  Dave takes the vocal on the gospel-flavored tale of “the end of my road,” where “Six Strong Men” will “carry me down.”

We had two favorites, too.  You really must pay attention to the lyrics in the slyly-sexy story of those raggedy “Thrift Store Rubbers,” with Dave rockin’ that big ol’ chromatic on this good-time cut.  And, the set closes on a high note with the title cut, as our hero has to “Lock Up The Liquor” for a friend who’s “always drinkin’ everybody else’s stuff!”  Anthony Geraci lays down fifty shades of boogie woogie on the 88’s here, too.

Fans, the Little Red Rooster Blues Band is just what the doctor ordered–forgettin’ your troubles for a while from a cadre’ of characters who have been bringing the heat for over thirty years.  Might be an oxymoron, but let’s “Lock Up The Liquor” and have a blues party tonite!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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Vanja Sky review…August 6, 2018….

VANJA SKY

BAD PENNY

RUF RECORDS 1257

BAD PENNY–HARD WORKING WOMAN–HIT ME WITH THE BLUES–LOW DOWN AND DIRTY–ALL NIGHT–INSIDE PAIN–GIVE ME BACK MY SOUL–LOST LOVE–DO YOU WANNA?–MARRIED MAN–DON’T FORGET TO ROCK AND ROLL–CROSSROADS OF LIFE

Croatian native Vanja Sky did not even pick up a guitar until five years ago, when a live show changed her life.  She’s advanced so rapidly in her development, that she now joins young women such as Joanne Shaw Taylor, Erja Lyytinen, Ana Popovic, and Samantha Fish in the Ruf Records stable, having just released her sizzling debut, “Bad Penny.”  Part of this set was recorded in Berlin at Studio Erde, with the rest laid down at Jim Gaines’ Bessie Smith Studio not far from us in West Tennessee in Stantonville.  Mike Zito and Thomas Ruf produced, and Zito is on rhythm guitar throughout.

Vanja has the ebullience of wide-eyed youth working in her favor.  All save one cut are her originals, and roughly half have that blues-rock swagger and attitude, while the rest show her feelings thru her lyrics.

Leading off is the scathing title cut, where a long-gone lover, just like that “Bad Penny,” “turns up again,” when you least expect (or want) it.  Her SRV influence shows up on the roadhouse-rock of a shout-out to all the 9-to-5’ers out there and this one  served as one of our favorites, as Vanja rocks out on the story of that “Hard Working Woman, doin’ it day and night!”  She strikes a poignant chord with, “at the end of the day, there’s only Hell to pay,” “You Hit Me With The Blues.”  Youthful lust is the theme of the uptempo “Do You Wanna be my cherry pie,?” and Vanja calls foul on every cheatin’ “Married Man,” who “use women just for fun.”  This one is set over a breathy, ethereal arrangement, perfect for her vocal skills.

Our other favorite was perhaps the set’s tour-de-force.  Thomas Ruf was always a supporter of the blues of the late Luther Allison, and, on this cut, Vanja, Zito, and Luther’s son, Bernard Allison, combine their considerable guitar and vocal skills for a slide-drenched, boogie-fried read of one of Luther’s best, “Low Down And Dirty!”

This illustrious trio will be hitting the road as the next installment of the Ruf Records Blues Caravan.  Vanja Sky, with her strong debut set, “Bad Penny,” also reminds us, “Don’t Forget To Rock And Roll!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Lawrence Lebo review…August 4, 2018…

LAWRENCE LEBO

OLD SCHOOL GIRL

ON THE AIR RECORDS 9657

YOU’VE GOT A SECRET–OLD SCHOOL GIRL–STORMY MONDAY–STOP SHOUTING YOUR BUSINESS–REMIX (EXPLICIT)–GIVE ME A TRY–BAD TO THE CORE–HAPPY ANNIVERSARY BABY (REMIX)–STOP SHOUTING YOUR BUSINESS (REMIX) (CLEAN)

Our week-long series on feisty females found in the fold of the blues is drawing to a close.  (Ruf label siren Vanja Sky is next), but we had to bring fans the insanely-talented Lawrence Lebo and her latest set, “Old School Girl,” for  On The Air Records in Tarzana, CA.  Ms. Lebo is predominantly a student of the classic Memphis-and-STAX groove, altho her voice lends itself to any material.  Her vocal style, for me anyways, brought to mind Wanda Jackson, if she had been more of a “torch” or big-band chanteuse, and without that hiccup-y thing she always does.  You’ll here it all in these six originals and one cover, with things starting off swimmingly with the opening cut, a minor-key, B. B.-inspired shout-out to a cheatin’ lover, “You’ve Got A Secret.”  That sweet guitar is courtesy of Tony Mandracchia, with Larry David on the B-3.  The swingin’ title cut finds our heroine much preferring a “a kiss on the back of my neck” rather than just “a text,” and her “57 Chevy” over today’s all-too-common “Uber.”  That’s just the way this “Old School Girl rolls!”  “Give Me A Try” conjures up memories of vintage STAX soul, where, regarding love, “you’ll never know what you might find” without taking the chance!

We had two favoriters, too. Ms. Lebo gives a sultry read of T-Bone’s “Stormy Monday,” this one with Larry David pulling double duty on harp and that church-i-fied B-3, and Tony on that call-and-response guitar.  Our other favorite(s) were unique from the rest of the set, as they were set over a second-line, Mardi Gras-ish arrangement, with Carl Byron on squeeze box and Larry on the tinklin’ piano.  Both deal with those annoying folks who talk waaaay too loud out in public on their cell phones, and Ms. Lebo begs them, “Stop Shouting Your Business!”  It is presented in two versions–one is FCC-clean, and the other, well, it ain’t!

She’s studied Duke Ellington at UCLA under Prof. Kenny Burrell, and continues to be a powerful voice in today’s blues world.  The only flaw in Lawrence Lebo’s “Old School Girl?” It was just toooo short!!  More, please!!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Trudy Lynn review…August 4, 2018….

TRUDY LYNN

BLUES KEEP KNOCKIN’

CONNOR RAY MUSIC  CRM 1803

BLUES AIN’T NOTHIN’–THAT’S ALRIGHT–BLUES KEEP KNOCKING–ONE MONKEY DON’T STOP NO SHOW–NEVER BEEN TO SPAIN–I SING THE BLUES–PITIFUL (FEAT. BOB LANZA)–WHEN I BEEN DRINKIN’–IT WON’T BE LONG–WOULD IT MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE TO YOU (FEAT. CAROLYN WONDERLAND)

Next up in our week-long series of fantastic femmes’ in contemporary blues, we give you Houston’s own Trudy Lynn.  Her latest set, and fourth overall for Connor Ray Music, is entitled “Blues Keep Knockin,” featuring her original title cut and a slew of soul-drenched, gospel-fired covers.  Joining her on this outstanding collection include David Carter on guitar, with guest guitar from Bob Lanza and Carolyn Wonderland, Steve Krase on the harp, Terry Dry on bass, and Matt Johnson on drums.

Produced by Rock Romano, things get underway with Steve blasting away on the harp over Trudy’s tale of “Blues Ain’t Nothin’ but a woman lovin’ a married man!”  Next is the funked-up arrangement of the Jimmy Rogers classic, “That’s Alright–every now and then I wonder, who’s lovin’ you tonite!”  A horn section led by Jim Brady and Dan Carpenter add spice to the good-time jive of “One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show!”  Everybody gets into the loping stride of “I’ll Sing The Blues,” Trudy’s vocal becoming a testifyin’ testimonial to the power of the blues “late in the midnight!”  She closes the set with a poignant recollection of classic soul, as Steve blows a mournful harp over Trudy’s request of a lover, “if I went away, Would It Make Any Difference To You?”  This one is augmented by cool guitar from Carolyn Wonderland.

Every Trudy Lynn album has to have a great slow-burnin’ blueser, and “Pitiful” is it, and serves as our favorite.  Unable to break free from a no-good lover  she turns in another fiery vocal performance with a sweet stop-time chorus.  Bob Lanza guests on guitar here, too!

Trudy Lynn knows the “Blues Keep Knockin’ on my front door” for a good reason—she’s gotta keep spreadin’ the gospel of good times and bad men to all us fans!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

 

Brigitte Purdy review…August 2, 2018….

BRIGITTE PURDY

STILL I RISE

DIRTSHACK RECORDS

HOODOO–BE THE LIGHT–HOME IS IN MY HEART–MY KINDA BLUES–LAST TIME–GET IT UNDERSTOOD–IF I COULD–LUCILLE DON’T YOU WEEP–BLUES ANGEL–STILL I RISE

In keeping with our week-long theme of captivating women in contemporary blues, we proudly bring Brigitte Purdy up to the mic.  Herself a graduate of the Dorothy Chandler Conservatory, Brigitte can do it all, y’all–she can whisper, she can scream, she can purr like a dream, and you get a taste of all her wares with her latest set, “Still I Rise,” for Dirtshack Records.

The good times roll with the leadoff story of our heroine, “holding on to my Rosary,” to ward off that “Hoodoo that you do!”  The hot harp on this one is courtesy of Louisiana legend Kenny Neal, too.  Chumps need not apply on “Get It Straight,” ’cause “I’m not your baby,” “not your sugar,” and, definitely “not your darlin,” for anybody who’s only “lookin’ for a one night stand!”  She follows that up, tho, with the high heel on the other foot, as a true gentleman, with that “somethin’ in your eyes,” has her testing, but yielding not to, temptation, in the breezy, soulful, “I would, If I Could,” but she stays true to her lover.  Her upper-register reaches are on display here, also.  She closes the set with the anthem of empowerment that is the title cut, featuring Drake Shining on keys, from Sugaray Rayford’s band.

We had several favorites.  “If you want my lovin,’ you better like My Kinda Blues” is an uptempo rocker made for the dancers, while Brigitte spreads a message of positivity for a troubled society, urging us all to “Be The Light you want others to see!”  Perhaps the set’s most unique cut is Brigitte’s shout-out to B. B.’s legendary Gibson, “Lucille Don’t You Weep,” for “the thrill will never be gone!”  Her vocals, as well as the backing chorus, give this one an ethereal, almost-spiritual quality.  Check out her YouTube video for this song and you’ll see what we mean.

Brigitte Purdy has crafted one of those sets that you wish was twice as long, because, like many things in life, as soon as it starts gettin’ real good to you, it ends.  She’s the whole package, tho, with passionate and captivating vocals, making “Still I Rise” a sparkling tour-de-force!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Shari Puorto Live review…August 1, 2018….

SHARI PUORTO

LIVE AT BOGIE’S

LITTLE LIGHTNING PRODUCTIONS

IT’S A DAMN SHAME–HOME OF THE BLUES–OUTTA MY MIND–GUILTY–SIX MONTHS SOBER–SUGAR DADDY–EVIDENCE–ALL I WANT IS YOU–MY OBSESSION–ALL ABOUT YOU–I’M TIRED–CAN’T FIND MY WAY HOME

Powerful Women In Contemporary Blues Week continues here in the Crow household.  Hot on the (high) heels of recent excellent sets from Kat Riggins, Whitney Shay, Karen Lawrence, and Vanessa Collier, (with Brigitte Purdy in the hopper), we bring forth another sexy Siren of song.  Shari Puorto may remind many fans of Bonnie Bramlett with her soulful, and sexy-playful delivery, and, altho her studio recordings easily stand on their own merits, it is her live shows where she is at her best.  Her latest set fulfills her dream of a live recording, with the scaldin’-hot “Live At Bogie’s,” in Westlake, CA.  This one has eight of Shari’s originals and four cool covers.  Along for this mighty sweet ride are her killer backing band, including John DePatie on guitars, Frank Scarpelli on bass, Mike Sauer on drums and backing vocals, and Jon Greathouse on keys and backing vocals.

This band cooks behind a great singer, and they blast off with one of Shari’s originals, where she tells a lover that “It’s A Damn Shame” he threw a good love away!  Another cool original finds our heroine surrounded by black cats, bad luck and trouble, and “seven rooms of gloom,” in “The Home Of The Blues, baby!”  She has a lotta fun calling out a cheatin’ lover on a cool read of Candi Staton’s “Evidence” of “some other woman in some old place!”  Then she switches gears to play the part of every man’s dream, vowing to please her “Sugar Daddy, when he gets wound up tight!”  She closes the set on a high note, as she and the band blast out a six-minute read of Winwood’s “Can’t Find My Way Home,” with stellar guitar from John.

We had two favorites, too.  A fine example of guitar-and-keys-driven blues-rock has our heroine boasting of “Six Months Sober from you!”  And, if you are a fan of Shari’s music, you know how much she loves SHOES!  Her playful, good-time original, “My Obsession,” deals with just that, including “thigh-high boots with zippers, just like the strippers wear,” and “those I’ll probably never wear!”  This one features some funky B-3 work from Jon Greathouse, too.

Shari Puorto continues to be a force in contemporary blues.  Enjoy this set in front of a raucous, ready-to-rumble crowd, “Live At Bogie’s!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Karen Lawrence review…July 29, 2018…

KAREN LAWRENCE

AND BLUE BY NATURE

BEST OF…LIVE!

HOSTEL RECORDS

FUN AND GAMES–I HAD IT ALL WRONG–ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER MILE–YOU GOT A WAY ABOUT YOU–I’LL GET ALONG ALRIGHT–YOU’VE GOT ME WORKIIN’–IT’S BEEN SO LONG–IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU

The comparisons are inevitable with an artist the caliber of Karen Lawrence.  A music performer since the age of nine, Karen has fronted New Wave bands going back to the Nineties, but seems to have found her calling as a blues singer.  A double-CD of live material from 1998, entitled “Live By The Lake” was described by critics back in those days as “a bit on the wearing side.”  Cue up the rhythm guitarist from that set, Fred Hostetler.  He hand-picked and edited the original versions of the songs to make them, perhaps, more “critic-friendly, with Robbie Cribbs aiding in the remastering process.  The results are the eight vibrant cuts that comprise Karen Lawrence And Blue By Nature with “Best Of…Live!”

The cuts showcase Karen’s spot-on writing skills as she tackles life, love, relationships, and being female in a “good ole boys”-dominated industry.  Her vocals will immediately call to mind Joplin, Tina Turner, and Bonnie Bramlett from my generation, and the likes of Dana Fuchs in today’s contemporary arena, and they are emotion-packed and as powerful as they come.

Up first is a monster love ballad, where an uncaring lover is only playing “Fun And Games” with her emotions.  Rick Dufay is all over the wah-wah and lead guitar of the ultra-funky story that finds our heroine unable to “wait to play the field,” but, sadly, soon finds out, “I Had It All Wrong.”

Karen offers up a couple of cool, female-empowerment anthems that served as our favorites.  Set over a roadhouse-rockin’ arrangement, she tells off a lover who’s up to no good that “you can leave me flat, I’ll Get Along Alright!”  Then, Karen and Rick, (on that killer slide guitar!), strike a Delaney and Bonnie groove on “You’ve Got Me Workin’, like a fool for you!”

If any flaws did ever exist in the original versions of these songs, Fred and Robbie buried them—deep.  They left us with eight stunning recordings that define an ebullient, fun-loving, lover-of-life singer, Karen Lawrence And Blue By Nature, with “Best Of…Live!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.