David Julia review…November 8, 2018…..

DAVID JULIA

INSPIRED

VIZZTONE RECORDS VT-DJM 002

HEY THERE SALLY–THROW ME A ROPE–SOMETHING AIN’T RIGHT–SUNSHINE BOOGIE–IF ONLY–NICE AND WARM–DON’T GET ME GOIN’–EMPTY PROMISES–KEEP HER AROUND TOO LONG–CLEAN BREAK–YOU DON’T NEED NO SHELTER

Talk about a “pheenom”–David Julia is the epitome’ of the term.  This Florida-based bluesman is all of SEVENTEEN years old, and he’s been performing since he was seven!  He’s been to the IBC’s in Memphis four years in a row, and his latest album, “Inspired,” is a tribute to those players who have mentored and taught him.  It’s produced by another big-time player, Mike Zito, and it was laid down at Marz Studio in Nederland, TX.  Of the eleven cuts, six are David’s originals, and the covers are courtesy of a wide array of contemporary blues’ best.  He has a strong vocal delivery as well, and begins this set with a cool, Fifties-inspired shuffle, “Hey There Sally.”  He reprises that Fifties flair a bit later with the reverential love song, “If Only you were mine,” accentuated by the sanctified organ of Elliot Keys.

The young man goes wise beyond his years with two socially-conscious cuts that served as favorites.  First up, the minor-key “Throw Me A Rope” finds our hero dealing with friends “dying all around me,” fighting the battles of addiction.  Then, the bristling “Something Ain’t Right” takes dead aim at the “one percent” who have it all, while the rest of us struggle daily just to get by.  “Don’t Get Me Going,” is a good-time ode to youth, ’cause “I can go all night,” and David and Zito close the set with a playful acoustic duet.  Even in the face of the brutal storms that have plagued the Deep South this season, “You Don’t Need No Shelter, long as I’m around!”

David Julia is fulfilling his promise to those who have nurtured his talents, and is having a fun time doing it.  Get “Inspired” by this powerful young artist!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

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Sean Chambers review…November 7, 2018….

SEAN CHAMBERS

WELCOME TO MY BLUES

AMERICAN SHOWPLACE MUSIC  ASM 7501

WELCOME TO MY BLUES–BLACK EYED SUSIE–CHERRY RED WINE–BOXCAR WILLIE–CRY ON ME–ONE MORE NIGHT TO RIDE–RED HOT MAMA–YOU KEEP ME SATISFIED–KEEP MOVIN ON–ALL NIGHT LONG–RIVIERA BLUE

You know Sean Chambers knows somethin’ about the blues, as, from 1998 to 2003, he served as guitarist and bandleader for the iconic Hubert Sumlin.  Sean’s latest album for American Showplace Music, entitled “Welcome To My Blues,” features eight bristling originals and three waaay-cool covers.  Joining Sean on this set is Moe Watson on drums, Todd Cook on bass, and the inimitable John Ginty on keys.

As the old folks used to say, “It ain’t no wonder” that, during his tenure with Hubert’s outfit, Britain’s “Guitarist” magazine named Sean one of the Top 50 Blues Guitarists of the Last Century.  He wastes no time in blistering all things stringed in the leadoff title cut, where a love affair takes a wrong turn, so “if you wanna walk in my shoes, Welcome To My Blues,” scorching blues-rock at its best.  The slide’s the thing on the ensuing cut, embellished by the fore-day creep of John Ginty’s keys work, the curious tale of Big Joe and “Black Eyed Susie!”  One of John’s originals, “Boxcar Willie,” further showcases Sean’s affinity for a good blues story-in-song.

Sean channels his inner Elmore James on the roadhouse rock of “my Red Hot Mama, knows how to blow my fuse,” and, on this one, John is all over the straight-88’s, this one serving as one of our favorites.  The life of that traveling bluesman is chronicled via the slow blues of “got to Keep Movin’ On,” for the love of the music!  The set closes with our other favorite, a co-write between Sean and John, the guitar-and-piano-heavy,  plaintive instrumental, “Riviera Blue.”

Sean Chambers continues to be a torch-bearer for excellence in guitar-driven contemporary blues-rock.  Throw in this incredible band of backing musicians, and “Welcome To My Blues” is a welcome endeavor, indeed!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Michot’s Melody Makers review…November 5, 2018….

MICHOT’S MELODY MAKERS

BLOOD MOON

SINKING CITY RECORDS

TWO STEP DE STE MARIE–GRAND MARAIS–DANS LES PINS–ALLONS TOUS BOIRE UN COUP–BLUES DE NEG FRANCAIS–LA LUNE ES CROCHE–COYOTE SUR LES CHEMINS–LA DANSE CARREE

It was our great pleasure not too long ago to review an album from the Lost City Ramblers, “Kalenda,”  from August of 2017,  which eventually won a Grammy.  Leader of this group is fiddle man/vocalist Louis Michot.  He joined forces with two of the Ramblers, Bryan Webre on bass and Kirkland Middleton on drums and percussion, as well as electric guitarist Mark Bingham to become Michot’s Melody Makers, who have just released their latest album, “Blood Moon,” for Simking City Records.  The whole thing was laid down at the legendary Docksde Studios, oddly enough during the July blood moon phase.

The cuts consist of Acadian fiddle tunes, many of them at least a century old, and some even pre-date the use of accordion.  Another cool part of this album is the band’s use of samples and drum pads in this percussion-heavy outing.  Add in Michot’s authentic, French-only vocals, and this becomes a real treat for the dancers and other fans of this genre’ of folk music.  Excellent examples are the leadoff “Two Step de Ste Marie,” and  the lively “Blues De Neg Francais.”  The sampling/drum pad standout is one of our favorites, “La Lune Es Croche.”  Our other favorite featured Mark Bingham on electric guitar for the brooding, “blood-moon-ish,” “Dans Les Pins.”

Louis Michot and his band of Melody Makers bring a strong air of authenticity to this revered music of the Acadian folk.  Whether you speak French or you don’t, the rhythms and grooves of “Blood Moon” are irresistible!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Eric McFadden review…November 4, 2018….

ERIC MCFADDEN

PAIN BY NUMBERS

WHISKEY BAYOU RECORDS

WHILE YOU WERE GONE–LOVE COME RESCUE ME–LONG GONE–THE GIRL HAS CHANGED–SKELETON KEY–I NEVER LISTENED TOO GOOD–SO HARD TO LEAVE–IF I DIE TODAY–FOOL YOUR HEART–THE JESUS GONNA SEE YOU NAKED–DON’T YOU WANNA LIVE–CACTUS JUICE

Eric McFadden is a powerful singer/guitarist/composer who has just released his latest album, “Pain By Numbers,” for Tab Benoit’s Whiskey Bayou Records label.  This artist has been a guitarist in the Anders Osborne band, Eric Burdon’s band, and even a stint in the George Clinton/Parliament/Funkadelic Mothership, giving him a leg up on varying genres’.  That’s the cool thing about this set.  It defies any one particular grouping, and it also shows Eric at some of his most vulnerable,and, dare we say, darkest times.

Perhaps the definition of “blues” might mean “three chords and a cloud of dust” at the Saturday night fish fry for some folks, but, for Eric, the blues comes in a much deeper, darker shade.  It is a more personal feeling for him, as evidenced by the stark, dark-natured theme of this material, much gleaned from Eric’s own experiences.

Ever have that “sit straight up in bed out of a deep sleep” feeling where somethin’ just ain’t right?  That’s the vibe in the brooding opener, “While You Were Gone,” with Eric’s grunge-worthy guitar and Hellhound vocal, as his lover’s nowhere in sight, and there’s a “red moon” out his window!!  Tab Benoit adds keys to the next cut, which served as one of our favorites.  Biblical references to Abraham, Gabriel, and Simon Peter’s three denials of Jesus are the theme of the Dylan-esque “Love Come Rescue Me.”  Dealing with the consequences of addiction is the Stones-y blues rock of “The Girl Has Changed,”  while the freight-train, Hooker-styled groove of “If I Die Today,” leads to possible multiple interpretations of the lyrics, exactly what Eric was attempting.  Firstly, our hero could be at peace with himself and be ready to go, or, as we saw it, a cry for help from a potential suicide victim.  This one served as our other favorite.  Eric closes the set with the Djangly, Djazzy “Cactus Juice,” a cool-breeze-on-a-hot-Bayou-day instrumental.

Eric McFadden co-founded the 10-Star Program, to use music and his fellow artists to reach out to troubled youth as a way of giving back.  For blues fans, “Pain By Numbers” gives us the satisfaction derived from hearing an excellent contemporary player at his best!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band review….November 3, 2018….

REV. PEYTON’S BIG DAMN BAND

POOR UNTIL PAYDAY

THIRTY TIGERS RECORDS

YOU CAN’T STEAL MY SHINE–DIRTY SWERVE–POOR UNTIL PAYDAY–SO GOOD–CHURCH CLOTHES–GET THE FAMILY TOGETHER–ME AND THE DEVIL–FRENCHMEN STREET–I SUFFER, I GET TOUGHER–IT IS OR IT AIN’T

Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band proudly proclaim in the liner notes of their latest album, “Poor Until Payday,” that they had more fun making this one than any of their previous ones.  Fans, it really shows thru in the performances.  The Rev’s big, powerful vocals, coupled with his wife, Breezy Washboard Peyton, and drummer Maxwell Senteney, bust out a powerful message that is equal parts Saturday night fish fry and Sunday go-to-meetin.’

The fun starts with an example of the latter, as Rev’s scalded-dog guitar leads the way on the gospel-inflected, “You Can’t Steal My Shine.”  A bit later, he revisits that theme in a poignant tribute to those who can barely eke out a daily existence on “I’m gonna need some Church Clothes and some dress shoes,” when tragedy strikes and they are called Home.  That hardscrabble, day-to-day battle is an underlying theme for much of this set.  The title cut could have two interpretations.  First, the Rev.  is positively shouting something that ’bout 99% of us can relate, “I’m Poor Until Payday,” but it also conjures up thoughts of being poor on Earth until one gets their final reward in the hereafter.  Either way, his slide is Elmore James reincarnated as he blasts out this message.

He wants us to have some fun while we’re still here, too.  The Rev. preaches core family values accentuated with some cool fingerpicking on “Get The Family Together,” and Maxwell second-lines us all the way down to “Frenchmen Street, where all the cool kids meet!”

Our favorite had a brooding, Crossroads-ish vibe.  Seems that “Me And The Devil” are in search of some poor soul, and, “if I get you first, it will be worse,” with that hell-hound slide spittin’ brimstone all the way thru!

Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band are perennial favorites here in Middle Tennessee from their in-store performances at Grimey’s Records.  Fact is, they just helped christen Grimey’s new digs down on Trinity Lane a few weeks ago.  The Rev.  wants to be remembered as a bluesman, first and foremost.  With one spin of ” Poor Until Payday,” there’s no doubt he can’t be anything but!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow,  The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Renee’ Austin review…November 2, 2018….

RENEE’ AUSTIN

SONGBIRDS AND ANGELS

SONGBIRDS AND ANGELS–IN YOUR WAKE–MY BELOVED–DESTINY (FEAT. PASTOR DOUGLAS A. SMITH)–FUNNEL–GRATEFUL–I’M A PENNY–WHY OH WHY–REAL GOOD FEELIN’–BUTTERFLY–THE ROSES ARE CRYING–THAT’S WHAT I’M OFFERING–AARON BLESSING

In the early-2000’s, Renee’ Austin had it all.  She was a big-voiced, soulful singer signed to the Blind Pig label, (go check out her “Sweet Talk” album, and, in particular, her cut “Bury The Hatchet” from that set), and was destined for blues stardom.  But, as we all know, sometimes life has other plans.  Complications from thyroid surgery left her unable to sing, or to even speak above a whisper.  She went to work at a St. Paul, MN, nonprofit to help pay the bills, and, almost a year after her surgery, she answered the phone at work, and her voice had returned, just as mysteriously as it had disappeared.  She never lost her faith in God and His miracles, and now has slowly worked herself back into “recording shape.”  The results are astounding, and, save for a few upper-register notes, she’s back where she was a dozen years ago.  Yep–“Songbirds And Angels” finds Renee’ back to her soulful self, over thirteen original songs that show her love and compassion for others, as well as her undying love and gratitude for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  The songs praise her recovery and her faith, and this theme manifests itself in the leadoff title cut, as our heroine proclaims she’s “so filled with love the angels bow down!”  “My Beloved” is an ode to her devotion to a lover, and became one of our favorites, as it would make an excellent wedding song.  Mark Arneson adds sax to another cut dealing with love for her man, “I’ve got a Real Good Feelin’ about your love!”

Renee’ is on solo piano on the poignant “Butterfly,” as she boldly faces and conquers her fears thru God’s love and mercy.  This song, along with two others, were our remaining favorites.  A duet with Pastor Douglas A. Smith chronicles the lives of two individuals who make questionable choices, but redeem themselves thru the “love that wants to bring them home,” “Destiny.”  And, in a little throwback shout-out to her bluesier days, she gets downright funky on “Grateful,” as she again offers thanks to the One responsible for her resurgence.

Hey, y’all—miracles DO happen, and the power of prayer is working 24/7.  Just ask Renee’ Austin as she returns to the spotlight with “Songbirds And Angels.”  Peace…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Dave Keller review…November 1, 2018….

DAVE KELLER

EVERY SOUL’S A STAR

CATFOOD RECORDS   CFR 026

DON’T LET THEM TAKE YOUR JOY–EVERY SOUL’S A STAR–BABY, I LOVE YOU–OLD TRICKS–YOU BRING THE SUNSHINE–FREEDOM IS OURS–THIS IS GONNA HURT–IT’S ALL IN YOUR EYES–KISS ME LIKE YOU MISS ME–WHEN ARE YOU GONNA CRY–AIN’T GIVIN’ IN

Dave Keller has been a favorite of ours ever since being tabbed to sing on Ronnie Earl’s “Living In The Light” album.  He’s a tremendous soul-blues singer, guitarist, and composer, and counts among his mentors Johnny Rawls, Mighty Sam McClain, and Robert Ward.  It was Johnny Rawls who hooked Dave up with Bob Trenchard of Catfood Records, ’bout five years back during Blues Awards week.  Their meeting led to this album, Dave’s debut for Catfood Records, “Every Soul’s A Star,” produced by Jim Gaines.  It’s ten originals and one cover that share Dave’s belief that there is good and beauty in every one of us, and that we all, as a society, must stand together to conquer hate.

Backing Dave on this set were the collaborative, outstanding talents of The Rays, the Catfood “house band,” if you will.  They include Bob Trenchard on bass and legendary Motown guitarist Johnny McGhee.  Leading off, Dave preaches standing up to adversity, “Don’t Let Them Take Your Joy,” then moves to the soulful, upbeat positivity of the title cut, which served as one of our favorites.  It traces the beauty and artistry in us all, where, indeed, “Every Soul’s A Star/just be who you are.”  Dave turns a clever lyric in a song about missing a long-gone lover, “I’m up to your Old Tricks again,” while, a bit later, Dave’s the one breaking up, and lets her down as gently as he can, but, still, “This Is Gonna Hurt,”

We had two other favorites, too.  It takes a cool, confident singer to pull off Aretha’s “Baby, I Love You,” but Dave’s got it goin’ on over Johnny’s funky leads, the irresistible backbeat, and the heavenly backing vocals of Janelle Thompson and Shakara Weston.  Our other favorite closed the set.  Dave lets it be known he believes in the power of love and sho’ nuff  “Ain’t Givin’ In, and ain’t givin’ up!”

Dave Keller composed some powerful, moving material for “Every Soul’s A Star,” and the Rays got on board with the project and brought it all to life behind Dave’s mighty vocals and guitar.  Dave proves once again that in the end, love always wins out!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.