John Verity review…June 6, 2019….

JOHN VERITY

WHERE’S THE LOVE

VAVOOM RECORDS

WHERE’S THE LOVE–I JUST DON’T LOVE YOU ANYMORE–NOTHING BUT THE BLUES–B B KING–WHERE’S THE LOVE (RADIO EDIT)

Back in the day, if you were lucky enough to have seen Jimi or Janis in concert, odds are you might have seen guitarist John Verity opening for them!  Yep–he’s been around the blues globe, and continues to bring some of the finest blues-rock to his fans.  His latest, for VaVoom Records, is entitled “Where’s The Love,” and is a five-song EP that shows that neither his voice, with those cool, upper-register reaches, nor his playing, on his custom Fret-King Corona JV, has lost any of its lustre over time.  A life-long bluesman, he proudly proclaims that everything he does will always have that blues-rock edge, and this EP proves it.

Things begin in a minor-key way.  A sweltering, slow-blues groove spins the tale of John’s lover, a sho’ nuff “material girl,” who’s more in tune with “money” and “stuff,” while John ponders their future in “Where’s The Love.”  (The set closes with a shorter, more radio-friendly version of this song.).  Next up is a nice, midtempo shuffle, the story of another lover who was once an inspiration, but now wants her freedom, “I Just Don’t Love You Anymore.”  John returns to the slow-blues arena with “Nothing But The Blues,” before busting out our favorite.  “B B King” rocks the joint, as John recalls his first guitar and how the blues icon’s music helped shape his career choice.  Hey y’all—“no one made Lucille sing like B B King!”

John Verity rocks on, y’all, and is in fine form throughout “Where’s The Love.”  Just exactly what one would expect from an artist who’s “blue to his soul!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

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The Iveys review…June 5, 2019….

THE IVEYS

COLORS OF HONEY

YOU’VE GOT SOMETHING–WHATEVER COMES–RUNNING WILD–COLORS OF HONEY–KING AND MARIE–THE DREAM

The Iveys are an El Paso-based quintet that began as a duo.  Arlen Ivey, and his sister, Jessica Ivey Carr, got some valuable performing experience in their “duo days,” but found that the band’s overall sound was much fuller and the harmonies tighter after the inclusion of brother Galen, sister Jenna, and brother-in-law Sammy Carr.  These are the five that appear on their latest EP, “Colors Of Honey.”  These six songs touch on love, life, and everyday trials and victories, and a hearkening-back to happier times.

A subtle touch of the blues shows up in the leadoff track by way of  a sly slide guitar hidden in the mix of “You’ve Got Something that I Need.”  Bill Radcliffe’s pedal steel adds the perfect touch as our heroes explain to a child to “take Whatever Comes,” as “there’s no such thing as a dream too big,” preaching a message of positivity.  The title cut deals with a perhaps-bittersweet, nostalgic look at happier days, and shows the band’s passion for the music of Bob Dylan.

Our favorite played out as a fine “history lesson.”  “King And Marie” traces the life story of the Iveys’ great-grandparents, and how their childhood love grew into the family farm that the siblings grew up living on.  It ties together World War I, the Great Depression, and even Pancho Villa, as our hardscrabble lovers made their way to west Texas to live out their love-filled life.

The Iveys will be touring extensively in support of “Colors Of Honey,” It is a set that is full of breath-taking harmonies,  powerful instrumentation by both the family and their guest musicians, and  of brilliant stories-in-song!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Shady Frank review….June 5, 2019….

SHADY FRANK

HOME

TAKE MY HAT–HOME–OFFLINE–RIGHT FROM WRONG–THE FEELING–IT HURTS ME TOO–MAMA BLUES–FIVE WEEKS–YOU DON’T LOVE ME–CROSSROADS

Swedish trio Shady Frank consist of Marcus Weinemacher on guitars, vocals, and harp, Thomas Pedersen on drums, and Amadou Khan on bass.  They formed in 2016 and do a mighty fine job of mixing traditional and contemporary blues sounds and many of their songs tackle everyday life, and love in its many splintered versions.

Witness the leadoff “Take My Hat,” where, when the fire is gone, she can “take everything that reminds me of you,” ’cause “you can never take away my blues!”  Our hero finds that his lover won’t answer his texts or e-mails, and comes to the perhaps-erroneous conclusion that she’s just “gone Offline!”  It follows a cool slow-blues groove, and takes a humorous look at love amid the social media frenzy of the 21st century!  On “The Feeling,” this time she’s long gone and won’t give out another chance.  It’s got some sweet wah-wah guitar, over a shufflin’ Double-Trouble-ish groove.

They pay tribute to the masters, too.  First up, Marcus busts out his harp and is joined on vocals by Thomas, on a crackling read of Elmo’s “It Hurts Me Too.”   They close the set with tradition-steeped reads of “You Don’t Love Me,” and a slide-heavy, percussive road trip down to that place where you better flag a ride quick, “Crossroads.”

The fellows in Shady Frank have certainly taken care of their homework.  They deftly mix the old with the new for a brilliant blues trip down “Home.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Paula Harris review…June 3, 2019….

PAULA HARRIS

SPEAKEASY

NOTHING GOOD HAPPENS AFTER MIDNIGHT–I WANNA HATE MYSELF TOMORROW (FOR RAISIN’ HELL TONIGHT!)–HAUNTED–GOOD MORNING HEARTACHE–SOUL-SUCKING MAN–THIS LOVE IS GONNA DO ME IN–A MIND OF HER OWN–SOMETHING WICKED (FEAT. BIG LLOU JOHNSON)–TROUBLE MAKER–‘ROUND MIDNIGHT–YOU DON’T LOOK A DAY OVER FABULOUS–DO ME GOOD–MORE THAN YOU’LL EVER KNOW–FOREVER AND A DAY–SCRATCHES ON YOUR BACK–IS YOU IS OR IS YOU AIN’T MY BABY

Chanteuse Paula Harris originally hails from Clemson, but is now based in the Frisco Bay Area.  Blues artists know that usually means a trip to Kid Andersen’s Greaseland Studios in San Jose, where Paula and her trio ventured for their latest release, “Speakeasy.”  Clocking in at a robust sixteen cuts, this set hearkens back to the era of speakeasies, a time when the singers were the stars.  Paula has sung in front of a symphony, and is well-versed in jazz, pop, and blues.  In 2012, she and her band took home a Top Three honor at the IBC’s in Memphis, and this set delves deeply into her passion for mid-20TH century jazz and blues singers.  “Speakeasy” touches on the styles of Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan, and Etta James, and Paula knocks this one clean outta Candlestick!

There are numerous highlights.  Paula,pianist Nate Ginsberg, brush-stroked drummer “D’Mar” Martin, and doghouse bass man Rich Girard set the tone for the rest of the album with sage advice from her father, “Nothing Good Happens After Midnight,” particularly in the romantic arena.  She offers a touching read of Billie Holiday’s “Good Morning Heartache–what’s new,?” and carries that theme a bit further with Monk’s “Round Midnight,” featuring muted trumpet from Bill Ortiz.

We picked two favorites, but it was a tough call, because everything was so good.  A devilish spoken-word verse from Big Llou Johnson enforces our girl’s belief in the powerful spell of a lover who embodies the spirit of “something Wicked this way comes!”  And, brothers, you can lie all you want about your kinks and etcetera, but, when she asks you, “who put those Scratches On Your Back,” just what’re you gon’ say?

It is easy to see why Paula Harris was so popular with the IBC judges.  A beautiful, smoky voice that can handle anything has carried over into her recording career, and she plays the vamp and the vixen to the hilt in “Speakeasy.”  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow.

Paul Karapiperis review….June 2, 2019….

PAUL KARAPIPERIS

ACOUSTIC AND ELECTRIC GROWLS

A PLACE IN YOUR BRAIN–LIFE IS JUST LIKE A BAR WHERE THERE AIN’T NO BOOZE–SIMPLE HONEST AND WISE–BROKEN PIECES OF MY WASTED TIME–THIS JUKE JOINT OF BITTER MUSIC–I CAN’T DO ANYTHING RIGHT–TRAPPED IN A FOX HOLE–SOME STRANGE TRUTHS–THE BEST TRIP THAT NEVER ENDS–A NEW DESTINATION–THE OLD BLUE FENCE OF FEAR–BREAK OUT OF YOUR CAGE–ALL COMES OUT RIGHT–WRAPPED UP IN YOUR MAGIC WORLD–THE BLUES IN HIS VEINS–THE RIVER–STUPID RULES BLUES

If we were to up and take off for Greece, it’d sho’ nuff be an adventure.  Our friend, vocalist and harp man Paul Karapiperis hails from there, and he has offered up an adventurous set of blues for fans all over the globe to enjoy, “Acoustic And Electric Growls.”  Paul’s blues have always been eclectic and thought-provoking, and these seventeen originals are no exception.  He has taken the raw, primitive blues borne of the Delta and “tripped them out” to create a powerful potion for blues lovers’ palates, indeed.

Opening the proceedings, Paul’s looking for “A Place In Your Brain, that leads to the memories you are keeping!”  It’s fueled by free-form harp, echo-washed vocals, and some serious percussion.  “Life Is Like A Bar Where There Ain’t No Booze” is driven by that manic harp, and the denizens therein have nothin to lose, ’cause they “ain’t got nothin but the blues!”

“Trapped In A Foxhole” was one of our favorites.  This one is acoustic-themed, and Paul’s vocal and harp reassure the listener that “you’ll find your stolen soul again.”  Paul closes the set with another of our favorites, a funky, electric-acoustic amalgam where our hero begs a lover, in “Stupid Rules Blues,” to “please take all these stupid rules from me, and these blues from around my neck.”  The guitars in this one have a strong West Side, Otis Rush or Magic Sam vibe, That leads us to our final favorite.  With “It All Comes Out Right,” Paul gives us probably the most traditional, Chicago-styled cut of the collection. Set over a cool shuffle groove, the harp carries the day in true Windy City, Junior Wells style.

Paul Karapiperis sings the blues with a distinctive brogue that fits well with the material in “Acoustic And Electric Growls.”  It takes you down to the Crossroads, spits in the face of that ol’ devil, and then hops the next thing smokin’ all the way to Chicago, and rocks every juke joint in town!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Kelly’s Lot review…June 1, 2019….

KELLY’S LOT

CAN’T TAKE MY SOUL

COBRASIDE

ALL I EVER WANT IS THE BLUES–ALL HOPE AIN’T LOST–ALYSSA–WOE IS ME–SAFE AND WARM–RISE UP (LEVE’ TOI)–BROKE MYSELF–LET IT BREATHE–DIRT–LITTLE BIT OF THIS–CAN’T TAKE MY SOUL–MON AMI

Kelly Zirbes (say “service”) prefers just Kelly Z, and she and her band, Kelly’s Lot, have been tearin’ these blues up on the SoCal scene for 25 years now, ever since their first night at the Roxy in Hollywood in 1994.  Bathed in the muddy waters of the blues, she and her writing partner/guitarist Perry Robertson offer up twelve eclectic cuts on their latest set, “Can’t Take My Soul.”  There are love songs, loving tributes, topical-themed songs, and a couple of songs done partly in French.

The party starts with a bang, in the form of the opening shuffle that finds our girl under a lover’s spell, where “All I Want Is The Blues.”  This one name-checks many of our heroes, from Muddy to SRV to Etta to Koko and everyone in between.  She channels her inner torch singer to present an ode to true love, where she feels “Safe And Warm,” while she gets in a spirited duet with Jean-Francois Thomas, as each sings a verse in their native language, “Rise Up (Leve’-Toi).”

We had several favorites.  Set over a creepin’ bass line and Frank Hinojosa’s harp, one can break a lot of things, but our heroine “Broke Myself” by loving you!  “Woe Is Me” shows off Kelly’s fantastic alto voice in the story of a lover who is always “focused on your bad luck,” and features squeezebox and frottoir from Eddie Baytos.  Lastly, Kelly takes us all down to Blues Church with the testifyin’ of “you can take my guitar when it’s time for me to go, but You Can’t Take My Soul!”

Kelly Z is one of the most unique artists in all of contemporary blues.  Continually challenging herself to greater heights, she often encourages her social media followers to provide her with a single word, out of which she composes a song.  That energy is evident throughout “Can’t Take My Soul.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

 

Silver Lake 66 review…May 31, 2019….

SILVER LAKE 66

RAGGED HEART

BLUE EARTH COUNTY–RAGGED HEART–BROKEN–FADED TATTOO–TENDER–CHECK OUT TO CASH–HARD THING TO DO–LIKE A RIVER–BROKEN DREAMS AND CIGARETTES–SUCH A MESS

Silver Lake 66 are Maria Francis (vocals, acoustic guitar, and percussion), and Jeff Overbo (vocals, acoustic, electric, and baritone guitars), and they hail from the Portland, Oregon, region.  Fans, they have it ALL, y’all–roots steeped deep in classic country, roots, and good ole rock ‘n’ roll, and display it for everyone on ten originals that make up their latest set, “Ragged Heart.”  Like any great duet, the pair switch off on lead vocals, and sweet, strong harmonies are plentiful.  Their full sound is rounded out by a brilliant band of backing musicians, including producer, pedal steel, and alto sax man Bryan Daste.

Jeff lights the fuse to this dynamite party, joined by Maria, on the country-rockin’ tale of a man tryin’ to “find my blessing” with “Derek And The Dominos to satisfy my mind,” in “Blue Earth County.”  Maria takes the lead on the story of busted love and second chances, where “you never said life would be easy,” the title cut, “Ragged Heart.”

Jeff gives a shout-out to Southern rock with “Check Out To Cash,” while it’s cry-in-your-beer time down at Tootsie’s as Maria lays her heart out on the story of lovin’ a cheater, which, as any country fan knows, is a “Hard Thing To Do.”

Our favorite was a gimme.  Channeling George and Tammy at their “Golden Ring”-era finest, our lovers trade lines throughout, and each one knows what  it’s like when you’re “Broken.”

With the CMA Fest taking over downtown this week, perhaps now might be a great time for the suits down on Sixteenth Avenue to take a long listen to Silver Lake 66 and “Ragged Heart.”  It might  serve as a reminder to them what that “C” actually stands for.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.