Wee Willie Walker And
The Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra

“After a While”

Blue Dot Records



By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © September 2017


For two very good reasons I'm not even going to attempt to tell you about Wee Willie Walker's musical history.  The first reason is I wouldn't know where to start and the second reason is that once I did, I wouldn't know when to stop.  That said, later in this review, I'll tell anyone who may have been living under a rock of late exactly where to find out all about this "Soulman's Soulman".
 
"After A While" is the first recording featuring Wee Willie Walker and the Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra performing together, and the more I listen the more I'm hoping to one day be writing about volumes two, three and more. 
 
From the many amazing performers: Wee Willie Walker on vocals; Anthony Paule on electric, acoustic and baritone guitars; Tony Lufrano on B-3 organ, Wurlitzer and Steinway Grand; Derrick "D'Mar" Martin on drums, percussion and vibes; Tom Poole on trumpet; Derek James on trombone; Charles McNeal on tenor saxophone; Johnnie Bamont on baritone saxophone and flute; Terrie Odabi on a vocal duet with Willie; and Loralee Christensen, Larry Batiste and Glenn Walters on background vocals; to the outstanding production work by: Bruce Kaphan; Wee Willie Walker; Anthony Paule; and Christine Vitale; right to what is starting to become the incomparable songwriting skills of Christine Vitale; this release is just screaming Blues Music Awards.......and most likely in at least half a dozen categories. 
 
"After A While" features thirteen tracks of which five are covers and the other eight being band originals with Christine Vitale having a hand in six of them.  Since saying something about all 13 tracks isn't feasible, once again I'm finding it difficult as to where to start and where to stop. 
 
I can't go wrong starting with what could possibly be the most beautiful song of the lot, the disc's title track - "After A While".  Having given this one several listens I'm convinced that it's easily one of the most beautifully, soulfully and emotionally sung songs I've heard in decades.  As a matter of fact, it's throwback, slow dance style took me back decades as well.  Musically, it features the band in a rhythmically soothing mode with extraordinary vibes and tenor sax highlights by D'Mar and Charles.  Sticking with my favorite way of giving a song my ultimate compliment I'd like to now tell Christine that she may just have written the "Song Of The Year" with this masterpiece.
 
"I Don't Want To Take A Chance" may have been Willie's thoughts about releasing this song back in the sixties - when he originally recorded it - but just one listen will have you happy his mind was changed.  After a bit of rearranging, he's now taking that chance and in mainstream music, he'd have himself a hit on the soul charts for doing so.  Back then, he obviously didn't have the Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra backing him up, and I'm sure these maestros have a lot to do with that.          
 
"Hate Take A Holiday", a song on which Willie collaborated, is anthem quality.  With lyrics that include: "Hate, take a holiday, I know you must be tired.  For thousands of years you made a river of tears, bringing pain and misery to life.  Once, a man who's heart was filled with love said 'I have a dream', that one day people of all colors and creeds would walk hand and hand in peace"; the song sends a powerful message in a time where messages like this are sadly necessary.  Musically, the song makes changes in which it sometimes sounds like a protest style field holler and at other times like a praise the Lord Gospel hymn.  From all aspects of the songs performance, intensity is it's common denominator
 
With Willie sitting this one out, the band - in spite of being on top of it throughout - get a chance to take center stage on an instrumental titled "The Willie Walk".  From the opening guitar chords, to the vibrant B3 chords, to the deep baritone sax notes, to the muffled trumpet leads right through to the profound percussion and rhythm, this one about as funky as it gets. 
 
You can read more about this storied soul man by checking out his website - www.weewilliewalker.com and while your surfing, be sure to swing by Anthony Paule's site as well - www.anthonypaule.com.  When you do, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you and that I'll be hooting and hollering when I hear their names - along with Christine Vitale - being announced in the Memphis Cook Convention Center in May (they'll know what I mean).

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



 



Vanessa Collier

“Meeting My Shadow”

Ruff Records



By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © September 2017


At 26 years of age, which in blues years is still like being a kid, Vanessa Collier is accomplishing feats that some of the genres veterans whom have been in the business 26 years - or more - have yet to accomplish.  One of those feats happened in May of this year when she was part of a group that included: Al Basile; Nancy Wright; Sax Gordon Beale; and Terry Hanck; who were all nominated for a Blues Music Award in the "Instrumentalist Horn" Category.  Now that's what I call keeping serious company.  As we all know, Terry Hanck took home the trophy, and since it was his second consecutive win, he's ineligible in 2018.  You see where I'm going with this, don't you?
 
"Meeting My Shadow" is Vanessa's second release and first on Ruff Records.  It consists of eleven songs of which eight are her own compositions.  Inside the jacket there is a paragraph where Vanessa offers her thanks and the very first group she addresses are the overwhelming number of fans who have been so supportive to her.  Many of them who, as she states, “often wait in line for more than an hour to purchase a CD and say hello” to her.  Having seen this take place, I can attest to it.  Last April, at the Bonita Springs Blues Festival, I personally witnessed the biggest line I have ever seen at a merch tent and I do happen to know that she sold in the vicinity of 150 CDs.  When she took the stage I have no idea of the percentage of audience members who knew of her, but I do know that by sets end 100% of that audience knew Vanessa Collier.  
 
On this project, Vanessa Collier, on: Vocals; background vocals; alto, tenor and soprano saxophones; Flute; Rhodes and Wurlitzer keyboards: clavinet; percussion; organ; and guitar; is joined by TK Jackson on drums, percussion, organ and background vocals; Daniel McKee on bass; Laura Chavez on guitar and resonator; Charles Hodges on organ, clavinet, piano and Wurlitzer; Marc Franklin on trumpet and fluglehorn; Josh Roberts on slide guitar; Brenda Jackson on organ; Lenny Bradford on bass; and Nicholas Stevens on drums.  Sound like a lot of music?  You bet!
 
"Dig A Little Deeper" (V. Collier) is one of several tracks where Vanessa is a quadruple threat.  On this funky dance tune, in addition to belting out the soulful lead and background vocals - along with belting it out on the saxophone - her organ leads are the driving force behind the very funky rhythm.  Of course, TK and Daniel, on the drums and bass, have a lot to do with that as well. 
 
"Two Parts Sugar, One Part Lime" (V. Collier) - that's just the way life is sometime.  That pretty much sums up momma Colliers advice to Vanessa on this all out smoker.  With some very serious percussion and rhythm going on behind her, Vanessa - with her powerful vocals and wailin' sax leads - is all over this one.  All that - along with Laura's Rockin' guitar chords and Charles' rousing, barrelhouse piano leads - this one's now a three alarmer.
 
Another excellent track is Vanessa's version of "When Love Comes To Town" (Clayton/Evans/ Hewson/Mullen).  In addition to Vanessa showcasing some amazing vocal range, it features a heck of a 1-2 punch with Laura and Josh nailing it on the lead and slide guitar highlights. 
 
Being a slow and very beautifully done blues ballad generally makes a song one of my favorites and "You're Gonna Make Me Cry" (D. Malone) is one of those and did just that.  With the band set into a slow and groovy rhythm the ladies take this one and run with it.  Vanessa's emotionally charged vocal performance is absolutely magnificent - especially at the end of the song where the music fades out and all you hear is her angelic voice.  It left me wanting to hear this whole song done acapella style.  Meanwhile, there's another lady who is also working her magic.  Being the slow blues song that it is, Laura's right there with the soft then stinging, note bending guitar licks that these tracks musically call for.  Great job ladies!
 
"Up Above My Head, I Hear Music In The Air" (R. Tharpe) is a flat out, feel good, foot stompin', hand clappin', joy inspiring, spiritually charged Gospel song about a place that's way above our heads and really up in the air... if you get my drift.  There's no way to individually credit any one in particular here because whatever everyone is doing they're doing it perfectly well.
 
After you check her site - www.vanessacollier.com - tell her the Blewzzman sent you there.     

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



 



Freightrain

“Outside Ourselves”

Self released



By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © September 2017


"Outside Ourselves" is the second project I've had the pleasure of working for Robert "Freightrain" Parker on.  The first was a year ago when I reviewed his debut disc titled "Freightrain Live". 
 
With the band from that disc still in tact, Freightrain are: Robert "Freightrain" Parker - the discs producer - on bass, percussion and lead vocals; Grace Lougen on guitars and handclaps; Greg Leech on organ; Damone Jackson on drums, percussion and handclaps; and Harry Graser on piano.  Guest artists include: Toney Rhodes on keyboards; Bobby Militello and Ken Parker on sax; Amina Boyd on lead and background vocals; Sarah Parker on background vocals and handclaps; DeJuaine "D'Mott" Motley, Grace Stumberg, Megan Brown, DaMarka Wheeler, Darcel Blue, Carl Smith, Jaimier Hennegan, Leslie Gardner and Simone Appleby on background vocals; and Allison McCulloch, Linnea Cremean, Alex Khoury, Michael Etherington and Justin Brittan on handclaps.  
 
"Outside Ourselves" contains nine all original songs having smooth, inspiration and precision in common.  After several listens, there were so many ways that I thought of to describe their style that I decided to go straight to the source to see how they do it.  I was told that  "Freightrain are a culturally diverse, soulful band that possesses a distinctive and energetic approach to American Roots" and I could not have said that any better.   
 
The disc opens with a song titled "Elijah".  It was written for Freightrain's son, who - because of Autism - does not speak.  For that reason, Robert felt the lyrics of the song should be left out, making it an instrumental.  Having told you that, I do want to point out that the lyrics are included in the booklet accompanying the disc and once you read them, you'll be wishing a box of Kleenex was included as well.  Having read that, you now have to know the song is amazingly beautiful and very tenderly performed.  Although it's eight minutes in length, you might want to allow yourself much longer to hear it.  Heck, I just finished my fourth replay.
 
The title track, "Outside Ourselves", poignantly describes what's going on in the world today. The brilliant duet of Robert and Amina, combined with the angelic backing vocals of Grace (Stumberg) and Megan, raise this one to hymnal level.  Musically, like the listener, the band's in tune with the lyrics as well, and everything rises so perfectly together.  Great production.  
 
With each and every song I've listened to on this disc, the writing - and the frame of mind it's coming from - has impressed me more and more.  I found myself at least a half dozen times thinking I was listening to the most beautiful song of the lot and then it would happen once again. That said, "You Found Me" is the most beautiful......I think!  It's got everything going on and it's all going on so well.  From the heartfelt and emotional lead vocals by Robert; to the silky smooth harmony back up vocals by the melodic lady choir; that smooth jazz vibe with the mellow sax leads; the organ led rhythm that will take you to church; right down to the timely feel good handclaps.  Yeah, now I'm sure -  it's the most beautiful song of the lot.      
 
Featuring the nucleus of the band, the disc's second instrumental is "Dark Season Blues".  It's an up tempo shuffle that the dancers will love.  With the band in an incredibly tight, organ led groove behind her, Grace gets into a smooth guitar groove of her own.  This is that kind of song you might listen to for hours before even thinking it was a long song.....you just get lost in it. 
 
The disc closes with basically three more minutes of the same bliss and peacefulness that it opened with.  It's titled "Elijah Reprise" and on it the band, with; it's soothing organ leads; mellowed guitar leads; and relaxed rhythm; is in that same mind transcending groove it was on "Elijah".  
 
Being a regional band from the Western New York area, there is a chance that some of you may not be all that familiar with Freightrain - and trust me when I say this - you need to change that.  That's why you need to go to www.robertfreightrainparker.com.  As usual, when you do, please tell him his friend the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



 



Benny Turner

“My Brother's Blues”

Nola Blue Records



By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © August 2017


Pretty much everyone and their brother are putting out tribute recordings these days, with the key word in this sentence being brother.  However, this is not The Whipping Posts paying tribute to The Allman Brothers; it is not The Thrillers paying tribute to Michael Jackson. This is Benny Turner paying tribute to his brother, and decades long band mate, the late and legendary Freddie King.  Unlike others, who are only familiar with the music on those tribute recordings they release, Benny Turner has lived it.    
 
"My Brother's Blues" is a collection of eleven songs that were recorded by, and very often associated with, Freddie King.  The songs were composed by a handful of recognizable songwriters of which Freddie himself is one.  Equally recognizable will be the names of the many musicians involved.  They are: Benny Turner on bass, lead and background vocals and tambourine; June Yamagishi on lead guitar; Derwin "Big D" Perkins on rhythm guitar; Barney Floyd and Tracy Griffin on trumpet; Jason Mingledorff and Greg Dawson on saxophone; Jeffery "Jellybean" Alexander on drums; Earl Smith on background vocals; Jack Miele on lead and rhythm guitar; Alonzo Johnson on bass; Davell Crawford on B3; Joe Krown on B3 and keyboards; Otis Clay and Marva Wright on lead vocals; Roosevelt Collier on lap steel; Carolyn Wonderland on lead & rhythm guitar and background vocals; Kathy Murray on background vocals; and Chizuko Yoshihiro on piano.  Lots of good players making lots of good music.
 
"Have You Ever Loved A Woman" (B. Myles) was always one of my personal favorites of Freddie's so it's no surprise that I enjoyed this version as well.  Besides that, it's got a lot going on: Vocally, the feeling and emotion Benny's putting into it had me believing it was actually him suffering through the pain of loving someone else's woman; Also vocally, he and Earl are all over the soulful backup harmonies on the chorus line; As would be the case when you not only add a horn section but two keyboards as well, the rhythm is profoundly powerful.
 
Just as you couldn't release a tribute to Freddie King and not include "Tore Down" (S. Thompson), you can't do a review of it and not mention it either...especially when it features two late greats - Otis Clay and Marva Wright - teaming up with Benny on the vocals.  Individually, then collectively, the three take turns belting the hell out of the lead and backup vocals.  It's another rhythm fueled smoker with Benny and Jellybean boosting up the bottom, Davell and Keiko creating chaos on the keys, Barney and Jason blowing fire out of their horns  In the meantime, rounding out this rocker, June's kicking in with some serious ass kickin' guitar.
 
In addition to having been recorded by so many artists, "You've Got To Love Her With A Feeling" (F. King & S. Thompson) has had a handful of them take credit for writing it as well.  Including Freddie's, I personally have several other renditions that I'm particularly fond of and now - with the arrangement I just heard here - that list now has a new addition.      
 
"See, See, Baby" (S. Thompson & F. King) is the kind of song that stops me in my tracks.  It comes on and I have to drop whatever it is I'm doing and start tapping my fingers and feet and sway to the music.  It's nothing fancy, it's just the perfect blues band ensemble: a guitarist, bassist and vocalist (Benny); a rhythm guitarist (Jack); a keyboardist (Joe); a trumpet and sax player (Barney and Jason); and a drummer (Jellybean); all locking into a perfectly tight groove while performing a precision perfect shuffle.  It's all I need for my blues boat to float.  

In addition to this new release, Benny Turner also has a brand new book out titled "Survivor - The Benny Turner Story".  You can find out more about the disc, the book and the man himself by going to www.bennyturner.com.  You can also follow Benny by searching him on Facebook.  Once you do all this, tell him and Sallie that the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



 



Altered Five Blues Band

“Charmed & Dangerous”

Blind Pig Records



By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © August 2017


After their second release back in 2012, Big City Rhythm & Blues referred to Altered Five as being "Hands Down, one of the best newer blues/R&B bands" and that statement apparently echoed throughout the blues world.  The bands third release, "Cryin' Mercy", not only earned them numerous nominations in various awards competitions but it also won the Blues Foundation's 2015 "Best Self Produced CD" award.  Now some may think that momentum like that may be hard to maintain, but Altered Five don't seem to think so and neither do I.  From what I just heard, their newest release - "Charmed and Dangerous" - could very well be their best yet.  
 
The Altered Five Blues Band are: Jeff Taylor on lead vocals; Jeff Schroedl on guitar; Mark Solveson on electric & upright bass, Raymond Tevich on keyboards; and the disc's producer, Grammy Award winner Tom Hambridge on drums & percussion.  Joining them are special guests Steve Cohen on harmonica and Candice Smith on backing vocals.  "Charmed and Dangerous" contains thirteen all original tracks covering a variety of blues styles, 
 
If this song were a personal ad, and it surely sounds like one, it certainly beats the hell out of that "I like long walks on the beach and sunsets" crap."  Proudly and powerfully boasting his apparently desirable assets, this is how Jeff Taylor tells it: "I'm a wanted man, six foot two.  Double barrel chest, wolverine tattoo.  Ride an iron horse chopper, walk a blood hound dog.  Got all the gun powder one man's allowed.  I'm 'Charmed And Dangerous', I want to be your bad boy.  I promise ya darlin', I'll fill you full of joy."  And that's just the first several similar verses!  Of course lyrics as bold as those should have to be backed by bold music as well, and with their gutsy guitar leads and robust rhythm, the guys were all over that. 
 
Affectionate verse such as "'If Your Heart Went Public'", I'd buy a hundred shares of stock" make this a wonderfully written and beautifully performed love song.  With the sincerity I'm hearing in his voice, I can't imagine any woman not melting upon hearing those words come from JT.  Musically, it's just as beautiful.  I'll be shocked, as well as disappointed, if I don't see several of this bands names on upcoming BMA ballots.   
 
"My Wallet's like an onion, open it up and it will make you cry; But my lovin' is just like cinnamon, you want it soft and sweet baby I'm your guy"; is not something you'll ever hear Bobby Flay tell Giada De Laurentis on a Food Network show but that, along with other culinary catch phrases like: "I haven't got much bread, but my heart is warm as toast"; and "I don't bring home much bacon, my credit's a little lean"; are some of the reasons JT has no business "Cookin' In Your Kitchin".  That said, using his soulful and gravely voiced vocals to belt the hell out of some slow blues is indeed his business.  Musically, with the guys in a tight rhythm groove behind them, Jeff and Raymond - with some stinging guitar and piano leads - are getting in on some of that business as well.  Good, old school, traditional blues at it's best.   
 
The rhythm section that has been absolutely profound throughout the disc, amazingly enough, take it up a notch on "She's Still Crazy".  That's due to  Mark, Raymond and Tom just flat out beating up on the bass, organ and drums.  Throw in Jeff and Steve going toe to toe with smokin' guitar and harp leads and you're now listening to the disc's best musical production.
 
Although this one is about a very special lady, it's title, "Eighth Wonder of the World" - could just as well be a description of Jeff Taylor's voice.  Not that he even remotely needs any help, but with his compelling and emotional vocals being angelically backed up by Candice, this is an absolutely flawless and stunning vocal performance.  Right about now I’m thinking: "this is song of the year material”.
 
Instead of suggesting, as I usually do, I'm going to politely insist that you go to www.alteredfive.com to learn more about the band.  It's just something ya gotta do!  Once you're there, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you and that I'm hoping to see them in Memphis this coming May.....they'll know what I mean. 

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



 



The Jon Spear Band

“Hot Sauce”

Self released



By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © August 2017


Because they are located all over the world, I don't get to see too many of the bands whose CDs I review.  That said, at the Blind Raccoon Showcase hosted by Betsie Brown during IBC week, I did have the pleasure of catching the Jon Spear Band live and I now envy those of you who can do so on a regular basis.  That, combined with having reviewed their debut release, had me looking very forward to working with "Hot Sauce" - the band's newest CD. 
 
"Hot Sauce" consists of twelve original tracks with various members of the band putting their pens to work.  And since there's no reason to fix anything that's not broke, the band has stayed intact for all of its three releases.  They are: Jon Spear on rhythm and lead guitar and vocals; Dara James on lead guitar, harp and vocals; Andy Burdetsky on bass and backing vocals; and John Stubblefield on drums and backing vocals.  Additional artists include: Ron Holloway on sax; Nate Brown on congas; Butch Taylor on keyboards; Matty Metcalfe on accordion; and Nathaniel Star and Yolanda Jones on backing vocals.     
 
If you are so sick of the crap that's going on around you and you're feeling like you just gotta get the hell out of this place before you explode, then you just might need a "Geographical Cure".  Just as an apple a day is said to keep the doctor away, there's also nothing like a change of scenery every once in a while.  If you allow it, along with its lyrics, the island beat on this one can be transcending.  As a matter of fact, I myself am already feeling better.
 
This one's called "It Was A Really Great Gig" but it's the next line - "At least that's how it started out" - that really tells the story.  You see, the lead singer and a pretty girl were flirting from the stage.  This girl just happened to be the girlfriend of the local gang leader who saw it all go down.  As the punk grabbed the singers leg, he whacked him in the head with the mic stand.  Oh yeah, it gets worse but you'll have to hear the rest for yourself.  Musically, like the story, it's a feisty one.  The exuberant rhythm and rollicking guitars are the perfect accompaniment to the raucous tale. 
 
I once asked another artist how his "Stop that grinnin', drop some denim, let's get it on" pick up line went, now here I am wondering how "Could you be my 'Hot Sauce' tonight?" worked for Jon Spear?  Although the song does mention several varieties of chili peppers, it's the music causing the real heat.  Along with some very soulful vocals, Dara's laying down some of the discs more fiery guitar licks; Andy and John pounding out some burning rhythm and guest star Ron is blowing flames out of that sax of his.  As the title track should be, this is one of the disc's best.  
 
"Hello!"  Hello?"  "Hello, are you there?"  Helloooooooo, I hear you in the background."  "Damn it, 'Butt-Dial Kyle' is it again.  Yep, I'm sure all of us know, and/or have been, a Kyle ourselves at many times.  Clever and very humorous lyrics about a very common situation.  Along with the usual great rhythm and guitar leads, this one features several organ and piano highlights from Butch.  
 
Being a veteran myself, like Jon and the guys, I also have the "Blues For A Soldier".  This one pays homage to all of the brave American's - and their families - who sacrifice so much of their lives in order to keep the rest of us out of harm's way.  Like the lyrics, and the way they're being sung by Dara, the music is compelling as well.  Simply said, this is a very powerfully presented powerful message. Thanks!
 
You can find The Jon Spear Band simply by going to www.jonspearband.com 
or liking their FB page by searching "Jon Spear Band".  Once you do, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



 



Greasy Gravy

“When The Game Is On”

Big H Records



By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © July 2017


With this being the very first CD review of a band from this country, Mary and I are very pleased to welcome Norway to the ever growing list of world wide locations that are part of our Mary4Music family.
 
Norwegian based Greasy Gravy was established in the early 2000's as a blues band.  Since then the band has gone more towards soul music, but a dose of soulful blues is still part of the band’s repertoire.  "When The Game Is On" is the band’s second release, with their first being a live recording back in 2007.  The disc contains eleven tracks with nine of them being band originals.
 
Members of Greasy Gravy are: Tom E. Holmlund on lead & background vocals; Rune Endal on bass; Espen Liland on guitar; Alexander Pettersen on drums & percussion; Kasper Skullerud Værnes on saxophone; Tom Erik Antonsen on trumpet; Magnus Østvang on keyboards; Stina Stenerud, Julie S. Christensen, Kim Edward Bergseth, Linda Sønsteby and May-Britt Skaug on background vocals.  
 
"Love On The Rocks" is a testament to the band’s mission statement.  With the album being a tribute to classic soul music and with the music on it being inspired by the sounds of the genre's glory days, the track reminded me of any one of dozens of the soul classics - done by any one of the dozens of soul maestros.  From the beautiful and smooth sounds of: the rhythm beat; the guitar tones; the horn arrangements; and the soulfully harmonic lead and background vocals; these guys have this thing down pat. 
 
When this track comes on it's going to be a "Good Thing" for the dancers.  Right from the start it just screams....DANCE!  Never being a fan of the disco craze, I will to admit that there were indeed a handful of that genres songs that did induce some uncontrollable gyrations on my part - this sounds like one of those.  Rune and Alexander, on the bass and drums, are pounding out some serious rhythm; Kasper and Tom are blaring away on the horns; Magnus is out of control on the organ; Espen's crushing it on guitar; and Tom, along with some vigorous background support, is singing his soul out.               
 
On "Like A Stone", I'm hearing a little more of the bands early blues influence.  Although Tom's vocals are unquestionably soulful, this powerful ballad also showcases his ability to belt out some heartfelt, emotionally charged, melancholy vocals as well.  It's also a pleasure hearing Espen laying down some stinging blues guitar chords.  Ahhhhhhhhhhh.....slow blues!
 
With the emotion and conviction he's putting into these vocals, hearing Tom sing "I'm A Worried Soul" sounds so frightfully real.  This is exactly how you sing a song and make it sound believable.  At the risk of sounding contradictory, this is one heck of a beautiful yet melancholic song.  The rhythm on this one, led by the amazing piano and organ work of Magnus, gave the song a wonderfully nostalgic feel.  This one blew me away.
 
Tommy Søvik's (Oslo Soul Experience) liner notes indicate that since "this whole album oozes the Memphis sound" it was quite appropriate to end it with a version of Rufus Thomas' "The Memphis Train".  All I'll add to that is that it was one hell of a version. 
 
You can reach Greasy Gravy on Facebook by simply searching the bands name and you can find them on the Internet by going to www.greasygravy.no.  Regardless of how you do it, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you.  
 
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



 



Andrew JR.Boy Jones

“It's Me Again”

Galexc Records



By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © July 2017


For those of you who know of Andrew JR.Boy Jones as I do, this paragraph isn't necessary.  On the other hand, when the rest of you read some of this you just might think "Why the hell didn't I know that?"  At the ridiculously young age of sixteen, Andrew was in a band called The Thunderbirds and although they weren't "The Fabulous Thunderbirds" they were The Thunderbirds that did a fabulous job backing up one of the King's of the blues - "The Texas Cannonball" himself - Mr. Freddie King. Additionally, JR. Boy spent some thirty years touring the globe playing with the likes of Johnnie Taylor, Bobby Patterson, Charles Musselwhite, Katie "The Swamp Boogie Queen" Webster and countless others while recording with many of them as well.  Since beginning his solo career in 1996 "It's Me Again" is his ninth release. 
 
"It's Me Again" features ten tracks that were all penned by Andrew. Joining him, on guitar, lead and background vocals, are: Christole Jones on bass; Jamil Byrom on drums and Julie Bonk on piano & organ.  With many of the tracks being just the way I like them - straight up traditional blues - I'm looking very forward to telling you about a few.           
 
About forty-five seconds into this track I found myself wishing it was an instrumental.  With Christole and Jamil laying down a silky smooth rhythm behind them, Andrew and Julie were sounding absolutely magical together on the guitar and piano.  Then, with all that still going on, sounding something like one of my all time favorite vocalists - Barkin' Bill Smith - Andrew starts belting out the blues, and what I had already thought was a great track just got greater. This one transported me from tapping on a keyboard in my office to tapping on my knees in a “blues joint".  Phenomenal track!
 
With a nice percussion groove going on in the background, Andrew JR. Boy Jones shines on this one.  "Midnight" is a bit of a jazzy instrumental that's all about the guitar and the masterful way in which it should be and is being played.  For students of the instrument, this should be mandatory listening.     
 
This one's titled "I Need Time" and on it, Andrew has well over seven minutes to showcase his extraordinary vocal skills.  With this heartfelt and emotionally soulful performance, he's easily at disc's best vocally.  Also outstanding here is Julie's exceptional ninety second, mid-song organ highlight.
 
The disc closes with a rhythm fueled smoker.  That said, Christole and Jamil are at disc's best on the bass and drums and Julie's piano solo is telling us why she was a winner of The Sammons Center for the Arts Jazz Musician of the Year.  Then there's Jr. Boy - smokin' on the guitar and sounding so soulful and so sincere with his "Baby I'm Sorry" apology.
 
You can say hello to Andrew JR.Boy Jones by searching his name on Facebook but for bookings, interviews, CD requests, etc. just shoot an email to abjentertainment@yahoo.com.  When you do so, please tell him the Blewzzman sent you.    
 
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



 



Roots and Dore

“The Blues and Beyond”

Self Produced



By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © July 2017


Roots and Dore are a duo who specialize in "organic, acoustic, blues roots music".  They are Riyen Roots on guitars & vocals and Kenny Dore on harmonica.  "The Blues And Beyond" is their debut disc and it consists of ten original tracks penned by Riyen along with a Robert Johnson cover.  Five of the tracks on the project include special guests and they are: Bob Margolin on slide guitar; Tony Black on upright bass; and David Holt on resonator.  
 
While recording this album at Echo Mountain Recording Studio, which at one time was an old church, an unexplained phenomenon took place.  As Kenny tells it, unbeknownst to them, a signal was picked up from the air which they never heard until they played back the track.  As bizarre as it was, they decided to go with it and after doing a bit of editing and adding some reverb, they came up with a great effect and that wound up making a great intro to the song.  It goes something like this.....With Riyen strumming soft acoustic guitar chords in the background, the opening track starts off with something that sounds like an actual recording off of an old 78 record, static and all, of an evangelist preaching the teachings found in the bible.....in the bible.....in the bible.....Then just where it sounds like the needle gets stuck Kenny joins in with some very slow and very drawn out eerie like harmonica chords and a tale about the life of a "Blues Man" unfolds.  This one's just the duo doing what they're known for, and great at as well - playing and singing old school acoustic style roots blues as if they've lived it.       
 
This song was written for and dedicated to the ladies, or as the guys prefer to say, the "Womens".  Yep, the womens in the city who look real fine and the womens in the country who are sweet like peaches on the farm, Riyen and Kenny just love their womens.  With David joining Riyen on guitar this one's got some real good pickin' and strummin' and with that big bass getting slapped around by Tony and Kenny getting a bit more aggressive on the harp, the rhythm's pretty hot as well.  Very good stuff!
 
Here's one about a subject that most of us would hope to not relate to and yet many may - "Hard Times".  Once again it's just Riyen and Kenny putting their classic touch to down home Delta style blues.  Inasmuch as this duo didn't invent what they're doing they certainly invented their own and very unique way of doing it.  Their guitar and harmonica rhythms are so perfectly in touch it's almost as if one brain is controlling both instruments.  It's absolutely amazing.      
 
Along with the rest of us, Riyen is hoping that when his number's called he's hoping that he's "Not Goin' To Hell".  Good luck with that, Riyen.  So you take these two amazing musicians, who by themselves are ridiculously good, and you add Bob Margolin for a little slide guitar mastery and Tony Black for some big bass sound and what do you think happens?  Exactly!
 
All disc long I've been in awe of Kenny Dore's harmonica style.  His ability to stretch and hold even the softest of notes is incomparable.  All you've got to do is listen to the opening of the disc's last track - "If I'm Gone" - and you'll not only know what I'm referring to but I'm sure you'll agree as well.  It's a perfect track to close the disc with.  The soft and progressively slowing music put to these melancholy lyrics was a perfect marriage and along with the harp work, Riyen and David are mesmerizing on the guitar and resonator.  Acoustic blues just doesn't get any better than this.
 
You can check out Roots and Dore by either going to their website -
www.rootsanddore.com or liking their FB page -  www.facebook.com/rootsanddore/.  However you find them, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient




 



Bobby G
with Curtis Grant, Jr. & The Midnight Rockers
“Still Standing”

Third Street Cigar Records



By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © July 2017


Going with the "It's never too late" theory, Bobby G finally decided it was time to release his debut CD - at the age of 73.  In many cases, that's the age where long time veterans of the genre finally get their long over due recognition anyway, however that was not Bobby's reasoning.  Being born into a poor family on a plantation in Mississippi, like everyone else, Bobby G seemed destined to be a cotton picker - which he started doing at the age of seven.  If there could ever be an upside to that, it may have been that in the area where this all took place, he was fortunate enough to become exposed to the blues by the likes of B B King, Mississippi Slim, and Bobby Blue Bland.  That said, more than cotton was planted in those fields.  By the time he was fifteen, he knew that one day he'd harvest those blues seeds sown in inside his soul. 
 
Fast forward some fifty years or so, during which Bobby G: escaped to Ohio;  made a living working odd jobs; raised a family; and eventually retired from a thirty-nine year career working for a municipality.  With his dues having now been paid, the time was right for him to introduce the world to Bobby G - the bluesman he was really destined to be. 
 
"Still Standing" Features Bobby G on Vocals; Curtis Grant Jr. on drums; Larry Gold on guitar; Johnny "HiFi" Newmark on bass, and Johnny Rawls on keyboards and guitar.  With Johnny Rawls - the perennial nominee and often winner of many soul blues awards - having written or co-written all of the disc's ten tracks, you'd be correct in assuming that this one's loaded with soulful blues.
 
Although not written by him, the title track - "Still Standing" - sounds like it was written for and about Bobby G.  It's the sincerity he puts forth singing about much of his life's happenings - some good, some bad, some he's proud of, some he's not - and the matter of fact way in which he states that in spite of it all, he's "Still standing and wouldn't change a thing" that kind of gives the song an autobiographic feel.  Musically it's got a bit of a nostalgic groove, kind of reminiscent of a soul/disco fusion.  Surely one for the dancers.  
 
On a ballad titled "Good As Gold", it's Larry Golds' guitar intro that had me knowing I was in for some serious, slow and low down blues.....and that's just the way I like it.  With the rhythm locked into one of those tight, slow grooves that this type of song calls for, Larry and Bobby are all over it.  It's only the second track in and I'm making the early call that I could very well be listening to some of the disc's best blues guitar work right here.  Vocally, I honestly don't think Bobby can get any more emotional and soulful than what I'm hearing right here as well, but I so do hope I'm wrong.  Real deal blues at it's best.
 
"Love, Love, Love" is a smoker that leans more towards a soul rock vibe.  Led by a dramatic and constant group handclap, the rhythm is very hard driven, the guitar leads are quite assertive and the growling, gravelly voiced vocals are intense.  Different yet excellent.
 
This one's a real feel good song.  Whereas it once felt so good for Bobby G to escape Mississippi it now "Feels So Good" for him to return.  Once again you can just hear the excitement in his voice as he sings of being back home in Greenville, hanging with some old friends and checking out some old stomping grounds.  
 
Besides this being Bobby's debut disc, it's also the debut disc for the record company - Third Street Cigar Records, founded by John Henry - a blues enthusiast, promoter and club owner.  John has assured me that in addition to hearing a lot more from Bobby G, there will be many more recordings on his label from many more blues artists, as well.  Now that's what I call good news.
 
To learn more about Bobby G and Third Street Cigar Records just go to the label's website at www.thirdstreetcigar.com.  Once you're there, please tell Bobby and John that the Blewzzman sent you .
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



 



Michael Packer

“I am The Blues – My Story, Vol. 3”

Iris Music Group




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © June 2017


Prelude
Sometimes you read something in the liner notes of a CD that just needs to be shared.  That said, the following was written by Alan Lorber:

"In the last cut of this album, Michael starts off by saying,'Alright, Mr. Packer!' as if to acknowledge 'OK Michael, you did it!'.  He was a blues heavyweight, to be sure.  A musician's musician, Michael fought through many incarnations as an artist and songwriter while being an alcoholic, drug abuser, convicted felon, and homeless on the streets of New York.  Through it all, he maintained the deepest sense of devotion to his art, able to come out the other end to finally live honestly, sober and alive, leaving behind a wonderful legacy of recordings.  His songs chronicled his life: first by way of Papa Nebo on Atlantic - a country/folk/rock band with a girl violinist; to Free Beer for Buddah & RCA, with the most beautiful pop/country harmonies; and finally to his destiny as a great bluesman.  Through the forty-seven years I had known him, I was privileged to have been his record producer and friend."
 
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
 
Knowing it was coming, Michael Packer passed just about a week before the release of "I Am The Blues" My Story - Vol 3, making this the final of three chapters of music about his often troubling life.  Knowing what I now do about Michael, it's obvious that if it weren't for bad luck, he'd have no luck at all.
 
"I Am The Blues" My Story - Vol 3 is a collection of seven original (written by Michael and/or band members) and all true songs preceded by a narrated introduction to each song.  The credits are as follows: Michael Packer on vocals, guitars, Hammond organ and narrations; Jack O'Hara on bass and guitar; Ed Jackson on vocals, and congas; Irving Louis Lattin on vocals; Guy Powell on Drums; John Benton on bass; Adam Valk on guitar; Alexis Suter on vocals; Willie "The Touch" Hayes on guitars; Mike Wheeler on guitars; Roosevelt Purify on piano; and Melvin Smith on bass.
 
The disc opens with Michael telling us about his Blues For Peace Projects.  Other projects of this nature held around the world were successful in raising a lot of money for the United Nations Refugee Agency.  Then came his planned events: one in Washington Square, in NYC, where the generator powering the stage exploded; another one scheduled to be held in on the Island of Cypress being turned back because of a military coup followed by the promoter having a heart attack; and at the next one, scheduled to be held at the White House, the band was turned away by security.  Michael then claimed that the world just wasn't ready for "Blues For Peace".  As you might imagine, the song which follows is as melancholy as the intro.  That said, it features Michael and Jack performing quite a good acoustic guitar duet.
 
"Fields Of Sorrow" is the title of a song written about a place that lot's of us blues folk are familiar with - Hopson Plantation in Clarksdale, MS.  Most of us know it as the grounds on which the Shack Up Inn is located but Michael's commentary focuses on the more depressing details.  While walking the grounds, he likened the fact of a black man walking these grounds being similar to a Jewish man walking around Auschwitz.  That's when he turned to bass player John Becton, an African American, and he said: "let's get outta here".  The song that came out of this story was about not wanting to go back to the fields of sorrow.  Once again, this one features more good acoustic guitar picking by Michael and Ed and a powerful vocal performance by Ed and Irving.
 
"Yo Staten Island" is about the death of Eric Garner, allegedly through the fault of police brutality administered by the NYPD - he was choked to death.  The song about the story is a very well done production.  It combines new lyrics infused with the lyrics of "Born Under A Bad Sign".  It's partially spoken, partially sung, partially rapped and the congas, drums, bass and organ collective create one hell of a profound rhythm.
 
Referring back to the Washington Square concert, Michael's narration fills us in on the details of that generator explosion.  It was obviously quite serious because an ambulance had to actually take drummer Guy Powell to the burn unit.  The song that came out of that story was "Flash Flame" and yes, it was written by Guy.
 
By now, you might be thinking that things have just got to get better and thankfully, they do.  As Michael explains, this track is about going to "Chicago" and getting to play with real deal blues cats.  As he tells it, "The blues just do not get much better than this".  The track is a very cool ten minute blend of jazzy blues.  It features Michael on vocals, intros, and interjections and is highlighted by the silky piano playing of Roosevelt, the smooth rhythm of Willie and Melvin and scorching blues guitar licks from Mike.  Musically it's one of the disc's best productions.
 
As with most people who have let a loved one slip through their lives, on this solo acoustic track, Michael finds himself wanting a chance to "Do It All Over".       
 
Telling us about having Hep C and the doctors not being able to do anything for him, like the disc, Michael's life is about to come to an end.  Sad as it is, "Mr. Packer" died a bluesman - and that's exactly what he wanted to be remembered as.
 
Normally, this is where I'd give you the artist's website and tell you to let him know that the Blewzzman sent you.  That said, I'm hoping from the place he's at right now, Michael already knows that.  However, you can get a copy of the disc by going to
www.amazon.com/AM-Blues-My-Story-Vol/dp/B0719J3PNG.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient




 



Karen Lovely

“Fish Outta Water”

Independent Release




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © June 2017


In 2010 Karen Lovely hit the ground running and, as the past seven years have proven, she's not slowed down one bit.  Capitalizing on the momentum of her second place finish in the International Blues Challenge that year, she has since garnered many Blues Music and Blues Blast Award nominations - two of the genres most prestigious events.  
 
As she has done on most of her earlier releases, Karen Lovely once again has aligned herself with a multitude of talented musicians.  That said, when you see the list below, I'm sure you'll agree that on "Fish Outta Water", she does a bit of stepping out of the box.  With her singing all the lead vocals, Karen Lovely is joined by: Rick Holmstrom on guitar; Doug Pettibone on electric and acoustic guitar; Taras Prodaniuk on acoustic and electric bass; and Matt Tacu on drums and percussion.  The album also features: Ben Rice on guitar and dobro; Eamon Ryland on slide guitar; Al Bonhomme on guitar and mandolin; Sasha Smith on piano and Wurlitzer; Skip Edwards on B3 and Farfisa; Phil Parlipiano on piano and Hammond organ; David Ralicke on baritone sax and coronet; DJ Bonebrake on marimba; Alan Mark Lightner on steel drums, timbale, congas and guiro; Eric Gorfain on violin; Richard Dodd on cello and Eric Corne on background vocals, harmonica and acoustic guitar.  The twelve tracks on "Fish Outta Water" are all new and original, penned by Karen and/or several of the band members. That's a lot of music so lets get to it.
 
The disc opens with the title track, "Fish Outta Water".  It features Karen doing what she does best - using that attention demanding style of hers as she powerfully and emotionally belts the hell out of the vocals.  The track's also highlighted by outstanding guitar leads from Rick and superior B3 leads by Skip on one of his two performances.           
 
If for no other reason (but yes, there are plenty others), "Everything Means Nothing" deserves mentioning on the merit of Eamon's only slide guitar performance.  But wait, there's Ben's killer electric guitar licks; Skips back with more killer keyboards; and of course, the lovely Karen and her range roving vocals.  Yep, another good one for sure.   
 
Inasmuch as my favorite line in this song is "there was a time where your love hit me like Frazier hit Ali", there is nothing about "Hades' Bride (There Was A Time)" that isn't delicate.  You have Al, Eric and Richard creating such a smooth and easy vibe on the mandolin, violin and cello and then you have Karen singing with a uniquely strong yet simultaneously soft voice.  Nicely done!
 
'The world turns as bridges burn, lets have a round of "Molotov Cocktails" here'.  In a world where thousands of lawyers make millions of dollars arguing over "interpretation" I'm sure you'd be hard pressed to find many people willing to debate the reference of that line.  With so much good guitar work by so many good guitarists, it's Doug's time to shine on this one.      
 
The lyrics in this song about getting a second chance at something are incredibly powerful.  And once you hear the magnitude of the things that will be done differently "Next Time", you'll understand that although Karen's doing a heck of a job singing about them, she's not the one who'll be doing them differently. That's going to take a higher power.  Musically, Taras and Matt have the perfect rhythm groove going and on one of his only two of his performances, Phil's killing it on piano. Songs of this caliber deserve my ultimate compliment - this is song of the year material.
 
This one is not only done "Nice And Easy" but very sultry as well.  It's a basic four piece ensemble with Karen, Doug, Taras and Matt and yet it's my favorite track of the lot.  Simple, sublime and sexy... nothing else needed.           
 
Of course, you can find out more about Karen Lovely, her other releases and her tour dates by visiting her website - www.karenlovely.com.  When there, please tell her that her friend the Blewzzman sent you.   
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient




 



The Blue Shadows

“The Blue Shadows”

Rip Cat Records




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © June 2017


If you like your blues seasoned with some rock, punk, Cajun, country, rockabilly, SOCAL swag, and even a bit of Latin flavors - all served up smokin' hot - then come and get it.  The Blue Shadows self-titled debut release is all that and more.  
 
The Blue Shadows band consists of: Bill Bateman on drums & percussion; Javiar Matos on vocals, guitar, harmonica, pan flute & melodica; John Bazz on bass; and a group of special guests that include: Dave Alvin, Kid Ramos, Johnny "Two Bags" Wickersham and Chopper Franklin on guitar; Chris and Isreal Matos on backing vocals; Aaron Deily on piano; Patrick Harrison on accordion; Mikkel Beckman on washboard; Mondo Dorame on saxophone and Scott Steen on trumpet.   
 
"The Blue Shadows" the CD, as mentioned above, is a very eclectic mix of many styles of music all with a foot in the blues.  The disc contains fifteen tracks that include a handful of originals. 
 
The album opens with a track about spinning a stack records and it's titled "Diamond Needles".  In this particular case, it's definitely a rock 'n' roll record that's spinning under that needle.  With Bill and John having the rhythm at full throttle, Javiar keeping up with them vocally and Dave Alvin blasting away on guitar, as good as it all sounds the pace on this one could lead you to wonder if the turntable is actually on the right speed.  Phew!
 
I don't know exactly where they're heading but on "On The Road Again" it sure sounds to me like it may just be N'awlins.  Once again, and I'm getting the impression this will always be the case, the rhythm is profound but it's the zydeco vibe Javiar's creating with a masterful performance on the melodica that's driving this one.  Full dance floor music for sure.
 
"She Likes To Boogie Real Low" is the smoothest track of the lot.  With a little extra from Aaron Deily on the piano, the rhythm section's tightly locked into a sweet groove all while Javiar lays down some of those cool west coast swing licks on guitar.  Easily one of the disc's best tracks.
 
Thank goodness they don't have the boogie woogie flu because the "Rockin' Pneumonia" alone is enough to send The Blue Shadows into fever pitch mode.  Lead by scorching guitar licks from Kid Ramos and some Jerry Lee style piano slammin' by Aaron Deily this one's an all out smoker.   
 
Although I have no idea what they are saying or what the song is about, "La Voz In Suenos" is an absolutely beautiful song.  Music, after all, is the universal language.  The title of the song, being sung in Spanish, translates to the voice in dreams.  Along with Javiar's brothers - Chris and Isreal - helping him on backing vocals, the vocal harmony just one of this tracks highlights.  Others are Javiars delicate Latin style guitar work and the subtle sounds of Mondo and Scott's saxophone and trumpet.  Nicely done track.
 
The easiest way to find out more about The Blue Shadows, or to get a copy of the disc, is to just go to Rip Cat Records website - www.ripcatrecords.com.  While you're there, please tell Scott Abeyta that his buddy, the Blewzzman, sent you.  
     
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



 



Patrick Recob

“Perpetual Luau”

Mr. Lucky's Blues Recording Company




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © June 2017


It's been exactly ten years since I personally discovered Patrick Recob.  Back in 2007, as a member of The National Debonaires, he played bass on the CD which was the recipient of that's year's "Blewzzy" Award".  What that means is that of the forty-five CD reviews I did that year, "New Sounds From Kansas City" was my personal favorite.  That wasn't the only award winning disc he's appeared on.  Seven years later, with a lot more credits before and after these releases, Patrick also played on "Account To Me" - Hank Mowery's 2014 "Best Self Produced" CD.  
 
"Perpetual Luau" is not only Patrick Recob's debut solo release but it's pretty much his first stint as a front man as well.  And as Patrick tells it, it almost didn't happen.  Had it not been for James Harman (the disc's producer) forcing his then bass player to sing a few songs, I wouldn't be listening to this release and you'd not be reading this review. 
 
Joining Patrick - on vocals, bass and lead & acoustic guitar - are: James Harman on harmonica background vocals and spoken vocal; Nathan James on guitar; Mike Tempo on percussion; Marty Dodson on drums and magazine; Laura Chavez on guitar; and Kitty LaMieux on vocals.  All thirteen tracks are Patrick Recob originals. 
 
The disc opens with "Frustration Blues" and it's six plus minutes of slow, straight up, Chicago style blues.  In spite of his past reluctance, Patrick seems to sound real comfortable in front of the mic, and from the way in which he's belting out these blues it's apparent that he's quite good up there as well. This one's highlighted by the first of the two times that the "James Gang" appear together. That would be Nathan James - who's killing it with his Muddyesque style of lead and slide guitar, and James Harman - who does nothing but kill it every time he touches a harmonica. This was not only a heck of a first impression, but it could very well be the disc's best track as well.       
 
"We Have It Going On" was done as a tribute to Arthur Alexander - the late, great, soulful country singer/songwriter who's songs were covered in just about every genre of music.  "It sounds like him" is what the band claimed after making the recording and I couldn't agree more.  In addition to his smooth and melodic vocals, Patrick is pretty impressive on his three guitar - lead, acoustic and bass - performance.  Outstanding percussion and rhythm as well.
 
Being a baby boomer who grew up on fifties music, I just love it when current blues artists reach back and pay homage to the old rock 'n' roll type songs that gave way to the birth of the blues.  "Let Me Give You All" is just that kind of song.  Right now I'm picturing two puppy lovers wrapped in each others arms while doing the spotlight dance on American Bandstand.  Great era; great music; great job!  Patrick, you gave my replay button a work out with this one.    
 
This next track brings a third James into play and that would be Elmore.  Of course he isn't playing on it but the way "Grave Yard Woman" is being done you'd swear he was.  The work of Nathan on slide in conjunction with Laura on rhythm make this one of the better guitar tracks.
 
Speaking of good guitar tracks, more of the disc's best guitar work can be found on a track titled "Help Me Find The Answer".  The intention behind this one was to pay tribute to the legendary Magic Sam and that mission was accomplished by Nathan in classic style.  This is another one on which you'll find it hard to believe that it's Patrick's rookie appearance up front.             
 
With Todd Glazer working on radio promotions for Patrick, most of you blues programmers should already have "Perpetual Luau".  That said, if you don't, you can get in touch with Patrick by going to www.patrickrecobmusic.com.  After you tell him the Blewzzman sent you ask him to tell you the rest of the story as to how this project came about.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



 



Darryl Ellyson

“Been Out Traveling”

Ellysong Publishing




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © June 2017


Just a bit over two years ago I had the pleasure of doing a review of "It's Such A Shame" - Darryl Ellyson's debut release.  In that review, this was one of my opening statements... With the exception of several featured players on a handful of the songs, all of the music comes from Darryl and Bill Roberts, of whom Darryl had this to say: "Bill plays all instruments and without him, all my songs would still be acoustic songs I'd only play at solo gigs"... Going with the philosophy of "If it's not broke, don't fix it", that statement pretty much holds true for this disc, as well. 
 
On "Been Out Traveling", Darryl Ellyson sings the lead & background vocals and plays rhythm guitar while Bill Roberts plays lead guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and sings background vocals.  Other performers include: Velpo Robertson on lead & slide guitar and background vocals; Janet Martin on slide guitar; Rusty Farmer on bass; Kip Williams on drums; Kevin Simpson on saxophone; Jerel Lewis on keyboards & background vocals; and Carlos Chafin on keyboards.  All ten of the disc's tracks are Darryl Ellyson originals.
 
The opening and title track is one of the five tracks that were recorded live in the studio by the full five piece band.  It's an all out smoker powered by the relentless rhythm of Kip on the drums, Rusty on the bass, and Jerel on the B3 organ; Killer slide guitar by Velpo; and with a voice the size of his statuesque frame, powerful vocals by Darryl.  As he tells it, Darryl's "Been Out Traveling" all around this great big world and although he's never been to heaven, he's sure been to hell.  From the pen to the performance, a very well done track.
 
It's only the second track and I'm already knowing I'll be referring to this rhythm section quite often.  As a matter of fact, with Kip's percussion lead, "Lovin' You" is totally about the rhythm.  Put your dancin' shoes on and get ready to rumba.  
 
"Ain't Gonna Let You Go" is one of a handful of tracks where Bill is all over the place - and with him nailing it on the guitar, keyboards, drums and bass - I do mean that literally.  That said, Carlos on the piano and Kevin on the sax, both do one heck of a job on their only appearances as well.  In a conversation I had with Darryl, who was sounding quite soulful on this one, I was told to expect a lot more soul with a lot more horns on his next CD.  Bring it on, big guy!
 
The several soft piano notes that gave way to the soothing guitar intro on the opening minute of "Lost In Your Love" clearly defined the mood of this one.  Then Darryl, with a delicate intensity, started to emotionally belt out the songs doleful lyrics and I melted.  My regular readers know that the way to floor the Blewzzman is with a slow, bluesy ballad and Darryl knocked me for a loop with this one.  Wow!
 
Being a connoisseur of music, while also being someone who cannot play more than one note on any instrument and make it sound good, my envy surfaces when I hear Bill Roberts - a virtual one man orchestra - play.  This is another one of the tracks where whatever music you're hearing is coming from him.  And then there's Darryl, sounding a bit Stevie Ray Vaughn-like on this "Cold Shot" sound-alike, titled "I'm Gone" and once again the dynamic duo has struck.
 
Right now music is Darryl Ellyson's second career but in the not too distant future, that will be changing.  In the meantime: by writing all of his own songs; sounding incredible singing them; producing and releasing a quality CD every few years; and playing lots of local and regional gigs; he's laying the groundwork for one hell of a musical career when that time does come.  In place of a website, Darryl Ellyson uses ReverbNation - http://www.reverbnation.com/darrylellysonbluelightdistrict - but should you want to contact him, it's probably best to do so by liking his Facebook Page. As usual, please tell him the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



 



Micki Free

“Tattoo Burn-Redux”

Dark Idol Music




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © May 2017


Every once in a while I'll receive a CD from an artist who has played with so many recognizable names in the music industry that I'm puzzled as to why I've never heard of said artist.  Along those same lines, when those recognizable names include Kiss, Prince, Janet Jackson, Carlos Santana, Diana Ross, Little Steven Van Zandt, Cheap Trick and members of the Ramones and the Plasmatics (just to name a few), I also become puzzled - and a bit suspicious as well - as to exactly what genre of music I'm about to be hearing.  That said, Micki Free is the artist; "Tattoo Burn-Redux" is the CD; and there's absolutely no doubt about it, the CD is unquestionably rooted in the blues.

"Tattoo Burn-Redux" contains eleven tracks of which ten were penned by Micki with the other being a cover of "Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)", written by his biggest influence - Jimi Hendrix.  Along with Micki - on lead & background vocals and lead, slide, rhythm & bass guitars - the music makers include: Howard Hewett on lead & background vocals; Cindy Blackman-Santana and David "Hawk" Lopez on drums; Bill Wyman, Jack Daily, Kenny Gradney and David Santo on bass; Gary Bowden on 12 string guitar; Mark "Muggy Doo" Leach on Fender Rhodes and Hammond organ;  Brother Paul Brown, also on the Hammond organ; Randy Singer on harmonica; and Shea, Wendy Moten and Trish Bowden on background vocals.

The disc opens with a vocally, musically and lyrically compelling Gospel track titled "God Is On The Phone".  Think about that for a minute.....is that a call you'd rather or rather not receive?  The powerful vocals come from the duet between Micki and Howard; the powerful music is a result of Micki's stinging guitar licks and monster rhythm from Hawk and Kenny and the powerful lyrics are a result of the conversation - c'mon, it's a phone call from God.

I got her name burned on my body, so I never will forget.  I got her name burned on my body, so she knows there's no regrets.  And when that lesson's learned, I want to feel that "Tattoo Burn".  On this title track, it's not just the tattoo that's burning.  From the opening guitar intro right to the closing chords, this one's four scorching guitar filled minutes. 
    
Everyone knows the pain and suffering involved with break ups.  In addition to the toll it takes on your emotions, there's the loss of material items to deal with as well.  I've heard songs addressing this issue in which the man was hoping his woman wouldn't run off with his Muddy Waters records as well as hearing them about the man not wanting his woman to run off with his dog, his money, his clothes and more.  That said, Micki feels that he'll make it through his troubling breakup as long as she leaves the "Greens And Barbecue".  Another well done track with Micki's usual stinging guitar leads and the usual strong rhythm - this time with Bill Wyman on the bass and Muggy Doo on the keyboards.

Here I am, four tracks in and I've had something to say about all of them.  Either this is going to be my longest review ever or I'm going to have to try real hard to get a bit more selective.  Inasmuch as I've been impressed with everything I've heard so far - and there are still seven tracks yet to go - I'm going to call this one, "Six Feet Down In The Blues", my favorite of the lot.  It's got all the ingredients that I require to be a perfect blues song: Melancholy lyrics; Intense, emotional and soulful vocals; slow, scorching, string bending and note holding guitar leads; relaxed but right in the pocket rhythm; the tickling of those high end piano keys; and that steady heartbeat of the organ.  There you have it - what I commonly refer to as "blues song of the year material". 

Having just described my perfect blues song, "There's A Hole In The Heart Of The Blues" may just be the perfect song for the blues rockers.  I'm now hearing the Cheap Trick, Prince and Kiss connection.  Micki's rocking out on guitar, Cindy and Jack are ferocious on the rhythm and Micki and Shea are wailing away on the vocals. Buckle up!

To find out a whole lot more about Micki Free check him out at www.themickifreeexperience.  As usual, please tell him the Blewzzman sent you.  

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



 



King Bee

“The Beginning”

Hivemaster Records




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © April 2017


During the fairly recent 2017 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, I had the pleasure of seeing King Bee perform several times, with one of those performances being at the Orpheum Theater during the competition's finals. On that note, I once again offer the band my sincere congratulations. Reaching that stage of the competition is not an easy task and all of the artists who make it that far are winners.
 
This is King Bee's debut release, and from what I'm hearing, this could be the beginning of a long and successful musical journey for this talented bunch of artists. They are: Jeff Cummings on vocals and harmonica; Dan Cunningham on guitars, vocals and Hammond B3 organ (Tryin' So Hard); Emery Kid on bass guitar, congas and vocals; and A.J. Maestro Hebrew on drums, Hammond B3 organ (You've Got To Move) and synthesizer.  Guest artists on the project include: Jonas Shultz on saxophone; Martin Sager on trombone; Jonathan Avant on trumpet, and Becky Folmer & Belle Monique on backing vocals.  The disc's ten tracks - of which eight are band originals - include a good mix of blues and blues rock.
 
Between the blaring horns - collectively and individually - and the fierce drum and bass beats, "Have Mercy" is one heck of a rhythm-fueled smoker that's sure to please all the movers and shakers at King Bee live shows. Add to that some stinging guitar leads and powerful lead and backup vocals and this is easily one of the disc's best tracks.
 
"You've Got To Move" (Mississippi Fred McDowell) features King Bee laying down some seriously good slow and lowdown Gospel style blues.  With it's piercing harp leads, it's powerful & soulful vocals, it's scorching guitar licks, it's raging rhythm and vigorous organ leads, this one is loaded with the blues.        
 
This particular track should include a warning stating that listening to it too loud while operating a motor vehicle may cause you to speed and space out resulting in conditions that can be "Dangerous".  I'm very serious!  Jeff and Dan are contagiously out of control on the guitar and harp leads and  Emery and A. J. are contagiously delirious on the bass and drums.  
 
"Wanted" (Someone To Go Back In Time With Me) is a very well written track.  It's about wanting to go back in time to remember the way things used to be.  In addition to getting gas for twenty-nine cents a gallon, some of that journey's other highlights would include: Listening to Jimmy and W. C.; checking out Little Walter and SRV; meeting Robert Johnson and Otis Span; hearing Etta James, and shaking Muddy's hand.  The tracks musical highlights include an outstanding lead vocal performance by Dan; more dynamite harmony vocals by Becky; stellar harp and guitar solos by Jeff and Dan; and killer sax stand out by Jonas.  
 
Poor Jeff, he's really got a case of the blues.  He's "Tryin' So Hard" to get his woman off of his mind and nothing seems to be working.  Tryin' straight whisky, tequila and wine weren't helping so he tried champagne, reefer and gin... also to no avail.  This one features the guys doing what they do best - jammin' out continuous hard drivin', smokin' hot, rhythm rockin' blues.      
 
With this band being one you should keep an eye and an ear out for, I'm suggesting you make sure you look further into King Bee.  You can do that through their website - www.kingbeerocks.com and their FB Page - https://www.facebook.com/groups/KBfanpage/.  However you contact them, please be sure to tell them the Blewzzman sent you.  

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient




 



M.S.G. Acoustic Blues Trio

“The Flood”






By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © March 2017


The M.S.G. Acoustic Trio is the third band I'm reviewing that I discovered as a result of working with the "Virginia Blues Showcase" compilation CD.  That was one heck of a disc and apparently there are a lot of good blues bands in the commonwealth.  Their song on that disc was "Mean Church People" and since it is not on "The Flood", I've decided to include a link to the You Tube Video of the song.  It's the ultimate song about the ultimate hypocrite.  Listen closely, it could very well be about someone you know.
 
Now I'm not big on quoting passages I read on one sheets, jacket's liner notes or websites, but occasionally something pops up that I feel makes such a point that it needs to be shared.  With that said, here is what Frank Matheis (Roots & Blues music journalist and radio producer/Publisher: www.thecountryblues.com) had to say about the disc: "The Flood is a triumphant throwback to truehearted folk music, the way people played it in their own communities for their own entertainment - unpretentious, pure, beautiful, and from the heart.  M.S.G. Acoustic Blues Trio brings out a lovely amalgam of folk-roots-spirituals-blues, at once ethereal and soulful.  It's going to touch you deep down".  That's the way he wrote it, that's the way they played it..  
 
The M.S.G. Acoustic Blues Trio consists of: Jackie Merritt on harmonica, bass, uke, guitar, bones and vocals; Miles Spicer on guitar and vocals; and Resa Gibbs on lead, harmony and backing vocals, washboard, cigar box strumstick and kazoo.  Should you have missed it, how the band got it's name is spelled out above in bold.  On The Flood, the special guests joining the trio include: Phil Wiggins on harmonica; Ralph Gordon on bass; Sam Gleaves on banjo, harmony and choir vocals; Cathy Fink on rhythm guitar & choir vocals; David Jackson on choir vocals; and Marcy Cochran on tenor viola.  The disc features fifteen tracks of which eight are M.S.G. originals or compilations.
 
Sisters get turned against brothers, fathers get turned against sons and cousins get turned against cousins - and it doesn't end there.  Long lost relatives you never knew come crawling out of the woodwork to claim their due and lifelong friends will stab you in the back, too.  Those are just some of the things that happen when "Money Makes You Crazy"   This original, sadly realistic, fast paced track is the only one of the lot that features just the trio using nothing but masterful lead (Jackie) & harmony (Resa & Miles) vocals and skilled hand jive by all.  Outstanding effort.
 
"Good While It Lasted", another original, is a slow and sullen tune about how things sometimes get taken for granted - and more often than not, those things are the love of someone.  This one's highlighted by Phil's melancholic harp leads perfectly supporting Resa's painful and remorseful vocals.  
 
Listening to the original "Front Porch Blues", made me think of the band's mission statement as quoted above.  I actually visualized the band "sitting on the front porch with nothing to do; hangin' out with friends and family too; drinking iced tea, telling a joke or two."  Yep, those were the good times.  If the song's title and lyrics had you guessing it might feature a banjo, a guitar, a ukulele and a washboard accompanied by happy and harmonious vocals, you guessed right.  Another great one!
 
"I'll Fly Away" and "Glory, Glory, Hallelujah" are two similarly and wonderfully done uplifting Gospel style tracks that include just about everyone.  They both feature: Resa's angelic lead vocals; outstanding harmonic riffs, some by Jackie, some by Phil and some by both; Great pickin' and slappin' by Miles on the guitar and Ralph on the standup bass; and majestic sounding harmony and choir vocals.  
 
Having been doing these CD reviews for well over fifteen years now, it's not a big secret that acoustic blues is not my blues of choice.  That said, when I decide to work with one, it's obviously one that it impressed me a lot.  "The Flood" did that and more.  This one's Blues Music Award caliber - look into, M.S.G.  
 
For more on the band just go to their website - www.acousticbluesmsg.com.  As usual, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you. 

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



 



Campfire Soul

“The Blues Found Me”






By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © March 2017


Campfire Soul was formed five years ago (2012) and the two seasoned veterans of the band are now twenty-six year's old - collectively. Yep, do the math.  The band consists of: fourteen year old Sarah-Grace Kimberly on lead & background vocals, keyboards and trumpet; her twelve year old sister Reagan Kimberly on drums; fifteen year old Daniel Holder on bass; and the senior member of the lot, Brian Kimberly (aka dad) on rhythm guitar. For this recording they're joined by: twenty year old Zack Pearson on lead guitar & backup vocals; and fifteen year old Mogi Taylor on saxophone. "The Blues Found Me" is their debut release.  It's a seven song EP with four of those being originals. 
 
The Opening track is Campfire Soul's rendition of The Blind Boys of Alabama's arrangement of "Amazing Grace". It combines the lyrics of the traditional song being sung to the music of "House Of the Rising Sun". Now I'm not about to go comparing the two groups or their performances of the song but with that said, Campfire Soul did nail their version. Although the band was doing one heck of a job, for most of the song it was Sarah-Grace's powerful and wide-ranging vocals that were blowing me away.  Then midway through the track she uses the B3 organ to elevate the rhythm section to a powerful climax that had me shaking my head in awe. 
 
From a conversation I had with Brian, the original and title track, "The Blues Found Me", is actually the truth.  In the early stages of the band's short career they were not blues artists and for that matter, they never even knew they liked it. Then, as it happened to many of us, the genre found them and the rest is history.  It's a short up-tempo number which once again features the bands' strengths - smokin' rhythm from Sarah-Grace, Reagan and Daniel on the organ, drums, and bass and more magical vocals by Sarah-Grace.
 
This next original song's title describes how and where I met the band. It was while we were all "Hanging Round In Memphis" during the 2017 International Blues Challenge.  Our mutual friend James "The Blues Hound" Nagel - who besides being in town to enjoy the competition, was also there to receive a very well deserved KBA Award - introduced me to the Campfire Soul who were performing as the Houston Blues Society's Youth Showcase representatives - a performance I sadly missed.  
 
Wanting to pay tribute to one of her biggest inspirations, Bessie Smith, Sarah-Grace not only does so by covering her classic "Nobody Knows You (When You're Down And Out)" but she does so by doing it in a way that I'm sure would have put a smile on Bessie's face.  In addition to once again defying her age with the emotion her vocals exude, she puts on one heck of a piano performance as well. 
 
The EP closes with one of my favorite songs of all time, "I'd Rather Go Blind".  It's a song I've heard by so many different artists and as of yet, I don't recall a version I didn't like.  Sarah- Grace Kimberly, just kept that streak intact.  Everyone knows that this is a song about the heartbreaking pain that comes from a failed relationship.  Something all fourteen year old girls know about, right? Of course not, but don't tell Sarah-Grace that.  She may have never lived the song but her heartfelt, soulful and emotional vocals will have you believing she had.  On top of that, using her trumpet as the lead instrument, she adds a whole new dimension to the song. Throw in some stinging guitar leads and intense rhythm and this one's a total monster.
 
This is the part of the review where I usually say should you like to find out more about the band just go to their website, but this time I'm changing that to say you should find out more about this band and you can do that by going to www.campfiresoul.com.  As usual, please tell them the Blewzzman not only sent you but he's raving about you as well. 
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



 



BlueHouse Project


FetSongMusic 




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © March 2017


I first discovered BlueHouse Project by hearing a song of theirs on a compilation CD titled "Virginia Blues Showcase" that I reviewed and distributed for Bobby BlackHat Productions.  Liking their track on the disc, I contacted the band for a copy of their full recording and as the expression goes - the rest is history.
 
BlueHouse Project got started by a bunch of old musician friends running into each other at a reunion concert for the Bayou Club in the DC area.  The usual, but rarely ever happening, "we should get together and do some shows" were thrown around and lo and behold, "their people" actually did contact "their people" and wah-lah - BlueHouse Project was formed.  The band consists of: Ron Fetner - composer of all eleven songs - on electric & acoustic guitars, mandolin, and lead & background vocals; Mark Tramonte on keyboard, piano and background vocals; Tom McCarthy on bass and background vocals; and Corey Holland on drums.  There's also a sax crew on some tracks and they are: Mike Caffi, Bobby Reed and Scott Ramminger. On this, the band's debut disc, special guests include: Mark Wenner (The Nighthawks) and Tom Dikon on harp; Tim Tanner on guitar, slide guitar and background vocals; Randy Short on drums; Rich Ridolfino on bass; and Jordan Ponzi on upright bass.   
 
The disc opens with "Piece Of My Heart" and as an opening track should, it did indeed make an excellent first impression.  Ron's formidable lead vocals; the tight rhythm of Tom, Corey and Mike T.; and the guitar and sax leads by Ron and Bobby respectfully, were all outstanding.
 
"Black Widow Spider" is one of the tracks that features Mark Wenner on harp and if that's all I said about it, it's reason enough to listen... but, there are others.  Ron's guitar leads are some of the disc's best, Tom M. & Corey are all over the rhythm and the vocals, with some harmonious backup help, are contagious.   
 
"I Can't Lose These Blues" is the track I referred to in my opening paragraph.  It's an absolutely beautifully done ballad that's highlighted by tender, story telling style vocals backed by silk like rhythm with sultry sax and mesmeric guitar leads.  Ron, if they're all going to be like this then this listener hopes you'll never lose these blues.
 
After hearing this one you'll surely want to sit down beside Ron and let him "Play You The Blues".  His vocals and acoustic guitar work, along with Jordan's upright bass mastery make this very laid back song a must hear track. 
 
This one is the disc's smoker.  At the hands of Rich and Randy on the bass and drums, It features some of the disc's hardest driving rhythm; plenty of barrelhouse piano from Mike T.; fiery hot sax leads by Mike C. and Bobby; and Ron and Tim getting rough and raunchy on guitar.  Oh yeah, by mid track you'll be joining the background vocalists as they chant "Going Down To Texas".     
 
The disc closes with "Black Cat Blues (For Velvet)", an acoustic track that features some fine pickin' by Ron and some equally fine blowin' by Tom.  It's a cleverly and humorously written track that, as a cat person, I was totally able to relate to.  It's about a stray cat that Ron lets into his house and as cats do, it takes over. . 
 
To learn more about BlueHouse Project check them out at: www.bluehouse-project.com
Please tell them the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



 



Professor Louie and The Crowmatix

“Crowin' The Blues”

Woodstock Records 




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © February 2017


So when I read on the one sheet enclosed with the disc that "Crowin' The Blues" was Professor Louie And The Crowmatix thirteenth release, I literally shook my head in bewilderment as to how and why I don't have any of the previous twelve.  Having not heard of this talented bunch until now I'm feeling more like Rip Van Winkle than I do the Blewzzman.  That said, I immediately went to www.professorlouie.com for a little history lesson and damn did I get one!  The bands extensive and impressive bios, which I'll refrain from getting into but suggest you do, then jarred my memory - the one that I was warned about losing back in the sixties.
 
Those band members are: Aaron “Professor Louie” Hurwitz on vocals, piano, Hammond organ and accordion; Marie "Miss Marie" Spinosa on vocals, percussion, piano and whistling; Gary Burke on drums; Frank Campbell on bass and background vocals; John Platania on electric & acoustic guitar; and guest guitarist's Josh Colow (lead) and Michael Falzarano (rhythm) on "Love Is Killing Me".
 
Of the thirteen tracks on "Crowin' The Blues", four are originals with the rest being great blues songs of various styles.  One in particular is a very well done yet unlikely melding of two totally different style songs with a masterful outcome, but I'll get to that later. 
 
The disc opens with "I'm Gonna Play The Honky Tonks" (Robey/Adams), and it sounds just like what you'd expect to hear while at one.  The hot, organ led rhythm and honky tonk piano make it a perfect dance song and the catchy chorus line is just right for those dancers to sing along to.  
 
One of the most beautiful songs on the disc is an original titled "Love Is Killing Me".   Although it features outstanding musicianship - especially the piano and guitar leads - the vocals run away with this one.  With and without the outstanding backup vocal help, the things Miss Marie does with her voice are absolutely stunning.  Easily one of the disc's best.
 
"Blues And Good News", another original, is a short instrumental with one of those feel good island beats.  The smile it put on my face was partially from the melodic whistling Miss Marie was blowin'.  Whistling is a lost art and  hearing it made me think of my dad.  As a kid, I remember him whistling to every song he'd hear no matter where we were.  There was no one better than him - always on key and in tune with the song.  For someone who had half a lung removed early in his life, he could really belt it out. Thanks Marie, you made this one really special for me.
 
The Crowmatix do quite a fine job on Elmore James' "Fine Little Mama".  With Gary and Frank smokin' on the drums and bass behind them, The Professor is nailing the soulful vocals and John's got the Elmore guitar thing down pat.  
 
The most interesting track of the lot is The Crowmatix version of the Jimmy Reed classic, "Bright Lights, Big City".  Reason being, the song is done to the tune of the George Benson classic, "On Broadway".  Everything about this laid back performance is flawless; The Professor's soulful vocals are pleasingly smooth; the rhythm and piano leads are soothing; the guitar leads are soft as silk; and the precision percussion perfectly blends in.  Summing this track up in word, I'd have to use mesmerizing.
 
As I did, before I even started writing this review, I'm recommending you go to www.professorlouie.com to find out more about this talented and interesting band.  When you do, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you. 
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient
    



 



Hurricane Ruth

“Ain't Ready For The Grave”

Hurricane Ruth Records / The Galaxie Agency




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © February 2017


The basis behind naming this CD is that although Ruth LaMaster has come to grips with being far from the cradle, she does know she's still got a lot to give.  I know that as well, and after you hear "Ain't Ready For The Grave", so will you.  With this release, in addition to making a powerful recording, Ruth LaMaster made an equally powerful statement.  From what I heard, regardless of where you are in the blues community you're in the path of Hurricane Ruth.  As we say in Florida, "batten down the hatches".
 
Pulling no punches when it came to putting together the band for this project, powerhouse vocalist Hurricane Ruth went straight to the best.  Those "A" listers include: the disc's producer, multi Grammy and Blues Music Awards winner Tom Hambridge, on drums; Reese Wynans on B3 & keys; Michael Rhodes on bass; Pat Buchanhan and Rob McNelley on guitar; and The McCrary Sisters & Wendy Moten on background vocals. 
 
Of the twelve tracks on "Ain't Ready For The Grave", Ruth and Tom are the creators and/or collaborators of eleven.  Fittingly, since many of them rock, the disc's only cover is an AC/DC hit. 
 
The opening track is most likely about the joint her dad owned while she was growing up, but most definitely about a place I'd like hangin' at - "Barrelhouse Joe's".  They've got Jack on ice, fifty cent schooners of beer, red hot blues and you can barrelhouse till the break of dawn.  Now we already know Ruth's familiar with the place but musically, but there's so much barrelhousing going on that I'm actually thinking that Tom, Reese, Michael and Pat may be as well.
 
Trust me, you will know this after listening to the song - but just in case,  Hurricane Ruth wants to personally let you know that she's a "Hard Rockin' Woman".  Trust me once again, her telling you that will be one of the biggest understatements you've ever heard.  Being the big Cardinals fan that she is, Ruth might appreciate me saying that when it comes to belting it out, Musial, McGuire and Boyer have nothing over her.  Now if this track was just her, I'd use the category five line - but since the whole band is at full throttle as well, let me call this smoker a five alarmer instead.  This is hard rockin' blues as hard and rockin' as it gets. 
 
This rhythm driven smoker, about a floozie named "Estilene", wastes no time in getting things back into high gear.  With Tom leading the way on drums, and Reese & Michael in full pursuit on the organ & bass, the rhythm section is ablaze.  Throw in Rob showing he's as good as tearing up the guitar as he was at caressing it earlier and you've got the platform for Ruth to once again be a hard rockin' woman.  
 
Those familiar with my reviews, and my blues preference as well, have heard me say this many times.  Being the most straight up and low down blues track on the disc - while being the longest track as well - almost always makes it my favorite and that's just what "My Heart Aches For You" is.  Being an original, it had to have been written from a personal experience of Ruth's.  I'm sorry, I don't think anyone can put out that much emotion and obvious pain into a song not having lived it's story.  The guys were feeling it too.  Tom, Michael and Reese gave that broken heart it's beat and Pat's guitar accentuated it's pain.  Wow!
 
"Yes I Know" this is the last song but please say it ain't so.  There are some who credit the saying "always leave them wanting more" to Walt Disney, others to P. T. Barnum and some even to Gypsy Rose Lee but in this case, it was Hurricane Ruth who left me wanting more.  This get up on your feet, throw your hands in the air, shout out "Hallelujah!" and catch the contagious good spirits style song has me feeling so good I just don't want it to stop.  Ruth, you need to do a whole album of these kind of Gospel songs, please!  And when you do, make sure Wendy and the McCrary Sisters are with you on all of them.  Great stuff!
 
Knowing Ruth LaMaster and Gina Hughes - the projects executive producer - as well as I do, I know that in addition to working very hard on this project (along with all the musicians as well) they also have some high aspirations for it.  To them I say that from what I just heard, I've got those same aspirations.  This discs got "nominations" written all over it.
 
For more about Ruth - and Gina, as well - please go to www.hurricaneruth.com and www.thegalaxieagency.com.  When you do, please tell the ladies their friend the Blewzzman sent you.       
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient
 


 



Jon Gindick

“When We Die, We All Come Back As Music”

Old Chimney Records




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © January 2017


"When We Die, We All Come Back As Music" is Jon Gindick's debut release. Having said that, he is certainly no newcomer to the scene.  He's a harmonica virtuoso who, as an instructor as well, runs several harmonica camps a year in Clarksdale, MS and Ventura, CA.  These camps are world renowned and the coaches who assist him include many harmonica "A" listers.  Having sold over a million copies of his instructional books, he's undoubtedly the force behind many harp blowers.  
 
All ten of the disc's tracks are Jon Gindick originals and they are a blend of folk, jazz, funk and blues.  Joining Jon - on vocals, harp and guitar are: Ralph Carter - the disc's producer - on bass, keys, percussion and backing vocals; Louie Broussard on drums; Chuck Kavooris on slide guitar; Brad Rabuchin on electric guitar; Ken Stange on piano and organ; Bill Bixler on saxophone and clarinet; Bobby Loya on trumpets; and Al Walker on tenor sax.
 
So with the 2017 Blues Music Awards nominations having just been released, I'm going very far out on a limb with my thoughts on this song.  That said, they are my thoughts and I'm sticking with them.  I honestly believe that right now I'm listening to an odds on favorite for a nod in the 2018 "Song of the Year" category -  "When We Die, We All Come Back As Music".  According to Jon, "what else can we be?"  As Jon soulfully sings about the various types of music he may come back as, those thoughts are accompanied by highlighting that music's instrumentation.  Very well done track with great rhythm, trumpet, sax and piano work by Ralph, Louie, Bobby, Bill and Ken, and killer vocals and harp work by Jon.  Just for the record, I want to come back as a very long and sultry tenor saxophone lead.
 
Yes, "Ghost Dance" is a song about dancing.  And to help you along with that, Jon will tell you so many reasons for dancing you'll "keep on dancin' till the dancin's through" - which when you think about it, that can't really happen.  Great up tempo track with some serious rhythm, percussion, and hand clapping and bang up slide guitar by Chuck.    
 
Some of us - me for sure - may share Jon's recollection of things he learned in that place called "School".  Especially the non-academic things like learning to carve your initials into an old wooden desk; learning the art of aimlessly staring out the window; unhappily learning what soap tastes like; and of course, something many of us majored in - learning how to fight.  Jon's got a lot more and tells it a lot better.  It's a funky number with the rhythm and horn sections on top of their game.  Easily one of my personal favorites.   
 
So Jon's detailed description of "Maxine" had me thinking I might know what her profession is.  Then he confirmed it with "Maxine, honey is that you?  In the clothes you wear when the rent is due?" Hey, ya gotta do what ya gotta do.  Once again, outstanding harp blowin' from Jon and more remarkable rhythm led by Ralph, who's at disc's best on bass.   

I think it's interesting to mention that Jon did something on the liner notes of this CD that I have never seen before on the countless thousands of albums and CDS I've read those notes on.  After each song he lists all the different keys in which he played his harps.  Now that's a consummate teacher for you.
 
To find out much more about Jon Gindick, and maybe even look into attending one of his harmonica camps, just go to www.jongindickband.com.  And as I always ask you to do, please tell him the Blewzzman sent you.  

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient




 



Various Artists

“Various Artists”

Produced by Bobby BlackHat Productions
Distributed by Mary4Music



By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © January 2017


"Virginia Blues Showcase" is a compilation CD featuring eleven original songs by eleven different bands from the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Since all of the tracks are worthy of mention, I will give a brief description of each.  On the other hand, because I do not have access to the names of all the talented performers, I won't always be able to give credit where credit is due.
 
The disc opens with "My World Did Not End" (Bobby BlackHat Walters, ASCAP) and it's performed by it's producer, Bobby BlackHat Walters (www.bobbyblackhat.com).  By now, that should be a familiar name to most of my readers - Bobby's had songs on several Mary4Music "Keeping the Blues Alive" compilation releases and I've had the pleasure of reviewing all of his releases.  As with most of his work, this one features well sung, soulful, baritone vocals; rich rhythm; and a few hot harp, guitar and piano leads.  The line "My world did not end when you walked out the door and honey now that you're gone I smile a whole lot more" makes it quite obvious that although this IS a song about his woman leaving him, unlike others of that nature, it ISN'T a sad song. 
 
Next up is "Can't Shake it" (Tom Euler, BMI), by Tom Euler (www.tomeuler.com).  The first minute of this six minute plus track was pure, unadulterated, scorching blues guitar licks that had me thinking "Oh yeah, I can happily go for five more minutes of this".  Then Tom started belting out some emotionally charged slow blues on the vocals and something good just got better.....way better.  The purpose of these compilation discs is to introduce the listener to an artist he or she may want to hear more of - and in this case, mission accomplished.  I want to hear a lot more of Tom Euler. 
 
If you're the kind of person who likes to "Kick Up Yo' Heels" (Cecil, Moss, Folks, Davis, Burgess, BMI) here's one to do, it to.  From start to finish, this smoker by The Bush League (www.thebushleague.com) is an all out three alarmer. 
 
"Flyin' Blind" (Murray Miller & "Doc" Robin van Tine, BMI) is by another band who has been a part of what we do at Mary4music - the Doc Robin Band (www.docrobinband.com).  It's a rhythm fueled smoker led by Doc's wizardry on the organ and piano.
 
"I Can't Lose These Blues" (Ron Fetner, BMI) is beautifully done ballad by BlueHouse Project (www.bluehouse-project.com).  It's highlighted by tender, story telling style vocals backed by silklike rhtyhm and sultry sax leads.  
 
"My Well Run Dry" (Herbie Desseyn & Christopher Gifford, ASCAP) is done by yet another Mary4Music alumni - Herbie D & The Dangermen (www.herbiedandthedangermen.com).  This band is an acoustic blues band and had I not seen them perform live, I'd call anyone who told me that a liar.  Their sound is LARGE, to say the least.  The combination of the standup bass, acoustic guitar, percussion and saxophone create a completely unique vibe.
 
Not knowing them, if Cole Layman and Logan Layman were introduced to you as Barbie and Ken, you'd have a much easier time believing that than being told they were the nucleus of a blues band called In Layman Terms (www.3inlaymanterms.com).  Yet, these two young, very good looking, well mannered, intelligent, sports playing, Ivy League looking siblings can get as low down and dirty as some of the best in the genre.  Take it from me, there is no faking it at all on "Fake it Til I Make It" (Cole & Logan Layman, ASCAP).  I've been a fan of theirs since I first saw them a few years back.  It was in a club on Beale Street and the duo - maybe 14 & 15 at the time - handled the room like 60 year old seasoned veterans.
 
"Money" (Johnny Ray Light, BMI) is a song from a band that's been in the Mary4Music family since they formed back in 2008 - Planet Full Of Blues
(www.planetfullofblues.com).  The bands blues of choice is high energy, rhythm driven, horn powered blues backing up equally high energy, very soulful vocals.
 
Not only is "Good Man Gone Down" (Julius Ray Pitman, BMI) by Julius Pitman and the Revival (www.juliusrpittman.com) the disc's longest track but it's the most mesmerizing as well.  It's nearly seven and a half minutes of a trance inducing conglomeration of: melancholy lyrics delivered by smooth yet riveting vocals; trippy organ chords; bewitching rhythm; and sensuously soft saxophone leads.  I suggest you listen to this one by sitting back with your headphones on after you've poured yourself a snifter full of Grand Mariner (or whatever it is you take the edge off with).  Feel free to thank me later.
 
The CD ends with the most humorous track of the bunch - "In Law Blues" (Shelly Thiss & The Mike Lucci Band, BMI) by The Mike Lucci Band (www.mikelucciband.com).  So right about now, those of you who can't stand you in-laws are probably thinking this one may be somewhat relatable... WRONG!  You see, Shelly's met several very wonderful men and women who she felt would have made excellent mothers and fathers in law. That said, it's the process of them becoming her in-laws that has her petrified and that's having to marry their son.  
 
Since this disc is for promotional purposes only, and the amount pressed was limited, it's not likely that many of you will be able to get your hands on a copy.  On the other hand, please feel free to contact the individual bands about the possibility of obtaining a copy of their current releases. 
 
Additionally, any day now, over 200 radio stations will be receiving a copy of "Virginia Blues Showcase" for airplay.  Should you be one of those lucky recipients, we hope you'll give many of the tracks many amount of spins.  When that happens, please send airplay lists to the disc's producer - Bobby BlackHat Walters - at bobby@bobbyblackhat.com.
 
As usual, should you make contact with any of this talented bunch, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



 



Ty Curtis

“Blame Me”






By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © December 2016


Although he now resides in Austin, TX, Ty Curtis' roots are in an area of the country that has an abundance of outstanding blues artists.  No, I'm not talking about the Delta, I'm talking about the Pacific Northwest - and to be more specific - Oregon, the blues.... er, I mean the beaver state.  Over the close to twenty years I've been doing reviews, Oregon is by far the state that I've received the most submissions from.  They've certainly got a good thing going on up there.   
 
"Blame Me", is the fifth release by Ty Curtis.  The disc contains ten original tracks that vary in blues styles, with most having one foot in rock.  The players include: Ty Curtis on guitar and vocals; Tony Valdez on bass; Jerry Jacques on drums; Nick Jay on bass & Hammond B3; Dane Farnsworth on Hammond B3 & Moog; Jeff Bryant on Hammond B3 & Rhodes; and Carmelo Torres on percussion.
 
"Heaven Save Me" is one of the more relaxed tracks.  It's a beautiful ballad that - coming from an artist not know for ballads - was beautifully sung and flawlessly done. This very soulful vocal performance put the spotlight on Ty's tender and emotional sides.  Musically, Ty shines on several stinging guitar leads and the track's heartbeat comes from the velvety smooth B3 grooves by Nick. 
 
The very next track starts off in a similar way but it doesn't take too long for Ty to "Shake it Up".  It opens with Nick, Jerry and this time Dane on the B3, providing a soft rhythm behind Ty's vocals, but as the track progresses, it aggresses as well.  By it's end, it's become an all out smoker with a much more profound rhythm and blazing guitar licks.
 
Wanting to be about as diverse as one can be, Ty apparently had an "Urge And Temptation" to give Reggae a shot - and it was a heck of a good shot at that.  With the help of some very impressive synthesizing by Dane, the guys pulled this one off quite nicely.  
 
So for something to blow you away it's got to be pretty powerful, right?  And from the rhythm, to the vocals, to the guitar leads, powerful is exactly the word I'd use to describe what I just heard on "Blow Me Away".  This one's just Ty, Nick and Jerry giving you an audio definition of the term power trio.     
 
The disc closes with what is surely it's most eclectic track - "Never Get My Love".  Jerry and Nick have the opening rhythm giving it an R&B feel, which eventually gives way to Ty's guitar riffs turning it into an all out rocker, only to have Dane and Carmelo - on synthesizer and percussion - turn it into a good old disco beat.  Call it what you will, as long as you're dancing.  
 
If Blues Rock is your blues of choice then you need to heed the words of BluesRockReview.com when they say "Blame Me" is a "great addition to any blues rocker's collection. 
 
For more on Ty Curtis just go to www.tycurtis.net.  Once there, you know the drill - as you always do, you're going to tell him the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient




 



Marty Stokes

“Pick Up The Phone”

Lakehouse Records & Publishing




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © December 2016


Marty Stokes calls the area around Sanibel and Captiva Islands (on Florida's Gulf Coast) home, and it's also where he grew up and has been playing the blues since he was a kid.  As a member of the states' many blues societies, The Marty Stokes Band spreads its blues all over the sunshine state.  One would be hard pressed to find a club or festival in Florida where the band has not played.  When you think about it, there's something to be said for that – the band is constantly working!
 
On "Pick Up The Phone", the band consists of: Marty Stokes on vocals, and lead, rhythm, slide & acoustic guitars: Jennifer Mazziotti on tenor and all harmony saxophones; Darryl Best on bass; and Carveth Clauson on drums.  Special guests on the project include: John McLanne on B-3 keyboards; Summer Kilgore Mendez on lead and backup vocals; J P Soars on lead and cigar box guitars; and Chris Peet on drums.  The album is Marty Stokes' third release, is self-produced and his first on the Lakehouse label. It features thirteen tracks of which nine were penned by Marty.
 
"Pick Up The Phone", the opening and title track, is the only track on the disc that features just the four members of the band.  Basically, this fast paced shuffle is what those of us familiar with the band get to hear on a regular basis - tight and intense rhythm from Darryl and Carveth, with lots of smokin' sax and guitar leads by Jennifer and Marty. 
 
The sixty second scorching guitar work Marty lays down on the intro to "Take A Little Time" immediately had me loving this one.  Then shortly afterwards Jennifer blows out a similar scorching riff on her sax and that was it, I was in slow blues heaven.  When these two team up on these tandem burning blues leads, it just doesn't get any better.  Then again, with Chris Pete (J P. Soars & the Red Hots and Southern Hospitality) and John McLane running your rhythm it kind of does.
 
Since the song was made famous by a powerful female vocalist - Tracy Nelson -  it was a smart production move to have another powerful female vocalist - Summer Kilgore Mendez - sing it.  Between her lead and Marty on backup vocals, Summer nails this version of  "Livin' The Blues".  
 
"Whiskey Drinking Woman"  and "Do You No Harm" are two tracks that are all about the guitars.  With Darryl and Carveth in their usual rhythm groove behind them, these consecutive tracks feature a collection of phenomenal lead, slide, guitar box and rhythm guitar work by Marty Stokes and J P Soars.
 
All aboard the “Morning Train”... next stop, church!  This spiritual, Gospel track was pleasantly unexpected.  Not being able to recall Marty ever doing this type of thing, I'm already looking forward to the next time he does.  His acoustic guitar work is as moving as it is masterful and the harmony vocals between him and Summer are heavenly.  Great track!     
 
For more on Marty Stokes, you can go to his website at  www.martystokesband.com and the record label's website at www.lakehouserecords.com.  When you do, please tell Marty and Reno that the Blewzzman sent you.  FYI, Marty and the band will be performing in the 2017 IBC in Memphis.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



 



Buddy Blues Band

“Wrong Side of the Blues”

Lakehouse Records & Publishing




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © November 2016


"Wrong Side Of The Blues" is the debut CD from the Orlando, FL based Buddy Blues Band.  The band consists of: Buddy Blues on guitar and vocals; Ward (Wa Du) Dumigan on upright and electric bass; Glenn (Jammin') Kastrinos on drums: Chris Nordman on Hammond organ and piano; Satch Dixon on percussion; Carlos Hernandez on congas; and guest vocalist Bunky Garrabrant.  The CD contains eleven original tracks that feature a very impressive fusion of blues, jazz, rock and funk.

So when a song starts off with "You call this love, I call it the blues", I'm thinking this may not be one of the best relationships in the world.  Although Buddy claims to be trying hard at making it work, it appears to him as if he's doing nothing more than working on an "Assembly Line".  The very obvious first impression this opening track makes is that the rhythm on this disc is not only going to be stellar but is going to be dominant as well.  The vibrant use of the shakers, the deep beats of the congas, the rich bass lines, the outstanding drum and cymbal work, and the masterful organ leads equally highlight this one.

This one's titled "Listen To Me Baby" but I'm stretching it out to say "Listen to me baby, you'd better prepare your body for some serious shaking".  Now you've been warned!  This fast, furious and funky track is a dance floor filler if there ever was one.  Of course, the rhythm section is again on fire but this time it's running rampant.  Then you add in a few exuberant organ leads by Chris and a feverish guitar solo by Buddy and by now you may very well be out of control.          

No one likes waking up on the wrong side of the bed but when you wake up on the "Wrong Side of The Blues" - as Buddy is finding out, you're really in a world of trouble.  With no other tracks even being a close second, this one's the disc's rocker.  You air drummers get your sticks ready, you air guitarists pick up your ax and you faux front men let the pony tails down 'cause it's time to rock out.  Buddy and the guys sure did.

Once this one starts, you'll definitely have a "Move On".  The smooth yet smoking beat, fueled by the magnificent percussion and rhythm, have It sounding like a jazzed up version of something out of the Ricky Ricardo song book.  This one's got air play and movie soundtrack written all over it - think Copacabana - but better..
           
Except for a very well done, aggressive guitar lead in the middle of the track, "Lately" is one of the disc's jazzier tracks.  It features a softer and more relaxed rhythm, some exquisitely beautiful keyboard work by Chris and very soulful vocals by Buddy.  It's also another one of the many tracks where the production, mixing and engineering is noticeably masterful, and kudos need to be given to Reno Mussatto and Chris Short, as well.         

Because of it's many changes and because of the way that everyone in the band was so involved, "Hear Me Screaming" is the disc's most interesting track.  At times I was hearing straight up funk, other times I was hearing pure rock and other times I was hearing jazz.  Throughout all that, along with some powerful vocals, Buddy was getting in amazing guitar highlights; Chris was fascinating - first on the piano, then on the organ and then on the piano again;  Glenn and Ward, on the drums and bass, were all over the rhythm  - especially on their solos; and not as if any help was needed but the added percussion support from Carlos and Satch took it all up a notch.  With this type of instrumental interaction having been heard throughout, this is obviously signature Buddy Blues Band music.   

For more information on the Buddy Blues Band, you can go to the bands website - www.buddybluesband.com or the record label's website - www.lakehouserecords.com.  Once you do, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



 



Terry Robb

“Cool On The Bloom”

Niasounds, Inc.




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © November 2016


I thought I'd take a quick look at Terry Robb's website to see how many other releases he's had prior to "Cool On The Bloom".  Well that quick look became a very educating visit. Between his solo, duo and compilation albums there are close to twenty, and then there are another fifty-five - that's right, no typo there - 55 more that he has produced and been featured on. 
 
Throughout his career, Terry has been praised by the likes of "Rolling Stone", "Guitar Player", "Living Blues", "Southland Blues", "Blues Revue", Downbeat",  "Jazz Now" and pretty much every other magazine, periodical and newsletter you could think of, and here I am with the unenviable task of having to follow that lot.  Well, here goes.
 
"Cool On The Bloom" features twelve tracks, ten originals and two covers.  They include: solo performances; duets; and quartets; and some are  instrumentals while others feature Terry's outstanding vocals.  Joining Terry Robb, on guitar and vocals, are: Doug Smith on guitar; Albert Reda on acoustic bass guitar; Jeff Minnick on percussion; Dave Kahl on bass guitar; and Dennis Carter on drums.
 
The CD opens with back to back solo instrumentals titled "Soc Hop" and "Cool On The Bloom".  They're both about two minutes in length, and those four minutes were three more than I needed to realize I was listening to a guitar guru.   
 
I was told by the record label that "Christmas In Istanbul" is the albums lead single and from what I'm listening to I'm getting why.  It's one of just three tracks that feature the full quartet and the musical chemistry going on between them is melodiously evident.  Though I'm not hearing "Christmas" in the song, I'm certainly hearing "Istanbul".  Turn it up, sit back and let yourself get carried off to a Turkish hookah lounge.  In addition to being one of the best tracks, at 4:16 it's perfect for airplay.      
 
Five tracks into the disc and I was "So Glad" to finally hear Terry singing.  This is another of the solo efforts but in addition to his instrumental magic we now get to hear his magnificent voice as well.   
 
So how does an instrumental be a great sing-a-long as well?  It's easy when the song is a cover of a classic you know every word to.  Lyrics or not, this is one of the more compelling renditions of The Byrds' "You Showed Me" (Mcguin, Clarke) you'll ever hear.  The gripping guitar work on this one is the collaboration of Terry and Doug Smith.
 
The disc's other cover is "Ham Hound Crave" (Rube Lacey).  It's also another solo presentation and the discs other vocal track.  Hearing Terry's singing skills has me curious as to why most of his tracks are instrumentals.  Perhaps, as I discover more of his music - which I intend to do - I'll find that out. 
 
"Late Night Kahl" might just be one of the better acoustic blues instrumentals I've ever heard.  With Dennis Carter providing a soft drum rhythm behind them, the tandem guitar work of Terry Robb and Dave Kahl was mesmerizing.  The blues licks they were laying down were as good as any I've heard on the electric guitar.
 
To learn more about Terry Robb - and take it from me, there is a lot to learn - just go to www.terryrobb.com.  Additionally, more can be found at www.niasounds.com as well.  Once you get there, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient




 



The Joey Gilmore Band

“Respect the Blues”

Mosher St. Records




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © November 2016


Like a fine wine, Joey Gilmore gets better with age.  At 72 he's sounding as good as he did when he was 36.  That's right, I'm happy to say that Joey and I have been friends for exactly 36 years now.  When I first moved to Florida in 1980, Joey was - and still is - the king of the local blues scene.  As a matter of fact, I saw him one week ago today - just five days after he was released from the hospital - and he was still electrifying the audience as he came down from the stage playing stinging guitar licks while walking amongst them.  
 
If you were to read Joey's bio, you'd see that he's performed with most of the genres legends, past and present.  That said, you can read all that on your own because I'm here to tell you about "Respect the Blues", Joey Gilmore's eighth release. The disc features eleven very soulful and very well done tracks.  Joining Joey Gilmore, on lead & rhythm guitar and lead vocals, are: Robert "High Hat" Carter on bass; Raul Hernandez and Maurice Dukes on drums; Sonny Boy Williams on keyboards; and Ivan Chopik on lead & rhythm guitar.  Guest artists include: Rockin' Jake on harmonica; Drew Preston on lead guitar; Edlene Hart and Domino Johnson on lead vocals; Arlene Coutee on background vocals; and Yoel Hyman on horns.   
 
Being a "Man Of My Word" (D. Walker), when I tell you that on this opening track you're going to hear some of the best gravely voiced, heartfelt and soulful vocals you've ever heard, you can place a bet on it.  This is classic and signature Joey Gilmore.  Musically, the track's a monster as well:  there's Joey killing it on lead guitar; intense rhythm, led by Sonny on the organ; ear opening horn arrangements by Yoel; and it all culminates with Ivan closing it out with a delirious sixty second lead guitar highlight.  Wow!
 
According to Jerry Blum, the disc's executive producer, the writers of "Brownskin Woman" (A. Espre & A. Luandrew) have assured him that Joey's rendition of their song is the first and only time the song has ever been covered.  That, along with the way he's emotionally belting it out, could be a few of the reasons Joey's sounding like he owns this one. Once again the rhythm, with some of the disc's best drum work by Raul, is phenomenal; on his only appearance, Rockin' Jake takes things up a notch with some beautifully done blues harp blowin'.  It's no wonder this song is nominated for "Blues Song Of the Year" at the Independent Music Awards taking place in NYC later this month.   
 
On "This Time I'm Gone For Good" Joey totally turns his attention to making his guitar do his singing while Domino Johnson, with his silky smooth voice, his exquisite range and his ability to endlessly stretch his notes, handily takes on the vocals.   Equally impressive is the quality of Sonny's piano playing.  Another great track.
 
Covering a song made famous by the great Aretha Franklin is not an easy task and making it sound quite good is even harder.  That said, the dynamic vocal duet of Edlene and Joey seriously nailed their version of "Chain Of Fools".  As a matter of fact, the band did as well with another amazing rhythm effort.
 
"The Night Time Is The Right Time" but on the other hand, this is the kind of song I can listen to all day, everyday.  Everyone in the band's on fire and once again, Joey and Edlene - with a whole lot of extra help from Arlene - are absolutely singing their hearts out on this one.  
 
I applaud Jerry Blum's decision to have several other vocalists and several other guitarists accompany Joey on this project.  By himself, Joey Gilmore is already a force to be reckoned with but supplying him with this kind of support took him up another notch.  
 
Now I'm not making any predictions here but I'm willing to bet that Joey Gilmore could move that IBC award over a bit should he need to fit a BMA award on the mantel.  Good luck my friend.
 
To get your hands on a copy of "Respect the Blues", and other releases on Mosher St. Records, just go to www.parklaneprod.com.  Once you do, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you. 

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient




 



Jason Elmore

“Champagne Velvet”

Underworld Records




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © October 2016


Jason Elmore & Hoodoo Witch are a three piece band out of Dallas, Texas.  They consist of: Jason Elmore on vocals, guitar and tequila; Mike Talbot on drums and vodka; and Brandon Katona on bass and jagermeister.  They describe themselves as a high energy trio who's styles of blues include jump, rock, soul, R&B and country, which they feel gives them the flexibility to please any demographic in any venue.  Versatility = Longevity.  
 
Their third release, "Champagne Velvet", features fourteen all original tracks.  The disclaimer written inside the jacket states that "All sounds on the album were made by real people with guitars, bass, drums and vocals.  No digital tricks or nonsense". Just the way I like it.  Also in the liner notes are listening directions and they suggest "In order to dig this record the most, get your head right, kick back, and put the damn thing on loud.  Best of all, strap on some headphones."  Since that's exactly how I listen when I write these reviews, I'm now going to put my seat belt on and get started.
 
Spread the word from New York to L. A. the guys are gonna boogie to the break of day, and on the opening track - "House Rockin' Boogie #7" - they're certainly off to a fast start.  This is smokin', jump blues taken up a notch. 
 
It's probably too late for me, but thanks to Jason's grandmother, I now know how to "Double My Money".  Just like she told him, "you fold it in half and put it back in your pocket".  Similar to my comment above, this is a shuffle - also taken up a notch.  I hear a pattern here that I'm starting to like - things being taken up a notch.
 
While reading the one sheet accompanied with the disc, I saw a reference to the bands earlier releases that, unlike this one, were heavier on the rock side.  That said, "Maybe" I'm listening to one of those rockers right now.  Actually, there's no maybe about it - this is the disc's rocker.        
 
Jason has a "Cross Eyed Woman" and although they get along quite well, they "just don't see eye to eye".....and that's just the start of the cunning comments on this cleverly written, humorous track.  Musically, it's a monster as well.  The guitar and rhythm work are some of best the disc offers.       
 
From what I'm hearing on the title track, "Champagne Velvet", I think the guys need to add Jazz to the list of styles their music is comprised of.  This one's a velvety smooth instrumental featuring a masterful guitar performance from Jason, very deep bass lines by Brandon and sublime snare and brush work from Mike.  I'm no longer in my office because this one took me back some 40 years ago to "Sonny's Place For Jazz" in Seaford, New York.  Wow!  Thanks Jason. 
 
Somewhere between track two and track thirteen, Jason seems to have stopped heeding grandma's financial advice.  All of a sudden he's down on his luck and barely has a buck, his money now just goes from "Green To Gone".  It's the only acoustic track of the bunch and between the fine pickin', soulful down in the Delta vocals, foot stompin' percussion and melodic hand claps, the guys have this thing down pat.  I could take a few more of these, for sure.             
 
To find out more about Jason Elmore and Hoodoo Witch, check them out at www.jasonelmore.net and just search Jason Elmore on Facebook.  Once you find them please tell them that the Blewzzman, on keypad and bourbon, sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



 



MOJOMAMA

“MojoMama”






By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © September 2016

"Mojomama", the CD, is the third and self titled release from Mojomama, the band.  In 2015, the CD was presented the prestigious "Best Self Produced CD" award by the Colorado Blues Society.  The disc contains eleven all original tracks with a mix of songs influenced by blues, funk, rock and reggae. 
 
Mojomama consists of Jessica Rogalski on vocals, husband Paul Rogalski on bass, Bob Murnaham on guitars and Paul Christiansen on drums.  Additionally, three very special guests on the project include Janiva Magness on vocals, Anne Harris on violin and Tim Davis on keys.
 
Musically, "Eternity" is a most interesting track.  Adding Ann Harris' skillful violin playing to the very cool reggae vibe the rhythm section has going on, makes the song take on quite a captivating sound.  For lack of a better word I guess exotic might be the best way to describe this one.     
 
Before you're halfway through "Tell It Like it Is" you'll be singing along with the chorus line as I'm doing right now....."You've got to tell it, tell it like it is".... This one's a fun, catchy, pop style, top 40, sing-a-long that's all Jessica.  It's easy to tell that she's having as great a time singing the lead and three part harmony vocals as I'm having listening to and singing along with her.  Good stuff.           
 
"Be A Legend" is a song about creating the legacy you'll one day leave behind.  Not only does it make reference to many musical legends but it includes one singing on it as well.  Just as Jessica starts singing about some legendary blues artists, the legendary Janiva Magness joins in and the powerful duo - who each make several switches from lead to backup - turn the song into a vocal smoker.  Although the ladies stole the show on this one, the band's doing a heck of a job driving them on.
 
"Liberation" rocks.  The Pauls - that's Paul R. on the bass and Paul C. on the drums - are fueling the pace with some fiercely funky rhythm; Bob's goin' off on some smokin' guitar riffs and Jessica's in the thick of it with all with some killer lead and back up vocals.  Great one for dancing.    
 
The disc closes with "Night After Night" and when you do slow blues this good, and you do it for seven minutes, you know you've made me a very happy listener.  Not only is it the disc's best song but Jessica and Bob are at disc's best on it as well. Then there's the two and a half minute guitar solo that had me shaking my head in awe.  Bob did on his guitar everything that Jess did with her voice.  From his slow and very soft notes and chords to his blistering blues guitar licks and back, the man is absolutely masterful.  Of course, keeping it all together behind them, Paul R., Paul C. and Tim have the perfect rhythm groove going on.  Monster track!     
 
To learn a lot more about Mojomama, find out their schedule in the Colorado area and purchase some of their music, just go to www.mojomama.net.  As usual, when you do, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient




 



The King Brothers

“Get Up and Shake It”

Club Savoy Entertainment Group




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © September 2016


King.  Has there ever been a surname more synonymous with the blues than that?  Of course not!  Why just telling you a little bit about the many Kings of the genre would take me well over an hour, but since you already know about most of them, let me introduce you to two that you may not yet be that familiar with - they are Lee and Sam King, a.k.a. The King Brothers.  Now should you be wondering about their blood lines, the answer is "Yes"!  They are second cousins of the late and great Freddie King.
 
"Get Up And Shake It", the siblings' third release, consists of ten songs.  Three of those are written by Lee and Sam and the other seven - as "Nothing But The Blues" radio show host Gary "The Wagman" Wagner states - are "Blues standards done King Brothers' style".  The lineup on the project is: Lee King on guitar and lead & background vocals; Sam King on drums and background vocals; Ellis Hall on keyboards; Al Threats on bass; and Michael Fell on harmonica.
 
The first of the original tracks is a jazz influenced instrumental titled "Just Driving Around".  It's a six and a half minute long jam that's an outstanding introduction to the bands musical talents.  There's absolutely nothing flashy about it, and from what I'm hearing, no flash necessary.  It's just four (I believe Michael sat this one out) musical maestros doing their thing.  I've actually played this one four times so far and since I can't type while snapping my fingers, I've been on this paragraph for over 30 (very pleasant) minutes.  As the saying goes, "this's one's worth the price of admission".  
 
As he tells his lady "Everything you do to me is 'Just The Way I Like It"', you can clearly hear the happiness in Lee King's voice.  Sounds to me like he's one lucky guy.  This is another original track and it features Lee being back up with a whole lot of funk.  That said, Sam, Ellis and Al are smokin' it on the drums, keys and bass.
 
On Willie Dixon's "Close To You", I'm now understanding what "The Wagman" meant.  This is a traditional blues song done in a partly traditional, partly contemporary and partly funky way.....a.k.a "The King Brothers way".  Lee's soulful and gritty vocals, Michael's smoking harp leads and the straight up and very tight rhythm that Sam and Al are locked into, are all right out of Chicago; Then there's Ellis, with his wonderfully contrasting piano and organ leads, taking the song elsewhere.  Another great track.
 
The title track is the last of the three originals.  For the dancers, this has to be the bands best song.  It's seven and a half minutes of rapid rhythm guitar licks, fiercely funky bass lines, hard drivin' drum beats, and outrageous organ leads that will surely cause you to "Get Up And Shake It".  Not just a smoker but a three alarmer at that.
 
The disc closes with a cover of cousin Freddie King's "Tore Down".  Having toured with him, the King Brothers have the song down pat and more than did it justice.  As with all the other tracks, the rhythm section is once again a highlight, but it's Lee's straight up, ass kickin' guitar licks that steal this one.
 
To learn more about the King Brothers check out their website...
www.kingbrothersplaytheblues.com. You can also follow the band on Lee King's Facebook page at  www.facebook.com/lee.king.bluesman.  Once you do, please tell him the Blewzzman sent you.  
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



 



Rev. Billy C. Wirtz

Featuring The Nighthawks
“Full Circle”

EllerSoul Records



By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © September 2016


Like the Reverend Billy C. Wirtz, Oscar Levant (1906-1972) was an American pianist, composer, author, comedian and actor.  With that said, they have much more in common than that.  You see, Oscar was the person who proudly proclaimed that "There is a fine line between genius and insanity and I have erased the line".  Now, Billy may not have erased the line but he sure does cross it a lot. 
 
On "Full Circle", Billy's twelfth release and first on EllerSoul Records, the legendary wild man is joined by the legendary Nighthawks as well as several other stars.  The complete ensemble consists of: Reverend Billy on vocals and piano; Bob Driver on guitar and vocals; Steve Riggs on bass and backup vocals; Lil' Ronnie Owens on harmonica and backup vocals; and a bunch of amazing artists you know as the Nighthawks: Mark Wenner on harmonica and backup vocals; Mark Stutso on drums and backup vocals; Johnny Castle on bass and backup vocals; and Paul Bell on guitar and backup vocals.   
 
Living not all that far from Billy, I'm occasionally able to catch some of his live shows.  However, the times I have, those shows have always been solo.  When I heard that the guys at EllerSoul teamed Billy up with this stellar lineup I immediately thought this was genius –or insanity – at work.  Either way, I knew it would be a hell of a good time. 
 
The CD opens with one of Billy's originals, the classic and rockin' "Too Old".  Although what I'm listening to totally contradicts him, Billy seems to think he's "too old to rock and roll but he's just right to sing the blues". Bull Shit, Billy.  With that Jerry Lee thing you've got goin' on piano; the Chuck Berry thing Paul's got goin' on guitar; the way Mark's wailing on harmonica; and some of the rocking-est rhythm these ears have heard coming from Mark S. and Johnny; this is rock 'n' roll at it's very best.   
 
Because his zany antics and hilarious lyrics usually command most of my attention, it's on an instrumental where I get to fully appreciated the maestro that Billy is on the piano.  On "Smokie Part 2", a Bill Black song, the Reverend's sounding as good as any of those players who's names I keep seeing on "piano player" award ballots.
 
So with Johnny Castle co-writing "Rockin' Up To Gloryland", it's quite obvious  Reverend Billy's bizarreness can be contagious.  On this smoker it's Saint Peter putting on his blue suede shoes, Sodom rolling over and telling Gomorrah the news and a whole lot of shaking in the angel band.  This is exactly what you'd expect from this match up....The Nighthawks crankin' out the straight up kick ass blues they're know for and Billy killing it on piano while belting out witty and wacky lyrics.
 
On an absolutely beautiful rendition of Floyd Cramer's "Your Last Goodbye", the insane guy took a break while the genius returned to the stage.  The difference between these two altar egos is staggering.  This instrumental features Mark S. and Johnny laying down a very relaxing rhythm while Billy and Mark create an amazingly enchanting sounds on the piano and harp.  
 
One of the best parts of this song is the story Billy tells about how he came to write it.  There's a waitress in Billy's favorite dinner who always likes to tell Billy stories about her father, who was also in the music business.  Upon seeing her after not having been there in awhile, Billy asked about her father.  Her reply was "Daddy Passed Away" and she continued on to say "then mama turned gay".  Of course, Billy saw this as a neon sign saying: “Write a song, Billy” – which he apparently did.  Enough said, you'll just have to listen for the rest of the story.
 
"Mennonite Surf Party" is another furious and chaotic track.  It's indeed a party song and the guys sound like a choir singing some kind of a drinking song.  On the other hand, the middle third of the song features some of the discs best instrumentals.  Billy, Mark and Paul take turns doing piano, harp and guitar leads that I literally wanted to go on forever.  
 
To get in touch with the Reverend Billy C. Wirtz you can check out his website - www.revbillycwertz.com and just search his name on Facebook. And please, tell 'em that the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient




 



Hard Swimmin' Fish

“True Believer”





By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © September 2016


So here it is, some twenty plus years and five CDs in and I'm just discovering Hard Swimmin' Fish.  If there was ever a time for a WTF, this is it.  That said, better late than never.  
 
Should anyone else need an introduction, Hard Swimmin' Fish are: Demian Lewis on vocals, guitar and banjo; Waverly Milor on vocals and harmonica; Jason Walker on drums and percussion; Randy Ball on upright and electric bass;  and special guest John Sharrer on organ.  "True Believer", their fourth release, contains twelve tracks of which eight were written by the guys. 
 
The thing that most impressed me with this band was the fact that they reminded me so much of... absolutely no one.  How refreshing!  Sure, they have their influences - and they're even mentioned on the one sheet - but musically, they do a good job of not mimicking them. That's originality!
 
Hard Swimmin' Fish didn't take very long to make me a "True Believer", they did it with the original, opening and title track.  The rhythm is rugged, the guitar leads are feisty, the harp leads are spirited and the vocals (Demian) are scrappy.  With those descriptions all being synonymous with this word, gritty is the best way to describe Hard Swimmin' Fish. 
 
Don't let the title of this original, "Five Years Hard Labor", fool you.  It's got nothing at all to do with breaking rocks on a chain gang.  The labor referred to here is a labor of love - in actuality, a lack of it - from the woman Demian spent five, obviously miserable, years with.  Another hard driven track sung and performed with the intensity I'm starting to realize I'll be hearing throughout the whole disc. 
 
This Wolf/Willie cover called "Howlin' For My Darlin'" should be a hint as to who those aforementioned influences may be.  It features Waverly on the vocals and although he and Demian don't look that much alike, with their gritty and grittier vocal styles, they sound like identical twins.  Musically, it's Randy's upright bass and Jason's drum and percussion work that make this one work.
 
"Ooh, That Was Close", isn't a reference to nearly getting hit by a runaway train, but the song's certainly got the energy of one.  With so much musical diversity taking place between the guitar, the banjo, the harmonica and the rhythm & percussion, this is one heck of a genre crossing track.  
 
Another of the disc's straight up blues tracks is a cover of "Need Your Love So Bad".  For several reasons, this was by far my favorite track:  One of those is that with Waverly's powerful and emotional deliverance, along with his broad range and note holding ability, this is the disc's best sung track;  Another is the fact that Demian, also at disc's best, is just killing it with his down and dirty, string bending attack on his guitar; and lastly, but certainly not least, throw in John - with his mesmerizing organ work propelling this already potent rhythm section up a notch and all I can say is "WOW". 
 
To learn more about Hard Swimmin' Fish, as I needed to and happily did, just go to www.hardswimminfish.com and you can also like their FB page at www.facebook.com/hardswimminfish.  Please tell them the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient




 



The Incorruptibles

“Leave It At the Door”





By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © September 2016


The Incorruptibles are not a crime fighting task force in Chicago and no one in the band is named Elliot Ness.  What they are is a three piece band out of Milwaukee, WI.  Since "Every picture tells a story" and "A picture is worth a thousand words", then take a quick look at the album cover.  Alrighty then, now you know what to expect.  So put on your dancin' shoes and get ready to shake, rattle and roll.    
 
The Incorruptibles are; Jimmy McCarthy on guitar and vocals; Amy Ashby on upright bass and vocals; and Bill Siebert on drums.  And with a collective 100 years of music experience between them, I'm comfortable with telling you they are indeed a bunch of seasoned veterans.  Joining them are special guests Andrew Spadafora on saxophone and Leroy Deuster on pedal steel.
 
"Leave It At the Door" is the bands debut release and it contains fourteen all original tracks of which eight were penned by Jimmy and the other six by Amy.  Let's go have a listen...
 
The opening and title track is a song about a place most of us will relate to.  It's that place you go to when you just need to de-stress and get away from all of the days BS.  Once you get there you take all that jive and just "Leave It At The Door".  It's a swingin' shuffle that, as with twelve of the tracks, features only Jimmy, Amy and Bill - and quite frankly, that works just fine.  Unlike other trios that all too often lean toward working the word "power" into the mix, these three are smooth.  Outstanding vocals and guitar highlights by Jimmy and something I'll probably mention many more times - lots of smokin' rhythm.     
 
"He's Mine", and Amy sure sounds very happy and quite convincing when she tells you that.  Amongst all the things she likes about him, I think his '55 Chevy is right up there on the list.  With that said, from start to finish, this one will have you putting the pedal to the metal.  
 
Another woman you need to be careful of - and this time it's on the advice of Jimmy - is the one with the face of an angel and the "Devil In Her Eyes".  Speaking of Jimmy, he's rockin' the vocals on this one.  Additionally, this is the only chance you'll get to hear Andrew wail on sax, and now that I'm doing just that I could handle a lot more of him.
 
"Come Hell Or High Water" is a smokin' instrumental and this one could very well be the inspiration for the cover art.   That said, other than the very next track - "Nothin' But The Blues" - featuring Amy belting the hell out of the vocals - not much is different.   If you're not rockin' when these two are on, immediately call a doctor!   
 
The disc closes with a track that's got a very cool Latin beat.  Other than Jimmy and Amy taking turns saying the songs title a few times throughout, it's pretty much an instrumental.  Although it's an interesting piece, it had me somewhat confused - especially at the songs end when the loud sound of someone putting "ten in the pit" on a bowling alley, followed by that familiar sound that a beer being poured into a glass makes, and then an outburst of laughter all takes place.  That's when I looked up the translation of "Estoy Borracho" and then it all seemed to make sense.  Cute!      
 
From the looks of their schedule, it seems to me that The Incorruptibles are pretty much sticking around the WI area.....for now.  Once the word gets out on this talented group, I'm sure that will all change.  You can view that schedule and learn a lot more about the band at  www.theincorruptiblesband.com .  Of course, like you always do, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient




 



Kat Riggins

“Blues Revival”
Bluzpik Media




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © August 2016


The first time I ever saw Kat Riggins perform I was totally blown away.  It was as one of the Seville Sisters, the three piece backup singers for Otis Cadillac and the Eldorados.  I recall thinking that I couldn't remember the last time anyone left as strong a first impression as she did - and no one has since, either.  Immediately after the set ended I walked up to her and said - in these exact words - "You need to get yourself a good agent because young lady, you are a star. Be it as a singer, a model or an actress, you have a bright future ahead of you." Kat Riggins is an incredibly talented, stunningly beautiful woman who's stage presence flat out demands, and gets, attention.  
 
Blues Revival, the band, consists of: Kat Riggins on lead and background vocals; Darrell Raines on guitars, keyboards and background vocals; George Caldwell on bass; Doc Allison on drums; and guest artist Stephen Hooper Lombardelli on sax on the opening track.
 
Blues Revival”, the CD consists of ten outstanding songs, of which eight are Kat's originals.
 
As Kat did way back when, the opening track, "Now I See (Ooh Wee)", is doing exactly what it's supposed to do - make a great first impression.  Kat's vocals are powerful and soulful; Darrell's got me deciding if I like him better as a pianist or guitarist - but it's actually both; George and Doc have already established the fact that there will be lots of smokin' rhythm ahead; and the way he's blowing the hell out of that sax, Stephan has me disappointed that this is the only track he's on.  
 
At their live shows, Kat explains that she wrote this song for Darrell because on it, he gets to "Wail Away" on his guitar... and man he sure does a hell of a job of it.  Lyrically, the song is being sung by a woman watching and listening to the guitar player.  She wants to leave because she doesn't have a lot of money but if he's going to keep playing like that, she'll just stay and start a tab.  You see, she knows his blues are going to touch somebody but she just don't know who they are.  Then, by songs end, she knows just who they are.  Real good stuff right here.
 
Although this song is indeed a cover, let me tell you here and now, Kat Riggins takes Sam Cooke's "Change Is Gonna Come" and makes it her own.  With the band making beautiful music behind her she just takes this one and runs with it.  There's a part in the song where Kat sings about changes in the world that have come that have directly affected her, and those of us who know her know exactly how happy she is for those changes having come.  I can't hear this song without a tear appearing in my eyes, a lump appearing in my throat, then a smile appearing on my face.  By far the best song on the disc and the very best seven minutes I'll have all day.  
 
The other cover track, "Blues Is My Business" has become Kat's signature song.  Simply because the blues IS her business and not only is business good but she's good at the business of blues as well.  As mentioned earlier, George and Doc are again nailing the rhythm and Darrell is still wailing away on guitar.  
 
Now some of you Netflix fans may think that orange is the new black but Kat knows that "Blues Is The New Black".  Musically it's fast, furious and funky and vocally it's sassy as hell.  I know the band had fun with this one and I'm sure the dancers will as well.   
 
Now I know that eventually, you will be hearing a lot more about Kat Riggins and Blues Revival so why not get a head start and be ahead of the game.  You can do that by checking out her website - www.katriggins.com, liking her FB band page by searching Kat Riggins & Blues Revival and friending her on her FB page.  Whichever you do, please tell her that her friend the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient

 


 



Tracy K

“What's The Rush?”





By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © August 2016


Just about two years ago, while writing about some of her acoustic work, this is a line I used to describe Tracy K...

"This is old school... I'm talking Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee kind of stuff... acoustic blues at its best. Tracy K has certainly done her homework, 'cause she nails this type of stuff - vocally, musically and more importantly, mentally. Her scrappy, scratchy voice, her masterful harp skills and her intensity all excel".

Now she's back with her fourth release - "What's the Rush?" - and although she's added a full band on some of the tracks, none of what I said back then has changed, I've just got more to add.
 
On "What's the Rush?", Tracy - on vocals, guitar and harmonica - is joined by: Jason Nowicki, Terry Barnett and Tony Desmarteau on guitar;  Leonard "Lewsh" Shaw on keys & horns; Vaughan Poyser and Nenad "Keza" Zdjelar on bass; George Demeduk and Ty Rogers on drums; Jamie "Snakeman" Steinhoff on Dobro & acoustic guitar; and Travis Haugen on organ.
 
"What Tomorrow Brings" has quite the interesting sound.  Musically, with Vaughan and George in a tight rhythm groove and Jason nailing the scorching blues guitar leads, it's easily one of the disc’s most traditional blues tracks.  On the other hand, with Tracy adding a bit of twang and sass to a whole bunch of grit and soul, I found myself enjoying the country feel all of that added to the track.
 
Everything may have "Done Gone Wrong" as a result of Tracy writing this song but on it's performance, with everyone peaking, everything's done gone damn good.  In addition to belting the hell out of the blues vocally, Tracy's doing it on the harp as well.  Also pulling double duty is Leonard, who's keyboard and horn work are equally exceptional. Throw in Jason's ferocious guitar leads and the ruthless rhythm of Vaughan and George and now you're listening to the disc’s best track.        
 
"Time Machine" is the second of the discs two acoustic duet tracks.  It's a jazzy number that features Tracy sounding quite skillful at singing a bunch of improvised, meaningless and nonsensical syllables made cool by the famous scat singers of years gone by, and Tony - the songs co-writer - doing a masterful job on acoustic guitar.    
 
The disc closes with it's only cover - a spine tingling, bone chilling, hair raising rendition of Randy Newman's "Guilty".  It features Nenad and Travis creating the heartbeat on the bass and organ and is highlighted by Tracy singing her heart out while Jamie puts on a pristine performance on acoustic guitar.  At nearly six minutes long, the recording was about ten minutes too short for me.  If you're a music teacher and the lesson is about putting your heart, soul and your mind into the song, just stop instructing and play this track.  In addition to a four chair turn, a performance like this would create havoc amongst "The Voice" judges. 
 
An interesting side note about this track is that it starts off with footsteps (apparently walking over to the turntable) and leads into the sound of a needle being dropped onto a record.  Then, as the song begins, and ends, you can actually hear the scratches so commonly associated with that mode of listening.  Tracy explained to me that as a youngster, she actually wore out the needle listening to Bonnie Raitt's version of the song and she just felt right adding it to her version, in tribute to her greatest influence.    
 
To look into getting your hands on a copy of this excellent disc and to find out more about Tracy K, just go to www.tracyk.ca.  And as I always ask you to do, please tell her the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



 



Mick Kolassa

“Taylor Made Blues”

Swingsuit Records



By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © August 2016


"Taylor Made Blues" is Mick Kolassa's third release in as many years and just as he did with his first two, he is donating 100% of the profits it generates to The Hart Fund and Generation Blues - two very worthy programs sponsored by The Blues Foundation. 
 
On "Taylor Made Blues" Mick - on vocals and acoustic guitar - is joined by: Jeff Jensen, the discs producer, on electric and acoustic guitars; Bill Ruffino on bass; James Cunningham on drums and percussion; Chris Stephenson on organ and piano; Colin John on lap steel, resonator and baritone guitars, and baby sitar; Deb Landolt on solo and backing vocals; Eric Hughes on harmonica; Reba Russell and Tullie Brae on backing vocals; Victor Wainwright on piano and Castro Coleman (a.k.a. Mr. Sipp) on guitar.
 
The opening track is titled "Baby Faced Louise" and it's an original that sounded to me like it was about Mick's wife... except her name is Molli.  Then I saw the explanation of the song at Mick's website and it cleared things up...NOT!  As Mick explains it, the song started out being about a fishing fly and ended up becoming a love song about the Mrs.  Alrighty then!  Anyway, it's one of the few tracks that feature Eric on harmonica and that right there makes it worthy of mention. Between him and the rhythm section, there's plenty of smokin' going on. On top of that, Mick's having a good ol' time telling us just how in love he is with that fishin'... I mean that lady of his.
 
The title track, "Taylor Made Blues", is another of Mick's works and it's about his hometown of Taylor, MS.  Everything about this song came together so perfectly.  It's a laid back song, about a laid back town, sung in a soft and relaxing style, with the band in an equally soft and relaxing groove.  Excellent song, performance and production.
 
Very recently, I got to hang out with Mick at the Bradfordville Blues Club in Tallahasee, FL.  While talking to him about this album, I mentioned that I heard a pattern where a few of the songs seemed to be about him getting old.  To that he very mater-of-factly said "I am".  This is the first of those several original songs and as you hear Mick say 'It's tired and "I'm Getting Late"', you kind of know exactly what he means.   Unfortunately, along with the rest of the lyrics, those words are all too relatable.  This one features Victor's only appearance and it's highlight is his one and a half minute N'awlins piano style solo midway through the track.
 
"Left Too Soon" is a song Mick wrote about losing his best friend of forty years.  From the melancholy lyrics and heartfelt vocals, to the deep rhythm and solemn organ, to the mind blowing guitar tirade that Jeff goes on, this track just reeks of the blues.  Being nearly six minutes long, with every second of them drenched in the blues, I'll give this one my ultimate compliment and say that Mick just may have himself a "song of the year' nomination with this one. 
 
"My hurry died" and "My hurry expired" are the other two ways Mick has of telling people "My Hurry Done Broke".  This hilarious track was inspired by a true story in which Mick, while walking with a cane, was poked by someone behind him and told to hurry up.  Mick's acoustic guitar pickin' and Eric's lazy harp give this one a good ol' Delta blues feel.
 
Mick's informed me that he's putting together a tour to promote this CD and from what I just heard, along with having seen him perform a few songs at a recent jam, you just might want to catch his show.  You can get more information on that, as well as finding out a lot more about "Taylor Made Blues", by visiting him at www.mimsmick.com.  When you do, please tell him his buddy the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



 



Robert "Freightrain" Parker

“Freightrain Live”





By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © July 2016


Although "Freightrain Live" is Robert "Freightrain" Parker's debut release, by no means is he the new kid on the block.  Quite the contrary, this seasoned veteran bassist has: toured with Rock Bottom, Sherman Robertson, Paul Reddick, Big Bill Morganfield and more; he's been the go to guy for the likes of Joe Beard, Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne, Mike Morgan and many others while they performed in the Western New York area; and he's appeared on well over a dozen recordings by various artists.  Now he's moved up front and center and doing a damn good job in the spot.
 
For this live performance, the band consists of: Robert on bass and vocals; Grace Lougen on guitar; Greg Leech on organ; and Damone A-Miracale Jackson on drums.  Throughout the show, special guests include: Willie Haddath and Jony James on guitar; Robert's brother, Ken Parker on sax; Jim Bohm on trumpet; and Jeremy Keys on harmonica.  The disc includes eight cover tracks recorded live at The Sportsmen's Tavern in Buffalo, NY and an original, bonus studio track.  Averaging over eight minutes per track, the nine tracks total over seventy-five minutes of pure listening pleasure.
 
The opening track is an instrumental titled "Cannonball Shuffle".  It's a perfect way for the band to introduce themselves to their live, and listening, audience.  It's a basic shuffle, with everyone in a tight groove and being individually highlighted as the lead gets passed around.  And right about now, we're all wanting more.
 
Next up is "Up The Line" and on it we get to hear some lengthy individual skills in action.  With it being quite the funky track, it's a gimme that Robert and Damone are just killing it on the bass and drums.  With that said, it's the middle of the track where the sparks start to really fly.  It begins with Greg cutting loose with over a two minute organ lead that turns into an all out organ/bass/drum orgy.  Then, not to be outdone, Grace cuts loose with her own two plus minute guitar highlight and things just got even hotter.  Super track.
 
When I saw that the credits listed Robert Parker as the writer of this next track I actually contacted him to dispute that fact.  In an email, I expressly said "Robert, I don't believe you were the writer of "Barefootin".  His reply was "You are right, it was written by the other Robert Parker and when I write a song I use Robert C. Parker".  Funny!  Now, about the performance.  It's one of the two tracks that feature both Ken on the sax and Jim on the trumpet and adding those guys to this already monster rhythm section is crazy good.  It's also one of the tracks that features Jeremy blowin' smoke out of the harp and Willie Haddath smokin' it on guitar.  More great stuff. 
 
So, "Live My Life Too Fast" being the last song of the live performance, ya think it rocked?  Of course it did.....for the whole thirteen minutes.  Along with it's usual masterful rhythm - still including the fabulous horns, what I'm hearing from Jeremy on harp has me searching the Internet so I can find out more about this maestro; and now, Jony James has joined the band and is doing tag team leads with Grace on several killer guitar leads.  This had to be one hell of a show and I'm sure that everyone in the audience agreed.  FYI, for those of you who may never have known his real name, this track was written by David York, a.k.a Rock Bottom. 
 
Thinking aloud here, should Robert "Freightrain" Parker take the steps to make this disc eligible for BMA consideration, we could very well see a name we've never seen before on the "Instrumentalist Bass" list. 
 
For more on Robert and the band just go to www.robertfreightrainparker.com.  As usual, please tell him his friend the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



 



The Jordan Patterson Band

“The Back On Track Recording Project”
Flamingcheese Records




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © July 2016



While Listening to "The Back On Track Recording Project" by The Jordan Patterson Project, just as the music was arousing my senses, the albums title was doing the same to my curiosity as well.  I couldn't help but wonder that if this was the project that got him back on track, what was it - if anything - that caused him to get off track in the first place?  As it turns out, there is a story line here.
 
With his career on the rise and his first release getting rave reviews from writers at all of the top blues publications, Jordan decided - in the middle of a tour - that he preferred a more stable life versus being on the road and never looked back... until now.
 
Here it is, exactly twenty years since that first release and Jordan Patterson - much to our pleasure - is back on track with the "The Back On Track Recording Project".  The album contains ten, all original tracks of rocking, contemporary blues.   
 
Along with himself, on vocals and harp, The Jordan Paterson Band consists of: Darryl Romphf and Bobby Thompson on guitar and background vocals; Mark McIntyre on bass; and Benjamin Rollo on drums, percussion and background vocals.  Special guests include: Skyler Jordan on background vocals; Darius McKinley on bass; Scott Galloway on keys; and Shawn Kellerman on guitar.
 
The disc opens with "Favourite Boy" and on it the guys came out swinging and never let up.  From start to finish this one rocks.  It's a song about a "toy" his obviously insightful mother got him as a little boy. 
 
Hoping to also get a past relationship 'back on track', Jordan finds himself asking "Can We Fall In Love Again?"  It's a ballad featuring soulfully sung sincere lyrics, harmonious backup vocals, tight rhythm and stinging guitar leads.
 
I won't do it, but if I were to use just two words to tell you why "You're My Girl"  is my favorite song of the lot those two words would be Skyler Jordan.  Her powerful backup vocals – more like a duet on this one – added to Jordan's powerful vocals, totally take the song to a much higher level. With that said, the band – with killer guitar and keyboard leads – is kicking it as well.  I cannot play this disc without replaying this track four or five times.
 
Blues lyrics don't get any more serious than these: "If You'd Help Me Please, I'd be in debt to you for my life.  See, I got myself a bad, bad break and I think I might take my life".  Indeed, "If You'd Help Me Please" is the most serious blues song of the bunch.  It's the closest thing you'll hear to traditional Chicago Blues and on it, Jordan's blowing harp as good as some of the best traditional Chicago Blues harp players.
 
If you'd like to check it out, Jordan Patterson's website is www.jordanpatterson.ca.  That's where you'll be able to find out what he's been doing for the last twenty years and some of the interesting  people he was doing it for.  And don't forget - please tell him the Blewzzman sent yo

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



 
 



Sammy Eubanks

“Sugar Me”
Underworld Records




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © July 2016


Since this is his fifth release, it appears that Sammy Eubanks has managed to fly under the Blewzzman's radar.  With that said, “Sugar Me” impressed me enough to make sure I do try get my hands on the other four. 
 
The album consists of ten tracks that include three originals and seven re-arranged covers.  On it, Sammy Eubanks on vocals and guitar, is joined by: Darren Theriault on bass; Bob Britt and Matt Hauer on guitars; Chris Kimmerer on drums; and Reese Wynans and Scott Saunders on keyboards.
 
On the opening track, one of Sammy's originals, he tells us how - as a young boy - he was influenced by the records he heard his father playing.  Artists like: BB King; Elvis; Johnny; Jerry Lee; Ray Charles; and his father himself, Jesse James Eubanks.  As Sammy says it, "It's All Blues To Me".  The guitar worshippers will love this one.
 
Having experienced most of the sexual revolution as a single man, I thought I pretty much heard - and even used -  some of the craziest pick up lines of all time.  With that said, when it came to walking up to a woman and saying; "You ought to 'Stop That Grinnin', drop some denim, let's get it on";  Sammy, and the late Skeeter Brandon (the songs writer), obviously had bigger balls than I do.  Tell me Sammy, exactly how did that pan out?  Fun, frolicking shuffle with Matt, Chris and Reese killing it on rhythm.
 
"No Excuse For The Blues", is not only one of the discs best blues tracks but it features several performers at discs best as well.  Using some diverse vocal range, Sammy's on top of his game right here; rhythm wise, Chris is killing it on the drums; Reese is showing you why everybody wants him playing piano in their band; and although the guitarists are making no excuse for the blues, they're certainly cranking it out.
 
With country being another one of his favorite music genres, Sammy does a stellar job on Mark Collie's top ten hit, "Born To Love You".  From the songs familiar, sing along lyrics; to the way they're being sung; to the outstanding acoustic picking; to the masterful slide guitar chords; this one is absolutely beautifully done.  
 
Another of Sammy's originals is a track called "I'm Gonna Leave You".  It's a clever track that plays on the "You can't fire me because I quit" and "You can't quit because you're fired" routine.  You see, Sammy's woman is threatening to leave him but the way he sees it, he's leaving her if she doesn't come back... and if he leaves she won't be coming back. My advice?  Get right to the make-up sex and move on.
 
Sammy's website is  www.SammyEubanksLive.com.  Please pay him a visit and as usual, tell him the Blewzzman sent you.  
     
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient




 



Crooked Eye Tommy

“Butterflies & Snakes”
Crooked Eye Records




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © June 2016


"Butterflies & Snakes" is the debut release from Crooked Eye Tommy.  When I first heard it, right after it's release in August of 2015, had I been a betting man my money would have been on it getting a BMA nomination in the "Best New Artist Debut" category and I was shocked when it didn't.  Since the rules in that category were changed, allowing other than actual debut discs to be eligible, I guess that's become a tough nut to crack. 
 
Crooked Eye Tommy consists of brothers Tommy and Paddy Marsh on guitars and vocals; Glade Rasmussen on bass; Tony Cicero on drums; Jimmy Calire on saxophones, piano & Hammond B3; Bil Bilhou on the Hamond B3; Becca Fuchs and Dan Grimm on backing vocals; and Jesse Siebenberg on steel guitar.  "Butterflies & Snakes" contains eleven tracks of all original Marsh brothers music. 
 
The opening track is the bands namesake, "Crooked Eye Tommy".  It's a partially true and partially embellished story about a medical condition Tommy was born with which became the inspiration for the bands name - Amblyopia - or more commonly, Lazy Eye.  The mythical part of the story tells of the laughter Tommy's condition drew at the hospital when he was born; and the truthful part of the story tells of six year old Tommy having to deal with getting rabies shots for thirty days in a row with that dreaded long needle.  In each case, the moral of those stories is that someday the world will see just what a crooked eye can do.  Excellent, well sung track featuring the brothers on acoustic, electric and slide guitars.
 
"I Stole The Blues" is a confession by Paddy as to how he learned to play the blues - he stole them. The larceny started the first time he heard "Hard Again" - the Muddy Waters album featuring Johnny Winter, Pinetop Perkins, Bob Margolin and James Cotton and it didn't stop there.  He continued to pilfer from the likes of Albert King, T-Bone Walker, Jerry Garcia and more. The upside to this thievery is that although Tommy stole the blues, he's now ready to give them back, and from what I'm hearing he's doing that in spades. This one features some of the killer guitar leads you'd expect to hear from some of his victims - which we'll call his inspirations; outstanding rhythm from Glade and Tony on the bass and drums; and smokin' tenor saxophone riffs from Jimmy.    
 
"Somebody's Got To Pay" is a modern day protest song. It's about government corruption and big money not only running the country, but ruining it as well. Along with a whole lot of us, the Marsh brothers know that "The way the world is today, somebody's got to pay".  Besides the very true lyrics being very well sung, this one features Jimmy getting in several real keyboard and sax highlights.    
 
Unquestionably, this is my favorite track of the bunch so I'm sure I'll listen to it "Over And Over" again.  The slowly sung, sensuous lyrics are delivered with intensity and emotion beyond compare; the rhythm is soothingly soft; the saxophone roams from a smooth, mood setting backdrop to a sultry, pulse rising lead; the guitar leads are chillingly arousing; and for about the last minute of the song, Becca's titillating background vocals take the song to a Pink Floyd level.  This song of the year caliber track was seven plus minutes of pure blues ecstasy.  
 
Since Paddy didn't confess to stealing from Jimmy Buffett, Duane Allman or Merle Haggard, I may have busted him right here because this one's got a bit of all of them in it.  Growing up on country music and southern rock, Tommy and Paddy have always had a "Southern Heart" and they're doing a heck of a job showing it right here with excellent guitar, slide guitar and vocal harmony. 
 
To find out more about Crooked Eye Tommy, simply go to www.crookedeyetommy.com.  And as usual, please tell them that the Blewzzman sent you.    
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



 



Bill Johnson

“Cold Outside”
Oxborough Music Co.




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © June 2016


Prelude
Back in 2010 we reviewed Bill Johnson's "Still Blue" CD. That same year Bill was awarded a "Blewzzy Award" for "Half the Man". In 2012 that same song appeared on the debut "Keeping The Blues Alive Volume One" CD. In 2015 a song of Bill's titled "Another One" appeared on "Keeping The Blues Alive Volume Seven". Now Bill's back with another dynamite disc and I just can't wait to tell you about it...
 
Review
On "Cold Outside" - his fourth release - Bill Johnson, on guitars and vocals, is joined by: Rick Erickson on bass; Darcy Phillips on piano & organ; Ross Hall on drums; Joby Baker on drums plus song on bass: and David Vest on piano.  The disc contains eleven original tracks that include a well rounded mix of  traditional, swing, rock, funk, soul and roots blues.
 
The disc opens with "Baggage Blues" and as the title seems to indicate, it's about a relationship involving some past hardships.  To his regret, Bill's woman keeps handing him the baggage that someone else has given her... and it's starting to get quite heavy.  Musically, it's one of the more straight up blues tracks.  Rick and Ross are right in the pocket on the rhythm, David's smokin' on the piano and Bill slammin' out some blues on both the guitar and the vocals.  Real great track. 
 
Hit the floor dancers!  As Bill say's "Don't call it jazz, it's my west coast blues.  Ain't no outside notes, like Charlie Parker used".  Yeah, he may be "one buck short of ten" but "Nine Dollar Bill" – and everyone else, for that matter – are killing it on this one.  Relentless from start to finish.       
 
His wife was sick while his mother was dying.  He's at the end of his rope he's nearly finished tryin'.  He couldn't find a job and he was close to hitting bottom.  He tried to call his friends but it seems he hasn't got 'em.  He even called his preacher but the preacher never called him back.  The bank took his house he's bust and he's broken.  He's in desperate need of a soul healer but the only friend he has is a drug dealer.  Nobody really knows you when you're down, it's "Cold Outside".  If any of these, or the rest of the bone chilling lyrics are true - and I happen to sadly know that some are - is it any wonder Bill Johnson sings the blues?  Although there's somewhat of an eerie melody going on behind him, this track's pretty much all Bill.  From the somber and heartfelt delivery of the melancholy lyrics to the intriguing sound of his slide guitar, Bill puts his heart and soul into one hell of a performance on this one. 
 
This song opens with Bill saying "I've got an inclination for the blues and a natural ability to lose".  Now that may be true but the man also has a "Natural Ability" to belt the hell out of the blues as well.  He's at disc's best right here.  His soulful vocals are as convincingly painful as his stinging guitar leads.  Also at disc's best is Darcy.  His seventy second piano and organ intro immediately had me knowing I'd be listening to some amazing blues....and indeed I did.  Here's the Blewzzman's ultimate compliment Bill - not only do I think this song's the one to beat for this year's Blewzzy but it's song of the year material as well.  You nailed this one, my friend.
 
This one's called "Makes A Fella Nervous" but it had this fella rockin & rollin'.  Lyrically it's a song about paranoia and musically its a song about.....well.....paranoia.  Rick, Joby and David are rockin' the rhythm on bass, drums and piano, Bill's rockin' out on guitar and the whole song just screams rock & roll.  Rockin' good job guys.
 
"Driftin' and Driftin'" is easily the most beautiful song of the lot.  It's a love ballad with a fifties and a bit of a country feel, and everything about it is perfect.  The rhythm is totally relaxing, Bill's soft and emotional singing is transcending and his pickin' and strummin' on the National Resonator are flawless and masterful.  At five and a half minutes, it's one of the disc's longer tracks but man I could have handled it being an hour and a half.  
 
Right about now is when you should be going over to www.billjohnsonblues.com.  While you're there, make sure you read his bio.  The guy has played with so many of the genres giants you'll think you're reading the lineup of a month of blues festivals.  And please, don't forget to tell him the Blewzzman sent you.  
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient
                 


 



Billy Hamilton & The Lowriders

“Pay Some Money”
AMI Records




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © May 2016


During his forty-five years in the business, Billy Hamilton's been around the block his share of times.  As a matter of fact, he's been around the world a bunch of times as well.  After releasing his first three albums in the states, in 2006 Billy packed his bags and headed off on a European tour and he didn't return until 2011.  Now that's one heck of a road trip.  During those five years he wound up touring the European continent twelve times and releasing his fourth album over there as well. 
 
His newest recording, released in March of this year, is titled "Pay Some Money."  The disc contains fourteen tracks and other than just two covers, the rest are all originals.  It features: Billy Hamilton on vocals and harp (plus rhythm guitar on one track); Jeff Long on piano and Hammond organ; Tommy Long on guitar; Don Hacker and Steve Schmitt on bass; Lynn Long on drums and percussion; William Brian Hogg on sax solos; Emily Sierra on baritone, alto and tenor saxes; and Angela Combs on backing vocals.
 
The lyrics on the opening and title track are brutally honest and they go something like this: "Well we don't want to play no benefits, we take all the money that we can get. The old bus needs some gasoline, I ain't got no more guitar strings. You got to 'Pay Some Money' to let me play the blues."  They continue to describe that a big tip jar is nice and so are beers at half price along with selling merchandise.  But the bottom line is that Billy's tired of making do with the same amount of money he made in 1972, so pay him some damn money and let him play the blues.  Amen!  Musically, it's a swingin' shuffle that features hard driving rhythm, smokin' sax and piano leads and very well done lead and harmony vocals.  This is what's called making an impressive first impression.  
 
Seeing a fine-ass thing in a tiny skirt with a silly boy in a white T-Shirt has Billy wondering what ever happened to the "Fancy Man?"  As a matter of fact, heed his advice: "When that boy comes to get you for the high school dance, you better peak out the window and sneak a glance.  Pants falling down and shoes untied, you tap on the glass and wave goodbye".  Another cleverly written track with Billy and Angela nailing the lead and back up vocals and the band laying down a funky dance beat led by the rhythm and percussion from Don and Lynn.                
As the Diamonds said back in 1958...

"Come let's stroll, stroll across the floor. 
Come let's stro-oh-oh-oll, stroll across the floor".


Now that's not how this one goes lyrically but from the opening notes I was wanting to stro-oh-oh-oll, stroll across my floor.  This fifties sounding flashback is actually called "Don't Waste Your Time" and I didn't waste any of my time when it came to hitting replay oh-oh-over and oh-oh-over again.  Amazingly, Don, Lynn and Jeff aren't doing anything fancy on the piano, bass and drums and yet they make "not doing anything fancy" sound so masterful.  Once again - and at the risk of sounding redundant - Billy and Angela are magical together on the vocals.  Side note to Billy - keep her around for the next CD... PLEASE!    
 
They can put you in a school house, a university or a big academy; but you don't know nothing until you pay some dues; You ain't "Never Gonna Learn (Until You Lose)."  Yet, more good advice from Billy.  Until now, I haven't heard much harp blowin' but I'm liking what I'm hearing on this one.  What?  What did you say?  I didn't say anything about the vocals?  Yes, they're nailing them. 
 
"Bad Man's Babies" is the disc's most traditional, slow blues number.  With that said, in addition to Billy belting out the blues on the vocals and the harp, Tommy's kicking ass on some scorching blues guitar licks.  
 
Since he's here singing about it, I'm guessing that the woman Billy's singing about on "Bar Room Gasoline" isn't or wasn't his woman.  Either that or he's a real light sleeper.  You see, it's a song about a woman who gets a bit ornerey.... errrr make that a bit murderous.... once she has a drink or two.  With this smoker being about a raucous woman in a rowdy environment, the bands in the right frame of mind creating a ruckus of their own.
 
This is the part of the review where I give you the bands website -
www.thelowridersband.com - and suggest you head there to find out more about the band, get your hands on some of their music and ask you to tell Billy that the Blewzzman sent you.  With that said, I'm heading there right now myself.  Since this was my first Billy Hamilton & The Lowriders CD, I want their others as well. 
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient




 



L.C. Williams and The Driver

“In Another Bar”
Self Released




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © May 2016


L. C. Williams and The Driver are a four piece blues band from Maine who now spend a good share of time in Florida.  "Snowbirds", as us Floridians would say. They consist of L. C. Williams on harp and vocals, with the members of The Driver being: Trent Souder on guitars and vocals; Ben-jamin Sudano on bass; and Jim Mackey on drums.  Any "Maine-iacs" reading this may remember that back in the day, the band started out as The Blood Orange Martinis... Sure, I'll have one.
 
The bands' debut album is titled "In Another Bar", and at a fast glance of the CD cover, those of us familiar with Beale Street in Memphis can probably name a dozen of those bars.  The disc features twelve tracks of which eleven are originals penned by Trent Souder and Lauren Williams. 
 
"Let's Ride" sounds like something Lauren might say to The Driver to kick off the song, but it's also the title of the disc's opening track.  BTW, if it was indeed a command, the band delivered.  The rhythm's hard driven, the guitar leads sizzle and Lauren is firing from both barrels with her blazing harp and powerful vocals.
 
Unlike above, "Stop For A While" is not something the band's being told.  On this one, the pace switches gears to a slower groove and the vocals switch over to Trent and a deeper sound.  Being a more traditional style song, it includes killer blues guitar licks and smokin' harp leads.
 
"Missing Lester" is an intense instrumental with everyone right on the musical mark.  Besides killing it on the bass and drums, the mix on this one is so good that it sounds like Ben and Jim are right here in the room with me; saying Trent's dazzling on the guitar is a gross understatement; and from what Lauren's blowing through the harp, I'm thinking this is what harmonica maestro and instructor Adam Gussow may have been listening to when he claimed that "L. C. Williams has the best tone of any female harp player I've ever heard".  This one's the disc's replay special - I'm on number six right now.
 
With this next track I could easily tell you it's name and be able to forego any further commentary.  Although I won't, I will keep it short and sweet and you'll get the point.  Whammer Jammer had a baby and they named it "Harp Thing".  End of story! 
 
"Paradise" is another dynamite track.  It's a five and a half minute track that's kind of broken down into several different parts.  The first portion is all Lauren blowin' the hell out of the harp, and with the band in a killer groove behind her, I was actually hoping the song was an instrumental.  Then she starts singing and all of a sudden, with all of her style changes and vocal range, I was now happy it wasn't.  The next portion is all Trent.  With the rhythm guys having never left the pocket, he unleashes a lengthy assault on his ax which I also never wanted to end - that is until Lauren started belting it out once again and ultimately closing with a second harp attack.  Wow!

Although I'm not familiar with the blues scene up in Maine, I do know that it's thriving in Florida.  With that said and from what I just heard, L. C. Williams and The Driver will soon be right in the thick of it.
 
To learn more about the band, their website is the place to go: www.lcwilliamsandthedriver.com.  As usual you'll tell them it was the Blewzzman who sent you.  

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



 



Guy King

“Truth”
Delmark Records




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © April 2016


Prelude
For months, David Ritz sat in the upstairs office of Legends working with Buddy Guy on his autobiography – all while one bluesman or another played downstairs.  One night, in the middle of a conversation, Buddy cut David off and said "There's someone playing I want you to hear".  When asked "Who?", Buddy replied with "A cat from Israel.  He's got all Albert King’s licks down with licks of his own as well. Man, you gotta hear him, his name is Guy King". After going down and watching him bring down the house, Buddy turned to David and said "Told you so". 
 
Review 
Since 2009, "Truth" is Guy Kings fourth release.  Spanning nearly eighty minutes, the album contains fifteen songs of which four are originals - with three of those co-written by David Ritz.  The music is indeed blues but don't let Buddy's Albert King reference point you too far in that direction.  The songs are a mix of soul, pop, jazz and of course some good ol' straight up styles of blues. 
 
Joining Guy King, on vocals and guitar are: Amr Marcin Fahmy on Rhodes & B3 organ; Jake Vinsel on bass; George Fludas on drums; Marques Carroll on trumpet; Christopher Neal on tenor sax; Brent Griffin Jr. on baritone sax; with Sarah Marie Young, Kiara Shackleford and Jihan Murray-Smith on background vocals.
 
"My Happiness" (G. King, D. Ritz) is a wonderfully done vocal duet between Guy and Sarah Marie Young.  If there was ever a more hybrid presentation of a song, I've not heard it.  The vocals have a pop vibe, the instrumentation has a jazz standard feel and it's sung like something you'd hear at a theatrical performance. I could listen to a dozen more like this, Guy...hint...hint...hint!   
 
"It's About The Dollar Bill", is a similar but more soulful style number.  Guy - with his smooth, cool singing style and amazing range - is once again impressive on the lead vocals.  Then in come the ladies on the melodic background vocals and it all goes up another notch.  In the meantime, with some excellent guitar leads, tight rhythm and fiery horns, the band's creating some magic as well.  
 
First thing in the morning and the blues are on your tail.....thus starts "A Day In The Life With The Blues" (G. King, D. Ritz).  This one's about as upright as straight up blues can get.  As a matter of fact, I'm thinking it's even money that this may have been the song that sent Buddy and David bolting from the office down to the stage.  Slow and passionate vocals; scorching blues guitar licks; piercing trumpet notes, sultry sax chords; and a steady, relaxed rhythm; sounds to me like the ingredients to a perfect blues song.  It was!   
 
Sandwiched in between Guy and the ladies opening and closing the track with their amazing lead and harmony backup up vocals, it's the band that are "Cooking In Style" on this one.  That's where an amazing two and a half minute instrumental takes place that I'll put up against any jazz ensemble.  Jake and George are nailing it on the bass and drums; Marques' trumpet leads are jolting; Amr is electrifying on piano; and Guy's got his own guitar concerto going on.  After replays, this phenomenal four minute track turned into a phenomenal forty minutes of pleasure for this listener.  
 
When Guy King says "I Got A Right to Sing The Blues", it won't take  more than to listen to him sing this one to make you a believer.  
 
One of Guy's most impressive vocal performances is on a track titled "There Must Be A Better World Somewhere".  It opens with the band softly playing behind him as he boldly, confidently, soulfully and articulately belts the hell out the vocals.  It was reminiscent of the way a younger B. B. would send chills through your body as he stood there shouting out the blues.  It probably wasn't a coincidence that his guitar work was reminiscent of that other King as well.  Wow!
 
As amazing as the vocals have been throughout the disc, the instrumentation has been as well.  With that said, this is the perfect time to mention "King Thing", an instrumental.  Although there's nothing "basic" about it, it's basically Guy and the guys doing what they've done all disc long - make absolutely wonderful music.  It's a swinging shuffle where Guy could arguably be at disc's best on guitar.
 
Other tracks on this must hear album include: "The Same Thing That Can Make You Laugh (Can Make You Cry)", "Truth", "See Saw", "Hey Now", "Bad Case Of Love", "Something's Wrong", "If the Washing Don't Get You (The Rinsing Will)" and "One Hundred Ways".
 
If, like me, you've been unfamiliar with Guy King, then you need to hurry over to www.guyking.net and change that.  When you go, please tell him his newest big fan the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



 



Val Starr

“Woman on a Mission”
Sandwich Factory Records




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © April 2016


From way back when I was a kid listening to my dad play his Ella, Dinah, Sarah, Nina and Billie records, right up through my current involvement with the National Women In Blues organization, I have always been an avid fan of the ladies of song.  And with so many excellent female blues artists out there, that list of ladies continues to grow.  With that said, having recently discovered Val Starr, I'd like to officially welcome her to that list.
 
On their third release - "Woman On A Mission" - Val Starr and the Blues Rocket consist of Val Starr on vocals and rhythm guitar; John Ellis on bass and backup vocals; Frankie Soul on lead guitar; and Pat Farman on drums.  Special Guests on the project include: Guyle Tabor and Rick Meyer on drums; Marty Deradoorian on sax; Todd Morgan on Keys, electric piano and organ; and Horacio Socarras on congas.  The CD contain's twelve all original songs (plus a bonus Christmas song) that encompass a wide range of blues styles.
 
Reasons for having the blues are generally gender-less.  Your lover leaving you; money; whiskey; gambling; and even stormy weather, are common causes for the blues that affect men and women alike.  But there is a reason for having the blues where the ladies seem to have cornered the market.  I'll let Val explain... Listen up ladies to the story I tell, all about the night I was in high heel hell.  They sure look pretty, yes they do, but everyone of you has had the "Bad Shoes Blues".  The rest of the clever and painfully truthful lyrics easily fall under the "you've got to suffer if you want to sing the blues" umbrella. Musically is a smoker.  John and Paul are tighter on the rhythm than those shoes Val’s complaining about and Frankie's killing it on the blues guitar leads. 
 
Having just mentioned whiskey as an inducer of the blues, this next song - "The Boozin' Blues" - makes for a perfect segue.  With the Blues Rocket doing pretty much the same thing musically - blasting the hell out of the blues - it's Val's convincingly painful and range roving vocals that highlight this one. 
 
On the title track, Val's a "Woman On A Mission"; and with that mission being to rock you tonight, this is just the song to do it.  Trust me - it had me rockin'.  From start to finish, John -  who's at discs best on the bass - and Guyle on the drums, are absolutely relentless on the rhythm.  That, along with Val - who's got her motor running on vocals - will definitely complete the mission.  
 
Since you're already up and rockin', don't sit down just yet.  If that last one didn't kick your ass, then "My Baby" will.  This one's an all out, no holds barred, roof raiser.  With Frankie flat out destroying it on guitar, along with Todd fanning that fire with some crazy organ chords, this one's not for the faint of heart.
 
Would you like to hear a song with some great lead and backup vocal harmony and a catchy chorus line (Val & John); smooth, toe tappin' rhythm (John & Paul); dynamite piano playing (Todd); and several hot guitar leads (Frankie)?  Then just pop in the disc and go straight to track six.  Yep, "It's As Easy As That".   
 
It's probably because of my belief that adding a saxophone or a piano to an already good blues band makes the band even better that "The Blues Is Not A Color" is my favorite track - it has both.  With that said, Marty and Todd - who are kicking it on the sax and piano - are a welcomed addition to an already very talented bunch.  Vocally, Val's got this very cool stuttering effect going on as she's belting out the bababababalues. 
 
For more on this dynamic, contemporary blues artist just go to www.valstarrandthebluesrocket.com or like her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Val-Starr-and-the-Blues-Rocket-278412808856955/timeline.  Once you do, please tell her the Blewzzman sent you. 
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



 



Shaun Murphy

“It Won't Stop Raining”
Vision Wall Records




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © April 2016


"It Wont Stop Raining" is Shaun Murphy's latest release and although Shaun's boundaries have been without borders when it comes to genres, this one is all about the blues.  It's a collection of eleven songs that include a handful of covers and a handful of previously unrecorded tracks written by current band members and members of a band the disc's producer - T C Davis - was once a part of.  Although Shaun didn't have a hand in penning the songs, she performed them like she owned them. She knows no other way.

Joining Shaun, on the vocals, are: Tom DelRossi on drums; John Marcus on bass; Kenne Cramer & Shawn Starski on guitar; and Larry Van Loon & John Wallum on keys.

The disc opens with a smoking shuffle called "Spreadin' The News" (Al Jacquez).  With everyone nailing it, there couldn't have been a better way to kick things off.  Tom and John M. are so on the rhythm that I'm expecting I'll be hearing a lot more like this from them, Kenne and Larry have the guitar and keyboards on fire and Shaun - who's range roaming in sometimes smooth then sometimes scratchy styles - is belting the hell out of it vocally.  Oh yeah!

"Running Out Of Time" (Corky Newman) totally rocks and that's got a lot to do with the feverish beat Tom's laying down on the drums, the ferocious guitar licks Shawn's putting out and Shaun's intensely powerful vocal delivery.  Damn, can she hold those notes!

You may own the moon and stars or your own money tree, you're still gonna pay with pain and scars 'cause nobody rides for free. Everybody "Pays The Price Of Love" (S. Starski, K. Cramer).  Sadly realistic lyrics beautifully song by Shaun with Tom and John W. providing the pulse on drums and organ.

The answer to this question - "Hey Baby (Don't You Remember Me)" (T. Szell, M. Osborn) would probably be "No" - even if it's a lie. Leaving a woman with a mortgage and four hungry mouths to feed is something every loser would surely want to try to forget.  Fiery rhythm and fiery guitar leads by Kenne are quite the accompaniments for Shaun's fiery vocals. Sounds like she's ready to kick this losers ass...and rightfully so.

This one's called "That's How A Woman Loves" (EG Kight) and this is how a tender ballad like this is supposed to be sung.  I may have said this in one of my reviews of another of Shaun's releases, but heck, it's worth repeating - I'd love to hear a complete album from Shaun featuring nothing but slow, bluesy, love and/or torch songs.  This is as good as it gets.

It took exactly the first three seconds of the song and the first three notes on Kenne's guitar to have me thinking I was about to hear what could be my favorite song of the bunch - and I was right.  Slow blues with a few scorching guitar leads, precision rhythm and powerful, soulful, emotional vocals. There's no questioning Shaun's sincerity as she pleads "I Need Your Love So Bad". This is how you play and sing the blues.

To get your hands on a copy of "It Wont Stop Raining", find out where she's playing, read her storied bio and tell her that her friend the Blewzzman is once again raving about her, visit Shaun Murphy at www.shaunmurphyband.com.   The album is also available on iTunes and Amazon.   

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



 



Shari Puorto

“My Obsession”
Little Lightning Productions




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © April 2016


Shari Puorto's fourth release is titled "My Obsession", and it doesn't take more than a quick peek at the jacket's photos of her very fashionable and flamboyant accessories - especially the one on the disc itself - to know what that obsession is.
 
Along with Shari, on lead and background vocals, the album features some monster music makers: Tony Braunagel, the projects producer, on drums; Johnny Lee Schell on lead & rhythm guitars, bass & background vocals; Jimmy Vivino on lead guitar; Steve Fischer on lead & slide guitar; Johnny Hawthorne on guitars and lap steel; Mike Finnigan on B3 organ, piano & background vocals; Barry Goldberg and Jim Pugh, also on piano; Bob Glaub on bass; Raymon Yslas on percussion; Darrell Leonard and Joe Sublett on horns; and Kenna Ramsey and Julie Delgado on background vocals.    
 
The recording contains eleven original songs co-written by Shari and a cover of one of the most beautiful songs ever written - "When A Man Loves A Woman". 
 
Seven rooms of misery, seven rooms of gloom; a room painted black with a feeling made of doom; the devil joins her as she opens the door and there's a black cat moving across the floor......and it gets worse.  Welcome to the "Home Of The Blues".  From start to finish, the pace is frantic.  Shari's belting the hell out of the eerie lyrics, Tony and Bob have an intense rhythm thing happening and Mike and Steve are creating a riveting, spooky effect on the organ and slide guitar.  That's okay Shari, I don't need the address.
 
The word sobriety is generally associated with an addiction, and most commonly those addictions are to alcohol, drugs, gambling or sex.  With that said, when Shari boasts of being "Six Months Sober", it's a man she's no longer addicted to.  And from the tone of her energetic and confident vocals, it's obvious that kicking this bad habit is having a positive effect.  Once again, the rhythm is powerful and Mike, Bob and Johnny are killing it on the organ, piano and guitar. 
 
"My Obsession" starts out soft and slow as Shari seductively tells us that the way to her heart is basically through her feet.  If you want to be with her and never lose all ya gotta do is buy her a pair of shoes.  Then the pace picks up and as the band's rockin' out behind her, Shari points out that her obsession is possession.....of every pair.  She even wants the one's she'll probably never wear.  BTW guys, should you want to give her a pair at her next show, she's a size seven.  
 
This one's about a place from Shari's past, where everything moved so slow and life was so much simpler.  Like all of us who have a similar place, the sincerity and emotion in Shari's voice makes it quite evident she dearly misses "Old Silo Road".   I absolutely loved this beautifully written and beautifully sung song.
 
When you're "Working The Room" you'd better be on top of your game and on this one, that's exactly where Shari and the whole band are.  Johnny Lee and Tony are bangin' it on bass and drums, Johnny and Barry are smokin' it on guitar, the background singers are kickin' it and Shari is - in her own words - "in heaven 'cause I'm working the room".
 
Although Percy Sledge set the bar quite high with his version of "When A Man Loves A Woman", there have been a handful of others who have nailed it as well and Shari Puorto is now a part of that group.  I could listen to her sing this one all night long.  As a matter of fact, between the intensity in her vocals here and the emotion in them on "Old Silo Road" this listener would welcome a full disc of these type songs.  Musically, Mike's B3, Jim's electric piano and the horns of Darrell and Joe are all spectacular.
 
Other tracks on the album include: "It's A Damn Shame", "Sugar Daddy", "Better Left Unsaid", "What's The Matter With The World?", "All About You" and "Turned To Stone".
 
To learn more about Shari, find out where her next gigs are taking place (remember, size 7) and look into getting your hands on a copy of "My Obsession", just go to www.bluesrockmusic.com.  While you're there, please tell her the Blewzzman sent you.  

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient




 



Tony Torres

“A Real Gone Time”
Dave Costarella & Company




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © April 2016


Having been a sideman for decades, Tony Torres decided it was time to go front and center with his own band and, on his debut release - “A Real Gone Time” - he actually did it twice (I'll explain that soon).
 
"A Real Gone Time" contains sixteen tracks of which thirteen are originals of Tony's or collaborations with Dave Costarella, the albums producer.  Ten of the songs are performed by Tony Torres and Real Gone - his touring rhythm section.  This trio includes; Tony on guitar and vocals; Steve Shenberger on bass; and Tom Webb on drums.  The remaining songs are performed with a different rhythm section and these "three cats" call themselves Tres Gatos.  They are: Tony on guitar and vocals; Jonathan Godinez on bass; and David Santana on drums.
 
One of the disc's three covers is the classic J. Geils smoker, "Whammer Jammer".  Now when I think "Whammer Jammer", I think phenomenally bad ass harmonica blowin'.  On the other hand, I think Tony's take on that might just be "Harmonica?  What harmonica?"  On his version, blistering, bad ass guitar playing will just have to do.  And it does.  Excellent take!
 
So the Latin beat on this one transforms this sexy, sultry "Surf Queen" from the beaches of Southern California to the Mexican Riviera where she's probably spending more time flamenco dancing in the sand than hangin' ten on the board.  Great vocals, guitar, rhythm and percussion highlight this one. 
 
"5 O'clock Blues", with it's "Smokestack Lightening" style groove, is one of the more roots type blues tracks.  With Steve and Tom in a mellowed down groove behind him, Tony, with a deep and scratchy vocal delivery, is sounding like a seasoned down home blues man. 
 
So Rowdy Yates joins the Ventures and together they walk, don't run, to re-record the theme from Rawhide.  But along the way they decide to change the name of the song to "Cowboy Surfer" and totally make it their own.  I loved this instrumental so much I must have listened to it at least a dozen times.  Great job, guys!         
 
Another one by the three cats is an instrumental version of Stevie Wonder's "Ribbon In The Sky" and it's totally on the other end of the spectrum from the way they just rocked the last one.  It's four magical minutes of beautiful and masterful music.  It's not like anything else on the disc but it's certainly one of the best on the disc. 
 
For a real good time, you need to get your hands on a copy of "A Real Gone Time" and you can do that by going to www.cdbaby.com.  Of course, to learn more about Tony himself just go to www.tonytorres.com. While you're there, as usual, you'll tell them the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



 



The Truth featuring Cat Rhodes

“Knee Deep In The Blues”





By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © March 2016


Remember Denise LaSalle's attitude as she belted out lines like "your husband's cheating on us" and "you can have my husband but don't mess with my man"?  Remember the fierce energy Tina Turner generated as she wailed "rollin', rollin'....rollin' on the river" during her wild renditions of "Proud Mary"?  How about those famous growls you'd hear on just about every Koko Taylor song?  Well if you can relate to all of those vocal characteristics, you now have a good idea of what you might expect to hear while listening to Cat Rhodes. 
 
 "Knee Deep In The Blues" - the second album from The Truth, featuring Cat Rhodes - contains nine original tracks on which you'll hear some blues, some funk, some R&B and a whole lot of soul.  The band consists of Cat Rhodes on lead vocals, Bob Erickson on guitars & vocals, Jojo Morris on bass & vocals, and his brother Bryan Morris on drums & vocals.  Joining them is special guest Avery Green on harmonica. 
 
The title track describes a situation Cat finds herself in as a result of a bad relationship - "Knee Deep In The Blues".  It's a slow, soulfully sung track with tight, laid back rhythm and several excellent guitar leads.
 
The smoke you're hearing on "Coat And Hat" is a result of the two alarm fire the rhythm section's got going on.  The brothers Morris - Jojo on bass and Bryan on drums - are unquestionably at discs best right here.  Now that I'm further into the track, so is Avery - the flames erupting out of his harp just made it a three alarmer.  Of course, vocally it's a monster Cat(egory 5).         
 
"Moan", is pretty much all Bob.  With Jojo and Bryan laying down a smooth rhythm behind him his guitar work and deep, raspy vocals - a nice contrast to Cat's - are both highlighted here. 
 
"Should Have Known Better" is the discs most straight up blues number, and that always makes it a highlight for me.  And showcasing some crazy vocal range, it also features some of Cat's best vocal work.  Ditto for Bob on the guitar, who's cranking out some real deal blues licks.  Real good stuff right here.   
 
On this track, Cat shows us what an understanding and cooperative woman she is.  Normally, a man who drinks too much wine would catch hell from his lady, right?  But you see, Cat's not like that.  As she tells it, she has a "Wine Headed Baby" who drinks wine all the time.  He goes down to the corner store and buys his wine by the pint, but she tells him to buy it by the gallon so he won't have to go all the time.  Very humorous lyrics accompanied by Bob doing a heck of a job pickin' and slidin' on acoustic guitar and Avery blowin' some good blues on the harp.     

Now, if some of you are thinking you recognize the names Cat Rhodes and Bryan Morris, think Kenny Neal.  Bryan was part of the Neal Family band for many years and Cat toured as a guest with the band for three of those years.  As a matter of fact, if you were on the 2012 Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise - and I was - you probably saw this...
KBSOUL and the Kenny Neal Band on Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise Jan 2012.
 
For more on the band, just go to www.catandthetruth.com.  When you do, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient

 

 



Mac Arnold & Plate Full o' Blues

“Give It Away”
Plantation #1 Productions




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © March 2016


Although "Give It Away" is his first release in five years, by no means has Mac Arnold been resting on his laurels.  And knowing him as I do, I'd be willing to bet that won't ever happen.  Between writing music, touring and recording with the band, putting on his annual Cornbread and Collard Greens Blues Festival, owning and operating an organic farm and being the proprietor of Dr. Mac Arnold's Blues Restaurant, Mac - who seems to have discovered the fountain of youth - is having the time of his life.  I gotta get me some of those collard greens. 
 
Mac Arnold and Plate Full O' Blues include: Mac Arnold - of course - on bass guitar, vocals & gas can guitar; Austin Brasher on guitars & vocals; Max Hightower on harmonica, keyboard, vocals & bass guitar; and Scotty Hawkins on drums & percussion.  Of the albums thirteen tracks, eleven are various band member originals.
 
The disc opens with a song Mac wrote about an earlier time in his career, when he spent most of his life on the road.  It's titled "Nickel and Dime" - and because of dealing with some unscrupulous shysters back then, Mac unfortunately had neither.  The sincerity spoken through Mac's scratchy vocals is evidence that these blues were truly lived. Musically, Austin and Max sound great on several guitar and piano leads.      
 
"I ain't tryin' to put other music down, but if it wasn't for the blues it would not be around.  You may think I'm talkin' silly, but the blues is the real "Nitty Gritty" (Max).  Well Said Mac!  This is a fun (and Mac's having a lot of it himself) up tempo rocker that pays tribute to some of the genres legends and the thieves that stole their music.
 
"I need you like a drunk needs whisky" may not be one of the more traditional love lines but it does make a point.  Especially since when Max wrote "How I Need You", it wasn't just about someone you love but someone you're also addicted to.  Musically, it appears to be a duet with Mac and Scotty performing magic on the gas can guitar and the percussion while Mac sings his heart out.  
 
It's interesting the way it came about that Mac would do a version of a Brook Benton song made popular by Bobby "Blue" Bland.  While hanging out at the Blues Music Awards, Mac told Bobby he wanted to do one of his songs.  Never being quite satisfied with the way he did it himself, Bobby urged Mac to do - "I'll Take Care Of You".  Now although I have to disagree with Bobby (yes, I just went and listened to his version on the "Two Steps from The Blues" CD), Mac does nail it.  Anyone having never heard the song before would be hard pressed to believe that Mac didn't write it for - and is singing it to - someone in his life.  Right here is where the term "making it your own" comes into play.  Musically, the song gets it's heartbeat from Mac's precision pickin' on the gas can guitar and Max's masterful organ chords.  Since it's been some forty-something years since Bobby did it, this listener is happy to have heard this beautiful love song once again beautifully done.  Thank you, Mac!       
 
Speaking of some precision pickin', Austin's doing some of his own on a track he wrote called "Memories".  It's a duet with him on acoustic guitar and vocals and Max on harmonica.  As I was with Max, I'm equally impressed with Austin's powerful and compelling vocals as well.  With the vibe I'm feeling from this one, I'm thinking if Austin can get the song in the right country singers hands he'll have himself a hit.
 
Since I'm done here, you should now be heading to www.macarnold.com.  That's where you'll be able to find out a whole lot more about the band, pick up some of their music and of course, tell them the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



 



Darryl Ellyson

“It's Such a Shame”
Ellysong Publishing




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © March 2016


After close to forty years as a singer, songwriter and performer, the time was right for Darryl Ellyson to release his debut CD.  The disc is titled “It's Such A Shame”, and as you'd expect from an artist who over the last six years has received several awards for his songwriting - including a "Songwriter of the Year" nod - all twelve of the tracks are original music.
 
With the exception of several featured players on a handful of the songs, all of the music pretty much comes from Darryl and Bill Roberts, of whom Darryl had this to say: "Bill plays all instruments and without him, all my songs would still be acoustic songs I'd only play at solo gigs". 
 
The complete list of credits is: Darryl Ellyson on vocals, rhythm & acoustic guitar and percussion; Bill Roberts - the albums producer - on lead & acoustic guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards; Todd Ellsworth on bass; Carlos Chafin on drums and keyboards; Kip Williams on drums and percussion; and Ronnie Owens on harmonica.
 
Although it was repeated seven times, and nicely stretched out on a few of them, it took exactly one word of the opening track for Darryl to impress me with his vocals.  The song is titled "Caused My Heart To Bleed" and Darryl's emotionally soulful vocal style is perfectly suited for the song’s melancholy lyrics.  Musically, Carlos and Bill are nailing the rhythm on the drums and organ and Ronnie's blowin' some serious blues through that harp. Great first impression. 
 
Combined with the opener, this next track created an interesting segue.  You see, one of the things that caused Darryl's heart to bleed was waking up one morning and finding his lady had not come home.  Seeing the apparent silver lining in that cloud, on "My First Day (Without You)"  he's now sounding happy and planning to paint the town.  Nice recovery, Darryl!  This is one of the tracks that - due to Bill's amazing and versatile musical talents - is a duet with a full band effect.
 
One of my favorite vocalists of all time is Darrell Nulisch and on "Take It Back", this Darryl is sounding as good as that Darrell. It's interesting how similar their smooth, soulful swagger is.  And then there's Bill.  He's not only killing it on rhythm but he's tearing it up on lead guitar as well.  Unreal!
 
One of the disc's several acoustic tracks is a beautifully sung ballad titled "Love Refugees". After hearing the sad and sullen, then happy and cocky styles of his vocals on previous tracks, this one features his heartfelt, tender style. On it, Darryl and Bill both put on masterful performances on the acoustic guitar. 
 
"I'm So Worried" is one of Darryl's award winning songs.  In 2015 it took best song honors in the Mid-Atlantic Songwriting contest.  Hearing him sing these songs the way he does it's no wonder that anything you read about him includes praises of his vocal and writing talents.  As with the vocals, Bills rhythm and Carlos piano playing is also silky smooth.            
 
When perfection happens, just go with it.  "I Don't Know", which was recorded live in one take, closes out the disc as impressively as it opened.  It's another acoustic track featuring Darryl on vocals and guitar, Ronnie on harmonica, Kip on drums and Todd on standup bass.  From what I just heard I'm suggesting this quartet just pack up the van and go on tour. 
 
In place of a website, Darryl Ellyson uses Darryl Ellyson | ReverbNation but should you want to contact him it's probably best to do so by liking his Facebook Page.  As usual, please tell him the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



 



TIME GAP

“Flashback”
Time Gap Music




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © March 2016


Time Gap is a four piece teenage blues band who recently represented the Philadelphia, PA area in the Youth Showcase at the International Blues Challenge.  The group includes: seventeen year old band leader and guitarist, Radka Kasparcova; fifteen year old vocalist, Sophie Griffiths; seventeen year old bassist, Miles Burger; and seventeen year old drummer, Noah Bryant.  Their debut release is a seven song EP titled "Flashback", and in the words of Radka; "all of the songs are originals, composed by the group as a whole, filled with passion and ambition".  Well said, young lady!
 
Taking into consideration that collectively these four talented musicians just about add up to the average age of the baby boomers who make up a large portion of the blues community they'll appeal to, it's way too early to tell what may be in store for them in their musical futures. But with that said, if Time Gap sticks to this genre they already seem to have down pat, the blues won't only be in good hands it will have an opportunity to reach the younger audience it needs to survive. 
 
Making a very good first impression is a shuffle titled "So Many People".  As I'm listening I'm thinking I could make a very good argument that I'm not listening to a bunch of seventeen year olds but rather a bunch of seasoned veterans.  Miles and Noah are a natural on rhythm, Radka's graceful on the rhythm guitar and stinging on the leads and Sophie is melodically belting out the vocals.  Excellent job!
 
In a note to me stating that "Rain On My Parade" was one of her personal favorites, Radka uses the words "upbeat and lively" in her the description of the track.  That, my dear, is a bit of an understatement 'cause this one is an all out, full throttle, smoker.  Miles and Noah are deliriously wreaking havoc on the bass and drums, Radka's literally trying to break strings and Sophie's singing as hard and fast as all of that.....and it all sounds crazy good.
 
"New and True" is a testament to Time Gap's versatility.  It's a soulful ballad on which Sophie showcases tremendous range and intensely emotional vocal skills while Radka mesmerizes with a guitar solo as good as ________ (fill in your favorite guitarist).  Wow!
 
"Two Way Street" is all about the ladies.  It's an acoustic track on which Radka's pickin' and strummin' and Sophie's sassy vocals perfectly compliment each other.  Since just over three minutes of this perfection didn't cut it for me, several replays were in order here.
 
There are several segments on "THURSDAY" where the rhythm is so profound I felt a need to stress the title of the song and go as far as to say it could have just as well been called "THUMPDAY".  The gals are doing their usual excellent stuff but Miles and Noah pretty much steal the show right here.  Right about now I'm wanting to once again address that argument I referred to earlier.

To learn more about Time Gap just go to www.radkamusic.com and like them on Facebook by clicking the link.  Not only will their bios impress you but they may just surprise you as well.  By the way, please make sure you tell them the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


 



George Stephen Kelly

“The Power, The Glory & The Monkey Time”
Ace Sleeve Records




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © March 2016


"The Power, The Glory & The Monkey Time" is George Stephen Kelly's latest release and it features a well rounded combination of straight up blues, soul blues, rock blues and retro rhythm & blues.  On it, George - on vocals and guitars - is joined by: Michael Jenkins on guitars; Motor City Josh on guitars & tambourine; Kevin Tubbs and Chris Codish on the Hammond organ; Ryland Kelly on bass, piano & guitars; Antonio Johnson and Todd Glass on drums; De'Sean Jones, Marcus Elliot and Keith Kaminski on tenor sax; John Douglas and Jimmy Smith on trumpet; Alex Lyon on bass; and Caleb Ford on background vocals.  Eight of the albums ten tracks are originals.  
 
On the one sheet accompanying the disc, a quote from "All Music Guide" states that George Stephen Kelly is "an artist and writer to watch".  Had I written that I may have said he's an artist and writer to watch and listen to as well.  Now let's do some of that listening...
 
It's only the second track so this statement may be premature, but from what I'm hearing the smokin' "Morning After Pill" should be the hottest, rocker of the lot.  Between George and Josh mixing it up on lead, rhythm, slide and solos, the guitar work on this one is ferocious.  On top of that, the horns and Hammond are on fire and Todd is out of control on the drums.  Whoa!   
 
I'm a sucker for a beautiful ballad and "My Forever, Your Always" may very well be the most relatable song I've ever heard in my life.  One of the best ways for me to tell you how I feel about it is to tell you what I emailed George after hearing it for the first time.  Here are my exact words: "My Forever, Your Always" literally brought tears to my eyes.  I know you wrote it for your lady but man, I want to tell my wife those exact words.  As a matter of fact, I'm going to burn the song onto a disc and put that disc in her Valentine's Day card.  It's funny, just yesterday we posted the 2015 "Blewzzy Awards" at our website and that song is probably going to be next years' winner.  I cannot say enough to you about how I feel about that song, thanks for writing it." The intense rhythm, led by the powerful horns, make it musically masterful as well and vocal delivery of the emotional lyrics could not have been more sincere and heartfelt.  Since I first heard this song about two weeks ago, until I sat down to write about it today, I've easily listened to it well over a hundred times.     
 
Should you not be aware of who Sisyphus is, after you look him up you'll have a much better idea of what it's like to have the "Sisyphus Blues"... day in, day out, over and over again.  As what is apparently going to be the case on many of these tracks, the rhythm – this time led by some amazing organ playing by Chris – is once again a track highlight.  Another is George's monster two minute plus guitar lead encompassing the last half of the song.     
 
Many songs are written from true stories and sadly this is one of them.  It's about George's friend Jon who, as a result of having to constantly work two jobs, is always tired and exhausted.  According to Jon, there's just "Too Much Month At The End Of The Money".  This funky number features De'Sean wailing on a sax solo and Josh kicking it on lead guitar.
 
One of the two covers on the disc is the classic Wilson Pickett hit "Don't Let The Green Grass Fool You".  This great sing-a-long is one of my favorite R&B songs and this rendition is right up there with Wilson's.  As I said in my description of an earlier song, I did indeed speak too soon, 'cause this one's another ass kicker. 
 
Could it be a coincidence that a song about whiskey is the bluesiest song on the recording?  It could be but not likely.  It's just a fact that "Bad Whiskey" has and does cause the blues.  For that matter, so does good whiskey.  As is generally the case with slow and low down blues like this, the rhythm is tight and the guitar licks George is laying down are scorching.  
 
The second of the two covers is another former hit - this one is Boz Scaggs's "Runnin' Blue".  With all four horns blowing support his way, George sounds phenomenal on the vocals here.  To paraphrase a TV networks slogan, this one's "must hear music".     
 
George's website, is www.georgestephenkelly.com.  Please check him out, and when you do make sure you tell him the Blewzzman send ya. 
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient



 



Benny Turner

“When She's Gone”
Nola Blue, Inc.




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © February 2016


At the very bottom of this review will be a link to where you can read Benny Turner's biography - and when you do, like me, I'm sure you'll be wondering why this music veteran of fifty plus years isn't headlining blues festivals and having his name appear on any music awards ballots.  With that said, I'm going to go on record as saying that "When She's Gone", his fourth release, may just open enough ears to change all that.
 
"When She's Gone" consists of six original, re-released tracks from Benny's 1997 debut disc titled "Blue And Not So Blue", and four classic covers.  The long list of performers, some of whom are no longer with us, include: Benny Turner on vocals, lead guitar, lead bass and bass; Marva Wright on vocals; Samuel "The Bishop" Berfect on keyboards, piano, organ and background vocals; Keiko Komaki on keyboards & organ; Josh Paxton on keybpards;  Davell Crawford on organ, Fender Rhodes and background vocals; Charles Brown on piano; Mark Adams on clavinet; Sean Lewis on harmonica; Alonzo Johnson on bass; Jeffery "Jellybean" Alexander, Larry Williams and Herman Ernest III on drums; Dr. John, Mark Stone and Derwin "Big D" Perkins on rhythm guitar; Bob Margolin on lead guitar; Jason Mingledorff on saxophone; Barney Floyd on trumpet; and Diane Lotny, Yvonne Washington, Tanya Jarvis, Craig Adams, Carla Davis, Yvette Whittler, and Charles "Chucky C" Elam all on background vocals.
 
The perfect way to open a disc is with a perfect song and "I Can't Leave" is just that.  Besides Benny, Diane and Yvonne being absolutely masterful on the lead and harmony vocals, the contagious chorus line will have you singing along while the smooth rhythm groove - led by the incredible keyboard work of "The Bishop" - will have you swaying as you do.  By no means is it a coincidence, but I can't leave either - I've been replaying this one for the last twenty minutes. 
 
"Have Pity On This Lovesick Fool" is a duet with Benny and the "New Orleans Blues Queen" - the late, great Marva Wright.  With that said, it's mandatory listening.  Musically it's the funkiest track of the lot and since many of these songs do not include the use of guitars, it's the rhythm section making it all sound so good.
 
At the opening of "Because Of You", Samuel's soft piano chords and Herman's mellow percussion work were literally carrying me away... then Benny started to sing; Tanya joined in; the piano and organ leads got more and more intense; and the song took me to a whole other level.  As it sent me to church, Benny's Gospel roots clearly shone through on this one.  Beautiful!  Beautiful!  Beautiful!  This song will be in my head for days.
 
"So Deep" is another of the many tracks that (as mentioned above) does not include a lead or rhythm guitar, but Benny - on the lead bass - is one hell of a good substitute.  It's also another of the many tracks that features vocal excellence.  Although Benny's voice is extremely soulful, and quite powerful as well, he clearly appreciates the extra touch a strong supporting cast of backup vocalists can add.  This listener also appreciates it. 
 
Although there hasn't been a lot of it, "Reconsider Baby" (Lowell Fulson) is one of the few tracks that feature a guitar -  and not just one.  Bob Margolin, with his stinging blues guitar leads, and "Big D", with his accompanying rhythm licks, highlight this one.
 
The one sheet accompanying this disc refers to the closing track as "the final gem"... no argument here.  It's a compelling, six and a half minute version of "Black Night" (Jessie Mae Robinson) on which Benny belts the hell out of the blues.  It also features the late and great Charles Brown playing some killer piano, and more of the amazing rhythm I've been hearing all disc long - this time with the addition of a fabulous horn section.
 
To find out more about Benny Turner just go to www.bennyturner.com.  After you read that legendary bio I told you about earlier, please tell him his friend the Blewzzman sent you. 

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient




 



Joe Survival Caruso

“You Never Had These Blues”
Lakehouse Records




By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © February 2016


If I had not read in the liner notes that Joe Survival Caruso's latest release - You Never Had These Blues - was recorded live at Orlando Brewing, I may not have ever realized it was indeed a live recording.  Happily, it has none of the annoying background noises, none of the distracting out of time hand clapping by hundreds of uninterested hand clappers and none of that performer/audience banter that is sometimes entertaining at the actual show but mostly displeasing on the recording.  With that said, those involved in the performance, mixing, recording, engineering and production deserve some kudos for making this sound as close to a studio recording as possible
 
On You Never Had These Blues, Joe Survival Caruso - on vocals and lead guitar - is joined by: Herb Ransberg on guitar; August "Auggie" Antoine on bass; and the disc's producer, Reno Mussatto on drums.  All eight of the disc's tracks were written by Joe Survival Caruso.
 
The title track, You Never Had These Blues, is typical of what Joe and the band are all about.  They just get up there, lock themselves into a tight rhythm groove and belt out good old fashion blues, both musically and vocally.   
 
Calling Yearnin' And Burnin a smoker is an understatement for sure.  As a matter of fact, because I couldn't sit still enough while it was on, I had to wait for the song to end before I could write about. Joe and Herb are killing it on the guitars and Reno is totally on fire on the drums. Whew!    
 
Unlike Delbert McClinton, Joe Survival Caruso is Standing On Solid Ground.  And although he's been knocked in the head and left for dead; abused and misused; betrayed, heart broken and made a fool of; he intends to stand on it till the day that he dies.  That pretty much leaves no question as to why he uses "Survival" as his middle name (by the way, reading his bio provides a lot more insight on that).  Musically, this is one hell of a fiercely funky track with some wild guitar and intense rhythm work.      
 
This disc closes with possibly it's best number - Things Ain't Been The Same.  Although Joe belts the hell out of the short, repetitive vocal versus, it's the long instrumental breaks that highlight the track.  The tandem rhythm guitar work had me swearing I was hearing an organ, Joe's lead guitar break outs are the best on the disc and Reno & Auggie are just tearing it up on the drums and bass.  Great work!       
 
www.lakehouserecords.com is where you now need to go. That's where you'll be able to pick up the disc, find out a lot more about Joe (do read his bio), and be able tell him and Reno that the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient




 



Allen-Lamun Band

“Maybe It's A Good Thing”
Mad Left Music
Louisville's Tribute To Muddy Waters



By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © January 2016

Since I communicate with Dave Allen and Laura Lamun on a regular basis, they've told me many times just how happy they are about having recently relocated to Nashville, TN.  Now I'm hearing it through their music.  On their second release, "Maybe It's A Good Thing", Dave Allen - on lead, background & choir vocals; drums; percussion; and harmonica; and Laura Lamun - on lead, background & choir vocals; joined forces with some of the "Music City's" finest blues musicians.  They are: Jake Hill on piano, strings and Hammond B3 organ; Randy Coleman on bass; and Kenne Kramer on electric guitar.  Other special guest musicians include: Steve Boynton and Donnie Miller on electric guitar; Larry van Loon on piano and Hammond B3 organ; Miqui Gutierrez on tenor sax; and Matt Workman on choir vocals.  All twelve of the recordings are Dave Allen and Laura Lamun originals.
 
"Half Of Me" is a perfect way of describing those indecisive moments all of us have experienced in some way or another.  It's about those times when half of you really thinks you want to do something but half of you is also thinking you really shouldn't do it.  Although Dave and Laura never actually figure out which half wins, their indecisiveness sure sounded great.  On the other hand, both halves of Jake and Steve know what they want 'cause their tearing it up on the keyboards and guitar.
 
Some of the disc's best vocals can be heard right here on the title track - "Maybe It's A Good Thing".  After hearing the track for the first time I mentioned to Laura how much I loved her sound on it and she replied back with "yeah, I got to stretch it out a bit on that one".  A bit?  No!  A lot?  Yes!  Her lead solos, her harmonizing with Dave, her own background vocal support, her range and her very impressive note s...t...r...e...t...c...h...i...n...g... are all absolutely magnificent.             
 
"I Don't Love My Baby" (she don't love me too).....hmmmm, sounds like some couples I know but I'll not go there.  Musically, this one rips.  In addition to sharing the vocals, Dave's killin' the kit and blowin' the hell out of a harp, Kenne's smokin' the guitar leads and Jake's wailin' away on the piano.  Excellent track!
 
"Breath Of Fresh Air" has so much FUNK going on I just felt I needed to enlarge the word.  Of course, Dave and Randy are all over the rhythm on the drums and bass, but it's the horn section that stands out on this one.  And by the horn section I mean Miqui leading the way on sax with all the rest of the horn blowin' actually being provided by Jake's magnificent Hammond skills.
 
"I Love You Pretty Baby" is this disc's track that automatically gets the "Blewzz Approved" stamp.  That happens when the song that's the best slow blues is also the disc's longest track - thereby doubling my pleasure.  You've probably already figured it out that the rhythm is right and tight - thanks to Jake's finesse on organ; Steve's guitar leads are ever so soft and slow but yet quite stimulating as well; and Dave's sounding about as soulful as I've ever heard the smooth vocals.  Very good stuff!
 
Wouldn't it be nice if you could tune into a "Good News Channel"?  According to Laura, you can - and knowing her like I do - I know she truly believes that.  Just give this spiritually uplifting song a listen and I'm sure that her, and the choir, will have you believing it as well.  This beautifully sung, beautifully written and beautifully performed song needs to be heard by all of humanity.....and often.          
 
If you'd like to get to know more about Dave Allen and "Little" Laura Lamun, just go to www.allenlamunband.com.  While you're there, please tell them that their good friend the Blewzzman sent you.  Oh yeah, also tell them I said there's no "Maybe" involved - "It's a good thing"!

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient




 



Various Artists

“The Blues Had A Baby”
Down In The Alley Records
Louisville's Tribute To Muddy Waters



By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © January 2016


Prelude
The following is a word for word reprint of the One Sheet that accompanied the CD.  I felt it makes a statement that needed to be heard...

"This is a cross genre project featuring some of Louisville's best musicians and bands. The idea behind the record is that many say the blues are dying, that younger music fans are not listening to or interested in the blues as a music form. 
    We felt that bringing together bands with different backgrounds and tastes would introduce the blues to a different set of fans. What better way to do that than to introduce them to the artist most responsible for electrifying the blues!
    Our hope was that they would hear their favorite band cover a Muddy song and wonder about Muddy and the blues. Maybe even do a little research and buy a blues record.
    The twelve songs are covered by a Latin group, a Bluegrass band, a jazz duo, two rock groups, an Americana quartet and six blues bands.  The songs include some of Muddy's best known and others that are not as well known.
    The record was released on October 2nd and is available through CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon and Google Music. We hope you like it."
– Mike Suttles, Down In The Alley Records.

 
Review 
Because I believe that anyone participating on a disc of this magnitude deserves merit, although I may not touch on all of the songs, I'm going to do my very best to list all of the over fifty participating musicians.
 
After a short intro, the disc opens with "Forty Days And Forty Nights"  (Bernard Roth), performed by Lamont Gillispie's 100 Proof Blues.  The band consists of a bunch of musicians who have played with the late band leader and they are: Bruce Lively on vocals; Steve Holmes on drums; Jimmy Brown on bass; Dave "Spooney" Witherspoon on guitar; Bill Dean on piano; Mark Bright on saxophone; and Rick Cain on harmonica.  The best way to describe this performance is to say it's done in the classic style of Muddy.  Great vocals, great rhythm and as expected, outstanding harp, sax and piano highlights.  This one was definitely done by seasoned blues veterans.          
 
"Rollin' And Tumblin" (Muddy Waters), is performed by the Latin band very cleverly called Appalatin.  They are: Yani Vozos on guitar & vocals; Fernando Moya on charnago; Luis deLeon on harmonica, timbales & cowbell; Steve Sizemore on congas; Jose Oreta on upright bass; and Alex Molina on surdo drum & tambourine.  This is not only the most interesting track of the lot but it's also the most surprising.  The result of a bunch of musicians of various Latin cultures, playing a bunch of exotic instruments - on a song from a genre outside of their wheelhouse, in a style all their own, is absolutely masterful.  I must have played this track about 6-7 times and was mesmerized each and every time.  Great track. 
 
It would be a sacrilege to listen to a compilation of Muddy songs and not mention "Got My Mojo Working" (Preston Foster).  This one's done by the 10th Street Blues Band who's members include: a legendary bluesman who actually played with some of Muddy's buddies - Sonny Sitgraves on drums; Billy Bird on vocals & harmonica; Pen Bogert on guitar; and Matt Swenson on bass.  This is another track that's quite obviously done by another bunch of very talented blues veterans. 
 
We all know that the Blues' baby is known as rock 'n' roll but the blues also has a famous cousin known as jazz.  Sometimes they're so very different and other times - like right here on "You Can't Lose What You Ain't Never Had" (Muddy Waters), by Carly Johnson and Craig Wagner - they're so very much alike.  Carly's angelic voice and unrestrained range along with Craig's total guitar mastery make this one of the most musically pure and beautiful tracks.  Wow!    
 
Us blues fans know better, but to most of the world "You Need Love" (Willie Dixon) is a Led Zeppelin song.  Here it's nicely done by  Laurie Jane and The 45s, who are: Laurie Jane Jessup on vocals; Cort Duggins on guitar; Jason Embry on bass; and Scott Dugdale on drums.  This smoker features hard drivin' rhythm, rockin' leads and kick ass vocals.  I'm already a blues fan but this one made me a fan of this blues band.
 
"Same Thing" (Willie Dixon) was recorded back in 1977 by the late Jim Rosen on vocals & harmonica and Rob Pickett on guitar.  As far as acoustic blues goes, this duet obviously had it down pat.  I'm always amazed when I hear this type of blues - which with all due respect, is not my blues of choice - and end up getting blown away by what I just heard.  And here I sit, amazed and blown away by phenomenal harmonica blowin' and guitar pickin'.      
 
"She's Into Something" (Carl Wright) is done by Da Mudcats and they are: Susan O'Neil on vocals; Doug Lamb on vocals & piano; Gene Wickcliffe on drums; Rob Pickett on vocals & guitar; Mike Lynch on vocals & bass; and Screamin' John Hawkins on vocals.  Sandwiched between the excellent opening and closing lead vocals, shared by Susan and Doug, the awesome piano and guitar leads really make this one pop.      
 
"Diamonds At Your Feet" (Henry Morganfield), is performed by the bluegrass band called The Bibelhauser Brothers.  They are: Aaron Bibelhauser on vocals & piano; Adam Bibelhauser on vocals & bass; Tavis Conley on drums; Chris Rodafaffer on guitar; and the world renowned, multi award winning Michael Cleveland on fiddle.  This track is so good and so well done that in addition to hopefully turning some bluegrass fans into blues fans, it actually turned this blues fan into a bluegrass fan.  Thanks guys!     
 
Although "The Blues Had A Baby" is primarily aimed at recruiting new members to the blues community, it's my opinion that the ones already here should hear it as well.  To get your hands on a copy just go to www.downinthealleyrecords.com.  As usual, please tell Mike that the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient


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