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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!


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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Orleans Records artist: Rockie Charles - Born For You

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Born For You, by Rockie Charles and I really like it. Opening with title track, Born For You, Rockie Charles quickly establishes that he is going his own route with influences from many reaches. I am first taken by his smooth vocals and JL Hooker like phrasing, complimented by Jerry Embry on sax. Old Black Joel feels a lot like 60's soul and Clarence Carter. A solid backing band made up of Jerry Pekinto on bass, Rick Allen and Wayne Lohr on organ, Tony D'Alessandro on drums, not to forget Charles' own Spartan guitar playing and with really sweet backing vocals by Karlene Arena and Rhea Kahler, this sound is really earthy. Excellent. On easy paced, Oh My Darling, Look What You're Doing To Me, Charles sings with the ease of Al Green in a style more like Willie Nelson. Smoky Greenwell adds a soothing harp overtone giving the track just the right hint of spice. Please Tell Me It Ain't So is one of my favorite tracks on the release with Hooker like phrasing and Green like vocal tones...an unbeatable pair. R&B track, I Need Your Love So Bad has a terrific groove with a super lead line and tight horn work by Wilber Tank on trumpet and solid vocal backing by Arena and Kahler. Don't Let Me Go calls to mind the great Wilson Picket and his vocal work over arpeggiated guitar work. One of the most soulful tracks on the release is I Just Called To Wish You A Merry Christmas. Charles falsetto vocal and Sean Kenny's bari sax are a really nice pair supported by Lohr's organ sea. Very nice. Wrapping the release is There Is A Rainbow Hangin' Over My Shoulder, a super soul track with Charles adding some really nice guitar riffs. Horn phrasing on this track really gives it that 70's Wilson Pickett feel but it's all Charles and a super track to close a really strong release.



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https://www.amazon.com/Born-You-ROCKIE-CHARLES/dp/B000003TXK

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Janiva Magness' 'Love is An Army'





GRAMMY-NOMINATED SINGER-SONGWRITER JANIVA MAGNESS
REACHES A NEW CREATIVE APEX 
WITH THE POWERFUL, GENRE-SPANNING 
LOVE IS AN ARMY
She’s reunited with producer Dave Darling for her 14th album, which
fuses the classic sounds of Memphis and Nashville with a modern focus
on songs that balance love, hope and protest. Street date: February 23rd.
Guests on this Americana-Soul album are Americana pillars Delbert McClinton,
 Poco’s Rusty Young and Della Mae’s Courtney Hartman, as well as
prolific blues artists Charlie Musselwhite and Cedric Burnside



LOS ANGELES, Calif. — After Janiva Magness added a 2016 Grammy nomination to her 26 Blues Music Award nominations — with seven wins, including Entertainer of the Year — she might have taken at least a short rest on her laurels. Instead, one of the preeminent voices in contemporary American roots music has raised the bar for herself. Magness’ 14th album, Love Is an Army, is a brilliantly crafted bridge between the past and present, blending the echoes of classic soul and Americana music with timeless themes of love and the very contemporary sound of protest.

Love Is an Army
’s dozen songs reverberate with the character of the enduring Memphis Rhythm & Blues patented by the Stax and Hi Records studios, especially in tracks like “Back to Blue,” which opens the album and sets its tone, and “Hammer,” which features Charlie Musselwhiteon harmonica. Another Tennessee music city, Nashville, is the geographic touchstone for the title number, a duet with Texas singer-songwriter Bryan Stephens, and for “On and On,” with Poco frontman Rusty Young on pedal steel guitar. Like Magness, both Stephens and Young are on Blue √Član Records. Other guest artists include the legendary Grammy-winning R&B singer Delbert McClinton, Grammy-nominated Mississippi hill-country blues torchbearer Cedric Burnside, and Americana Music Award-nominated bluegrass guitar and banjo virtuosoCourtney Hartman from the band Della Mae.

Magness’ inspired vocal performances unify all the elements of Love Is an Army and serve as a beacon for her coterie of guests. She displays new heights in her clarion tone and elegant phrasing, which are laid bare to the soul in the stone gospel voice-and-piano arrangement of “Some Kind of Love.” But the core of the album is, of course, the songs that Magness and her cast serve superbly in their performances. And many of those songs are essentially protest numbers, so it’s fitting they take musical inspiration from the ’60s and ’70s recordings by the likes of The Staple Singers and Al Green, whose lyrics about strength and love cut through the hubris and deceit that surrounded the Civil Rights struggle and the Vietnam War like a laser.

Dave Darling and I had a real sense of urgency when we were writing and recording this album,” Magness explains. “What led the album was the lyrics, and the things that are happening right now — the division, the racism, the violence, and our leaders’ lack of concern about basic human issues like health care and poverty. The first song Dave and I wrote was ‘Love Is an Army,’ and then David brought in ‘Home,’ and the direction of the album was clear.” Dave Darling has produced six albums that garnered Grammy nominations. His collaborations include albums with Brian Setzer, Glen Campbell, Dan Hicks, and the Stray Cats
Magness considers the title song a rallying call and an expression of her sense of purpose. “When I sing ‘you know that I will fight for you/There’s no divine inspiration/Something else calls us here/And our hearts know what to do,’ I really mean it. Now, in particular, it’s once again important for us all to do the right thing, and I’m willing to do that, regardless of the cost.”
“Home,” a duet with Cedric Burnside, is equally galvanizing. “Mom and pop protect the borders,” Magness testifies over a deep groove punctuated by handclaps and tambourine. “Draw the line deep in the sand/Load the guns for sons and daughters/To steal freedom of another woman and man.” Burnside reinforces the lyrics with a heart-searing performance that balances his earnest singing with burly psychedelic guitar tones that sting like an angry bee. 
“I realize that this album might be a challenge for some of my fans,” Magness says — although her singing and the album’s rich arrangements are a panacea throughout. “But I need to be honest, and I’ve always been a fighter.”
As if spotlighting that, Magness carried a pair of boxing gloves on the cover of 2016’s Love Wins Again, which earned her a Grammy nomination and cemented her crossover success in the Americana music scene. That year she also performed at the Americana Music Association’s annual festival in Nashville. And, indeed, Magness fought some tough battles before she launched her career. She lost both parents to suicide as a child and was placed in a dozen foster homes. But, inspired by the encouragement of her final foster mother and a galvanizing performance by the legendary bluesman Otis Rush, she found stability and salvation in music.
Since the early ’90s, Magness has built an impressive career in American roots music, brick by hard-earned brick. She has traveled millions of miles, sung on thousands of club and festival stages, and made a string of recordings — including five albums and the 2017 EP of standards, Blue Again, with Darling — that have earned accolades and awards.
Beginning with 2014’s Original, she has also emerged as a talented songwriter. That album entered the Billboard blues chart — where her titles routinely appear — at number five and topped the blues radio charts, as did Love Wins Again, which remained in the top 10 for seven months and crossed over to the Americana charts. Those two albums spent several weeks each on the Americana radio chart including the Top 25.  She is only the second woman, following blues giant Koko Taylor, to receive the honor of B.B. King Entertainer of the Year, presented to her by B.B. King himself and Bonnie Raitt, and she has been keeping up with year-around touring throughout the U.S., in Europe, and even as far as Australia and India recently. 
“Getting a Grammy nomination was a dream,” Magness offers. “I never thought I’d be a Grammy-nominated artist. But I guess I also feel a certain amount of pressure to follow that with an album that really makes a statement — a statement about who I am and what I believe and the music I love. Love Is an Army does all of that, and I hope it helps somebody else to be as inspired and empowered as I was when we were making it.”
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The Jimmy Zee Band - What you see is what you get. - New release review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, What you see is what you get, from The Jimmy Zee Band and it's a solid rocker with diverse flavors. Opening with title track, What you see is what you get, Jimmy Zee shows a cool, laid back story telling style as lead vocalist not unlike Jackie Lynton, backed by Rob MacDonald and Tim Porter on guitars, Miles Hill on bass, Joel Fountain on drums and Darryl Havers on keys. I Ride Alone is a power rocker featuring Harpdog Brown on harp. I really like this tracks heavy footed bottom, snarling guitar and swaggering feel. Money has cool, almost Stones like rhythm and a great rock beat. Zee's vocals are tight and sax by Steve Hilliam, a cool track. My Old Lady Is A Freakshow that is a blend between ZZ Top and hiphop. I really like this track and backing vocals by Annabelle Chvostek. With it's laid back funk, She's A Mystery to Me, is one of my favorites on the release with Zee's raspy vocals contrasting against Chvostek's, a cool rocker with a slippery back beat and choice harp work by Brown. very cool. Wrapping the release is ballad, I'm No Good Without You with a much more somber feel overall. Understated resonator slide work sets the mood and Havers' key work provides a nice cushion for Zee's vocals with Chvostek. A nice melody and a solid feel, this is a cool closer for an interesting release.



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