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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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Showing posts with label Bill Ruffino. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bill Ruffino. Show all posts

Friday, April 23, 2021

Blueheart Records artist: Tomislav Goluban - Express Connection - New Release Review

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Express Connection, from Tomislav Goluban and it's a cool blues rocker. Opening with title track, Express Connection, eastern European harmonica player, Tomislav Goluban flexes his muscle on this hard driving blues rocker with Jeff Jensen on guitar, David Green on drums, Rick Steff on keys and Bill Ruffino on bass. A solid ballad, Pale Blue Eyes has a real nice melody featuring Goluban on lead vocal and cool reverb soaked guitar by Jensen and Mark Johnson on slide and Kelly Zirbes on backing vocal. Blues shuffle, Extra Boom really sits nicely in the groove and Goluban works the Chicago styling nicely on harmonica. Steff lays in a cool electronic keyboard solo and Jensen follows with some cool riffs of his own. Blues rocker, No Future In Your Past, has great pace and features Kirk Smothers on sax, Marc Franklin on trumpet and Zibes on backing vocals. Wrapping the release is Beast Walk with a cool organ melody by Steff with horn backing by Smothers and Franklin and alternating guitar intervals by Jensen and Johnson as well as some high riding harmonica work by Goluban. This is a cool release with an eastern look at the blues. Cool.


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Friday, April 3, 2020

Mick Kolassa - Blind Lemon Sessions - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Blind Lemon Sessions, from Mick Kolassa and its a cool retrospective of classic, traditional and new tracks, all done in an acoustic environment. Opening with Lonnie Johnson's Jelly Roll Baker, Mick Kolassa on guitar and lead vocal, Seth Hill on bass and Eric Hughes on harmonica. Clean and easy, a solid opener. On Bob Carlton's tune Keep On Truckin' (The Ja-Da Song, later made popular by Blind Boy Fuller and Hot Tuna as Keep On Truckin') Kolassa takes the Hot Tuna route adding Alice Hansen on violin giving it a nice, rural feel. Up next is a cover of Jace Everett's Bad Things, the theme song for HBO Series, True Blood. I gotta admit, Everett hit a homer with this track and although Kolassa's voice isn't as cool as Everett's, this is a cool cover and with the addition of guitar by David Dunavent, a real nice job. With some real nice violin work by Hansen, Kolassa covers classic, St. James Infirmary. Not pulling in any drama and playing it straight as an acoustic blues featuring violin, Maybe my favorite on the release. Lennon and McCartney's Help is the surprise on the release, with an acoustic, non pop, approach. Although it's introspective slant is totally different and somewhat more digestible than the original pop track, it remains fresh and interesting with only Kolassa and Hansen on violin. Wrapping the release is The Space Between Us, a Kolassa original ballad. Pure vocal with only acoustic guitar backing, a simple closer. 

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Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Spona artist: Tomislav Goluban - Memphis Light - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Memphis Light, from Tomislav Goluban, and it's a cool eastern European slice or blues. Opening with rocker, Hayloft Blues, harmonica man, Tomislav Goluban introduces his 11th studio release with the backing of Jeff Jensen on guitar, David Green on drums, Rick Steff on keys, and Bill Ruffino on bass. Jensen plays a hot intro on soulful blues number, Fun Starts Here, featuring Vince Johnson who really pounds out the lead vocals. Jensen smokes the track with a great guitar solo, contrasted with cool piano work by Steff. Country Bag , a strong Chicago blues style track gives Goluban a great opening to show his blues chops and guest, Mark Johnson lays down some real nice slide guitar giving the track great texture. Another flavor introduced is a surf blues, Party Time Blues, with it's rocking rhythm, melodic harmonica, a slick slide solo by Johnson and cool backing vocals by Reba Russell and Daunielle Hill. Wrapping the release is a radio track, Can I Be What I Want, with Goluban singing lead with Russell and Hill, a stiff drum beat by Green and harmonica overtones. 

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Thursday, February 20, 2020

Endless Blues Records artist: Kern Pratt - Greenville, MS ... what about you? - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Greenville, MS … What about you?, from Kern Pratt and it's a straight up blues rocker. Opening with Loving That Feeling, Kern Pratt is digging into that southern funky blues pot with a great New Orleans rhythm. leading the way on vocal and guitar, this track is moving with Chris Gill on slide, Bobby Walker on rhythm guitar and drums and Bob Dowell on bass and keys. Cool opener.  Slow blues track, Baby's Got Another Lover is a real nice track with Pratt singing lead and responding with smart guitar riffs of his own. With the addition of Shannon Goree on drums, this is one of my favorites on the release. In the vain of Jimmie Oden, Something's Gone Wrong has a really nice bottom courtesy of Dowdell and Pratt again gets a nice chance to stretch on guitar and Kris Jenson lays out a real nice sax solo. Bluesy ballad, Rita not only has nice instrumentation but a perfect radio melody. Sharing lead vocal spot with Denice Owen and backed by Marc Franklin on trumpet and James Evans on sax, this is a smooth track. Wrapping the release is funky, Chicken Heads, with Jeff Jensen on guitar, Bill Ruffino on bass and David Green on drums. This track has just the right raggedy edge funk and cool guitar interface between Pratt and Jenson that makes it one of my release favorites. 

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Friday, October 11, 2019

Endless Blues Records artist: Tennessee Redemption - self titled - New Release review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent self titled release Tennessee Redemption and its strongly written and performed. Opening with Glad To Be, a solid radio track, Brandon Santini is up front on  harmonica, backed by Jeff Jensen on lead vocal and guitar, Timo Arthur on guitar, Bill Ruffino on bass and David Green on drums. With it's rumbling bass line and funky wah wah guitar rhythm, We Got A Thing Going On has a real cool sound. A swampy overall sound and nicely woven instruments, under Santini's super lead vocals makes this one of my favorites on the release. A dark underpinning on Leave My Body and Jensen's nice lead vocals create a lot of tension with an active bass line, particularly nice drum work by Green and nicely crafted guitar lead. This isn't your basic blues track and really has a lot going no. Definite cool track. Gospel flavored Come On Up To The House has a real nice laid back country feel with soothing lead vocal by Jensen and warm vocal backing by Santini, Arthur Ruffino and Green. Very nice. Jensen takes control on You Don't Love Me giving it a strong guitar entry. His vocals are always warm and Santini's harp tones solid. With just a light funk underneath, this track is sneaky good. Blues stomper, Watch Yourself, features Jensen driving on guitar and Santini on vocal and harp. Keeping you focused with it's driving beat, this is one of my favorites on the release. Wrapping the release is I'm Going To Mexico with a light acoustic feel. Pairing Jensen and Santini on lead vocal with acoustic guitar and harmonica backing, this is a solid closer. 

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Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Endless Blues Records artist: Tullie Brae - Revelation - New Release review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Revelation, from Tullie Brae who mixes power vocals and a heavy rhythm section producing a solid rock sound. Opening with Price of the Blues, Brae belts with a  Grace Slick like swagger laying heavy on the bass line of Bill Ruffino, and adding her own slide work on with David Green on drums. Powerful opener. On ballad Mississippi Rain, we see the other side of Brae's sensitive vocals with excellent guitar phrasing by Jeff Jensen and bright piano highlights by Rick Steff. On blues rocker, Break These Chains, Brae strikes a nice medium with a bluesy vocals, deep raspy guitars by Jensen and nicely highlighted by Brandon Santini on harmonica. My favorite track on the release is soul track, New Shoes with it's straightforward radio melody. Smooth, gospel like piano work over the organ on this track really drives the bottom and Brae's vocals are spot on. My other favorite track on the release is Shine, another soul track with excellent backing pushing Brae to "Shine". Backing vocals by Mick Kolassa,  Dauniele Hill and Susan Marshall give this track that extra warmth and a sweet guitar solo by Jensen gives it a real Muscle Shoals kind of feel. Very nice.



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Monday, June 11, 2018

Jeff Jensen - Wisdom & Decay - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Wisdom & Decay, from Jeff Jensen and it's flavorful. Opening with Little Milton's I'm Living Off The Love You Give, you get a strong sense of soul from Jensen's hometown of Memphis. With Jensen on guitar and vocal, this band is packed with sound featuring Bill Ruffino on bass, David Green on drums, Chris Stephenson on organ, and a powerful dose of horns from Kirk Smothers on sax and Marc Franklin on trumpet. 2000 Days has a sensitive Latin rhythm and James Cunningham on percussion. A nicely phrased guitar solo by Jensen gives this track a nice boost.  With a formula that made the Doobies popular, Jensen hits that smooth rhythmic groove, pumped up by horns, clean melodic guitar riffs and backed by Reba Russell on vocal. With a slinky Latin feel, Downtown, has a firm bass edge by Ruffino, muted trumpet and simmering guitar lead giving the track a fiery feel.  Bob Dylan's Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You takes a solid clue from early Jeff Beck material with Bobby Tench but with a strong remake, this track is really strong. Rich backing vocals and some of the best vocals I've heard from Jensen make this one of my favorite tracks on the release. His guitar soloing is inspired and the horn work soulful. Very nice. Wrapping the release is The Water Jam/Something In The Water Revised which takes a basic melody and with tight percussion, rich organ and vibrant Spanish flavored electric guitar and punches it up with horns. This is adventuresome and a solid track to wrap a cool release.



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Friday, April 6, 2018

VizzTone Label Group artist: Long Tall Deb and Colin John - Dragonfly - New release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Dragonfly, from Long Tall Deb and Colin John and I really like it. Opening with On The Way Down, an eerie blues track, Deb and Colin John sing in duet over cool, thick, slide guitar breaking into a driving "brick" like anthem. John really winds up on electric guitar under Deb's vocals making for an exceptional opener. Title track, Dragonfly, is a cool Duane Eddy, western surf  style track with fanned chords, vibrato and tom toms. Excellent! Slinky ballad, I'll Be The One, features some of Deb's best vocals on the release with a soulful style and a nice rhythm. This is the radio track for the release with a strong melodic line, nice guitar work by John and complimented by Jimmy Castoe on drums, Nate Hofman on organ, and Melvin Powe on bass. Another track with a western twist is Remember Why, with great baritone guitar work by John and snappy drum work by Jo El. Horizontal Lightning is a particularly seductive track with a Spanish flair. The track has a dark, smoky feel and Deb's vocals, coupled with nicely stylized guitar work by John certainly make this really pop. Very nice. Wrapping the release is a return on Dragonfly, with the guitar really popping and the Spanish overtones really dressed. This is a really special release and one you should definitely check out.


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Friday, May 6, 2016

Swingsuit Records artist: Jeff Jensen - The River City Sessions - New release review

I just received the newest release, The River City Sessions, a live recording from Jeff Jensen and it's smokin! Opening with T-Bone Walker's, T-Bone Shuffle, Jensen steps right up on lead vocal and guitar and shows what everybody has been talking about for years. This guy can play! Backed by Bill Ruffino on bass and vocals and Bridgeforth Robinson on drums, this is a great opener. Up tempo blues rocker, Make It Through, has a nice running bass line and a bit of the Wet Willie funk. A light breezy track with a cool hook, a definite crowd pleaser. Empty Bottles is a quirky little country style blues with clever lyrics. A casual but deliberate pace winds up into a boogie and Jensen shows a little rockabilly flair. Very nice! JJ Boogie is a cool hard driven boogie with a solid drum lead, working bass line and slick guitar riffs. Excellent! Slow blues, Find Myself All Alone, shows a lot of emotion both vocally and on the fretboard. Sit back and catch the show here... Jensen really swats it! Brunette Woman has a nice swagger driven by the walking bass line of Ruffino. Relentless machine gun guitar work by Jensen gives this track a sound of it's own blending right into Elephant Blue, a quick paced jazz track. Ruffino takes a really tasty bass solo and then Jensen really catches fire making it one of my favorites on the release. Wow! Tom Waits' Heart Attack and Vine is a terrific track with a slow pendulous pace. It's suspenseful timing and of course Waits' theatrical writing make this track ideal for juicing with Jensen on guitar. Full blown guitar wringing is the name and Jensen is the man for the job. Excellent! Can't Believe We're Through has a nightclub jazz approach with rimshots and bass lead. Jensen plays lush chords developing into a solid radio track with shared lead vocals with Ruffino. The band cranks it up as the track nears the end developing more and more power as it goes. Very cool! Ash and Bone is a solid ballad with a fat guitar solo. This is a real nice track with the simplest of melodies but great dynamics. Wrapping the release is Bob Dylan's All Along The Watchtower. Jensen takes a road not far from Hendrix's with a little more jazz influence and openness. His attack and phrasing is all Jensen and the track is a really strong finisher for a super live release!

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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Swing Suit Records artist: Mick Kolassa - Ghosts of the Riverside Hotel - New Release Review

I just received the most recent release, Ghosts of the Riverside Hotel, from Mick Kolassa. A cornucopia of blues like last years release by Kolassa, "Michissippi Mick" , the net proceeds will go to The Blues Foundation and Generation Blues. Opening with Hank Williams' Ramblin' Man, Kolassa on lead vocal and guitar, Jeff Jensen on Lead guitar, Bill Ruffino on bass, Robinson Bridgeforth on drums and Chris Stephenson on organ, this is an interesting track with march like rudiments and tasty guitar work. Slow swinging blues track, Grapes & Greens, featured nice electric guitar and slide work from Jensen and Eric Hughes on harp coupled with solid lead vocals by Kolassa. Lou Singer's depression era, One Meatball, gets a light reggae rhythm treatment under the vocal harmonizing by Reba Russell and bright piano passages by Victor Wainwright. I Always Meant To Love You is a swinging 12 bar with some real jazzy riffs from Jensen, complimented nicely by Kirk Smothers on sax and Wainwright on piano. Lighthearted Trouble, written by Todd Snider, has a cool swing. Kolassa's vocals are spot on, Santini takes a real nice harp solo on this track and Jensen throws in a few country influenced riffs of his own. Nothing Left To Lose (Robin's Blues) is a smooth jazzy blues ballad featuring Smothers on melodic sax. Kolassa's most serious vocal of the release are restrained but well placed and pointers by Smothers and Jensen are perfectly executed. Very nice! If I Ain't Fishin' has a cool pace with Wainwright and Hughes teaming up with tension against the calm. Randy Newman's, Mama Told Me Not To Come, made popular by Three Dog Night, gets a modified Chicago blues remake and a totally different type of cover. Kolassa uses an almost spoken delivery and Santini really wails on this one giving it it's best showing to my ears. On Whiskey Woman, Cole Layman trades lead guitar lines with Jensen and Logan Lyman lays down some cool funk bass. Chris Stephenson's organ solo punches up the track eliciting nice guitar soloing and even more pluckiness from Layman. Walkin' (Dead) Blues capitalizes on the current zombie obsession. With an Elmore James basic track, Kolassa gets the band cranked up with his frantic vocal antics. Santini gets his harp rolling hard and Jensen kicks out his best set of riffs on the release. Tongue in cheek but the hottest track on the release! Following a Magic Sam format, Mama's Got A Mojo, is a cool track with shimmery guitar soloing by Jensen over solid organ work by Stephenson. Real nice! Wrapping the release is Delta Town featuring Watermelon Slim on dobro and harp. Bridgeforth and Ruffino give the track a bit more structure and Kolassa leads the way. This is quite an enjoyable release with a bit of something for most blues lovers.

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