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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 Black Hen Music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Black Hen Music. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Black Hen Music artist: Steve Dawson & the Telescope 3- Phantom Threshold - New Release Review

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Phantom Threshold, from Steve Dawson, and it's an interesting blend of blues and country. Opening with Cozy Corner with a meandering melody somewhat like a movie soundtrack, Dawson blends acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin, and marxophone with Jay Bellerose on drums, Jeremy Holmes on bass, Chris Gestrin on keys and Daniel Lapp on violins providing a supple background for his solo pedal steel explorations. Very cool.  Ol' Brushy has a funky bottom with Gestrin on Wurlitzer, clavinet and organ, Bellerose on snare and Homes on bass providing a really strong framework allowing Dawson's steel guitar soloing in contrast with Gestrin's own melodic work. The Waters Rise is a pure C&W style melody with steel guitar lead over a rhythm strum on a National tricone and with really smart accordion work by Fats Kaplan. One of my favorites on the release. Lily's Resistor is a really nice track in 3/4 time. Full melody lead by Dawson on pedal steel, with accents on baritone guitar with reverb, clean electric six string and pure country style backing by Gestrin on organ, moog, meletron and wurlitzer, Holmes on bass and Bellerose on drums sets a very relaxing pace. Wrapping the release is Whirlwind, featuring Dawson alone on Weissenborn. Alternating back and forth between flat picked melody and slide, Dawson really works the melody for a solid closer for a cool release. 


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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Black Hen Music artist: Kat Danser - One Eye Open - New Release Review

 


I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, One Eye Open, from Kat Dancer and it's cool. Opening with shuffle, Way I Like It Done, Dancer is upfront on lead vocal and guitar, with Steve Dawson on guitar and some hot pedal steel,  Gary Craig on drums, Jeremy Holmes on bass, Dominic Conway on tenor sax, Jerry Cook on bari sax, Malcolm Aiken on trumpet, and Kevin McKendree really working the piano. Strong opener. With it's drone bass line, Lonely And The Dragon is one of my favorites on the release with bluesy vocals, some really tasty blues guitar soloing and solid horn backing. Another hot track is New Orleans flavored, Frenchman Street Shake. Craig's tight drum rhythm, with Dansen's vocal timing, solid horn work and excellent slide work by Dawson gives this track real traction. Another favorite on the release is One Eye Closed with it's driving rhythm and punky rock attack. Wrapping the release is Mi Corazon, a Tex-Mex number featuring Danser on ballad style lead (in Spanish) and with warm horn work and solid pedal steel. Solid closer for a cool release. 


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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Black Hen Music artist: Maya Rae - Can You See Me? - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the debut release, Can You See Me?, from Maya Rae who demonstrates strong vocal skills and a fine hand for melody to match her lyrical skills. Opening with title track, Can You See Me?, Maya Rae who has a clear, pop style voice, with traces of Joni, Fiona and other successful folk style vocalists backed by guitar whiz Steve Dawson, Jamie Dick on drums, Jon Estes on bass, Kai Welch on keys and uke, and backing vocals by Allison Russell and JT Nero. Very nice opener. With just a dash of country styling, The Sun Will Come Out Again is another strong composition with a solid melody, and includes vibes by Charlie McCoy, Kristin Weber on violin, and Larissa Maestro on cello. I really like the delicate vocal treatment and musical contrast by Rae on Picture Frame and the vocal harmony work on Storm Leaf really makes for a nice pair of tracks. Bluesy, Freedom Fighter, is one of my favorites on the release with Welch on Wurlitzer, Dawson on slide and adding Sam Howard on vocal. Moon Girl has one of those paces that just captivates you and the vocal backing by Russell and Nero beautifully compliment Rae's own lush lead. Wrapping the release is Goodnight River, a simple ballad with only the minimal of backing by Dawson, Dick, Howard and Welch. This is a very nice closer for a solid release. 

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Monday, January 6, 2020

Black Hen Music artist: Matt Patershuk - If Wishes Were Horses - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, If Wishes Were Horses, by Matt Patershuk and it's a cool blend of folk, blues and country. Opening with The Blues Don't Bother Me, a springy, modern style country track, has many traces of original country and western music like Patershuk on lead guitar and earthy vocals, super baritone guitar work by Steve Dawson and backing vocals by Kristin Webber and Larissa Maestro and full backing by Gary Craig on drums, Jeremy Holmes on bass, Chris Gestrin on piano and Charlie McCoy on harmonica. I really like the tango styling of instrumental, Horse 1 (For Bravery & Good Fortune) with excellent guitar soloing by Patershuk and Dawson, McCoy on harmonica and Gestrin on keys. Very nice! Alberta Waltz, a country styled ballad, has great feel and authenticity. With Patershuk on lead vocal, clean piano work by Gestrin and Dawson's complimentary steel guitar work, this is definitely on of my favorites on the release. Another track with a distinctive flavor is Velvet Bulldozer with it's country blues styling, the rich vocals of Patershuk, roaring slide work of Dawson, excellent punctuation by Craig and Charlie McCoy's distinctive harmonica sound. Excellent! Real authentic country and western track, Let's Give This Bottle A Black Eye has it all. Patershuk was made to sing this track and Gestrin has studied authentic country piano styling. Dawson seals the deal with his pedal steel guitar... let me say now before the review is over...get this release! There are a few short interludes throughout the release called Horse (1-2-3 &4). Alone, they are hard to review, but they are meaningful little blips featuring Maestro, Gestrin, and Dawson separately which add nicely to the overall composition. Very cool. Wrapping the release is Louisiana flavored country rocker, Red Hot Poker, with a cool balance of raspy vocal by Patershuk, controlled pedal steel by Dawson, electric keys by Gestrin and Holmes on bass. Excellent closer.


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Friday, December 20, 2019

Black Hen Music artist: Big Dave McLean - Pocket Full of Nothin' - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Pocket Full of Nothin', from Big Dave McLean and it has a great feel. Opening with Songs of the Blues, a strutting blues rocker with Big Dave on guitar and vocal, Steve Dawson on excellent slide guitar, Gary Craig on drums, Jeremy Holmes on bass, Chris Gestrin on piano, Malcolm on trumpet, Jerry Cook on bari sax and Dominic Conway on tenor sax. Solid opener. I really like McLean's expressive vocals on Backwards Fool with the National steel guitar behind for contrast and Aiken's muted trumpet as an accent. Very nice. Boogie track, Voodoo Music has a great groove and Dawson's tremolo over his slide work creates a cool shimmer. A strong, slower blues entry is Just To Be With You. McLean creates a real dark atmosphere with his powerful vocals and Dawson's slide work is tight and energized. Very nice. Wrapping the release is ballad, There Will Always Be A Change. With it's springy, country blues styling, McLean and Dawson set a perky pace on vocal and guitar and Aiken, Cook and Conway balance the track nicely with horns. 

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Thursday, November 29, 2018

Black Hen Music artist: Kat Danser - Goin' Gone - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Goin' Gone, from Kat Danser and I really like it. Opening with title track, Goin' Gone, Danser who leads on vocals and guitar has a thick bluesy/country style and has surrounded herself with a tight group of musicians including Steve Dawson guitar and pedal steel, Jeremy Holmes on bass and mandolin, Gary Craig on drums, Jim Hoke on harmonica and sax and Matt Combs on fiddle and mandolin. Voodoo Groove delves even into a country style with healthy guitar riffs and rich vocals. Dawson gets the pedal steel wound up on Memphis Tennessee with light harmonica soloing by Hoke. Danser's vocals are consistently solid track to track and the release is nicely balanced. Sam McGhee's Chevrolet Car has a cool blend of country and blues with country style fiddling by Combs and powerful vocals by Danser over tight drum rhythms by Craig. Haunting slide work by Dawson on Mississippi Fred MacDowell's Train I Ride gives it a special amount of pepper over the sassy vocals of Danser. This track has great feel and spaciousness. Very cool. Wrapping the release is easy paced, Time For Me To Go with only acoustic guitar, light electric guitar, bass and brush drums supporting Danser's vocals as she winds down. This is a very cool release with crisp energy and solid melodies.



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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

David Olney - New Album This Side Or The Other - Out August 24




THIS SIDE OR THE OTHER

Black Hen Music, Release Date: August 24, 2018



David Olney’s New Album Examines The Shadowy Situations Up And Around Walls, Over Borders and Asks For Open Hearts

Nashville, TN – One listen to the brand-new album, “This Side or The Other,” and you’ll know David Olney is a man familiar with the wandering life and yearning heart of a poet. After more than 30 years in music, he’s had as many incarnations as you can imagine. His resume has expanded to include acting, poetry and a popular weekly stream cast. All of this adds to Olney’s strength as a songwriter’s songwriter, and one of Nashville’s founding fathers of Americana music.  

While “This Side or The Other” is not a concept album, there are some recurring themes. The frequent reference to walls in these songs – walls being built and tumbling down – will suggest that while Olney has encountered more than his own share of walls, he is still trying his best to understand them.  

“I wanted to explore the idea of walls,” says Olney, “What does a wall mean? What does it mean to be an immigrant who comes upon that wall as a wanderer, someone lost and alone?” 

A wall in a song can be the symbolic blockage from one place to another or the flat finality of something coming to an end. In life as in art, Olney has scaled walls and torn them down. Yet, it’s not his own path he is particularly interested in exploring. David Olney has always been an observer, a student, and writer of life for as long as he could hold a pen.  

“I’m not comfortable writing about my own dirty laundry,” says Olney, “It’s better for me to look at characters and what they might be going through. When I write about the heavy stuff of life, it’s usually while I’m in someone else’s shoes.”  

“This Side or The Other” contains solid musicianship as good as anything Nashville has to offer, and a stark, moody production by Juno Award-winning producer Steve Dawson.  

“I look for a producer I can be relaxed around," Olney says, “And I really wanted to work with Steve on this record. And while I knew he was a good producer, I had no idea what a terrific musician he was until I had him play guitar on ‘Death Will Not Divide Us.’ He did a beautiful job.” 

The other musicians on “This Side or The Other” are Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Charlie McCoy, The McCrary Sisters, Fats Kaplin, Anne McCue and Olney’s regular band: Daniel Seymour on bass, Ward Stout on fiddle and Justin Amaral on drums.  

The ten songs on “This Side or The Other” have been compiled from new and old writings, as well as a few collaborations with friends. Olney says he enjoys collaborating. “Annie McCue and John Hadley cowrote the title song, ‘This Side or The Other’ with me. It’s currently my favorite song.” 

In “Stand Tall,” a song Olney’s been writing on-and-off for 25 years, he admits “I’m never going to change the way I am” – a sentiment that will gratify his longtime fans from all over the world, who like him just the way he is and only want more of the same.  

“Breaking out of your comfort zone,” admits Olney, “can lead to certain encounters with banana peels, but that’s the chance you have to take to get songs and performances with a certain edge. I tend to stay on the margin of the page. I’m always looking for that ‘otherness,’ staying a bit off center.” 

The sweetest song on the album, a plaintive love song called “Open Your Heart (And Let Me In),” is one-part plea and one part indictment of a would-be lover who’s missing the chance for real love.  

Olney’s last track is a rootsy cover of The Zombies’ 1965 hit, “She’s Not There.” It’s a delicious reminder that everything David Olney touches gets infused with a rare blend of dark chocolate. Despite it being the cover of a popular song, we hear words we’ve never heard in the same way before.  

But David Olney knows words. He knows what they can do, and when paired with a bitter/sweet melody, they can take on a life of their own.  

And maybe they can even tear down walls. 



David Olney Tour Dates:

June 22                              Moccasin Creek Festival                               Effingham, IL

June 23                              Lettersong Gallery                                         Louisville, KY

June 24                              Players Pub                                                    Bloomington, IN

June 30                              Private Event                                                 Mt. Juliet, TN

Aug. 17                              Pearl Street Warehouse                               Washington, D.C.

Aug. 18                              Empire State Railway Museum                    Phoenicia, NY

Sept. 15                             AmericanaFest hatWRKS Happenin’           Nashville, TN

Sept. 20                             EOP: Red Clay Music Foundry                      Duluth, GA

Oct. 12                               Musiekpodium Bakkeveen                           Bakkeveen - The Netherlands

Oct. 13                               In The Woods Lage                                       Vuursche - The Netherlands

Oct. 14                               Foundation Museum & Sculpture Garden Grootschermer – The Netherlands

Oct. 16                               Folk in de Walden                                         Oentsjerk – The Netherlands

Oct. 17                               SociĆ«teit Engels                                             The Hague – The Netherlands

Oct. 19                               Jozef Theather                                               Volendam – The Netherlands

Oct. 20                               Ramblin’ Roots Festival                                Utrecht – The Netherlands

Oct. 21                               De Oude Veiling                                             Aalsmeer – The Netherlands

Oct. 22                               Meneer Frits                                                  Eindhoven – The Netherlands

Oct. 23                               De Schalm                                                      Westwoud – The Netherlands




Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Guitarist Steve Dawson Draws "Lucky Hand" On Instrumental Acoustic Album Coming June 15 from Black Hen Music


Guitarist Steve Dawson Draws Lucky Hand On Instrumental Acoustic Album Coming

June 15 from Black Hen Music



Special Guests Include a String Quartet Arranged by Jesse Zubot, and Appearances by Charlie McCoy and John Reischman






It is inspiring to hear modern instrumental music for guitar that is articulated within true song form. Steve Dawson’s new album conjures the ghost of John Fahey for me – not in imitation, but by way of joining a tradition and then extending its range. I find this song cycle to be intelligent and challenging; joyful and deeply romantic; both earthy and untethered. It is affirming – and music to which I shall soon be returning.” – Grammy-Winning Artist and Producer Joe Henry





NASHVILLE, TN – Black Hen Music announces a June 15 release date for multiple Juno-award-winning musician/producer Steve Dawson’s new instrumental acoustic album, Lucky Hand. The new recording showcases Dawson’s brilliant fingerstyle work on a variety of instruments, accompanied by special guests Jesse Zubot on violin, harmonica legend Charlie McCoy and mandolinist John Reischman, as well as the presence of a string quartet on a number of tracks. The album will be available on both CD and vinyl LP formats.

Lucky Hand is Steve Dawson’s 8th album and his first record of instrumental music since Rattlesnake Cage in 2014. The scope of his musical voice broadens to take on a cinematic quality, as he sketches aural paintings and creates tapestries of sound with his guitar. Recorded live off the floor, with up to 12 microphones in various positions throughout the large studio space to capture the guitar and orchestration, Lucky Hand represents the perfect intersection of the primitive and the modern that has fascinated Dawson for so long.

“I wanted to re-explore the acoustic fingerstyle and slide guitar pieces that I’d started with my Rattlesnake Cage album in 2014,” says Dawson, “but this time I thought it would be fun to augment that with something special; so I hooked up with my old musical partner Jesse Zubot, who created some string arrangements around the music that were meant to augment them and push the pieces along, rather than just be passive accompaniment.”



Lucky Hand represents a high point of more than two decades of musical searching for Steve Dawson.  Comprised of ten instrumental tracks of solo, duo and full-bodied string quartet works, Dawson has never released music as sweeping, dynamic and visually suggestive as this. Enlisting Jesse Zubot in the project to create complementary and adventurous arrangements for his guitar excursions, these completely realized compositions – with Zubot’s orchestration adding color to the sepia tinged melodies - represent Dawson’s finest recordings yet. 2018 marks 20 years since the debut of Zubot and Dawson, and their collaborations never cease to inspire.



“I’m interested in guitar music as a way to express song-form rather than guitar pyrotechnics,” Dawson proclaims. “I don’t really relate to modern fingerstyle music that much, although players from the 1920s up through the 1970s are what originally and still inspire me. But I still wanted to do something modern and different, which is where the duo ideas with John Reischman and Charlie McCoy, as well as the more intense string arrangement concepts all came from.



“We recorded this album in Vancouver, with all of us playing together live, using vintage mics in a big room. It was me facing the quartet, which was in a semi-circle in front of me. I’ve never done anything like that before. We just played the pieces until we got it. The challenge was to get a good performance from me while the strings were getting through their intricate parts. Everyone was sweating a little!”

All of Dawson’s records feature a wide array of stringed instruments, and Lucky Hand is no exception. His artistry on the six and twelve string guitars shimmers throughout, while the track “Bugscuffle” showcases his unique tuning and voice on the Weissenborn lap guitar. “Bentonia Blues” features a thrilling duet between Dawson’s National Steel Guitar and roots legend Charlie McCoy’s harmonica. Gorgeous interplay abounds as his guitar converses with John Reischman’s mandolin on “Little Harpeth.”  At times it’s hard to tell where Dawson’s guitar begins and Reischman’s mandolin ends. A truly masterful performance, it’s just one of the many breathless, transcendent moments to be heard on Lucky Hand.

With song titles like “Lonesome Ace” and “Lucky Hand,” a person could be forgiven for thinking that Dawson attributes his creativity to chance and caprice. In truth, each of these songs is named for the inspiration of places he’s encountered around his Nashville hometown. Music like this has nothing to do with good fortune, unless you’re talking about his listeners. For them, Lucky Hand is a royal flush of a record.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Black Hen Music artist: Big Dave McLean - Better The Devil You Know - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Better The Devil You Know, from Big Dave McLean and it's quite good! Opening with Life On The Road, Big Dave McLean has a casual, JJ Cale meets "Little Feat" easy blues feel joined by Steve Dawson on lead guitar, Gary Craig on drums, Jon Dymond on bass, and Kevin McKendree with cleverly stylistic piano. On Muddy Waters' You Can't Lose What You Never Had, McLean opens with fiery slide riffs and his vocals are raw. McKendree's piano really gives the track a Chicago sound with his piano work and acoustic guitar work by McLean and Dawson's eccentric slide work carries the track nicely. The traditional, You'll Need Somebody On Your Bond, gets a country two step remake with a warm intro by Ann and Regina McCrary. Dawson's dobro work and Fats Kaplin on fiddle add even further to the country / bluegrass edge. Uptempo, I Need You, is a cool country blues number and McClean pulls out the harp adding a more bluesy flavor to Dawson's dobro slide work. One of my favorites on the release is a remake of Old Time Religion which has a cool dark western sound. With Dawson on pedal steel and also contributing a sweet electric guitar solo, along with the McCrary sisters warm backing vocals, this track is way cool. With a country waltz sound, Swingin On Heaven's Gate is another real nice track with Dawson on mandolin and particularly nice vocal blending. Deliver Me has a really nice "Little Feat" funk. With the McCrarys on backing vocal and Dawson on slide, this track is really excellent. Wrapping the release is is a stripped down blues, Pet Rabbit, with McLean on vocal and and resonator. The track is raw and alive and a real cool closer for a cool release.

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Monday, April 4, 2016

Black Hen Music artist: Steve Dawson - Solid States and Loose Ends - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, Solid States and Loose Ends, from Steve Dawson and it's a smooth integration of blues, country and bluegrass... in other words... very cool! Opening with Loose Ends, a cool, swampy blues funk, Dawson on guitar and vocal is joined by Gary Craig on drums, John Dymond on bass, Kevin McKendree on organ, Jim Hoke on sax, Steve Herrman on trumpet and Regina and Ann McCrary on backing vocal. With solid vocals, really tasty slide, warm horns and cool lower register guitar work, with the hot backing vocals, this track is an excellent opener! Broken Furniture Blues has an upbeat rural rock feel with acoustic guitar picking driving the train. Again Dawson slips in some excellent slide riffs backed by Craig and Dymond. Leave My Name Behind has a really nice Rev Gary Davis feel reinforced by Mike Bub on bass. The choice of resonator on this track with some choice electric guitar riffs, backed by Fats Kaplin on viola, really cool sax work by Jim Hoke and the McCrary sisters vocals makes this one of my favorites on the release. California Saviour is a more laid back pop track with Keri Latimer joining on harmony vocal. Again Dawson's guitar work is really nice with resonator, pedal steel and electric making for a gourmet meal of flavor. On Top Of The World has a real nice Gypsy feel with a European beat, Kaplin on fiddle and Dawson's pedal work. Very nice! Little Silver has a catchy melody but with a country acoustic picked guitar rhythm and Bub and Craig reinforcing the feel. Again Dawson steps up the pedal steel work giving the track a nice kick. Riley's Henhouse Door is a really cool track featuring only Dawson on vocal and acoustic accompaniment. With it's roots in country blues along the lines of Led Belly, this is a super track! Final Words slips back to ward the main stream with a solid rock entry. Dawson is very capable as lead vocalist and with sophisticated bass work and warm organ, Final Words is a strong radio track with crisp slide ornamentation. Very nice! Can't Put That Monkey On My Back is a traditional track with a distinct Ry Cooder feel. Dawson has his own fingerprint and with more of a modern, rock feel, this is a really nice track. McKendree's piano work on the track nicely highlights Dawson's excellent slide work. Another favorite! Early Warning is a spiritually structured track with a light back beat. With the McCrary sisters on backing vocals and McKendree on organ this track is smooth. Dawson's slide technique is really super giving the track great contrast. You Got What It Takes is a hot, lumbering blues track with a simple melody. With throaty electric slide guitar work and a fat compliment of Bari sax from Hoke, this is a really hot track! Driver's Wheel has a rolling country blues feel with Craig providing a light train rhythm and Kaplin's fiddle work laid nicely on Dawson's acoustic picking. Delia, another traditional number, has a distinct country blues feel with light fiddle and acoustic backing. Joined by Keri Latimer on vocals, this track has a simple purity. Wrapping the release is Rose's Blues, an easy paced ballad with an almost Grateful Dead feel. Kaplin on mandolin and organ adds nice texture and Dawson's slide work is always perfect. Nicely blended vocals by Dawson and Latimer makes this a very nice conclusion to a very special release.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Black Hen Music artist: Big Dave McLean - Faded but Not Gone - New release review

I just received the newest release (March 3, 2015), Faded but Not Gone, by Big Dave McLean and it's gritty and solid. Opening with Tough Times, a 12 bar Chicago style blues track with Steve Dawson on National Steel guitar and Kevin McKendree on organ. On I Best Choose To Pick The Blues, McLean picks up the pace and Colin Linden contributes the smooth slide guitar. On Dead Cat On The Line with a bit of bluegrass influence and Piedmont style, McLean is joined on vocal by Dawson who also plays banjo. John Dymond adds bass, Gary Craig drums and Colin James some really tight mandolin work. On western style ballad, The Fallen, McClean takes the spotlight vocally backed by sweet electric and steel guitar work by Dawson. Very cool! Sittin' On A Fence has a light country 2 step feel. Double stop guitar riffs by Dawson are a really nice touch on this track. Don't Get Mad, Get Even is built over a 12 bar structure but has a much more contemporary feel and a catchy melody. The lyrics are certain to attract the crowds attention and McKendree rolls a nice piano solo to top things off. Devil's In The Jukebox has an easy country rock pace with slicing slide work from Dawson. McKendree never disappoints with his nimble organ solos rounding out this track. A Latin rhythm from Craig and hot slide work from Dawson, complimented by McKendree's tight piano work lead this track up to the bridge where McLean takes it to swing time and back. Tom Waits' Mr Siegal has a New Orleans blues feel with particularly effective drum work from Craig. The grittiness of McLeans vocals contrasted against Dawson on banjo and McKendree on organ make this one of my favorites on the release. Shades Of Grace is an easy country style folk tune with a nod to Amazing Grace. The McCrary sisters add some supple backing vocals on this track giving it extra warmth. Oh- Mr. Charlie - Oh has a number of the characteristics of an old gospel or slave song giving it an immediate bump up. I like this track a lot with it's rudimentary style, guitar work from Dawson and backing vocals from the McCrary sisters. McLean accompanies himself effectively on harp on this track as well. Wrapping the release is Skip James' Devil Got My Woman. Stripped down to only McLean on vocal and National steel guitar, this track maintains the feeling of the delta and a fitting conclusion to an adventurous release.

  If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, Like ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorites band! ”LIKE”

 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Canadian Blues Legend Big Dave McLean Is "Faded but Not Gone" on Label Debut CD for Black Hen Music, Due March 3


Big Dave McLean Is Faded but Not Gone on Label Debut CD for Black Hen Music, Due March 3

Producer Steve Dawson Assembles All-Star Cast to Back the Legendary Canadian Bluesman, Along with Special Guests Colin Linden, Colin James and The McCrary Sisters

NASHVILLE, TN – Black Hen Music announces the signing of legendary Canadian bluesman Big Dave McLean, and will release his label debut CD, Faded but Not Gone, on March 3. Produced by Black Hen label main-man Steve Dawson, who also adds his award-winning guitar talents throughout the album, Faded but Not Gone was recorded at The Henhouse in Nashville, Tennessee, and engineered by the acclaimed Bil VornDick. Besides Dawson, the all-star cast of players backing McLean for the sessions features Kevin McKendree (Delbert McClinton, Brian Setzer) on keyboards, John Dymond on bass and Gary Craig on drums. Special guests include Colin Linden, Colin James and The McCrary Sisters. The organic qualities of the music on Faded but Not Gone extended even to the cover shot, taken at the old school photo booth in Jack White’s Third Man Records store in Nashville.

The dozen tracks on the new CD include a healthy dose of Big Dave McLean originals, as well as cool covers of songs from Skip James (“Devil Got My Woman”), Tampa Red (“Dead Cat on the Line”), Tom Waits (“Mr. Siegal”), Ray LaMontagne (“Devil’s in the Jukebox”) and The Wood Brothers (“One More Day”), plus Dave’s gritty take on the traditional title song. Throughout the album, McLean’s well-worn vocals, soulful guitar playing and mean harmonica wails permeate each track with an authority and passion that is palpable.

“It has been an extreme pleasure and privilege to work alongside such incredibly talented and gifted musicians and singers,” said Big Dave McLean about the recording sessions. “I feel we set out to make a great recording, and we totally accomplished our goal.”

With a voice and delivery that recalls the great Long John Baldry, Big Dave McLean has been the heart and soul of the Winnipeg, Canada, music scene and been singing the blues better than anyone there for decades. A Juno and Western Canadian Music Award-winner, McLean channeled the recent loss of his mother and brother into a vital, deeply heartfelt expression of loss and recovery on the songs from Faded but Not Gone, making it his most personal album to date.

That soulfulness truly manifests itself in particular on two of Dave’s original compositions: “Shades of Grace,” a lovely and poignant tribute to his mother, who used to sing “Amazing Grace” to him when he was a child; and “The Fallen,” an elegy to his brother, who passed away the week before the song was recorded.  

“Everything about this project blew my mind – especially Steve Dawson,” recalled McLean. “Spending a week down in Nashville with his family was an amazing experience. I visited an old slave plantation, went to the Grand Ole Opry and sat in with Colin Linden’s regular jam session. I have always been into Delta blues and early Chicago blues, but it was nice to step it up and play in a more of a country blues style on songs like ‘Devil in the Jukebox’ and ‘One More Day.’ The whole experience touched me deeply.”              

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Black Hen Music artist: Colleen Rennison - See The Sky About To Rain - New Release Review

I just received the newest release (June 17, 2014), See The Sky About To Rain, from Colleen Rennison. Opening with Robbie Robertson's All La Glory, Rennison comes straight at you with a crystal clear voice backed by a great horn section, Jim Hoke (sax), Steve Herrman (trumpet) and Bill Huber trombone). Super guitar man Steve Dawson rips a cool guitar solo on this track adding a pinch of hot sauce. Townes Van Zandt's White Freightliner is up next with a real bluegrass feel. Rennison's voice is perfect for this type of travel and Dawson on resonator is joined by Tim O'Brien who really knows how to punch it up with fiddle and banjo. Whiskey, Whiskey has a classic 50's country ballad style and shows a richness in Dennison's vocal styling and execution. Daswon lays down some clean slide work and Darryl Havers adds some key organ work. Geoff Hicks (drums) and Jeremy Holmes (bass) play it straight and Sarah Dugas does a nice job on backing vocals. Oleander has a warm spiritual feel and of course has the McCrary sisters as backup singers. Cool. Leonard Cohen's Why Don't You Try is up next done gently in show fashion featuring some of the nicest acoustic slide work on the release. Bobby Gentry track Fancy, is next and it actually preserves a lot of the sass originally delivered by Gentry. Tom Russell's Blue Wing is really a nice song to feature the best of Rennison's voice. Dawson even adds some pedal steel on this track giving it more of a country ballad feel. Another Robbie Robertson composition, Stage Fright, gets a modest makeover with the addition of horns. Joni Mitchell's Coyote brings out yet some other features in Rennison's voice which seemed unique to Mitchell. Primarily using Mitchell's phrasing but with a slight country twist in her voice, this is a pleasant track with some particularly cool atmospheric sounds produced by Dawson on the pedal steel guitar. Billy Cowsill's The Fool Is The Last One To Know, done straight down the country highway is possibly my favorite entry on the release. Dawson takes the steel deep in country style and Havers definitely gets the country roll on piano. Booker T. Jones' My Crew stays with the pure country feel and is a soothing track with the McCrary sisters adding an additional dimension. Wrapping the release is the title track, Neil Young's See The Sky About To Rain. A good solid track to hit the airwaves, Dennison is smooth in every way and Dawson pulls out a number of stringed textures to well compliment the track.

  If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, Like ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorites band! ”LIKE”

This track is not from the release but does give the reader a good impression of the artist's work.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

BLACK HEN MUSIC SIGNS VANCOUVER-BASED SINGER COLLEEN RENNISON & WILL RELEASE HER DEBUT SOLO CD, "SEE THE SKY ABOUT TO RAIN," ON JUNE 17 IN THE U.S & JUNE 3 IN CANADA




BLACK HEN MUSIC SIGNS VANCOUVER-BASED SINGER COLLEEN RENNISON & WILL RELEASE HER DEBUT SOLO CD, SEE THE SKY ABOUT TO RAIN,
ON JUNE 17 IN THE U.S & JUNE 3 IN CANADA






NASHVILLE, TN – Black Hen Music announces the signing of Vancouver-based singer Colleen Rennison, and will release her debut solo CD, See the Sky About to Rain, on June 17 in the U.S. and June 3 in Canada. Recorded at the Hen House Studios in Vancouver and Nashville, See the Sky About to Rain was produced by Juno Award-winner Steve Dawson, who also adds his multi-talents on various instruments throughout the album. In addition to a core session group of Canadian and Nashville all-stars, Colleen’s debut also features such special guests as the renowned McCrary sisters on backing vocals, Jim Hoke on sax and bluegrass legend Tim O’Brien.

See the Sky About to Rain showcases Colleen Rennison as a classic singer of songs, who brings new dimensions to a set list from the pages of the great American (and in this case Canadian, too) songbook, creating nuances, passion and soul with a delivery that stamps them as her own.
The album’s dozen tracks demonstrate Colleen’s amazing interpretations of timeless material from a wide range of composers, including Robbie Robertson (“All La Glory” and “Stage Fright”), Townes Van Zant (“White Freightliner”), Leonard Cohen (“Why Don’t You Try”), Bobby Gentry (“Fancy”), Tom Russell (“Blue Wing”), Joni Mitchell (“Coyote”), and Neil Young (“See the Sky About to Rain”).

Over the last several years, Colleen Rennison has been the frontwoman/vocalist for the acclaimed Canadian band, No Sinner. She’s been touring consistently both on her own and with No Sinner in 2014, including two tours of Europe, a number of dates in the U.S. (including SXSW) and across Canada. With a voice channeling power, tenderness and a range of emotions that couldn’t possibly come from a singer who’s only 25 years old, Colleen projects a sound that envelops the heart and cleanses the soul. Her solo album is a bit of a departure for those used to her raucous ways onstage with No Sinner, but the end result is just as powerful. Here, she sings songs that have influenced her over the years and carries them to new heights with her masterful delivery.

The sessions were recorded mostly live off the floor in a surrounding that Colleen describes “like a dream. Steve records in such a way with his funky old monitors and vintage microphones that there’s this amazing ambience in the room. You can even hear the dust falling from the ceiling and it becomes part of the song.”

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Black Hen Music artist: Jim Byrnes - St. Louis Times - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, St Louis Times, from Jim Byrnes and I really like it! Opening with Albert King track with that Latin twist, Don't You Lie To Me is a cool number with cool vocals and guitar work from Byrnes and John Hammond on harp. Somebody Lied has an easy flowing pace and Darryl Havers holds the body together with cool organ work but it's the hot work of Hammon on harp and some slick slide work from Steve Dawson that cooks this track. Chuck Berry's Nadine has a cool New Orleans style blues going and Dawson takes a sweet steel guitar solo on this track. Old Dog / New Tricks takes the New Orleans style even a step deeper with the addition of clarinet by Tom Colclough who while blended with the gutsy vocals of Byrnes makes this one of my favorite tracks on the release. Very cool! You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone has a R&B / spiritual flavor which really highlights Colleen Rennison as a second lead vocalist. Havers takes a lead organ solo and Jim Hicke (sax), Bill Huber (trombone) and Steve Herrman (trumpet) really spice things up. Stump Johnson's The Duck's Yas Yas Yas is a nice ragtime addition to this eclectic mix. You can smell Bourbon Street and the boys chime in. Huber, Hoke and Hoke (clarinet) add nicely to the pure vocals of Byrnes and Dawson plays some really nice resonator guitar riffs. The Journey Home is more of a spoken story accompanied by a sountrack and Jeremy Holmes (bass), Geoff Hicks (drums) and especially Dawson on slide add considerably to the overall effect. WC Handy's St. Louis Blues is really handled nicely here with a tango beat. Colclough lays down a nice clarinet intro and then Byrnes hands out some of the best vocals on the release backed by a very effective sousaphone bass line from Larry Paxton. Excellent! Cake Alley is a nice slow blues with a cool swagger. Brushes on snare by Hicks, Herman and his muted horn and lead clarinet work from Koke make this a real Dixieland blow out. Super nice! I Need A Change is another R&B based track with strong blues overtones (Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out). Dawson adds some really warm slide work on the track and the presence of the horn section is still quite prominent. Great track! Little Milton's That Will Never Do has just a twist of Dixie especially with the addition of piano by Havers and drums by Hicks. Closing the release is Lonnie Johnson's Another Night To Cry. This is an excellent interpretation with clean articulate guitar work from Byrnes. His vocals are expressive, Havers work on piano is smooth and trumpets solo from Steve Herman is spot on. Not to miss is the reall nice slide work on this track by Steve Dawson... slide guys... this is smooth. I really enjoyed this release and am looking forward to getting it into my car for a closer listen.  

If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, Like ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorites band! ”LIKE”

 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Black Hen Music artist: Steve Dawson - Rattlesnake Cage - New Release Review

I have just received the newest release, Rattlesnake Cage, by Steve Dawson and it's excellent! Opening with Blind Thomas At The Crime Scene Dawson wastes no time showing that clean finger picked acoustic music without a lot of showboating is alive and well. If you like Leo Kottke or Gary Davis, you're bound to appreciate this first number. Excellent! Flophouse Oratory is a fast paced country style blues track on slide acoustic guitar reminiscent again of Kottke. I really like this track and it's clean excellent execution. The Medicine Show Comes To Avalon, a cool rag trck with a carousel melody is very sweet and well executed. Swapping over to resonator for Rattlesnake Cage, Dawson retains his finger picking rudiment but is more aggressive as demanded by the instrument and adds a very nice sliding component. Lighthouse Avenue I believe is played on a (Michael Dunn) Weissenborn ... and a sweet melody through such a warm instrument with beautiful harmonics. Butterfly Stunt is really a cool track with a hot mix of swift moving picked riffs and smooth slide riffs again I believe on the Weissenborn. Very nice! While The West Was Won, The Earth Didn't Know It is a roaming soundtrack like theme. It seems to tell it's own story with scenes and views. The finger picking is nicely complimented with slide riffs making it a very interesting journey. J.R. Lockley's Dilemna has a little bit of a Nashville like feel but keeping the with the clean acoustic non "country" style authentic picking and slide riffs. This is another very nice track reminiscent of Kottke near the top pf his game. Very nice. The Flagpole Skater Laughs From Above is masterfully executed on 12 string guitar.There is really not many things as cool as nearing someone who really knows how to manage a 12 string well. The melodic nuances of this track are playful and plentiful. Chunky is a swift slider I believe again on Weissenborn. Played with a lot of feeling and flawless execution it continues to reinforce Dawson's accomplishment as a top acoustic player. The release is wrapped by The Alter At Center Raven, a very cool track with a solid melody. Without saying a word, Steve Dawson says a lot on this release.

If you love acoustic guitar picking especially in the style of Kottke/Lang and John Hurt/Gary Davis, this is a treasure.

  If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, Like ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorites band! ”LIKE”
Although not from the new release, this is a fine example of Steve's Work:


Monday, December 2, 2013

Guitarist Steve Dawson Is Ready to Shake the "Rattlesnake Cage" on New Black Hen Music CD Coming February 18, 2014




Guitarist Steve Dawson Is Ready to Shake the Rattlesnake Cage on New Black Hen Music CD Coming February 18, 2014

All-Instrumental Solo Disc Showcases a Master Guitar Player





NASHVILLE, TN – Black Hen Music announces a February 18, 2014 release date for Rattlesnake Cage, the all-instrumental latest CD from master guitarist Steve Dawson. The album’s original 11 tracks showcase Dawson in a no-frills setting: just him, his guitars and a microphone to record all the beautiful tones emanating from his fingers.

Rattlesnake Cage is the album that Steve Dawson’s growing numbers of fans have been waiting for and finally gives them the opportunity to hear Steve interact with his guitar in a way that has never been captured on record before. Until now, hearing the sweet melodies and deep soul of Steve playing solo guitar has been a treat reserved for live audiences in intimate settings.  These new simple and unadorned recordings hearken back to the “American Primitive” sound that John Fahey and other artists such as Peter Lang and Leo Kottke recorded on Fahey’s iconic Takoma record label in the sixties – instrumental music informed by the deep traditions of blues, ragtime, jazz and even Hawaiian music, but taking those influences in unexpected directions.  The opening track, “Blind Thomas at the Crime Scene,” which takes its title from Fahey’s earliest nom de plume, is the recording that most clearly communicates Dawson’s respect for the American Primitive aesthetic, and gives the listener the clearest indication of what’s to come.

Recorded using a single vintage tube microphone that had recently been rescued from decades of hanging from the ceiling rafters of an old theatre in Detroit, listeners can hear every detail and nuance of each note. The effect of hearing a recording this open and pure is quite astounding. Dawson’s gear list for the sessions included a jumbo Larrivee guitar that he’s played for over 20 years, a Weissenborn Hawaiian guitar built by Michael Dunn, a National tricone and a Taylor 12-string guitar.

After countless successes in the industry both as a performer and producer in his native Canada (including 7 Juno Awards as an artist and producer), Steve has relocated to Nashville, Tennessee to begin a new chapter in his career. Rattlesnake Cage reflects all of the places Dawson has been and everything he’s heard, resulting in some of the loveliest melodies of his career as a recording artist.  As much as these songs can be unobtrusive and listened to in the background at low volume, if a solo instrument is going to hold its own like this in the spotlight, the music being played on it has to have very good bones, and be able to stand up to some pretty intense scrutiny. For all their simplicity and deceptive moments of tranquility, a closer listen to songs such as “Lighthouse Avenue” or ‘The Flagpole Skater Laughs from Above,” brings to the forefront that this is music with fire in its belly.  Fans of Reverend Gary Davis will recognize the musical references in “The Altar at Center Raven” that evokes an imaginary scene at the pulpit where he preached.  In the same way, “The Medicine Show Comes to Avalon’ bounces along a razor’s edge between antique and future sounds with its heartfelt homage to the music of Mississippi John Hurt. Yet, for all of the influences Dawson tips his hat to, the sound that emerges on these recordings reflects a confluence of a lifetime’s listening to and collecting vintage songs that fuses with Dawson’s contemporary sensibilities and mastery of modern recording techniques.

In the same way guitar performances from Bert Jansch, Ry Cooder or Mississippi John Hurt can be recognized after hearing just a few notes, Steve Dawson has established a voice for his instrument that is as distinct as any of theirs to become one of the most identifiable sounds in modern roots music. The 11 songs on Rattlesnake Cage represent the first chance on record to hear Dawson explore the infinite possibilities offered by his pallet of acoustic guitars without any effects, or even a human voice to separate him from his audience.  It’s rare to experience such direct communication in any kind of music these days, but the songs on the record remind us that the sound of a single instrument creating patterns out of the silence is as old as music itself.

The fluidity of Dawson’s playing makes what he does sound so effortless that it’s easy to forget that it takes years of disciplined practice to achieve such an apparent simplicity. There are lots of guitar virtuosos out there who can reel off a dizzying array of notes at lightning speed, and Steve can certainly do that, but at a certain point, great players realize that sometimes less is more. Nothing on this record is superfluous.  This is music that doesn’t show off or needlessly strut its stuff.  Like a perfectly aged single malt, these compositions come to us fully seasoned and mature.

“One magazine has referred to Steve Dawson as the T-Bone Burnett of Canada. I tend to think of him more as a Canadian version of Ry Cooder… his fine slide guitar and storytelling, everything seeming to flow effortlessly.” – Toledo Blade

“Anyone who can hear Dawson play and not be moved is made of stone!”
Penguin Eggs Magazine (Canada)

For more information, visit www.stevedawson.ca and www.blackhenmusic.com.