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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 Little Mike Markowitz. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Little Mike Markowitz. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Alpha Sun Records artists: Bridget Kelly Band - Blues Warrior - New release review


I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Blues Warrior, by the Bridget Kelly Band and it's cool. Opening with Lil' Honey Bee, an up tempo shuffle, lead guitar player Tim Fik wastes no time in showing his guitar prowess. Kelly has the lead on vocal backed by Mark Armbrecht on bass and Alex Klausner on drums. Good opener. I like Fik's finesse and dynamics on Stolen, a bluesy ballad featuring Kelly's lead vocals, Mike Hamm on bass and Michael Barady on drums. With it's droning bass line by Armbrecht, No Good Man Blues is one of my favorite tracks on the release with a solid melody and rich guitar lead. Another of my favorites is Alone with its twist on Robert Johnson's Crossroads. Fik powers up in this track showing is pyrotechnical capabilities but it's the basic groove on this track that hits home. Trouble In Texas has a driving boogie beat with traces of Johnny Winter and Billy Gibbons. Jimi influenced Let's Go has a cool flair and Fik again lets it out. He and Kelly balance nicely and Klausner on drums is really tight. Little Mike Markowitz is featured on Blues Inside of Me and his harp work is smoking, stirring the flames under Fik who trades flaming hot riffs. Wrapping the release is Chemo, dedicated to Grandma Kelly, Joyce Hanken and Candye Kane. Kelly's vocals are more focused on this track that anywhere else on the release and Fik is hot as a firecracker making this a solid closer for a solid release.



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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Cassie Keenum & Rick Randlett - Hauntings - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release (9/23/17), Hauntings from Cassie Keenum & Rick Randlett and it's aninteresting mixture of blues, gospel and country. Opening with Seventh Day, Keenum is upfront on lead vocal adding acoustic guitar and Randlett adds interesting lap steel work. One More Last Time gets a Latin/rock feel with the addition of Little Mike's cool harp work, Rusty Valentine on drums and Nicole Wagner on bass. Shuffle track, All Along has a cool guitar solo to compliment Keenum's powerful vocals. Not a big fan of Leonard Cohen, but Randlett's slide work on his Hallelujah is pretty cool! On She's Gone, a duet by Keenum and Randlett is my favorite track on the release with just the right blend of texture and tension. Minute Man is a cool swinger with tidy guitar riffs by Randlett. With it's up tempo shuffle feel and laid back soloing, it hits the mark. Wrapping the release is hill country style blues track, How Long, with a modern feel.



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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

ELROB Records artist: Zora Young & Little Mike and the Tornadoes - Friday Night - New Release review

I just received the newest release, Friday Night, from Zora Young & Little Mike and the Tornadoes and it's got texture! Opening with the dynamic, I've Been A Fool Too Long, Tony O Melio gets a great guitar groove going. With Jim McKaba on organ and piano, Robert Piazza on drums and Brad Vickers, Zora leads the way on vocals for a real nice shuffle track. Slowing down a bit R&B track, A Fool's Lament is really designed to showcase Young's vocals. With Little Mike Marknwitz adding some key harp work and Rick Johnson on sax and Gary Smith on trumpet, this track drips soul. Howlin' Wolf's 44 Blues is up next with strong piano work from McKaba. With strong a Chicago feel, this track is perfect for Young's voice, complimented nicely by Mike on harp and McKaba on piano. Easy swinging, True Love Is Hard To Find, plays the horns nicely against Young's perfect vocal phrasing. McKaba takes a real nice piano solo on this track as does O Melio. Very nice! Excellent blues track, I Love Chicago, has just that right feel with Vickers and Piazza setting the pace. McKaba lays down another super piano solo leading the way for Little Mike. Melio sets up some really hot guitar riffs of his own making this a well balanced track. With some funky rock in the air, title track, Friday Night hits the ground running. Little Mike gets a real nice opportunity to play some of the tastiest riffs on the release, with Johnson and Smith keeping it moving. McKaba jazzes up the piano a bit and Melio sets the closer. Piano Man Walls' track, Chains Of Love, maintains it's traditional arrangement with Young delivering a deep blues feel. Melio, McKaba and Little Mike each get a swat at the wall, and each hits it deep. Very nice! Little Walter's Just Your Fool and it's shuffle pace gives the release the just right boost to get it rolling. Little Mike and McKaba stretch a bit making this a real nice harp jam. Otis Spann's Country Girl has a nice easy blues saunter. Being a Spann track, McKaba has a ready made spot to show his stuff. Melio hits a particularly nice stretch of guitar on this track giving extra spice. It's the bass of Vickers that sets the pace on I'm Good punched by Johnson and Smith. Young leads on vocal giving way to McKaba and a real nice piano solo and ultimately Little Mike who cleans the bases. Very nice! Wrapping the release is Spann's Boogie (Otis Spann) and McKaba is off the hook! Excellent closer for this well done release.

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Friday, May 16, 2014

ELROB Records artist: Little Mike & The Tornadoes - All The Right Moves - New Release review

I just received the newest release, All The Right Moves, form Little Mike & The Tornadoes and it's great! As you know I'm a real Little Mike fan and this new release is no exception. Opening with Hard Hard Way, a smokin Chicago style blues track features Little Mike on vocal and harp. Tony O. Melio plays a real nice guitar solo leading up to Mike taking over with a super harp blowout. This is a great year for harp lovers with this and Corritore's recent release being two of the best I've heard in some time. So Many Problems is a cool R&B track with a great groove. Brad Vickers (bass) and Robert Piazza (drums) seat Jim McKaba on organ for a cool ride but I really like Melio's loose guitar style and Mike comes up with some really nice harp phrasing making this a real heel bopper. Since My Mother Been Ill is a really nice slow R&B blues track featuring soulful vocals by Mike. His clear interface with Melio's punctuating guitar riffs and super piano backing from McKaba make this one of my favorite tracks on the release. Yes, Melio does step forward and lay it all out on this track...close your eyes and suck it up! Excellent! (I Got) Drunk Last Night is a cool shuffle track with a great swang. Piazza leads the pace on drums but with Mike on vocal and Melio on the ever present tasteful guitar riffs, this is entertainment! McKaba lays down some really nice piano work on this track as well. Very Nice! Little On The Side has a Latin beat with Piazza leading the way on tom tom and Melio throwing down some cool riffs. Mike has you in the palm of his hand with his vocal style but then he whips out his harp and parts your hair. His riffs aren't always over the top... but they are always top cut and clean. McKaba does have an aggressive piano style and I think that it's a great contrast to the bands tightness on this track. Title track, All The Right Moves is a real loping traditional Chicago blues. I particularly like Melio's guitar attack on this particular track. It has it's own personality and it isn't at all sterile... that's the blues! Little Mike steps up with some hot riffs of his own on this track, pushed by serious work from McKaba, Vickers, Piazza and Melio and he rides the wave. One thing that I genuinely love about this band is that everyone is a standout without any apparent "star" and sharing the spotlight, this is a really dynamic mix. Boogie track, Blues Is Killing Me has a definite trace to original Morganfield and Hooker tracks and based upon construction alone is a terrific track. Mike rides the boogie with his harp, joined by Melio on what could be an "endless boogie". Very nice! Wonder Why has a real authentic early electric blues feel to it. Being a guitar player myself, I always wonder when I hear someone play awkward phrasing like Melio if he has to work to play like that or if it comes naturally. In any case, I am envious. I really like it. All The Time has a funky R&B style with an almost James Brown thing starting to happen. Again Melio steps up and lays out some simple but wonderfully bluesy riffs on guitar. Mike keeps it all under wraps vocally and Vickers and Pizza are right there. Mike steps up and plays simple blues harp...just the way it should be. Vickers penned, jump track I Won't Be Your Fool is hot from the first note. You want the harp blowout...this is it! (Stilladog...this one's for you!)Yeah, I dare you to keep both feet on the ground during this one... if you can, check your pulse! Stuck Out On This Highway is a really sultry slow blues track. Opening with some atmospheric harp work as good as anything on the release, Mike digs deep singing a super blues track. Complimented in response by Melio on guitar, this is a really cool track. Mike uses the lower end of the harp for some deep resonate notes and has it singing. Clocking in at almost 6 minutes, this is definitely one of my favorites on the release. Wrapping it all up is Close To My Baby, an easy going 12 bar number. Reminicent of Paul Butterfield, Mike holds it back and sings the blues. Melio breaks out with another of his finely tuned guitar solos and after another chorus, Mike wraps it all up on harp. You want a recommendation for one of the coolest new Chicago blues style releases of the year...this is it!

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Friday, November 23, 2012

The Hustle Is On - Little Mike Markowitz

Queens native Little Mike grew up on the very competitive New York City music scene. He started playing harp at age 14 and took up piano two years later. His first brush with the blues came while hearing John Lee Hooker at Carnegie Hall and later listening to a Paul Butterfield record. After that Little Mike couldn't get enough. If a blues show was in New York City, Mike was there, especially when the Chicago players came to town. His favorite was Muddy Waters. "I used to go and see Muddy anytime he was within 150 miles of New York," he said. "He is easily the biggest influence on the band and my playing. And if it's not Muddy himself then it's the great guys he always picked to play with him, like Pinetop Perkins and Otis Spann on the piano or Little Walter and James Cotton on harp." Another musician Mike greatly admired was Paul Butterfield, who would regularly come and see Mike's band perform. He liked their old "Chess sound" and took Mike under his wing. Mike says, "He helped me become less of a blues purist, and more of a music purist. Paul opened up my playing and taught me to put my blues in other music forms, to make it very personal." Other influences cited include Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, the Rolling Stones, Jimmy Reed, Eddie Taylor, Sonny Boy Williamson, and Walter Horton. After leading a series of bands as a teenager, Mike formed the Tornadoes in 1978. At age 22, Mike was leading one of the busiest and toughest blues bands in New York City. Whenever a visiting blues artist came to town and needed a band, Little Mike and the Tornadoes usually got the call, backing artists such as Walter Horton, Otis Rush, Bo Diddley, Lightning Hopkins, and Big Mama Thornton. Mike's reputation led to the band's touring as the backing unit for blues legends such as Pinetop Perkins, Hubert Sumlin, and Jimmy Rogers. Little Mike and the Tornadoes proudly describe themselves as a "working class band" that plays blues with a rock 'n' roll edge. "We all come from working class families and tough, working class neighborhoods," says Mike. "Working class people have always been our biggest supporters." Music luminaries who have sat in with the band include Robert Cray, Jaco Pastorius, Kim Wilson, Jorma Kaukonen, James Cotton, Los Lobos' Cesar Rosas and David Hidalgo, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Taj Majal. In 1988, Mike played on and produced Pinetop Perkin's first domestic release, After Hours. The following year he did the same for Hubert Sumlin's Heart & Soul. Both recordings are available on Blind Pig. In 1990, Blind Pig released the first solo album by Little Mike and the Tornadoes, Heart Attack, which Mike also produced. It features all original songs and guest appearances by Perkins, Sumlin, Butterfield, Ronnie Earl, and Big Daddy Kinsey. The album thrust the band out into the spotlight, where they began to tour almost non-stop across North America and Europe, establishing themselves as true road warriors. Little Mike's success led to a 1992 follow-up release entitled Payday. The material is once again all original and draws upon Mike's blue-collar upbringing and experience. Says Little Mike, "It's the best thing I've ever done. Best writing, best playing, and best producing. I think I'm finally getting the hang of this." From there Mike moved on to record Flynn's Place on Flying Fish records, then Hot Shot on Ichiban and is now about to release a new CD. Also released independantly was a live release from Paris, France, as well as a collection cut with his most recent touring band featuring Troy Nahumko, Chris Brzezicki, and Cam Robb, that features special guests Sonny Rhodes, and Jim Mckaba. Mike has not toured outside of his home state of Florida except to play outside of the U.S. on special events, since 2004. He remains very active in Florida touring throughout the state and playing clubs in his hometown. 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 favorite band!