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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 and The Tornadoes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Little Mike and The Tornadoes. Show all posts

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Elrob Music artist: Little Mike and the Tornadoes - How Long? - New Releae Review

I just had the opportunity to review the newest release, How Long?, from Little Mike and the Tornadoes and it's hot! Opening with Cotton Mouth, a red hot blues stomper, Little Mike is cooking. (Head's up Stilladog) A screaming hot harp off, this track is a terrific opener featuring Mike on harp, Cam Robb on drums, Dave Sweet on drums, Troy Nahumko on guitar, John Edelman on guitar, Joe Fontenot on bass, Ken Stearns on bass and guitar and Mitch Margold on B3. Title track, J.B. Lenoir's How Long?, is up next with a super groove. With it's stylistic guitar solo, tight piano lines and solid vocals this track is great. Quick paced, Smokin', is right down the Chicago blues lane. Bobby Timmons, Moanin', is a classic with great swing. With call by Nahumko on guitar this track opens strong and Mike takes the reins with really nice harp riffs, punctuated by snappy drum work. Cool shuffle track, When My Baby Left Me, is good solid blues music. Mike, Troy, John and Ken sit in the groove with Cam setting the pace. Mike's vocals are well phrased and his harp is smooth and slick. On Johnny Young's, latin flavored, Slam Hammer, Mike really kicks it on harp. This track cooks. Funky, Whatcha Gonna Do?, steps out in a more rockin' style with a cool back beat. Troy sets out a nice guitar solo and Robb ride the rimshot. Slowing it down a bit, Sam's Blues is up next and Mike really wrings the juice from this one. With grinding guitar riffs contrasting with Mike, this is one of my favorite tracks on the release. Excellent! Another Chicago shuffle, Eddie Taylor's Bad Boy, has a great swagger and Edelmann lays out a really aggressive guitar solo complimenting Mike smart harp styling. Very nice. Not What Mama Planned, is a really unusual track with a great bass line, heavy drums and nice lead guitar riffs. It's loose, almost Mississippi country blues like feel, and Mikes spot on vocals and crying harp makes it one of my favorites. Tryna' Find My Baby is a cool Chicago shuffle with harp and guitar supporting Mikes lead vocal efforts. An extended harp solo by Mike, and Elmore James like guitar riffs smell of Chicago blues giving this track an old style feel. Very cool. Wrapping the release is Sittin' Here Baby, a quiet almost a capella track with Mike on vocal and harp over a basic blues guitar riff... extremely personal and effective. This is a really cool release and one that you should definitely check out.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

ELROB Records artists: Pinetop Perkins & Jimmy Rogers with Little Mike and the Tornadoes - Genuine Blues Legends - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, Genuine Blues Legends from Little Mike (Markowitz) and the Tornadoes featuring Pinetop Perkins and Jimmy Rogers and it's terrific! Recorded live at the Grand Auditorium in Ellsworth Maine on May 21, 1988, this is a real gem! Opening with Cleanhead Vinson's Kidney Stew, Pinetop is rocking the keys and lead vocals and Little Mike is on harp backed by Tony O Melio on guitar, Brad Vickers on bass and Michael Anderson on drums. A cool shuffle track, Mike really takes the harp for a ride and Pinetop is in his prime. Excellent opener! Tommy Tucker's High Heeled Sneakers is up and Chicago style. Melio rips off some real nice blues riffs on guitar on this track and in addition to solid work by Pinetop on vocal and piano, Little Mike rides high on harp. Very nice! St Louis Jimmy Odem's Had My Fun is up next cranking in at over 10 minutes and Pinetop's vocals and piano work on this track are terrific. Melio digs deep on this track putting together some really tight guitar phrases. There is not a wasted not on this track. Excellent! Joe Willie Perkin's track, For You My Love is a real blues shuffle with Pinetop literally taking control. If you aren't familiar with Pinetop's work from this time period, you owe it to yourself to hear this release. This is Pinetop at his best! Little Mike really cranks it up on this track pushed along nicely by Anderson. Jimmy Rogers joins on this track and lays down some cool riffs of his own. Excellent! On Jimmy Reed's Big Boss Man, Reed takes the mic backed by Pinetop and the Tornadoes. Little Mike keeps his riffs tame giving plenty of room for Pinetop to solo. Very nice. Another Rogers original, All In My Sleep slows things down a bit and Melio and Mike take an early instrumental intro reminding me quite a bit of Bloomfield/Butterfield. Roger's vocals are more pronounced on this track and Pinetop really digs in on piano. Melio takes a later solo again putting me in mind of Bloomfield. At 9 minutes plus this track is very nice! Shuffle track, The Last Time, again led by Rogers captures the classic Rogers style. The blend and clarity of soloing on this release by Perkins and Little Mike is terrific. On Perkins penned, When I Lost My Baby, similar to a Ivory Joe Hunter song of similar name, features Pinetop back on lead vocal and piano. Pinetop's keyboad work is sensational and tight and Little Mike's harp work stimulating. Very cool! On Pinetop's Boogie Woogie, Pinetop really lets it go with Melio, Mike and Rogers each adding nicely to what really is Pinetop's track. Excellent! Wrapping the release is Pine and Jimmy's Jump, a tight instrumental jam. Each man gets his chance up front and takes it deep. This is a great conclusion to what had to be a terrific show. Excellent!

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Unfortunately I couldnt find any footage of these guys together but Here's Little Mike!

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 1, 2013

Butter On My Rolls - Sheba The Mississippi Queen - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, Butter On My Rolls, from Sheba The Mississippi Queen. Opening with the screaming hot Dance Jump and Shout, Sheba leads the way and Warren "Roach" Thompson rips riff after riff in front of George "Chocolate" Perry and Michael "The Dog" Gauthier on horns. On soul fused Real Good Woman, Sheba kicks it back for one of the coolest tracks on the release. Vocal pacing and rich backing instrumentation make this a hard track to beat. Thompson again stands tall on guitar playing with nice clear tone. Another soul track, Can't Help Lovin' My Man, captures the feel of some of the great singers of the 50's and vocal backing adds a lot to the feel of classic soul. The swinging Oh So Good has that perfect tempo (and I can see Stilladog riffin off with his ear piercing whistle) and the band is complimented by Chuck Juntzman on slide...ouch! On Blues Of My Soul, Sheba keeps it simple with spoken story and slide acoustic (resonator). This is a nicely authentic delta style blues and another of my favorites on the release. Butter On My Rolls has a classic blues sound and again, Roach steps up with some tasty guitar riffs to compliment Sheba's fine vocals. The horn arrangements are super and Michael "The Dog" Gauthier adds some clean key work on the track for spice. Tell Me Why is a funky blues number again opening with nice riffs from Thompson. Sheba has a great feel and the horns really puch this track up a lot giving it a special feel. Ms. Good And Plenty is a cool shuffle track with Perry on drums and Dog on keys really leading the way. Again the horns nicely compliment Sheba's sassy vocal styling and Roach steps up with great fretwork. The release is wrapped with Good Good Lovin', a grinding soul blues track. I notice a number of times throughout that Thompson gets that glistening round tone that I loved so much by JG Watson. Very cool ending to a real cool 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”


Monday, March 11, 2013

Forgive Me - Little Mike and the Tornadoes - New Release Review

I just received a copy of Forgive Me, a release by Little Mike and the Tornadoes and its super! Little Mike Markowitz (vocal and Harp) has assembled a crew of players and together they make a great crew. Opelousas is a really cool instrumental track featuring Troy Nahumko on guitar and Sonny Rhodes on steel. This is a loping Elmore James/Freddie King style track with plenty of room for guitar soloing and Little Mike brings it on harp. Wait A Minute Baby is another track in the Texas groove but pushed with horns and featuring some cool organ work by Jim McKaba. Nothin' I Wouldn't Do has a bit more of the soul sound and isagain backed with the horns giving it an authentic soul sound. Warren King plays a light jazzy guitar solo on this track as well. Tell Me Baby comes out of the gate rompin'. Rhodes plays some cool steel (slide) riffs on this track and Cam Robb (drums) and Chris Brzezicki (bass) keep the bottom on track. Little Mike shows his chops on this track and his vocals are just right. Walked All The Way really gets that Texas groove that SRV made so popular and Nahumko plays a cool extended riff on this track with horns punching the track along. Fool Too Long is a cool easy swing blues lending itself nicely to Nahumko's guitar style. This may be my favorite track on the release. You Don't Love Me is a slow, smooth blues track with sliding guitar chords keeping the melody as Little Mike sings the story line and McKaba plays some really nice piano. Nahumko gets down in the mud and digs out some dirty riffs on this track making it a real nice track as well. Forgive Me Baby (along the lines of Trouble No More)gets the Chicago sound cookin' with solo contributions from McKaba, Nahumko and Little Mike. Traveling Blues has a bit more of a boogie rhythm driven by McKaba and Robb. Little Mike takes a nice solo on this track leaving the door open for some chicken pickin, blues style, from Nahumko.
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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Me And The Blues - Little Mike & The Tornadoes

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."
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