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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 Swing Suit Records. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Swing Suit Records. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Swing Suit Records artist: Mick Kolassa - Double Standards - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Double Standards, from Mick Kolassa and it's packed full of stars and blues standards. Opening with Willie Dixon's 600 Pounds of Heavenly Joy, Kolassa is joined by Sugaray Rayford on vocal with solid Latin rhythm by James Cunningham on drums. With Kolassa on guitar and vocal, Bill Ruffino on bass, Chis Stephenson on organ, and Colin John on guitar, very solid opener. Heather Crosse joins on lead vocal for another Dixon hit, I Just Want To Make Love To You. With her sultry vocals and Eric Hughes on harp, this is a real cool track. With it's jazzy club feel, Annika Chambers really shows on Fever. Her vocals are rich and deep caressed in a warm bed of Jensen's guitar tone. Alice Hasan's violin contributions to Tas Cru and Kolassa's rework of Jimmie Cox's Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out is really nice. Another particularly warm spot is Erica Brown's vocal lead on Dixon's Spoonful. Jensen lays down a real nice guitar section on this track as well. Another Latin influenced track, Early In The Morning, features David Dunavent on guitar. Stylistic and cool. The most guitar intensive track, Outside Woman Blues really gives Jeff Jensen the opportunity to show off on guitar and he does a real nice job. Wrapping the release is Ain't Nobody's Business featuring excellent vocals by Chambers, Gracie Curran, Erica Brown and Jeff Jensen. This is a super closer for a real solid release benefitting the Blues Foundation's HART Fund and Generation Blues programs.


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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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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Swing Suit Records artist: Mick Kolassa - Michissippi Mick - New release review

I just received a copy of the newest release, Michissippi Mick, from Mick Kolassa and it's got a lot of personality. Opening with New Beale Street Blues, vocalist/guitarist Mick Kolassa plays it easy but spunky with a nice rolling blues track featuring Eric Hughes on harp. Blues Are All Around You is a blues rocker featuring particularly stiff guitar riffs from Jeff Jensen backed by Chris Stephenson on organ, Bill Ruffino on bass and Doug McMinn on drums. Classic blues track, The Letter, has a slow easy pace and Kolassa and backing vocalist Reba Russell do a really nice job reworking this track. Stephenson really fills out the spiritual nature created by the vocalists. Nice job! One of personal favorites on the release, Reefer Man, has a ramblin' country sound with a light bouncy feel. Kolassa's vocals are perfect for this track complimented by Bill Rufino and Victor Wainwright weighs in with some really nice piano work. Johnny Mercer track, Blues In The Night, has a cool easy blues feel and Kolassa's vocals are right in the groove. Standout dixieland trumpet by Dedrick Davis is featured on this track. Burned That Bridge is a super cool boogie number and Ruffino and Doug McMinn have it all in the palm of their hands. Wainwright really sticks on piano and Brandon Santini steps up with so nice harp riffs. Land Of The Crossroads has a swampy sound featuring mostly vocal chants and Harp work by Brandon Santini. Baby's Got Another Lover is a great slow blues track featuring strong vocals and nice guitar work from Jeff Jensen. Certainly one of the standout tracks on the release. Blues rock track, Blowtorch Love, has a little funk to its step, Santini and Jensen trading lead instrumental roles. Redd Velvet comes on strong as a powerful 2nd lead vocalist on this track. WPD is a casual blues rocker with a twisted sense of humor. A solid rhythm and some flashy riffs make this a cool pop track. Time Ain't On My Side has an easy swing gate with Santini on harp. Wainwright is on guy you can always count on too contribute large and here he steps up with some really fat piano work. Wrapping the release is Jimmie Rodgers track Mississippi Rivers Blues done in a fairly traditional style (including yodel). This track has a real earthiness to it is a particularly friendly way to part with a comfortable release. Also worth mentioning is that 100% of the gross proceeds of this album will go to the Blues Foundation  split between the Hart Fund and Generation Blues .

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Swing Suit Records artist: Brandon Santini - This Time Another Year - New Release Review

I just received the new release, This Time Another Year, from Brandon Santini and it's a cooker! Opening with Got Good Lovin', harpist Santini wastes no time taking a shot at contemporary harp champs like Magic Dick. A hot blues rocker, Santini has a cool voice and can really get the harp flaming. Bill Ruffino on bass and James Cunningham on drums hold down the bottom and Jeff Jensen flys through with some slick riffs of his own on guitar. This Time Another Year, along the lines of Help Me, is a great track with roots deep in the blues with really great harp tone. Santini holds the band back to a simmer as he builds the pressure vocally and then drop in on harp for the swat. Really masterful. Jensen coaxes some nice riffs from the strings and Santini has the control of Jim Morrison just waiting to unleash the dogs. What You Doing To Me, is a great New Orleans tempo track on chromatic harp. Santini has a real great sensitivity for when and how to reel in the track. Interesting guitar work backed by Victor Wainwright on vocal and piano makes this a particularly strong track. Late In The Evening, a slow blues track, really highlights Santini's vocal work and really makes you wonder how this guy isn't hugely successful already... or if you're living under a rock. (Maybe I am!) This is a terrific track and Wainwright plays as nice a blues piano solo as you've heard in years. I mean this is terrific. Jensen has a nice sensitivity to this track and plays a strong but sensitive guitar passage. Up pops Santini to take it home. All I can say is wow! This is really really strong! Dig Me A Grave moves into the R&B style and Santini shows his versatility and style. Jensen opens with a really nice solo and Santini has such a strong voice... instrumentation overall.. and particularly intermittent riffs by Jensen (great tone by the way) and ongoing lead harp work from Santini make this a particularly airplay worthy track... and I like it too! Bye Bye Bird, an old Williamson/Dixon track gets a light acoustic guitar, drums and harp treatment. This release is just consistently really super. Things You Putting Down is a great New Orleans blues style track and again Santini shows that he has a really super voice. A really strong harp player, Santini shows that you don't always have to be fast or high to get your point across. Jensen plays another solid solo on this track and the band remains contained. Been So Blue gets Santini out front right away and Jensen plays some really jazzy chords under the melody taking the blues to a richer spot. Santini gets his harp singing, showing a nice compatibility between the blues and it's jazz brother partner. Help Me With The Blues is a really hot track. This is the kind of harp track that even people who aren't hot on harp love. (Think Hoy Hoy Hoy or Wammer Jammer). This is a fast paced jump track and Jensen does his share of crankin the spring, followed by the superb Wainwright. Santini steps in and throws on the gas... ouch... that is hot!! Williamson track Raise Your Window (One Way Out) gets a Latin kind of beat and Santini again shines on vocal and harp. Taking it down low, Santini shows some real pyrotechnics. The final track on this outrageously cool recording is Fish is Bitin', a cross between Cajun and Rock a Billy. Showing a nod to Ledbelly, this track is a cool wrap up for a really enjoyable and remarkable release. Excellent!

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