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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 Tommy Shannon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tommy Shannon. Show all posts

Monday, September 21, 2015

Earwig Music Company artist: Tommy McCoy - 25 Year Retrospective - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, 25 Year Retrospective, from Tommy McCoy and it's exceptional! Opening with The King Is Gone, a really nice tribute to BB King structured along the lines of The Thrill Is Gone. McCoy really does a nice job of capturing the spirit of BB and the band, with McCoy on vocal and guitar, Theodore Alexiou on guitar, Demetris Georgopoulos on bass, John Dinoulas on drums and Kostas Tenezos on harp is spot on. R&B track, I Got A Reason, has a light pop feel and features Babis Tsitivigos on sax. The Change Is In has more of a rock feel but maintaining a bit of R&B. Mark McCoy on bass, Calvin Cratic on guitar, John Street on keys and Pat Geoffrey on keys set a nice stage for a fine biting guitar solo from McCoy on guitar, nicely complimenting his vocal led melody. Blues driver, No Love Without Any Green, has a great rhythm line fed my Tommy Shannon and Chris Layton. McCoy rips a hot guitar solo on this track with a crisp drumming and solid bass. Tropical Depression, a soulful ballad, finds McCoys vocals floating on an easy melody by Mondo Bizarro onbass, Chaz Trippy on drums and John Street on drums. Ludella has a polished jazz rocker feel. Featuring William Harris Jr. on bass, Popcorn Chuck Louden on drums and Lucky Peterson on B3 this track it developes a nice solo shootout between Peterson on B3 and McCoy on guitar. Nice! Love n' Money is one of my favorite tracks on disc one featuring Shannon and Layton again plus Street. A guitar instrumental, this track gives McCoy a really nice opportunity to stretch on guitar and he takes the chance and doesn't waste a note. Excellent! Blues fused, They Killed That Man, features only McCoy on acoustic guitar and vocal with Ed Lanier on upright bass. Very expressive. Blues Thing has a bit of a Freddie King feel with Peterson on B3. This tracks is hot! A Man Who Cried has a R&B format with Harris Jr. on bass, Louden on drums and Peterson on B3. Bitter Soul To Heal is an absolute smoker! Featuring Harris Jr on bass, Popcorn on drums and Peterson on keys. Peterson and McCoy each take really nice solos on this track making an absolutely excellent blues number. Talkin' To Myself has a country 2 step feel featuring Chris Lomas on bass, Tony Baylis on drums and Fred Skidmore on keys. Nice changeup and a good rocker. Ace In The Hole has a bit of a funky feel with nice slide work from Jimmy Bennett. Mark McCoy hits the bass with Levon Helm on drums, Garth Hudson on B3 and George Triconi on piano and McCoy on vocal, guitar and mandolin. A definite Band influence with a cool solo from Hudson. Very nice! A quiet ballad, Angels Serenade wraps disc one with the same lineup but adding Anastasia on piano with it's waltz like tempo.

 Opening disc two is Little Feat's Spanish Moon with all of the complexity of Little Feat's original. McCoy on guitar and vocal is joined on guitar by Branson Welsh, Mark McCoy on bass, Levon Helm on drums, Garth Hudson on B3 Triconi on piano and Tim Eddy adding really full horn work. Excellent! Poverty has a Isley's feel with Ken West on Bass, Tony Coleman on drums, Street on keys, Charlie De Chant on hot sax and Larry Mergillano on trumpet. Angel On My Shoulder, Devil On My Back has a bit of a swampy sound with a super complex funky drum beat. Joel Tatangelo on slide, Al Razz on bass, Pug Baker on drums and Tim Heding on B3 really deliver on this track making it another favorite on the release. Guitar solos from McCoy and Tatangelo as well as super keys and hot drums make this track a smoker. Swing track, Black Eldorado Red kicks butt with nice piano work from Commander Cody. McCoy on guitar and vocal is complimented by Pat Bregan on guitar, Mike Chavers on bass on James Vernardo on drums. Hot! Lay My Demons Down, is a soulful track with gospel overtones. It's slow, smokey, feel accented by punchy guitar riffs from McCoy makes this one of the nice tracks on the release. With Harris Jr on bass, Popcorn on drums and Lucky Peterson on supple organ solo's, this is a definite must hear. Smokin! Late In The Lonely Night has a Robert Cray R&B bluesy feel and I personally think that may be the best showing of McCoy's vocals. McCoy's guitar riffs have more bite on this track joined by Razz on bass, Pug Baker on drums and Tim Heding on B3. Another super track this release just keeps piling them up. Ok...Pink Floyds Money, gets a jazzy makeover and I really like it. It has a definite Shannon/Layton feel joined by DeChant on sax. I have noticed a number of times during this recording the clarity and presence. DeChant's sax solo is a clear example and McCoys own guitar solo is hot! Excellent! Broke, You're A Joke is a funky track with a bit of country. Very cool blend. With Joel Brodsky on bass and Calvin Cratic on drums this is a tight little blues rocker. Tommy takes a break again on this disc with Sugar Cane for a solo acoustic number and a more rural feel. Simple, straight forward, nice! Language Of Love, kicked off by a hot drum riff by Dave Reinhardt on drums and Karen Caruthers and Karyn Denham on vocal, this track has a life of it's own. Featuring McCoy on some of his best lead vocals, Rob McDowell on bass and Karen Caruthers on piano this track has a really nice feel. McCoy rips a new one on his guitar solo setting you back in your seat. My Guitar Won't Play Nothin' But The Blues is a silky shuffle track with Razz on bass, Baker on drums and Heding on B3. With a few tempo changes the track speaks. Jive Dive has a blues feel but with a jazzy delivery. Featuring horns and Keys by Street and Brice Waibel on bass with Trippy on drums this track features some hot guitar riffs to compliment it's swagger. Cars, Bars and Guitars is a basic 12 bar number with only McCoy, Razz and Baker. With it's easy shuffle feel, McCoy lays some really nice riffs in the groove. Space Master, with it's funk overtones features Tatangelo on slide, Razz on bass, Baker on drums and Heding on B3. Tatangelo lays out a pretty nice slide solo and an extended drum solo from Baker and McCoy sews it shut with a ripping solo of his own. Very cool! Ray Charles' R&B track, Hey Now, really hits the groove. With Jimmy Bennett on rhythm guitar, Mark McCoy on bass, Levon Helm on drums, Garth Hudson on B3 and laying down a hot sax solo, George Triconi on piano and Tim Eddy on horns and of course McCoy singing his lungs out...and smokin guitar work, this is a super track! Wrapping the release is pop track, Blue Water Runs Deep, with Jimmy Bennett on rhythm and slide guitars, Mark McCoy on bass, Levon Helm on drums and George Triconi on piano. This is more calm track overall chosen for the closer but I will comment that McCoy's and Bennett's guitar work at the end is pretty solid. I really enjoyed reviewing this release and I suggest that you go out and get one to review for yourself. It's a good one!

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I've Got Feelings Too - Albert Cummings-Tommy Shannon-George Rains

Breaking every cliché associated with the blues while producing some of the most powerful music of the 21st century comes as natural to Albert Cummings as swinging a hammer while constructing one of his award-winning custom built homes. The Massachusetts native learned the requisite three chords on the guitar from his father, but then switched to playing banjo at age 12 and became a fan of bluegrass music. Like everything he tackles, he threw himself headlong into the pursuit, going to festivals and winning several picking contests in high school. Before graduating he heard the early recordings of Stevie Ray Vaughan, however, and was floored by the virtuosity. While in college in 1987 he saw Vaughan perform and he returned to the guitar with a new outlook and resolve. He had another tradition to live up to first, however, and he studied the building trade in order to follow his family into the home building business. Not until he was 27, an age when other musicians were either already established or had long ago put their dream aside for the realities of life, did Albert finally decide to go for it.

An intense period of wood shedding resulted Albert sharing a bill with Double Trouble, the late Stevie Ray Vaughan’s rhythm section. So taken with Albert’s fire and passion were bassist Tommy Shannon and drummer Chris Layton that they volunteered to play on and produce his debut recording. In 2003 the aptly-titled From the Heart (Under the Radar), with the awesome power of a Nor’easter and the soul of a natural born artist. No less a giant of the blues than B.B. King, who Cummings acknowledged with a funky version of ‘Rock Me, Baby,’ dubbed Cummings ‘a great guitarist.’ In an era of cowboy-hatted poseurs, Cumming delivered the goods straight from the heart and shoulder with a wallop generated by his talent rather than his wardrobe.

A year later Double Trouble joined Cummings again as he signed with Blind Pig Records to create True to Yourself. This time they brought in legendary producer Jim Gaines to control the sessions. The all-original release further showcased Albert’s rapidly developing songwriting chops and deeply emotional vocals as well as stunning guitar pyrotechnics that put the metallurgical properties of his strings to the test. Tours and shows with blues legends B.B. King, Johnny Winter, Buddy Guy and others brought his music to an audience grateful for the opportunity to be rocked hard by a man possessed to play every song like his life depended on it.

Working Man (Blind Pig), Albert’s summer of 2006 blockbuster release, is the culmination to date of a guitar hero’s career just taking off. A punchy, stomping cover of Merle Haggard’s blue collar standard ‘Working Man Blues’ brings it all home for the master builder and musician. The swinging Texas blues of ‘Please,’ the instant barroom boogie classic ‘Party Right Here,’ the snaky slow drag ‘Rumors’ and the rousing rocker ‘Feeling End’ show variety well beyond the typical slow blues and shuffles of so much contemporary music. The deeply emotive ballad ‘Last Dance’ that closes the disc is so evocative that a Hollywood movie could be written around it.

Albert Cummings is a man of his times and the man for the times. As he has done with his innovative homes, he has taken tradition and built his own musical edifice that expresses his thoughts and dreams. It is a vision that alternately excites and soothes while also clearly providing a glimpse of his unlimited future. The best is yet to come.
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