CD submissions accepted! Guest writers always welcome!!

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!


Please email me at Info@Bmansbluesreport.com

Friday, September 11, 2020

Downchild - Live At The Toronto Jazz Festival - New Release Review

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Live At The Toronto Blues Festival, from Downchild (The Downchild Blues Band) and it's packed full of blues and stars. Opening with piano boogie, Can You Hear The Music, with Mike Fonfara on keys,  Chuck Jackson on lead vocal and Donnie Walsh on harmonica, Chuck Jackson and Pat Carey on sax, Gary Kendall on bass and Mike Fitzpatrick on drums, this is a lively opener. David Wilcox joins on shuffle, It's A Matter Of Time adding slide and vocal. With great feel and energy, this is an all out party. I'm Gonna Tell Your Mama is packed with energy featuring Gene Taylor  piano and giving Walsh a great opportunity to really hang out there on harmonica. Very cool. Finland's favorite slide player, Erja Lyytinen joins on harmony vocal and slide guitar on Mississippi Woman, Mississauga Man, a cool blues rocker with Cajun kind of rhythm. Shotgun Blues is one of my favorite tracks on the release with Kenny Neal on vocal and guitar. The longest track on the release, clocking in at over 9 minutes a solid slow blues number with plenty of  room for solos by Neal, Jackson and Carey. Very nice. Blues Brother Dan Aykroyd and band leader Paul Shaffer join on R&B classic, I Got Everything I Need (Almost) and the band gets into full swing. Walsh winds up his harmonica again and the party continues. Wrapping the release is Elmore James' TV Mama with Walsh on slashing slide and Walsh back upfront on vocal. Solid closer for a solid release. 


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Thursday, September 10, 2020

Bart Ryan - Starlight and Tall Tales - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Starlight and Tall Tales, from Bart Ryan and it's a cool rocker with nice edge. Opening with Wanna Be, a smooth, R&B track featuring Ryan on lead vocal and guitar, Jim Evans on drums, Ted Russell Kamp on bass, Mark Kovaly on keys, and Jeff Byrd and Steve Smartt on horns. Solid opener. Half Way is a really nice ballad with a bluesy edge. With it's strong melody, Ryan's fine vocal work, clean lead guitar soloing and strong arrangement, this is a certain radio track. Nicely blended vocals with Aubrey Richmond and another memorable melody gives Walk Away my vote for one of my favorites on the release. With it's almost Bowie like presentation, Lennon like chord progressions and strong but brief guitar solo, it stands tall. Another bluesy ballad, Bring Out Your Joy, uses the space around the vocal lead nicely with bold, powerful lines, a terrific tune and melodic guitar lead over a well formed bass/drum combo. Very nice. Wrapping the release is Desire, played on acoustic guitar with slide under Ryan's own vocal. Borrowing lightly from Winwood on the chord progressions under the lead, this is a strong closer.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Al Basile Brings His New Album to Life with "Last Hand 2.0" Audio Play Version, Available on All Streaming and Downloading Platforms

 

 



Al Basile Brings His New Album to Life with Last Hand 2.0 Audio Play Version, Available on All Streaming and Downloading Platforms

 

RUMFORD, RI - Eight-time Blues Music Award-nominated singer/songwriter/cornetist Al Basile announces an audio play version of his new album, Last Hand, is being released to all streaming and downloading platforms via The Orchard. Dubbed Last Hand 2.0, Basile (vocals and cornet) and his sparse trio of Bruce Bears on keyboards, Brad Hallen on bass and Mark Teixeira on drums, are joined by an audio cast of Sharon Coleman as “The Young Woman,” Chuck Goldberg as “The Friend” and John Mailloux as “The Bartender.” Al Basile, himself, plays “The Trumpet Player.”

 

The combination of the late-night, after-hours musical groove (that falls comfortably between blues and jazz), and the added dialogue creates a film noir-ish feel to the audio play. Listen to the complete Last Hand 2.0 audio play with all the music here: https://www.bmansbluesreport.com/2020/09/sweetspot-records-artist-al-basile-last.html

 

Upon the musical album’s initial release in August, Al Basile described the even-dozen tracks on Last Hand as telling the story of a May/December romance - which ends too soon - from the man's point of view. It’s also his initial stab at producing himself.  All of his previous albums had been produced by his long-time friend and fellow Roomful of Blues alumnus Duke Robillard.

 

Last Hand 2.0 immerses the listener deeper into the story of Last Hand,” he explains. “For the first time, we hear from the woman, and we hear the two of them go through key moments in their relationship which lead to the songs. Unlike a stage musical where everything is projected out at the audience, here we’re allowed to overhear the intimate exchange of the lovers - how they are drawn together, and what happens later.’

First, some background on audio plays. “They used to be called radio plays,” Basile advises. “I ran a radio theater at Brown University in the 1970s, where I wrote, directed, produced and acted in radio drama. A few years ago I wrote Flash Blind, a neo-noir thriller as an audio play, and recorded it with some actors last fall. I entered it into the national audio theater competition, HEARnow, which normally meets for three days in Kansas City in June. It was chosen to be featured at the silver level in this year's festival, but the virus forced the event to be shifted from a live one to a website which featured podcasts of the featured plays. It was featured on one of the podcasts that ran from Mid-June to mid-August this summer.

“With the national competition happening each year, I started thinking about something for me to submit for next year. Since I already had the story of Last Hand in the songs on the CD, I decided to fill it out with dramatic scenes which set up the songs the way the book does in a musical play. That would make the CD of Last Hand like an original cast album from a show, where you don't get the scenes but do get the songs. By making an audio drama version of the scenes with the songs in place, I have an audio musical which I can submit this year to the HEARNow festival as a special drama with songs. With the CD release date in August, I had enough time to record the scenes and create Last Hand 2.0, which will not only be released on all digital platforms, but also on my YouTube Page.

 

“So this project builds on what I did on Me & the Originator by combining music and poetry, and adds drama, like Flash Blind combined drama and poetry. I'm just going to keep on doing things that take all my diverse skills: singing, songwriting, horn playing, playwriting, verse writing, acting, editing and directing to bring it off.”

 

About Al Basile:


Al Basile’s previous album releases have consistently made the top 20 on the Living Blues charts. He’s been nominated eight times for a BMA as Best Horn Player, and his 2016 release, Mid-Century Modern, was nominated as Best Contemporary Blues Album. His songs have been covered by Ruth Brown, Johnny Rawls, and the Knickerbocker All Stars. Guests on his own releases have included the Blind Boys of Alabama, Sista Monica Parker, Sugar Ray Norcia, Jerry Portnoy, and jazz great Scott Hamilton.

Celebrated for his mastery of lyric writing as well as music, Al's skill with words extends to his other career as a poet: he is published regularly in leading journals, has won prizes, and has two books in print collecting his work from the Seventies until the present day. For the last three years he has taught lyric writing, led panels, and performed at poetry conferences.

Born in Haverhill, Mass., on the north shore of Boston, Al was the first to receive a Master's degree from Brown University's writing program. He was the first trumpet player for Roomful of Blues in the mid-Seventies, and he's enjoyed a long relationship as a co-writer and sideman during Robillard's solo career since the Eighties, garnering credits as songwriter and trumpet player on a dozen of Duke's CDs and DVDs. In 1998, he released his first solo CD on his own Sweetspot label. He also taught English, music, and physics in a private Rhode Island high school for 25 years before devoting himself to music and poetry full time in 2005.

 

Nola Blue Records artist: Eric Johanson - Below Sea Level - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release (9/18/20), Below Sea Level, from Eric Johanson and I really like it! Johanson, who grew in Louisiana has blues rock in his blood. Opening with Buried Above Ground you hear distinct influences of Free/Humble Pie and the best of the blues rock generation mixed with Luther Dickinson and the best of the southern blues rockers in this totally fresh sound. This may be the best blues rock release of it's kind since Humble Pie's Smokin'! Cody Dickinson on drums lays down a great tom tom beat and with Johanson on gritty guitar and excellent lead vocal and Terrence Grayson on bass, this release is off to a great start. On Down To The Bottom, Johanson slips on his slide and cranks up the heat. This is a modern boogie in the vein of Hooker but with fat fat slide tones and strong vocals. Really excellent! Blues ballad, Changes The Universe, has the potential to rival Gary Moore with better vocals, a sweet melody line and nicely phrased guitar lead and great guitar tone making this a perfect radio track. Hammer On The Stone is a well constructed blues rocker with strong vocal/lead guitar pairing and a with a quick turnaround riff, an excellent track. This is great music! Lumbering, Have Mercy, has the solid bottom driven by Grayson and Dickinson and always strong vocal and well poised guitar lead. One of my favorite tracks on the release is Open Hearted Woman with it's lead footed bottom and take no prisoner attack. Johanson really hits a grand slam on this one with soulful vocals, an infectious beat and smoking guitar lead. Wrapping the release is stripped down, Riverbend Blues, with Johanson on acoustic guitar and vocal, this is modern delta blues, Johanson has really put together a great release here. This is one you must hear! 


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Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Sweetspot Records artist: Al Basile - Last Hand - New Release Review

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Last Hand, from Al Basile, and it's a solid performance showcasing Basile's vocals with only 2 tracks where he contributes cornets work. Opening with It Ain't Broke, a cool, low slung club style blues with Basile on vocal, Bruce Bears on piano, Brad Hallen on bass and Mark Teixeira on drums. With a solid piano line, strong bass work and tight rhythm, a super opener. Smooth shuffle, Don't, has a strong melody and Basile's cornet work paired with bear's cool piano lines is strong. Bears and Basile lay nicely in the groove on After I'm Gone with it's excellent bottom and tight skins. The Problem is Me is one of my favorites on the release with strong piano work from Bears and Basile working the track like a pro. My favorite track on the release and release closer is Time Heals Nothing with it's somber overtone, and minimal backing support. Simple bass line, light brushes, straightforward piano and Basile... with a great muted cornet sound. Strong closer.


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Friday, September 4, 2020

Singer Nora Jean Wallace Deals Straight Chicago Blues on New "Blueswoman" CD Coming October 30 from Severn Records




Singer Nora Jean Wallace Deals Straight Chicago Blues on New Blueswoman CD Coming October 30 from
Severn Records

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Severn Records announces an October 30 release date for Blueswoman, the new CD from Blues Music Award-nominated singer Nora Jean Wallace. The new album was produced by Severn label head David Earl (who also plays guitar on four tracks) and recorded at Severn Studios in Annapolis. Backing Wallace’s powerhouse vocals are Severn’s A-list team of musicians, including Johnny Moeller – guitars; Steve Gomes – bass; Kevin Anker – organ; Steve Guyger – harmonica; Stanley Banks – keyboards; and Robb Stupka – drums. Multi-Blues Music Award-winner Kim Wilson is a special guest on harmonica on one track.

Nora Jean Wallace (formally Bruso) returns after 16 years since her 2004 BMA-nominated and critically-acclaimed release, Going Back to Mississippi. Blueswoman shows why Nora was born to sing the blues. A staple of the Chicago Blues scene, Nora Jean pours her heart into eight originals including the Koko Taylor inspired title track, “I’m a Blues Woman,” and “Rag and Bucket” written with co-writer, Stanley Banks. The Syl Johnson classic, “I Can’t Stop,” and George Jackson’s “Evidence” are great canvases for Nora’s powerful gift. No wonder The Chicago Sun-Times called her performance at the Chicago Blues Festival “show-stopping,” and the legendary Koko Taylor is quoted as saying, “Nora Jean sounds just like I did when I was her age!” This is a must for all fans of real-deal blues.

“During a very low period in my career, a friend reminded me that the Bible says your gifts will make room for you,” Nora Jean Wallace explains. “When I gave serious thought to that which I already knew, I never looked back. Slowly but surely my gifts indeed have made, and continue to make, room for me and this project is living proof of that.

“I left the blues scene to take care of my mom who was sick at the time (she has since passed). From the cotton fields of Mississippi to the bright and steamy windows of Chicago blues, she always supported me. I think a part of her felt guilty because I had to leave what I loved doing the most to take care of her. And although she’s gone, she’s still with me. I thank God for all she instilled me. She always told me to put God first, never quit and everything else will fall in place.

“Here I am in 2020 embarking on a renewed career in blues. The gifts that have made room for me have come in the form of creative people who’ve helped me pave a new path in the blues. I believe God had a hand in it all and has placed people in my life to make me better, stronger and more determined to do what I love best…sing the blues.”

Nora Jean Wallace is a Chicago Blues singer with deep Delta roots. Like so many blues greats that hail from the Delta of Mississippi, Nora was born and raised in Greenwood, a town in the heart of this blues-rich region. From birth her father, Bobby Lee Wallace, a professional blues singer and sharecropper, and her Uncle, Henry “Son” Wallace, a blues singer and guitar player, infused the blues in her soul. Also contributing to her musical education was her mother, Ida Lee Wallace, a gospel singer, and her grandmother, Mary, who ran a juke house. As a child, Nora would sneak down to her grandmother’s place on Friday and Saturday nights and listen to her relatives sing blues classics. It was during these years that Nora developed a love for the music of Howlin’ Wolf that has continued to the present day.
Nora’s singing career in Chicago began in 1976 when her Aunt Rose heard her sing at home and brought her to several clubs she was promoting. It was at the Majestic on the West Side of Chicago that Nora sat in with Scottie and the Oasis. She was invited to join the band and spent several years with them before Scottie’s unfortunate passing. During this time many local Chicago musicians, most notably Mary Lane and Joe Barr, encouraged Nora and taught her the finer points of her craft.
Nora’s big break came in 1985 when Jimmy Dawkins saw her perform at a local Chicago club and invited her to join his band. For the next seven years Nora toured and recorded with Jimmy and his band and appeared on two of his CDs, Feel the Blues (JSP, 1985 & 2002 with a bonus NJB track) and Can’t Shake These Blues (Earwig, 1991). She also released a single, “Untrue Lover” (Leric, 1982) and her first solo release in 2002, Nora Jean Bruso Sings the Blues (Red Hurricane).
While touring Europe, Canada, and the United States, Nora refined her performing skills and developed an international fan base. She appeared on many major festivals including the King Biscuit Blues Festival, AK, the Chicago Blues Festival and the Pocono Blues Festival.
Nora has lived a life full of passion and pain, triumph and despair, and with it has come a wisdom out of which art is born. Living involves pain but offers redemption as well. That is what the blues is all about.
“Seems like this day would never come, but through it all Severn Records has been steadfast in making sure this project would be a success,” Wallace summarizes. “With their support, I’ve been able to once again share my voice with fans and the blues community that I’ve grown to love. Big, big shout out to Stanley Banks who put pen to paper to write some incredible songs for this project as well as share his talent.”

Quarto Valley Records artist: Savoy Brown - Ain't Done Yet - New Release Review

 

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Ain't Done Yet, from Savoy Brown and they are definitely on a solid path again. Opening with blues rocker, All Gone Wrong, Kim Simmonds is up front on lead vocal and guitar and Simmonds is developing into a very solid lead vocalist. His guitar  playing and blues chops are as good as any, possibly one of the best electric/contemporary lead blues rockers ever. Joined by Pat DeSalvo on bass and Garnet Grimm on drums, the band sounds tight. With it's droning bass line and steady drums beat, Borrowed Time has a classic feel. Simmonds uses a Multivox FullRotor for shimmery guitar effects and keeps the underpinnings of the track spartan. Boogie rocker and title track, Ain't Done Yet has classic Savoy Brown styling with crisp lead work by Simmonds and a solid base. Latin flavored, Feel Like A Gypsy, is a cool radio style track with a smooth, "Santana" like feel. Simmonds is a talented player and improvisor and can pull off just about anything he attempts. Very cool. One of my favorites on the release is Jaguar Car with a driving bottom and giving Simmonds open road to plays slide. If you don't know Simmonds' slide playing, think classic rock track, Tell Mama or think the and Foghat, who built their trademark sound around Simmonds' slide sound. I love the Marshall crunch on Soho Girl, a heavy weight rocker with Simmonds singing and playing with authority. His lead playing is fluid and inventive. Wrapping the release is Crying Guitar, my favorite on the release. Simmonds is an expert at defining and playing long fluid guitar lead and with just a light Latin touch, this expressive, bluesy guitar melody springs to life. Excellent closer. This is really quite a good release and if you love the Savoy Brown sound, or blues rock in general, this is one to hear!



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Thursday, September 3, 2020

Pete Thelen - Best for Last - New Release Review

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Best for Last, by Pete Thelen and it's a blend of tasty music. Opening with slow blues, You Make It Easy, Bennie Hughes sets the pace with his silky smooth voice, backed by Charlie Prazma and Mark Raddatz on guitar who lay down some really nice riffs, Mike Shellans on piano, Jim Massoth and Bennie Hughes on sax, Chico Chism on drums  and Mike King on bass. Strong opener. Annie Dekom takes the mic on Some Kind of Sign, a cool boogie woogie track. A solid piano groove by Shellans and a strong bass line by Paul Sowinski make the stage and John Reuter rips it up on slide guitar. Rena Haus gets her time at the mic and her vocals are strong. With it's open club feel, this track has a great groove. Thelen's vocals on Lost And Found, played nicely against Massoth on sax and Shellans on piano gives this track a smooth relaxing feel. Move On is a cool track with droning like guitar work by Pat Macdonald under chant like vocals. Very cool. Chico Chism takes lead vocal on blues number, New Pain with tight drumming, cool harmonica and a straight up blues guitar lead by Raddatz and cigar box guitar by Macdonald. Wrapping the release is Thought Passing Through, possibly my favorite track on the release with it's folk/blues ballad format. Thelen is at his best in this format on piano with and Hans Christian on cello and nyckelharpa. Very nice closer.



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Wednesday, September 2, 2020

BLACK BLUES LEGEND BLIND WILLIE JOHNSON BLASTS INTO OUTER SPACE IN NEW PICTURE BOOK ABOUT HIS SOUL-STIRRING SONG



BLACK BLUES LEGEND BLIND WILLIE JOHNSON BLASTS INTO OUTER SPACE
IN NEW PICTURE BOOK ABOUT HIS SOUL-STIRRING SONG

Ask Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Lucinda Williams and Jack White to name the slide-guitar player they most admire, and they'll all say Blind Willie Johnson. What those musicians may not know is that one of his songs found its way to the depths of outer space. In Dark Was the Night – Blind Willie Johnson's Journey to the Stars, NY Times-bestselling author Gary Golio and Caldecott Honoree E. B. Lewis weave a magical tale of how the healing power of music can turn darkness into light.

Born in 1897, young Willie shone as he sang and played a cigar box guitar made by his father. But his bright childhood fell dark when he lost both his mother and his sight. Fortunately, his love of music led him back into the light. He began singing in churches and later brought his unique blend of gospel-blues to street corners all over Texas. Willie's powerful voice, joined to the wail of his slide guitar, moved even more people when he cut some records and his songs were played on the radio. Yet by the time he died, he and his music were largely forgotten.

Then, in 1977, Willie's haunting song, "Dark Was the Night," was launched into space on the Voyager I space probe's famous Golden Record. There, along with the many sounds and sights of planet Earth, is the soul-stirring song of a blind man, telling us not to be afraid of the dark, and reminding us that we are never really alone.

"An ode to a too-little-discussed musician and an excellent introduction to his amazing musical talent."
Kirkus,
*starred review*

“An inspiring story of one man’s commitment to lifting up himself and those around him with his music.
An American treasure who shouldn’t go unsung."
Booklist

"Lewis's expressive watercolors depict the subject's humble country beginnings as well as the joy that he felt when he sang and played"
"A beautiful, timely tribute to a little-known musician and space venture."
School Library Journal, *starred review*


Gary Golio is the author of the NY Times bestseller JIMI: Sounds Like a Rainbow – A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix, winner of a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award; Bird & Diz and Strange Fruit – Billie Holiday and the Power of a Protest Song, both ALA Notables; and other books about legendary artists. A writer and musician, Golio has been featured on NPR’s "Weekend Edition", CBS-TV’s “Sunday Morning News,” and on radio stations nationwide. He lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife, children’s book author Susanna Reich.

E.B. Lewis is a fine artist and the acclaimed illustrator of over 70 books, among them Coming On Home Soon by Jacqueline Woodson (Caldecott Honor Award), Talkin' About Bessie by Nikki Grimes (Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award), and The Secret World of Walter Anderson by Hester Bass (Orbis Pictus Award). He is also the recipient of the NY Times Best Illustrated Book Award, Kirkus' Best Illustrated Book Award, and four additional Coretta Scott King Illustrator Awards. Lewis teaches at the University of Arts in Philadelphia, and lives in Folsom, New Jersey.

###

Dark Was the Night – Blind Willie Johnson's Journey to the Stars
Written by Gary Golio
Illustrated by E.B. Lewis
Published by Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Books
August 2020 • Ages 5-8 • 32 pages • $17.99 hardcover/$10.99 Ebook • ISBN: 978-1524738884

Davis Chris & Mr Foster - Wings and Blue Cheese - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release (September 4), Wings and Blue Cheese, by Davis Chris and Mr Foster and it's a very contemporary look at blues today. Opening with Marinate, a bluesy track with a strong modern R&B feel, it features superstar recording artist Chel and Davis Chris on vocal, Platinum Producer Caleb Bingham on lead guitar and Mr Foster on drums. Catchy opener.  A bit of a high stepper, Watch Yo Mouth has a strong rhythm and with vocal by Chris this track will have you dancing in your seat. Chris and Foster team up  on vocal on title track, Wings and Blue Cheese, a soulful track with a cool melody and solid beat. My favorite track and my choice for radio track on the release is soul ballad, What Would It Take featuring Chel on lead vocal with a minimalist bottom of light drum, bass and keys. Very nice. Wrapping the release is Hold It Over My Head, with the most contemporary look on the release. Super vocal blending, low key but tasty guitar work and an strong forward drumming leaves you with a solid flavor of Davis Chris and Mr Foster. 

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Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Gulf Coast Recordings artist: Kat Riggins - Cry Out - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Cry Out, by Kat Riggins and it's a cool mix of blues, R&B, pop and soul. Opening with funky, Son of a Gun, Riggins leads the band with attitude. With Doug Byrkit on bass, Brian Zielie on drums, Louis Stevens on keys and Mike Zito on guitar, this is a solid opener. R&B track Meet Your Maker, has a great bass line by Byrkit and a great overall flow with the addition of cool sax work  by Eric Demmer and Fernando Castillo on trumpet, making it one of my favorites on the release. Soul tune, Heavy, has a really nice feel with strong vocals, a warm undercarriage of keys by Stevens and slide guitar by Zito making this an easy selection for radio track on the release. Wicked Tongue is a great showcase for Albert Castiglia who throws down a great flurry of hot riffs in support of Riggins' sassy lead vocals. I love the crunch on Zito's guitar on Burn It All Down, a solid shuffle. Riggins's vocals are strong and with a tight rhythm, Zito lets the dog off the hook with some great guitar work. Wrapping the release is bluesy, The Storm, with gripping vocals by Riggins working nicely in pairing with wailing guitar riffs from Zito. Excellent closer!

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Monday, August 31, 2020

Big Pacific: Welcome To The Party - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Welcome To The Party, from Big Pacific and it's a pretty cool rocker. Opening with title track, Welcome To The Party, Roly Sandoval on guitar and vocal, Nick Dokter on drums and vocals, Wayne Veillet on bass and vocals and John Hannah on keys set a solid groove. Sandoval's slide work gives the track a fun feel and Dokter's drumming keeps it tight. Slip Away is a strong pop rocker that reminds me of early Kinks or Who. With it's strong melody, blended male vocals, primarily piano accompaniment and slide guitar, it's a cool radio track. Hard Road is another radio track but with a smoother "Eagles" type approach. With it's "sweet" melody, clean guitar solo and warm vocal harmonies, the track is on good footings. Run To The Night is another firm track with influences of Tom Petty or Don Henley with isolated lead vocal and well placed keyboards and guitar lead. My favorite track on the release is Blue Moon Blues with it's double time rhythm, driving drums and guitar sequence and over the top organ. Very cool. Wrapping the release is country flavored Here's To Yesterday with acoustic guitar accompaniment and cool vocal blending. This is a cool and pleasurable rocker with a little bit for everybody. 

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Friday, August 28, 2020

Jeff Fetterman - Southern Son - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Southern Son, from Jeff Fetterman, and it's a cool blues rocker with some really hot guitar. Opening with I Don't Want To, Fetterman on lead guitar and vocal, backed by Kid Andersen on guitar, Ralph Retinger III on bass, John McGuire on drums, Kid Andersen on B3 and keys, John Halbleib on trumpet, Ric Feliciano on trombone and Doug Rowan on sax, this is a solid opener with a number of time changes. Living With the Blues is a strong, slow blues number with super vocals and explosive guitar soloing by Fetterman. Feels Like Rain is a straight up rocker with a southern flair almost like Outlaws or Skynyrd but without the tell tale signature riffs. Pretty cool actually. Blues For Charlie is my favorite track on the release with it's melancholy melody, easy pace, glistening chords and clean lead guitar not unlike the approach that SRV took with Riviera Paradise. Very nice! Another interesting track on the release is Jimi's All Along The Watchtower with hot, fiery guitar riffs and driving drum rhythm. The release is capped with a few bonus tracks. The first one is called Voodoo Funk with a super funky bass line by Reitinger, B3 by Andersen and scorching guitar jams by Fetterman. The second is Southside Blues, a real nice slow blues, led off by Andersen on B3. The is a strong soulful track, along the lines of the Allman's interpretation of T Bone Walker's Stormy Monday and Fetterman lets it all hang out here with blistering guitar work. Excellent closer. 

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Thursday, August 27, 2020

Gulf Coast Records artist: Mark May Band - Deep Dark Demon - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Deep Dark Demon, by Mark May Band and it's solid. Opening with Harvey's Dirty Side, a dark blues rocker with a bumping bass (Darrell Lacy), steady drum (Brandon Jackson) and wide open guitar by May and Billy Wells and Barry Seelan on B3. Cool opener. Back has a strong Latin influence with Al Pagliuso on percussion and Jackson on drums and excellent stylized guitar lead by May under nicely blended vocal by May and Wells. Excellent! With a New Orleans beat and paired lead slide, this is a real cool track. Solo slide work by May is strong and warm leading nicely into a nice piano roll by Seelan. Certain radio track, Something Good, has a strong melody and warm vocals over a simple R&B style ballad format. A nicely crafted slide solo by May anchors this track like Bishop's trademark slide solo in Fooled Around and Fell In Love giving it staying power. Wrapping the release is Invisible Man, another R&B style track with a great beat, melody and solid vocals. Limited use of a guitar talk box and jazz style lead guitar soloing makes this track a solid closer. 

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Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Continental Blue Heaven artist: Shawn Pittman - Make It Right! - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Make It Right!, from Shawn Pittman and it's terrific! Opening with a great blues track, Done Tole You So! and it's raunchy, grinding guitar tone sets the groundwork for this, one of the best blues cds I've heard this year. A droning, Mississippi Hill country style saturates this track with Pittman on lead guitar and vocal, Erkan Ozdemir on bass and Levent Ozdemir on drums. Really hot! Lumbering, Finger On The Trigger blends Albert King style guitar riffs with a heavy foot and plenty of grit. Super! Slow blues, How Long has great bones with strong vocals, over driven chords and saturated lead guitar showing excellent phrasing and poise. James Brown's Cold Sweat get's an Albert King style rework showing that Pittman isn't all grime and grit but fleet fingered finesse. Excellent instrumental! Settling back into a more traditional Chicago shuffle on Bobby Bland's Woke Up Screaming, Pittman really rolls it. His vocals are strong and his guitar work engaging. Another slower track, Fair Weather Friend, is a perfect balance of vocal and guitar lead by Pittman with a droning guitar style and double stop soloing. Very cool. Wrapping the release is high energy, I'm Done with Hound Dog Taylor like, freewheeling slide guitar and pace.

I gotta say, this is a strong release making a high water mark for anything else I listen to soon! 

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Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Scott Weis Band - Simmer Me Down - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Simmer Me Down, by Scott Weis Band and it's a great blues rocker. Opening with Pride And Soul, a strong foot stomper with country and gospel influences, SWB sounds great. With Weis on lead vocal and guitar and Cindy Mizelle on backing vocals this track is smoking. Backed by Robert Kopee on bass, Roger Voss on drums and John Ginty on keys this track is tight. All Over Again is a great blues track with a bouncy beat but lots of grit. Weis' guitar playing isn't highly technical but it is high octane and emotional. Excellent track. Issac Hayes' soul track, When Something Is Wrong With My Baby gets just a little more blues heat giving Weis a great venue to solo on guitar  and his style and emotion is terrific. Saved is a super blues rocker with loose guitar work that works really nicely over a complex drum and percussion (Bashiri Johnson) work. Very cool. Wrapping the release is Transcendence has more of a jam framework along the lines of an eastern pattern and Allman or Trucks execution. Strong closer for a really nice release. 

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Monday, August 24, 2020

Solid Blues Records artist: JW-Jones - Sonic Departures - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Sonic Departures, from JW-Jones and it hits solid on the radio track styling with great guitar soloing. Opening with Blue Jean Jacket, a pop rocker with a shuffle beat, JW-Jones is up front with solid vocals and joined by Jesse Whiteley on keys, Will Lauin on drums, Jacob Clarke on bass Brendan Cassidy, Jim John, Daniel Koelsch and Rolf Rogde on sax, Scott McGonigal, Rob Williams, Rob Mee and Rob Scott on trombone, and Bob Clegg, Noel Methven, Jim Shea and Brad Harrison on trumpet. Jones does a funky overlay on classic blues number, Drowning on Dry Land and I like it. Whiteley's organ work, along with the tight rhythm work of Laurin really make this track move. Jones stabs in some real nice guitar riffs, working really well with sax and trumpet accents. Very cool! Big swing track, It's Obdacious has great feel and dynamics with harmonies by Brit Wynne-Jones. Jeff Pighin really wails on sax on this one giving it a great kick. On Guitar Slim's, The Things That I Used To Do, Jones maintains Slims original trademark guitar riffs which give it great presence and his own twists, with the addition of sax and trumpet which work really nicely. Possibly my favorite track on the release. Wrapping the release is rock shuffle, When It All Comes Down with Jones' solid lead vocals and warm sax work maintaining the balance. His lead guitar work on the track is concise and well blended making this a solid closer for a solid release. 

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Friday, August 21, 2020

Blue Heart Records artist: Crooked Eye Tommy - Hot Coffee and Pain - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Hot Coffee and Pain, from Crooked Eye Tommy and I think it's a kicker. Opening with Son House's Death Letter Blues Crooked Eye Tommy opens this release with all of the attitude of Ronnie Van Zant in 1973 (think... I Ain't The One). With Tommy Marsh on lead vocal and guitar and paired with Paddy Marsh on guitar, Samuel Corea on bass, Charlie McClure on drums and Jimmy Calire on keys, this track has real swagger! Paddy takes the mic on Sittin in a Driveway, and it's a scorcher. Nicely paced with a great blues feel, one of my favorites on the release. Another standout track is Baby Where You Been pairing Tommy with Teresa James on lead vocal. This is a great R&B flavored track with strong sax work by Craig Williams. Contemporary blues rocker, Time It Takes To Live has a real strong melody and pairs Tommy and Paddy on guitar and vocal for an appealing radio track. Moving even further into the southern blues rock vein but with a hard pinch of jazz, The Big House seems a tribute to the Allmans. An instrumental track with strong lead guitar work and warm, rich organ by Calire, this is sure to be a crowd favorite. Wrapping the release is another of my favorites, horn flavored Congo Square with it's heavy rhythms and to my ear, African horn lines. This track really moves and with excellent sax work by Williams, hot drum work by McClure and hot guitar riffs, an excellent closer.


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Thursday, August 20, 2020

Mark & Jill Sing The Blues - Live at Caffe Lena - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Live at Caffe Lena, from Mark (Tolstrup) and Jill (Burnham) and it's a solid dose of old school blues. Opening with Come Here Baby, Mark on vocal and guitar, Jill on vocal and complimented nicely by Frank Orsini on fiddle and backing vocal, you feel the ambiance of a small club in America nearly a century ago. Mark's slide and acoustic guitar playing is cool and Frank's fiddle playing tight. One of my favorites on the release is Elmore James track, Held My Baby. Lead vocal and nicely articulated slide guitar work by Mark, with Orsini taking a nice fiddle solo and lead vocals by Jill really gives this track a great feel. One of the tracks that really stands out for me is What You Gonna Do? with it's gospel roots. The vocal blending of Mark and Jill is solid and with Orsini on fiddle and nice guitar work by Mark, just really works. Wrapping the release is Blind Willie Johnson's Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning with it's gospel feel. With Mark leading the way and rich counter lead by Jill over the firm acoustic guitar work on Mark, this is a fine closer for a cool release.

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