Back when we first started doing reviews here at www.Mary4Music.com, most of the reviews were from relatively obscure bands. Over the years, although some quite famous people have also discovered us and have sought our help, we still pride ourselves in being a source for the Indie and local bands to get a little press. The bands think this is the greatest thing since amplifiers, but on the other hand, we also enjoy it. The best part of the whole thing is we get to hear music that a lot of the people may never get to hear, and lots of it is good stuff. Such is the case with "BALTIMORE ON TAP", a twelve track CD featuring twelve of Baltimore's best blues bands.
The opening track is an original by AUTOMATIC SLIM & HIS SENSATIONAL BAND.....now there's a catchy name. "DON'T COME KNOCKIN" is a little funky, very bluesy, hot way to open the CD. The vocals are top notch blues and the harp and guitar are great. About midway through the cut there is a harp solo that turns into a guitar solo and the switch was absolutely amazing. I backed this up several times. It was clearly easy to see how this band got it's name. This truly sensational band consists of AUTOMATIC SLIM on vocal and guitar, JACK DIPIETRO on bass, SCOTT STUMP on drums and LAZY LENNY on harp.
"LOVE IN VAIN", by KEENAN WELLS, opens up with one of those sultry sax solos that you swear came out of an old TV show or mystery movie. I immediately pictured "Mr Lucky", or some character being played by Bogart, standing on a dark steamy street corner, wearing a top hat and trench coat, with a cigarette dangling from his lips as the blues is played in the background. This is a classic that sounds like it came from one of the classics. The song is sung just at it should be, with lots of feeling as it tells it's story. This may very well be the best track on the CD - everyone excels simultaneously. I'd love to hear more from this band, which consists of KEENAN WELLS on vocals and guitars, BILL WATSON on sax, WHITE LIGHTNING HOPKINS on bass and JOHN THOMAKOS on drums. If anyone in this band ever reads this, please send me more of your material.
"WHO'S BEEN TALKING", by RUDE DOG'S RHYTHM REVUE is another goodie. This track was very hard to sit still to, but a lot of fun to type along with. Everyone's heard of "letting your fingers do the walking", but to this track, mine were doing the rumba. At just over three minutes long, this track was way too short. In the old days of albums, when the records had sides, this one could be a whole side and I'd love it. This talented bunch include: RUDE DOG, vocals and acoustic guitar; BARRY "B-FUNK" TURNER, drums; CHARLES "REDS" ATKINS, bass; BOB OURLIAN, Fender Rhodes piano; NAMES THOMPSON, congas and percussion.
"CAN'T KILL MY HEART", an original by P J ELLIS and the B-MORE MEN, features some really good, sultry vocals by P. J. Her gospel roots show strong on this track. There's a lot that can be said for the B-MEN also. The band features P. J. ELLIS on vocals, JIMMY SEXTON on guitar, BOB OURLIAN on organ, DAVE EVANS on bass and MIKE KUHL on drums.
"YOU BEEN WARNED", by DETROIT SLIM AND THE CITY SLICKERS, is a slick song about some of my favorite things......Blackjack, Craps, Let It Ride and Caribbean Stud. The singing is very well done and the sax is just right. This was a great little number. The players include: DETROIT SLIM, vocals; PATRICK WELSH, guitar; BOB OURLIAN, organ; GENE MEROS, tenor sax; TOM KOLLARS, trombone; MIKE MARTINEX, alto sax; VINNY HUNTER, bass; JACK DUCHESNE, drums.
"TOO TALL TO MAMBO", is somewhat of an original. It's performed by LARRY DENNIS AND WILD RICE featuring MARK WENNER. The song was written by MARK and the NIGHTHAWKS. It's a no brainer to say that there is some smoking harp on this one, but the guitar work is hot also. This was a mover. WILD RICE consists of LARRY DENNIS on vocals and guitar, MARK WENNER on harp, DON BELLOW on bass and STEVE ONHEISER on drums.
Other tracks not mentioned, simply for the lack of room and time, are: "GOT MY MOJO WORKIN", by JIMMI SEXTON; "FORTY-FOUR", by W.C. SPENCER; "CHARM CITY SWING", by RED JONES; "CAN'T BE JUDGED", by DAVE GOFREED; "MESSIN' WITH ME", by DAVE EVANS; "BORN UNDER A BAD SIGN", by URSALA RICKS featuring TODD MILLER & LUCKY LEE.
Truthfully, picking out just a few songs off of "BALTIMORE ON TAP" was like looking for the heaviest crab on the table, although you know you'll like them all.
In 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2004, THE BREEZE KINGS were voted "Best Blues Band in Atlanta" by "CREATIVE LOAFING MAGAZINE" (Now there's a publication I can see me working for). Being voted the "best" at something you do is an accomplishment anyone would like to achieve, regardless what it is you do. However, when you are honored with that accomplishment for four years out of six, and it's accomplished in such a volatile business as the music business - in an area that is very well known for having some of the best talent in the country, then you've got to be real special. In other areas of entertainment and competition, this would be called a "Dynasty".
The bands very talented members are CARLOS "BREEZE" CAPOTE on vocals and harmonica, JIM RANSONE on guitar, DAVE ROTH on bass and MARK YARBROUGH on drums. To help them along on this excellent CD, "YOU GOT TO BRING SOME TO GET SOME", the BREEZE KINGS used a bunch of top notch musicians labeled the "GIMME DOLLAR ORCHESTRA" which included: SCOTT CALLISON, percussion; NORM "TEX" FICKE, alto and tenor sax and guitar; MARCUS JAMES, alto sax; MATT KEARNEY, tenor and baritone sax; PAUL LINDEN, MATT WACHOUPE and EDDIE TIGNER, keyboards; ADAM MEWHERTER, trombone; FRANK MOATES, guitar.
The bands musical ability stretches beyond their voices and instruments. Nine of the fourteen tracks are very well written originals. The following were just a few of my particular favorites.
"HEY BARTENDER", one of the originals, is a nice slow groovin' number with lots of good rhythm. My feet were keeping time with my fingers as I typed on this one. As this track ended and the next one started - "DON'T PUT NO HEADSTONE ON MY GRAVE", it seemed like the rhythm section, an apparent strength in this band, just continued right into it's groove. This track is another very nice, slow song with somewhat of a fifties feel to it.
"UP THE COUNTRY", another original, picks things up a bit with some very fast paced country style blues. It's got lots of very good guitar work and it is the first track that gives you a good taste of CARLOS' killer harmonica playing. A cover of Willie Dixon's "I LOVE THE LIFE I LIVE", gives you lots more of that.
"TELL ME AGAIN BABY", another excellent original, really rips. On this track, DAVE is featured on vocals while the whole band is peaking into one hell of a jam. It's stuff like this that obviously wins this band those "best" awards.
"CASSANOVA MAN", yet another original, is another of the many great songs on this CD. It's got a lot of the slower, higher pitched style of harmonica play that I seem to prefer. CARLOS' vocals are real smooth on this one.
"HELLO LITTLE BIRD", once again, is another original that highly impressed me. This one is fifties blues at it's best. It took very little imagination to picture Elvis singing to Ann Margaret that she's his little bird. The harp solos are hot and DAVE plays some of the best bass I've heard in a long time on this track.
"MOTHER IN LAW BLUES" and "CUT YOU DOWN", (the ninth original) are two serious blues tracks. The first being pure straight up Chicago blues with phenomenal harp solos and great slide guitar. The second one is all about the vocals and the horns. This one was very reminiscent of the old Roomful of Blues stuff. These two tracks are what the blues is all about.
"YOU GOT TO BRING SOME TO GET SOME" was virtually one of those CD's where each and every track was better than the last. My only complaint, and it's a good complaint, is that all of the songs were so good yet so short. I kept hitting replay because as the songs were ending, I wasn't ready for them to end. Ten 5 minute tracks would have worked for me versus fourteen 3.5 minute tracks. The BREEZE KINGS certainly have the quality and need not worry 'bout the quantity