If I were to tell you that I knew a band that looked like a cross between The Beverly Hillbillies and Mother Earth, their lead singer sounded like a mixture of Howlin' Wolf and Wolfman Jack, his writing displayed the wit and humor of Mose Allison and Rick Estrin and the songs they sang were similar to what you'd expect to hear from Frank Zappa and Dr. John (when he was still known as the night tripper) and then in the same sentence told you that this band was interestingly unique, you'd say I'm crazy right? You'd wonder how a band can remind someone of all those people yet still be unique? Well, meet the EVERETT SMITHSON BAND and call me crazy.
"COPPERHEADS & FEATHERBEDS", the first release by the EVERETT SMITHSON BAND is - to say the least - a very interesting and unique CD. The music consists of six delightful originals blended in with another half dozen seldom heard covers. The players are: EVERETT SMITHSON, vocals and harmonica; KATHLEEN (MRS.) SMITHSON, vocals and accordion; PHIL SCHMID, guitars; BILL BLACK, bass; JEREMEY JOHNSON, drums and guitar.
The opening track and one of the originals, "FUNKY OLD LADY", starts right off letting you know what you are in for. The lyrics in this satirical love song are adorable. Each of his descriptions, and there were many, of this woman made me want to take two steps back. Yet, he loves her enough to not trade her for anything, including a Schwinn Bicycle - now that's love. EVERETTS harp playing on this track, as well as on most, is top notch.
"ALL THAT I WANT" (original), is a song about life's simple needs - a car that starts, a room and a bed, a wife that doesn't spend more than you make, a gig that pays a hundred bucks a man and an ultra-mega-super-king size bag of french fries. It's a hot shuffle with some very nice guitar playing by PHIL, and lots of excellent drum work by JEREMY.
"RIDE OF THE MONOBROWS" is a red hot instrumental. This is an all too short (2:29) all out smokin' jam. The whole band is on fire on this track, which I would have loved to have been about 5 minutes longer.
Save me from the "HURRICANE", as the next track states, are all too familiar words to us South Floridians. The percussion on this rumba was absolutely the highlight of this somewhat eerie track. "FATMAN" (hey, enough with the songs I can relate to already), is another one of those short but sweet numbers on this excellent CD. BILL's solo on the bass made this one.
"NO GOOD FOR ME" is one of a few tracks that features KATHLEEN on vocals and tearing it up on the accordion. This one was my favorite. It also featured everyone in the band tightly working it out. The cymbals kept JEREMY working hard on this one.
Although I thought a lot of the songs were a bit short, I absolutely loved the CD. I look forward to hearing more from the EVERETT SMITHSON BAND.
You can visit the Everett Smithson Band on the Web at: www.bluesonstage.com/everettsmithson/
Before I say one word about the music or the musician, I'd like to say something about the man - CHESTER "MEMPHIS GOLD" CHANDLER. After being a veteran of 10 years in the military and having served our country in Viet Nam, MEMPHIS GOLD has spent a great amount of his musical career doing USO tours and entertaining American Troops in Hungary, Turkey, Germany, Croatia, Macedonia, Egypt, Sinai, Japan, Guam, Okinawa, Cuba and many other far flung places. When asked why he does this his answer was "I like to give time back to the troops because having served in Viet Nam, I know what it's like to be a long way from home." In addition to this unselfishness, ten years ago, he risked his own life while saving the lives of nine young children he rescued from a train wreck. Chester, the world needs more people like you - not just for your music, but your humanitarianism as well.
About a year ago, MEMPHIS GOLD sent me some rough demos and told me that once his finished product was available, he'd send me a copy for review. What I heard on those demos left me thirsting for more, and at last, after nearly a year, "THE PRODIGAL SON" arrived in my mail box. It was worth the wait.
For this project, MEMPHIS GOLD assembled quite a significant cast of players - not just in quality but in quantity as well. Besides himself, there are sixteen other players. Joining MEMPHIS GOLD on lead and rhythm guitars, harmonica and vocals are: BOBBY PARKER on lead guitar; JOEY "GRASSHOPPER" POPPEN on rhythm guitar; RALPH OLIVER, LARRY SELF, APAULO TRINDADE and the late WILLIE HICKS on bass; WARREN WEATHERSPOON, DAN LEAKE, DON ATLIFF, EMMIT KITTRELL and PETE RAGUSO on drums; KURT GIBBONS on keyboards; LORENZO JOHNSON on congas; PHIL WIGGINS and CHARLIE SAYLES on harmonica; ROBERT ELDRIDGE on horns.
The opening track on "THE PRODIGAL SON", which consists mostly of originals, is a very funky tune called "COME WIT' ME". Aside from the rhythmic vocals and hot guitar licks from MEMPHIS, it is indeed the rhythm section that lights the fire on this one. WARREN on the drums, LORENZO on the congas, RALPH on bass and KURT on the keys, are the highlights on this one.
"DON'T LET HER DRIVE" and "CRABCAKES" are two real hard driving numbers. The whole band is in the fast lane on these two. On the first one, KURT tears it up on keys while MEMPHIS adds some smoking harp playing, and on the second one, KURT absolutely blows me away. At this point, I actually stopped writing the review for a bit, while I did searches for KURT GIBBONS on the Internet. I am absolutely astounded by this mans playing.
"BIG LEG WOMAN" is the first track that slowed it down to some real low down blues. This track alone would earn MEMPHIS GOLD the right to call himself a blues man. His vocalizing and guitar work is perfect.
On a CD that features four bass players, some of the best you'll hear is on a track called "CHICKEN IT". It's an instrumental that features the late WILLIE HICKS playing some of the fastest bass these ears have ever heard. It's a shame that I had to use such a disappointing adjective in front of his name. On this track, Willie went toe to toe with the harp, the guitar and the piano, and he laid it all down as fast as they did. "PREACHERS BLUES" is another one of those tracks that, as with many others, the rhythm section shines. I guess with three different drummers and four different bass players that should be the case. Once again, it's WILLIE on bass and KURT on organ but this time it's PETE on the drums. ROBERT also does one hell of a job with the horns here.
Some of the best blues guitar on this CD can be heard on one of my favorite tracks, "SERVES ME RIGHT". This nearly ten minute track is all MEMPHIS. It's a slow, very soulful track that brings out this versatile musicians blues side. You can truly feel his playing and his singing coming directly from his soul.
There is one thing concerning "THE PRODIGAL SON" that has me worried, and I so do hope I am wrong about this. Unfortunately, I think that this may be the 'best Cd that no-one hears'. As is usually the case with self-produced, self-distributed, independent recordings, they only get to reach a select minority of the music world. In the case of this recording, that would be a shame.
You can visit Memphis Gold on the Web at: www.memphisgoldprod.net/
So Roxy Perry, as her new CD states, is "BACK IN BLUESVILLE". That's cool, but as far as I'm concerned she never left. The blues live in Roxy and Roxy lives in Bluesville. Although I live over fifteen hundred miles from the local joints that Roxy regularly rocks, I've had the pleasure of seeing her perform several times and this is the second of her CDs that I now find myself writing wonderful things about. All of these events were nothing but downright blues experiences.
The players on "BACK IN BLUESVILLE" are ROXY PERRY, of course, on vocals, harmonica and magnetism; DAVE FIELDS, guitar and keyboards; TIM DEHUFF, guitar; ERIC MEROVITCH, sax; LINDA GEIGER, drums; And the love of ROXY'S life, her husband of 31 years, BOB FUSCO on bass. Also appearing on some tracks as guests were MATT BAXTER, dobro and BILL HOLLOMAN, horns.
Ten of the eleven tracks on "BACK IN BLUESVILLE" are originals. The solo cover being, with all due respect to Eric Burden & The Animals, one of the better versions of "HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN" that these ears have ever heard. ROXY'S soulful vocals and sharp harp playing along with DAVE'S help on guitar make this one of the discs highlights.
The title track, "BACK IN BLUESVILLE" is quintessential ROXY PERRY. This one is full of her usual powerful and commanding vocals. Obviously fiction, ROXY carries the torch of all her abusing ex-lovers on this blues scorcher. DAVE adds to the heat with lots of burning blues licks on guitar.
"MIDNIGHT TRAIN" is a slow bluesy number about what those abusive ex-lovers led ROXY to - a midnight train to take her far away and outta the blues. Her sultry singing and smooth harp playing with some very nicely done harmonious finger snapping highlight this one.
If you like an occasional dose of Dixie Land Jazz, then you'll love "NOTHING LIKE YOU". It starts out with lots of soft jazzy horns then switches over to some hot banjo sounding guitar picking. The horns again kick in and before you know it you'll think you're listening to the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. As well as being different, this one was quite interesting.
"TWO LEFT FEET" is another hot one. This one really jumps and swings. It's about a dancing fool with absolutely no rhythm but lots of blues. There's no question the band had a good time recording this one. In addition to some great background vocals, ROXY and DAVE rip it up on harp and piano on this, which is absolutely impossible to sit still to.
ROXY explains "BACK IN BLUESVILLE" as a product that was "created with the intention of exploring both modern and traditional blues styles to their limits". My response to that is "mission accomplished". Blues is done in many fashions on this project. The versatility ranges from some standard ballads to scorching burners, from a few rockers to rootsy acoustics and a dose of Dixie.
Nice going ROX - the "New York Blues Queen" has struck again.
You can visit Roxy Perry on the Web at: www.roxyperry.com/