One of these days, I'm going to learn to leave my emotions in the other room as I settle in at my computer and listen to the CD I'm about to review. I need to stop reflecting on the fact that here I sit, once again, listening to another outstanding recording that so few people will ever get to hear. I guess I should just be thankful that I'm one of those who have, and just do what I always do, and that's try to spread the word about another very good unknown band. In this case, it's KINZEL & HYDE, from Portland, Oregon.
KINZEL & HYDE, who have been together for nearly ten years, are STU KINZEL, guitar player and vocalist and LYNNANN HYDE, harp player, singer and songwriter extraordinaire. On "OKLAHOMA CREDIT CARD", they are joined by LANDON SEELING and STEVE ADAMS on bass; JOHN BEYER on drums & percussion; GARY HERMAN on drums; MEGAN JAMES and LILY WILDE on additional vocal; BARB GALLOWAY on mandolin.
It took all of five seconds of, "BUSY BOOTIN' TOO MANY DRIVERS", for the rhythm section to get me moving, and once I started I never stopped. That, and some very fine vocals and guitar work by STU make this one a hit. This country blues number was certainly a good pick to be the opening track.
The hot tempo continues right into the next track, an original by LYNNANN called "GIVE ME SOMETHING FRIED". With the whole band in an very impressive groove behind her, LYNNANN wails on harp. The very cute and clever vocals, are magnificently sung by LILY. This one is one of this discs many highlights
"GOT MY EYE ON YOU", another LA Hyde original, slows things down a bit and everyone gets into a serious blues mood. Midway through this seven minute number, STU cuts loose with about a three minute guitar binge in which every last second of it is phenomenal. LYNNANS vocals and blues harp are equally raunchy and scorching. This one's all KINZEL & HYDE.
Without a doubt, the best harmonica playing on this disc, and possibly anywhere else, could be heard right here on "CAN'T LOSE WHAT YOU NEVER HAD". The more I listen, the more impressed I continue to get with this awesome harp player, LYNNANN HYDE. STU on vocals and GARY on drums are two very big assistants on this one.
"TOO MANY DRIVERS" once again features STU singing his heart out and tearing up the guitar, the rhythm section smokin' and LYNNANN blowing her brains out on harp. So what's new? Not a thing, this is pretty much what you get by this hard working band throughout "OKLAHOMA CREDIT CARD".
Do yourself a favor - and get your hands on a copy of "OKLAHOMA CREDIT CARD". You'll then be as thankful as I that you were one of the people that have had the pleasure of listening to KINZEL & HYDE.
You can visit Kinzel and Hyde on the web at: www.kinzelandhyde.com/
It ain't the bacon that's shakin' in Canada, it's the booties. Well, at least the ones that are listenin' to TROUBLE & STRIFE are. Man this band rocks. Once again, I find myself sitting here groovin' away as I write about another excellent blues band from Canada. I think it's actually safe to say that Canada may have more good bluesmen right now than it does hockey players. OUCH!
OK, as clever as it may be, I'll now put my wit away and tell ya all about this great disc... TROUBLE & STRIFE and this great band...TROUBLE & STRIFE.
TROUBLE & STRIFFE the band consists of: LARRY KURTZ on harmonica and lead vocals; BRUCE LEY on guitar, piano, organ and lead vocals; MICHAEL LEY on lead and slide electric and acoustic guitars and backup vocals; GREG SMITH on bass and backup vocals; MAUREEN BROWN, drums and back up vocals; and NORMA BAILEY on backup vocals.
TROUBLE & STRIFE the CD consists of eleven very well sung, well played, well performed and well produced songs, and of the eleven, ten are band originals. Allow me to now tell you about some of my personal favorites.
The opening track, "KEEP ON DRINKING", made one hell of a first impression on me and had me looking forward to more. The rhythm section is on fire with MAUREEN absolutely burning up the drums, the harp is sharp and the vocals and guitars are awesome. The groove the band was in on this one was extremely tight and it seemed that everyone was on the top of their game.
With a title like "NOTHING LEFT TO TAKE", ya gotta guess this track is nothin' but the blues, and you'd be very right. It's a good ole torch burner with excellent slow and soulful vocals, soft and sultry piano, and long and searing guitar licks. This one may be the cream of this crop. It's nearly eight minutes and every second is enjoyable.
"SLOW DOWN BABY" does exactly that. It's very soft and sassy with excellent vocal harmonizing. MICHAEL and his wonderful acoustic slide along with beautiful harp playing by LARRY highlight this one.
"HAVING HARD TIMES ON A BLUE PLANET" is another hot one. The tempos gone into high gear and the guys are rockin'. On this one, MAUREEN locks in on the drums with the harmonic background singers as the lead guitars and harmonica cut loose, and it sounds like all hell is breaking out. Ya gotta love this one.
The next track could have very easily been written by my wife. It sounds like something she tells me everyday. It's titled "I'M SO GLAD YOU'RE HOME" and the lyrics go like this.........."I'm so glad you're home, I'm so glad you're home, I was blue till I met you, I'm so glad you're home. With your pretty face and your warm embrace, I'm so glad your home". It's as wonderfully sung as it was written. The swing dancers will love this one.
This excellent disc comes to a close with a less than 90 second track very similar to a Cephas & Wiggins work. It's called "DEAD END BLUES". It's a slow acoustic number with great acoustic pickin' by MICHAEL, backed up by some superb harp by LARRY.
Our neighbors to the north are apparently doing a fine job of representing this genre. We are very pleased to add TROUBLE & STRIFE to the long list of very good Canadian Blues Bands we have reviewed here at www.Mary4Music.com.
You can visit Trouble & Strife on the web at: www.troubleandstrife.ca/
"MOHAWK VALLEY BLUES" is a compilation of recordings by member bands of the Mohawk Valley Blues Society located in Upstate New York. The disc contains fifteen excellent recordings by a dozen different bands featuring over 40 different musicians. Although I will not be able to say something about all the tracks, I always like to at least give the players the acknowledgement they deserve. Having said that, allow me to now make the introductions. In order of appearance, by band name and it's members:
BLUEPRINTS: GERORE DEVNEY, vocal and guitars; DON PAUL WAY, bass; DAVID LIDDY, piano and vocals; BRUCE TETLEY, guitar and vocals; STEVE EVANS, drums; LENNY MILANO, percussion.
TOM TOWNSLEY & THE BACKSLIDERS: TOM TOWNSLEY, harmonica; MORRIS TARBELL, guitar; CHAD TOMLINSON, drums; PAT DE SALVO, bass.
JOHN HUTSON: JOHN HUTSON, vocals; TOM TOWNSLEY, harmonica; MORRIS TARBELL, guitar; CHAD TOMLINSON, drums; PAT DE SALVO, bass.
CONRAD STORY BLUES BAND: PAPA TAS CRU, vocals, guitar and harmonica; CHIP LAMSON, keyboards; JONATHAN HUNKINS, drums; AMALIO PRATTI, bass.
MIDNITE MIKE AND THE BIG NOTES: MIDNITE MIKE, lead vocal and guitar; BILLY CARMAN, harmony vocals and bass; ROD KEISER, piano; DAVE PALACE, drums.
THE LOMEO BROTHERS: MATT LOMEO, harp and vocals; ADAM LOMEO, guitar; BRUCE CLIFFORD, bass; STEVE BUZINSKI, drums.
JIMMY WOLF: JIMMY WOLF, vocal and guitar; GENE BALLESTROS, bass; TODD MINERD, drums;
BERNIE CLARKE AND THE RHYTHM SHARKS: BERNIE CLARKE, harp and background vocals; SETH ROCHFORD, guitar and vocals; DAN TROIANO, bass; HYNIE WITTHOPF, drums.
AL NATHAN AND BLUESTREAK: AL NATHAN, vocal and keyboard; JOHN HUTSON, guitar, bass and background vocals; DARRYL MATTISON, drums.
NICK MERCURY AND THE METEORS: NICK MERCURY, bass and vocals; POPS MERCURY, harmonica and vocals; ROD BROADBENT, guitar; KEVIN HOFFMAN, drums.
JOHN SAVAGE: JOHN SAVAGE, acoustic guitar and vocals; GERORE DEVNEY, electric guitars; DAVE OLSON, drums; STEVE WARGO, bass; FRANK TALERICO, keyboards; DARRYL MATTISON, percussion
DON PAUL WAY: DON PAUL WAY, vocals and acoustic guitar; GERORE DEVNEY, dobro; DARRYL MATTISON, percussion; BOBBY HOLZ, drums; DAVE LIDDY, keyboards.
Now, let's talk about some blues - which "MOHAWK VALLEY BLUES" just happens to be full of. The following are just a few of the discs many highlights.
"GOOD TIMES COMING" is not only the name of the opening track, but it's basically telling you what's ahead for you as you listen to the next sixty-six minutes of this disc - good times. It's an original performed by BLUEPRINTS and features a lot of great guitar and piano work.
"TWICE TOO MUCH", an original by TOM TOWNSLEY & THE BACKSLIDERS, features some very impressive harp blowing by TOM. This is a very well performed and well written track. Being told that he's getting dumped by his lady for drinking too much, he admits that it's true and when it causes him to see double, it's twice too much of her.
"COUNT THE TEARS FROM MY EYES" is another very well written T. T. original. JOHN'S vocals are done with a lot of soul and MORRIS' guitar work is outstanding. I sense a lot of Duke Robillard influence on this track, in the playing and the singing. The nice slow pace and the very sad lyrics must make this one a hit with the slow dancers. This is one of the best on the disc.
"JUST A DREAM ON MY MIND" is another track that features some great harp playing - this time by MATT of the LOMEO BROTHERS. This one, with it's hint of funk will really get you moving. Some of the best rhythm on the disc can be heard right here, especially with some ass kicking bass by BRUCE.
Another impressive original track is "GOOD LUCK, BAD LUCK", performed by BERNIE CLARKE AND THE RHYTHM SHARKS. Apparently New York State is in good hands harmonica wise. This is yet another track with more excellent harp playing. This time the pleasure is provided by BERNIE. The vocals, the vocal harmony, SETH'S superb guitar and HYMIE'S top notch drumming all add up to another excellent track.
Although the lyrics sound nothing like it, musically, "SLEEPIN' WITH THE REAPER", by AL NATHAN AND BLUESTREAK, sounds a lot like my ultimate favorite song of all time -"Moondance", by Van Morrison. That, along with some great keyboard work by AL and an awesome rhythm section of JOHN on bass and DARRYL on drums make this another hot one.
"SQUARE LITTLE MAMA" absolutely rips. This a total all out jam by TOM TOWNSLEY & THE BACKSLIDERS. It's another T. T. original with, once again, pure ass kickin' harp and phenomenal rhythm work by CHAD and PAT. Lots of cute lyrics here as well - I especially loved that this so called square little mama thinks that 'Slim Harpo' is a diet plan.
"MOHAWK VALLEY BLUES" appropriately ends with a track called "THE END". It's the discs only acoustic track and it features great pickin' and singin' by DON PAUL WAY.
Judging by what I just heard, I'd have to say that the blues, in Upstate New York, seems to be in extremely talented hands. The area's certainly in a 'Blues State of Mind'.
You can visit the Mohawk Valley Blues Society on the Web at: www.mvbluessociety.com/
One definition of the word listen is 'Pay close attention to'. I disagree. Everyone knows that it's certainly possible, and too often quite prevalent, to 'hear', but pay absolutely no 'attention' at all. I think this is especially true with music. Haven't you ever gone to a club and seen a bunch of people 'listening' to the band, 'hearing' the music but paying zero 'attention'? Of course! From time to time, I've even been guilty of this myself. It happens, especially when you do what I do. After listening to so many different CD's, from so many different bands, with so many different styles, the gap between listening and paying attention can and does widen. Then, out of nowhere you'll hear a cd that will make you say "WHOA!" And, before you know it you're paying attention like you're in a room full of over the top drill sergeants. "HIGH WIRE WALKIN", by LARRY GRIFFITH is such a CD.
"HIGH WIRE WALKIN", is a perfect mix of funky, soulful and serious blues, all done with severe intensity. LARRY GRIFFITH roams somewhere between Bobby Blue Bland meets Luther Vandross and Little Milton meets Lou Rawls. Joining LARRY on this project, which he co produced; wrote eleven of the twelve tracks; sings all the Lead Vocals; plays the Drums and Rhythm Guitar and sings Background Vocals are: OLIVER WOOD, Lead Guitar and Background Vocals; MARK BENCUYA, Keyboards; TOMMY VICKERY, Bass and Background Vocals; MARCUS JAMES, Saxophone; JON LIEBMAN, Harp; HEAVEN DAVIS, Lead and Background Vocals; RUSTY HAYES and BIG JAMES KNOX on Background Vocals.
The opening track, "BETTER MAN", makes a great first impression. Behind some excellent background vocals and some very good lead guitar work by OLIVER, LARRY'S vocals highlight this track and leave you looking forward to hearing more of his wonderful singing style.
"YOU AIN'T WALKIN" finds the whole band in a soft, yet very funky groove. In spite of LARRY'S vocals which are a constant highlight, everyone in the band has some nice input on this one.
After listening to the next track more times than I could count. I actually called my wife into the room and told her that she had to listen to this song because it may very well be the best duet I have ever heard. "ONE OF US GOTS TO GO" is an absolute masterpiece. HEAVEN DAVIS & LARRY GRIFFITH are too good together for words to describe. This song needs to be heard to actually believe how good it is. I swear, I'm shaking my head in awe as I sit hear listening, again and again. There is more emotion, more soul and more intensity in this song than should be legally allowed. MARK'S phenomenal work on the Hammond Organ and OLIVER'S searing blues riffs on guitar help make this track not only the highlight of this disc but one of the best musical pieces these ears have heard in many a year.
"LUNATIC ON THE LINE" & "HEAD OVER HEALS" are two great harmonica tracks. The first is a hot number with several nice harmonica leads by JON, as well as some great rhythm from TOM on bass and LARRY on drums. The second features JON doing some very nice high end Jimmy Reed style of playing.
"THIS LOVE OF OURS", as well as several other tracks, is highlighted by very impressive harmonizing and background vocals. This is one of those 'stop what you're doin' and sing along while you snap your fingers' kinda songs. Lots of more good drums, organ and guitar by LARRY, MARK and OLIVER.
"RETHINKIN' MY THOUGHTS" is the last track on "HIGH WIRE WALKIN", and it's the only track that features the saxophone. Too bad, MARCUS does a masterful job on it and hearing more of him could have only made this amazing CD that much more amazing.
Quite frankly, until I had been asked to give this CD a listen, I had never heard of LARRY GRIFFITH. Now that I have, it is my hope that this writing will help others to discover the musical delight that I just have. Simply put - "Ya gotta get this disc".
If you like your blues to rock a bit, but without it going so far over the edge that it becomes rock, then the "STRATMASTER", PETE MITCHELL is your man and "CUTTING THE MUSTARD" belongs in your collection.
"CUTTING THE MUSTARD", being a total solo effort, certainly had me fooled - and impressed as well. You see, I am not a musician and as knowledgeable as I am about the blues, I am truly a music and technological idiot. Truthfully, when a band says "let's do this next song in the key of G", I'm already lost. On the other hand, I'd like to think I know the difference between a good rhythm section and "canned drums". That's why, prior to starting this review, I wrote to PETE MITCHELL asking for the names of the bass player and the drummer. Since I like to mention all the players on discs I review, this was needed information. Much to my surprise, and with most of you already getting my drift, it turned out that PETE plays all the guitars including bass, and wrote all the drum programs which indeed, were synthesized. Amazing!
"CUTTING THE MUSTARD" consist of ten tracks which are all PETE MITCHELL originals. And, as you would expect from someone who believes in the theory that "Most musicians play to survive, while I survive to play", they are all done with a high level of passion.
"ROCK 'N' ROLL" is a smoker that clearly shows a Chuck Berry influence. As is the case with most of the tracks, this one is all about the guitar.
"BEE MY HONEY" is one of those tracks that's arranged so well, it's one of the ones that found me wanting to compliment the non existing rhythm section.
Since PETE wrote an autobiography with the same title, there has to be more to "OUTSIDE LOOKING IN" than meets the ear. It's a song about eras in PETE'S early life which follow him through his musical career. As a young boy he makes references to "Elvis", then "Lennon", then "Jimi". I'm sure the book, which I eventually will read, goes into a lot more detail.
"PLAY MY GUITAR" is unfortunately the one and only real low down blues track, thus making it this listeners personal favorite. Three or four more of these would have been right up my alley.
To learn more about PETE MITCHELL and to purchase this CD and/or his book, check him out at www.stratmaster.co.uk