Good blues has been coming to us from "North of the Boarder" for a very long time now. However, these past 5-6 years you've got to hand it to our Canadian neighbors.....some of their recent exports may very well be the next batch of the genres legends. Could it be a coincidence that in those same last 5-6 years NORTHERNBLUES MUSIC was born? I think not!
With the likes of WATERMELON SLIM, JANIVA MAGNESS, MEM SHANNON, TONI LYNN WASHINGTON, OTIS TAYLOR, CHRIS BEARD, PAUL REDDICK, BRIAN BLAIN, and countless others - some Canadian, some not - in their stable, it's quite apparent that we can count on lots more blues to come to us from "North of the Border"
As a matter of fact, it's already happening. THE J W JONES BLUES BAND is the newest arrival from Canada as well as from NORTHERNBLUES MUSIC. At the very young age of 25, J W has already been invited to the stage to join in playing with THE FABULOUS THUNDERBIRDS, JUNIOR WATSON, LITTLE CHARLIE & THE NIGHTCATS, ROD PIAZZA & THE MIGHTY FLYERS, ANSON FUNDERBURGH & THE ROCKETS and the legendary HUBERT SUMLIN. Now if those names don't ring a bell, stop reading this article and get back under your rock.
From the looks of the band that the young Mr JONES assembled for this, his fourth disc, playing with the greats wore off on the him. With himself on Guitar, vocals and a little bit of Drums, J W JONES has NATHAN MORRIS on Electric and Upright Bass, ARTIE MAKRIS on Drums and GEOFF DAYE on Piano and Organ. Joining them are MANNIE MAKRIS on Acoustic Guitar and Background vocals and a slew of horn players known as "THE WIND-CHILL FACTOR HORNS", which consist of: BRIAN "JAMES" ASSELIN on Tenor Sax; FRANK SCANGA on Baritone Sax, Harmonica, Background Vocals and occasional B3 Drawbars; MICHAEL DALRYMPLE on Baritone Sax; BRADY LEAFLOOR on Alto Sax; PATRIC CAMIRE on Lead Trumpet; RICK RANGNO on Second Trumpet; and the legendary DAVID "FATHEAD" NEWMAN on Tenor Sax.
"KISSING IN 29 DAYS" is a enjoyable and well done mix of various styles of blues with eleven of it's fourteen tracks being J W originals.
The title track put a big smile on my face as it brought back fond memories of my teenage years during the early sixties. "KISSING IN 29 DAYS" was amazingly reminiscent of a big hit by FREDDY "BOOM BOOM" CANNON. It was a huge party song called "PALISADES PARK". Man, that song - just as this - was nothing but good old rock 'n' roll at it's best.
"HEY GIRL" keeps things going in the same direction. This song made me think of the great FATS DOMINO. Backed by the amazing horn section he's assembled, J W leads the way with great nostalgic sounding vocals and lots of that west coast flair on guitar. These first two opening tracks - pop-ish as they may be - are certainly two of this discs highlights.
"ALL MY MONEY" introduces us to some of the guitar work that has led this young man to be referred to as "One of this country's top blues guitar stars" by Canadian Periodicals and "The best young guitar player coming out of Canada" by Bluesman Otis Grand. I've got to agree.
Listening to "PARASOMNIA" too close to bedtime my actually cause insomnia. This instrumental will have you jumping hours after you hear it. This extremely fast paced track starts off in a hot jazzy jam then passes the lead to everyone in the band - at least once - while the drummer and upright bass maintain a constant and rapid rhythm. The production, arrangement and performance of this track will astound you.
"WAY TOO LATE" is one of those slow blues ballads that causes even people like me, who don't like dancing, to want to dance. GEOFF on the keyboards along with J W's vocals and guitar work highlight this outstanding track.
"HALLELUJAH, I LOVE HER SO" is all "FATHEAD". You'll want to keep hitting replay just to hear his two plus minute sax solo over and over again.
"KISSING IN 29 DAYS" closes in an interesting and somewhat bizarre way. After the last track there is a short period of silence and then a "Bonus Track", which features samples of all the tracks on the disc, comes on and just blows you away. Absolutely incredible.
One would tend to think that being the handsome man that he is, with the talent that he has and being only 25 years old, that J W JONES would - as the expression goes - have the world in the palms of his hands. However, as we all know, being 25 in the blues world could very well mean that it may take another 40 - 45 years to achieve the fame that this young man certainly deserves now. Let's hope not.
Visit The JW Jones Blues Band on the web at: www.jw-jones.com/
OK, so you're hangin' out in a club in Brooklyn, N. Y. and all of a sudden this tough lookin' Italian guy and three of his roughish lookin' "associates", of which two of them are carrying guitar cases, walk through the door. Wuddaya do?
A - Scream and run for the exit.
B - Get under the tables and hide.
C - Relax, because you're with someone named Gotti, Gallo, Gambino or Genovese.
D - Grab your babe and head to the dance floor.
Well, all of those answers could be right, but it this case I'm thinking "D", because it's more than likely that the EAST RIVER BLUES BAND has just arrived and the joint's about to come alive.
THE EAST RIVER BANDS nucleus consists of BILL ACOSTA on Bass, TOM BRUMLEY on Harmonica, DAN CUMBERLAND on Vocals and KEN HUGHES on Guitar. Additional Musicians used on "HIGH TIDE" are: TOWNER GALHER & DENNIS MCDERMOTT on Drums; GARY GEORGETTE on Drums & Organ; GARY TOPPER on Saxophones; BILL MOBLEY on Trumpet; CHARLEY GORDON on Trombone; DAVID BENNETT COHEN on Piano.
All kidding aside now, because of what I do here at Mary4Music.com, I've got to listen to a lot of music. To do this while maintaining the rest of my life's responsibilities, I have CD players everywhere, even in my garage. The very first time I listened to "HIGH TIDE" was while I was washing my car and man, the constant groove this band stayed in created such a nice working rhythm that I was done in no time at all.
"CLOSING TIME", one of the many band originals, was a real jumper that had me splishin' and splashin'. BILL & TOWNER really tune in to each other and lay down some serious rhythm behind some very good vocals - both lead and background. Great opening track and a super first impression.
On "LOVIN' GIRL", another original, the same rhythm section once again excels and I'm happily being led to believe that this is going to be the norm throughout this disc. This track, which has a bit of a country feel, also features great harmonic leads by TOM and some good acoustic pickin' by KEN on guitar.
"INDEPENDENT WOMAN", takes all of five notes to create some type of body movement. It's got a funky 'Nawlins beat that makes it impossible to stay still. DAN'S vocals once again highlight this track with lots of support from GARY, BILL & CHARLEY providing great horn work. Once again, another band original.
"BLUE MIDNIGHT" is the type of song that the title just might lead you to believe it would be. It's a slow, soft, sultry and very bluesy instrumental that's all about the harmonica. TOM is absolutely outstanding on this one. Aside from a short guitar solo about three minutes into the track, "BLUE MIDNIGHT" is basically a four and a half minute wonderfully done harmonica solo.
If percussion is your thing then you'll love "HASTA LA VISTA". Aside from a few harmonica interludes, this one is all TOWNER. His performance on many and varied percussion instruments is magnificent. Get your air bongos ready, you'll be tappin' them as you listen to him on this band original.
Another original track that's similar in style to "BLUE MIDNIGHT" is the eight minute "BLEEDING". In addition to the same great harmonica and guitar solos, GARY'S fine work on the organ and DAN'S very soulful vocals make this another of "HIGH TIDES" many highlights.
On your next visit to the five boroughs - and should that phrase need explaining, it means Manhattan / Bronx / Brooklyn / Queens / Staten Island - make sure you catch the EAST RIVER BLUES BAND. I'm betting you'll have a great night.
Visit the East River Blues Band on the web at: www.eastriverbluesband.com/
"DOGHOUSE DADDIES", is the name of this self titled disc by a bunch of Kansas City area bluesmen with about 140 years of experience between them. No, no, no, that doesn't mean they're all as old as Pinetop Perkins and Robert Lockwood Jr. They just happen to be four baby boomers who have all been playing the blues for about 35 years each.
The DOG HOUSE DADDIES are: BILL MORLAN, Upright Bass and Vocals; MARK ROLLINGS, Guitar and Vocals; A. W. HOWDY STEVENS, Harmonica; VAN DAVISON, Percussion.
"SOUNDS LIKE KC", one of the originals, is an impressive opening track. It's one of those tracks where no one particularly blows you away yet the tight little groove the bands in, combined with all of their timely solos, makes it a pleasure to listen to.
On any Rod Piazza track, done by any band, the harp player better be up to the task. HOWDY handles the duties very nicely on the Piazza penned "SOMEBODY" while MARK adds lots of guitar highlights.
The seven minute version of "EARLY IN THE MORNING" finds the band mellowed down easy. It's a soft, slow blues burner which features HOWDY and MARK taking turns at tearing it up. With the rhythm section locked in on a very subtle groove in the background, this track may very well feature the discs best harp and guitar playing.
Another original track just happens to be the name of the band, the name of the disc and the name of the song - "DOGHOUSE DADDY". This one totally rips. It's a fast paced number with BILL and VAN never letting up on rhythm while HOWDY and MARK lay down some blazing solos. BILL also does a great job on a song that was written for his voice. I could have easily handled this one, which may be the best track on the disc, being seven minutes long. I get the feeling that "DOGHOUSE DADDY" may very well be their ultimate crowd pleaser at the bands live shows.
"I'VE GOT NEWS FOR YOU" is another real good, slow, blues burner. It opens with BILL belting out some of his signature gritty and growling vocals before giving way to an absolutely phenomenal three minute guitar showcase.
JUNE will know a lot better than I on this, but I'm thinking that the reason the DADDIES may actually be in the DOGHOUSE is because they all went out and got "SLOPPY DRUNK". This Jimmy Rogers cover is another one of the best tracks on the disc and it takes the DHD'S home in real rockin' fashion. With BILL and VAN sounding like their having a race on bass and drums and HOWDY blowing his brains out on harp, this one is a real winner.
Be sure to stop by the dog house and visit the DOG HOUSE DADDIES at www.doghousedaddies.com, but a word of caution...........be careful where you step.
So you're a world class national touring Bluesman and you're about to embark on a tour of the Southeastern United States. In need of a second guitar player, who can sing his ass off, who ya' gonna call? Well if your name is SMOKEY WILSON, GREGG ALLMAN, BIG BILL MORGANFIELD or SPENCER DAVIS, you're most likely gonna call STEVE THORPE. And that's exactly who these blues greats call. When cats like that know you've got it, it's no wonder that the STEVE THORPE BLUES ORCHESTRA is one of the most sought after bands in the state of Florida.
"LIVE, DOWN AND DIRTY", could not have been more perfectly named. Recorded live at LOU'S BLUES & DIRTY HARRY'S, two hot venues with rockin' audiences, this disc contains twelve very low down and dirty blues tracks. STEVE THORPE would have it no other way.
The nucleus of the BLUES ORCHESTRA is the formidable foursome of STEVE THORPE on guitar, slide guitar and vocals; his son NATHAN THORPE on bass; KENNY CLARKE on piano, synthesizer, and organ; and TOM BAYES on drums. Additionally, appearing on two tracks are DENIS LAAK on drums; DAVID PASTORIUS on bass; J. J. MARTIN on sax; and ROY BRANHAM on harmonica.
Wasting absolutely no time, the BLUES ORCHESTRA goes from zero to kick ass as soon as the introduction is over. The disc opens with a fiery hot version of "DUST MY BROOM / BOOT HILL". The smoke from this seven minute sizzler may very well set off the detectors. STEVE'S slide guitar is second to none and the SRV fans in the audience will be delighted with the very reminiscent vocals. KENNY gets a great assist here with some truly flamboyant keyboarding.
NATHAN & TOM get in on some of the very hot action in very funky versions of "I JUST WANT ATINY BIT" & "NEVER MAKE A MOVE TOO SOON". Although there are some excellent vocals, and several nice piano and guitar accents throughout, the rhythm section takes charge on these two.
B. B. fans will be loving the "SWEET LITTLE ANGEL / HOW BLUE CAN YOU GET" medley. This is real, unadulterated, low down and dirty blues at it's very finest. The feeling STEVE puts into this one, added to a voice that was made to sing songs like this, make this one of the discs numerous highlights.
Having a penchant for turning songs into a jam, it's no surprise that STEVE'S version of "LITTLE WING" is nearly 10 minutes long. It's also no surprise that the song was done to perfection. KENNY'S synthesizer, J. J's sax and STEVE'S Hendrix like play all highlight this track.
THE BLUES ORCHESTRA'S version of "THEY CALL IT STORMY MONDAY" rocks. On this unique interpretation, the whole band is locked into a real tight groove and it's an all out jam done at triple the tempo of any version I've ever heard of this song.
Other tracks, magnificently done but not mentioned, include "THE THRILL IS GONE", "FLOWER GIRL" (original), "EVERDAY I HAVE THE BLUES", "KEY TO THE HIGHWAY", "YOUNG FASHION WAYS" and "HURRICANE GRAYS" (original).
"LIVE, DOWN AND DIRTY", containing nearly seventy five minutes of some of the best blues music you'll ever hear, is a disc the Blewzzman feels every blues lover will enjoy. Grab yourself a copy soon.
You can visit The Steve Thorpe Blues Orchestra on the web at: www.stevethorpeblues.com/