Being asked to offer my opinion on this project is an absolute honor. Having been a life long fan of the late, great MILTON CAMPBELL, it is with great pleasure and lots of respect that I write the following words.
It absolutely shocks me that I'm actually looking at what turned out to be LITTLE MILTONS last live concert. Watching this 70 minute performance, in a torrential downpour, MILTON looked and sounded as good as I ever remember him looking and sounding. These eyes and ears would have thought he'd be touring at least another ten more years.
Looking quite handsome in his green suit and sporting enough gold and diamonds to create his own sunshine on this quite dreary day in Maine, MILTON pleased a very loyal and very drenched crowd, in conditions that were not quite so pleasing.
The DVD starts off with an intro which is actually very well edited frames of MILTON'S final song of the set - "THE BLUES IS ALRIGHT". The camera also captures the huge and very wet crowd that apparently are oblivious to weather. Once live action starts LITTLE MILTON walks out and immediately gets the audience to join him in clapping their hands as he, and his audience, goes into a hip shaking version of "STILL SOME MEAT LEFT ON THE BONE". Rain? What rain?
After offering a very sincere and heartfelt thanks to the crowd, for enduring the elements on his behalf, MILTON went into a very slow and soulful 10 minute version of "JUST ONE MOMENT". DERWIN JOHNSON does an excellent job on the background organ as MILTON "story tells" the first part of the song.
The pace gets picked up again as MILTON gets back up on his feet for a hot version of "I DON'T BELIEVE IN GHOSTS". PAUL GOMEZ provides the guitar work on this one.
A LITTLE MILTON concert wouldn't be complete without a medley, so here it goes. MILTON performs several minutes of great guitar magic as he opens this 20 minute version of "CATCH YOU ON YOUR WAY DOWN", "ANNIE MAE'S CAFE", "WALKING THE BACK STREETS CRYING" and "A POSSUM IN MY TREE". As the medley ended, it appeared that MILTON had as much fun playing as the crowd had listening. This was classic LITTLE MILTON.
The band, with some nice rhythm from PETE MCDONALD on drums and RENA BEAVERS on bass, locks into a smooth ten minute groove on "I WOULDN'T TAKE NOTHING FOR YOUR LOVE". This one had the crowd dancing regardless of their feet being in ankle deep mud.
Some of the more serious down home blues was heard and felt on "MY DOG AND ME". MILT'S got a bad dose of the blues as he discovers not only his woman, but his dog left him as well.
It's now finale time for MILTON, and as it sadly turned out, this was his final finale. I'm sure MILTON would have it no other way than for it to be with him leading a raucous audience as they loudly and proudly testify that "THE BLUES IS ALRIGHT".
If you are - and I use the present tense versus the past tense because the music of LITTLE MILTON will never die - a fan of MILTON CAMPBELL, and not many weren't, then you should go to the website of Juke Joint Video - www.jukejointvideo.com/ and grab a copy of this DVD. The editing is superb, the camera work is excellent with lots of great close ups and the audio is quite good.
"MUSTANG SALLY", "STORMY MONDAY BLUES", "COLD SHOT", "WHIPPING POST", "MESSIN' WITH THE KID" and "HOOCHIE COOCHIE MAN" cannot be heard on THE CAZANOVAS' "BORROWED TIME". AMEN! Now I know it sounds like I just dissed several great blues songs that indeed have been written and performed by some great blues folk, however, there was absolutely no disrespect intended. Unquestionably, those songs are all classics. On the other hand, if I took all the discs I receive that you can hear most of them on, I could build a life size replica of a "RED HOUSE". Get my drift?
"BORROWED TIME", impressionably and refreshingly, contains ten very well written and very well performed originals, and the people responsible for this pleasurable project are: MAURICE NAZZARO on vocals and harmonica; DANNY VINSON on guitars and background vocals; JOHN WAYNE STRAW on Fender bass; and STEVE "DA WOLFMAN" HARDING on drums and background vocals. Joining the CAZANOVAS are special guests SEAN COSTELLO on several guitar solos, DAN SEIFERT on Hammond B3, JOHN and NICK LONGO on saxophones and DONNA HOPKINS and LOLA GULLY on background vocals.
My particular favorite track is "LONG TIME". MAURICE'S harmonica playing is absolutely profound. His style of play on this track, as well as his vocals, are quite reminiscent of one of my all time favorite singer/harp players - the late and very great William Clarke. This three and a half minute track could have pleasurably been three and a half minutes longer.
"GIVE IT ALL BACK" is, as the CAZANOVA'S describe their own style of play, "Butt-Rockin' Blues". I'm betting that "DA WOLFMAN'S" butt was surely rockin' and maybe even poppin' - off the stool that is. He absolutely tears up the drums on this one. Lots of rockin' guitar licks and some hot Hammond by DANNY and DAN add to the smoke.
"THE SHUFFLER" is groovy instrumental that's all guitar and organ. With a steady and soft rhythm background, the two DAN'S - DANNY VINSON on guitar and DAN SEIFERT on the Hammond organ - take tasteful turns taking the lead.
On "CRYING TIME" the CAZANOVAS start off in - and never leave - a real smooth, toe-tapping groove. The rhythm section of JOHN and STEVE set the real nice pace. Several very nice harp highlights and great vocals by MAURICE and an absolutely fabulous guitar solo by none other than SEAN COSTELLO make this one replay button material. Another of the discs bests.
The very Delbert McClinton sounding "TOO BAD SO SAD" features a bit of funk from the LONGO BROTHERS horn section. Unfortunately this is the only track they can be enjoyed on. This track also features some of DANNY'S best guitar work.
If you're a bass man, when you insert this disc into your player, go straight to track nine - "BYE BYE BABY". In spite of some great vocals and harp solos by MAURICE, JOHN steals this one.
"SUPERNOVA" is an absolute all out free for all instrumental jam. This one has the CAZANOVAS simultaneously and franticly peaking. What a way to end this disc. It's a super song on a super CD by a super group - THE CAZANOVAS.
If you're one of my readers who happens to reside in, or frequents the Atlanta area, stop in on a CAZANOVAS show and tell them that the Blewzzman told you "they rip". You can also check the guys out at www.cazanovas.com
Having played out of Austin, TX for many years, with the likes of Kim Wilson, W C Clark, and Stevie & Jimmy Vaughn, one might expect a different kind of sound from KENNY ACOSTA. However, it's very apparent that, although he can be diversified, he never strayed far from those Delta roots. On "SPANISH TOWN MARDI GRAS", it's quite evident where this Baton Rouge native is from.
Anyone who has ever had a bowl of gumbo knows that it's a perfect blend of many different ingredients. KENNY'S music is no different. This discs main ingredients are several very well done covers and several very well written originals spiced up with a hint of island fare, pinches of funk, dashes of blues, splashes of jazz, spoonfuls of soul and lots of good ol' Cajun hot stuff.
The people responsible for this very tasteful creation are KENNY ACOSTA on guitar and vocals, JOE EUNICE on bass, BRANDON COCKBURN on drums and JOE "BOY" MICELLI on percussion.
"SPANISH TOWN MARDI GRAS" opens with a very jazzy yet super soulful version of "BLACK DRAWERS". KENNY'S vocals, very reminiscent of a young Dr. John, and his very smooth, jazzy style of guitar, along with great effort from JOE on bass, clearly highlight this track.
The original title track, "SPANISH TOWN MARDI GRAS", picked me up from my desk and placed me in a seedy little cantina where I watched a scantily clad women, dancing to Flamenco music, attempt to seduce Ricardo Montalban. What a great song!
For the funk fans "RAJUN CAJUN" is all yours. This one is pretty much all about JOE MICELLI slapping the hell out of some congas, bongos and whatever else he can get those hot hands of his on. On the other hand, total blues freaks like me will just love "CALL THE PLUMBER". This is good old down home blues at it's best. KENNY'S vocals and blues guitar are the best they get on this one, another original.
Although he didn't write it, "LINDA LOU" is a perfectly written song for KENNY'S voice and singing style. He seems to really enjoy cutting loose on this one. This track, just shy of three minutes, could have pleasantly been twice the length. It seemed just as KENNY was peaking the track was ending.
"COCAINE BLUES" is another track which features KENNY'S smooth and soulful vocals and his great guitar playing. This is the kind of stuff you can listen to all day long and never tire of. JOE and BRANDON are both at their peak on this one as well.
Other great tracks on "SPANISH TOWN MARDI GRAS" are: "AIN'T HEARD JACK", "MOJO", "TIME BOMB" and "WOKE UP THIS MORNING".
KENNY ACOSTA AND THE HOUSE RECKERS are one of those bands that love being on the road. If you live anywhere in the South Eastern part of the United States, do as I recently did and catch his live act. You can view his schedule, and buy a few of his CD's at www.kennyacosta.com. While you're there, tell the BLUZMAN that the BLEWZZMAN sends his love.
If you use the terms "High Energy", "Rocking", "R&B" and "Funky" in front of the word "Blues", to describe the style of blues that gets you going, then you need to get hip to the D C RIDERS. They'll give you exactly what whets your appetite.
The band consists of DENNIS CALLANTA, who wrote all 8 of the original tracks on "GOOD AT BEIN' BAD", on guitar and vocals; VINCE CADENA JR on drums; and KAREN HOLTEMANN on bass. Additional musical contributors to this album are NICK MITROFANOFF on keyboards; RON PITCHFORD JR on bass; and DAVID BROCK on saxophone.
The title track, "GOOD AT BEIN' BAD", is an excellent, as well as fun, track. It's all about a cat whose not good at much of anything which essentially makes him good at being bad. The comical lyrics, the good vocals and the whole band being very tight surely makes this one of the disc highlights. The "Doo Wop" sounding background vocals are an additional treat.
The very funky sounding "NASTY HABITS" (Tommy Castro), is only one two covers on the disc. With Tommy listed as one of the bands influences, and the perfect job they do of it, it seemed like a logical pick. Of course, along with more good vocals and lots of great lead guitar, the bass playing clearly highlight this one.
"BE IT AS IT MAY" is by far the bluesiest track on the disc, obviously making it one the Blewzzman's personal favorites. The song is phenomenal! This very smoothly done, soft and slow ballad makes you just want to get up and start slow dancing around the room. The blues guitar riffs, as mellow as they are, are outstanding, as well as are the constant, yet varying sounds of the organ. Anyone familiar with my past reviews is probably wondering how many times I hit the replay button on this one.
Now that I've got you up and dancing - stay there - you'll never be able to sit still listening to "SOMETHING WICKED". Although this one's short, it's fast and funky. It's a basic all out jam featuring a smoking rhythm section.
"WATCHIN' ALL THE GIRLS GO BY", was probably placed last on the disc in order to make you play it again. This hard rockin' track should have you in a total frenzy by the time it ends. Y' know you can't stop now.
Other tracks appearing on "GOOD AT BEIN' BAD" are "LIKE A CAT", "LITTLE BY LITTLE", "GOT TO BREAK AWAY", "RIDE OR PALY THE BLUES" and "STICKS AND STONES". When you read this review, let the D C RIDERS know about it. You can do that by going to www.dcridersband.com and telling them the Blewzzman sent ya'.