REVEREND RAVEN AND HIS CHAIN SMOKING ALTAR BOYS..... how can you not like a band called that? I don't know about you, but if I'm cruising the blues bins at the local record mart, this ones going in my cart on the name alone. C'mon, how can you go wrong? Anyone creative and daring enough to call his band REVEREND RAVEN AND HIS CHAIN SMOKING ALTAR BOYS has gotta have some talent.....and man this band does.
REVEREND RAVEN, author of most of the discs songs, leads the band on vocals and guitar, and the CSAB's are P. T. PEDERSON on bass, SPENCER PODASH on drums and BENNY RICKUN on harmonica.
"BIG BEE" opens with "MY LIFE", one of the discs many originals. It's a quick little number that gives you a taste of what's to come - lot's of great guitar and harmonica work backed up by some very tight rhythm with lots of well done vocals.
"SOMEDAY WHEN I'M DEAD AND GONE" is a sizzling jam with everyone at their peak. It's unquestionably one of the discs hottest tracks. Grooves this tight are what separates the professionals from the amateurs. This is the kind of stuff, that at live shows, causes everyone in the audience to look like a bunch of bobble heads and shuts up those obnoxious talkers by commanding even their attention. Man, It just doesn't get much better than this (said as the replay button's getting hit).
If hard blowing harp blues gets your blues boat floating, you're going to love "YOU AIN'T NO FRIEND OF MINE". By the end of this track, BENNY RICKUN is going to be a very good friend of yours. Aside from some great vocals by the REVEREND, this one's all about BENNY and his blowin'. Another of the discs continuous list of highlights.
"TWO TIMES FINE" is an all out rhythm race. As rapid as it is, SPENCER & P. T. are keeping perfect time. As one speeds it up, the other automatically keeps pace in this obvious dead heat. If you're a toe and finger tapper, loosen up before this track - it's gonna be like aerobics.
The pace may mellow a bit, but the groove is still constant on "HERE COMES MY BABY". This one finds REV and CSAB'S feelin' a bit funky - and that's a good thing. With redundancy at risk, once again, everyone's on their mark with REV'S vocals and guitar licks leading the way.
"BENNY'S BOUNCE". With a name like this, and being written by the harp player - BENNY RICKUN, need I say more? Of course not - you already know this one is three minutes of all out, no holds barred, wailing, harp playing - at it's best.
Other tracks on "BIG BEE", which equally wonderful things can be said about are: "BIG BEE", "ONCE THE WOMEN START TALKIN", "I DON'T WANT TO KNOW", "DON'T GET ON THE WRONG SIDE OF MY BABY", "BAD LITTLE GIRLS", "I WANNA LOVE YOU" and "SHE'S MOVIN ON".
Check out REVEREND RAVEN AND HIS CHAIN SMOKING ALTER BOYS @ www.reverendraven.com and tell them Blewzzman's sending them some new parishioners. While your there, drop some money in the collection box and get yourself a copy of "BIG BEE".
Having just read the liner notes inside the CD jacket, I'm happy to say that I'm glad THE TWISTERS made the decision they did. Had they not, none of this would be happening. Having lost their best friend and band mate, JAMES TAYLOR, in an automobile accident - which also injured the rest of the band - THE TWISTERS went through a rough period in which they felt they could not go on. Realizing that JAMES would not want it that way, they regrouped - physically and mentally - and in the memory of their late band mate, released their very appropriately titled and very well done disc - "AFTER THE STORM".
THE TWISTERS are: DAVE HOERL on harmonica and vocals, BRANDON ISAAK on guitar, dobro, banjo and vocals, MATT PEASE on drums, and KEITH PICOT on bass fiddle. Joining them on "AFTER THE STORM" is special guest KENNY "BLUES BOSS" WAYNE on piano. Other than "BYE BYE BIRD", by Sonny Boy Williamson & Willie Dixon - which is dedicated to JAMES, "AFTER THE STORM" is all original music. Now, let me tell ya 'bout some of this good stuff.
It took me about three minutes into the opening track - "I'M YOUR MAN" - to be happy with THE TWISTERS decision to keep on truckin'. Right around then I was already impressed with the beautiful groove that MATT and KEITH had them in and the smoothness of DAVE - both on vocals and harp. Then, right towards the end of the song, BRANDON added just the right guitar riffs and I knew I had lots of good listening ahead.
Turn up the volume and get ready to rock when "THICK & THIN" starts to spin. This one's an all out free for all with everyone on top of their game. Seeing this one live, would alone be worth the price of admission. KENNY'S furious on piano, the rhythm guys are bordering on frantic and when DAVE'S not singing his heart out he's blowin' it out on the harp. At the end of this track, if you told me you hadn't hit replay, I'm callin' you a liar.
One of the tracks titles should pretty much say it all. I mean do I really have to even comment on a song called "HARP PLAYER"? Of course not........but I will anyway. Believe it or not, the lyrics are actually this tracks highlights. You'll just have to give a listen to hear what I mean.
If you're like me and think that the stand up bass should be mandatory in all bands, you'll absolutely love "GOING, GOIN', GONE". Some of KEITH'S best work can be heard right here. Being in the hot seat on this disc obviously brought out the best in this very talented player. I'm sure JAMES is listening along with me right now, and as he's hearing this track, he's just got to be pleased with his bands new member.
Prepare to travel back in time as you listen to "WHERE'S THE WOMAN". Depending on your age, this beautiful ballad may take you back 10, 20, 30, or in my case $%&@# years. Let's just say I'm sure you'll be thinking about American Bandstand or slow dancing at your high school prom. This is an absolutely beautiful song that's beautifully sung.
Other outstanding songs on "AFTER THE STORM" are: "WHEN YOUR MEMORY GOES AWAY", "SHE'S KRAZY", "SECOND WIND", "HONEST TO GOODNESS", "BUTTON UP", "NOBODY" and "BYE BYE BIRD".
Over the years, I have always felt that not only has the blues been my passion but it's been my therapy as well. Those of you who know me know that those exact words appear at the bottom of every one of my emails. After listening to "AFTER THE STORM", I'm convinced the blues is already being good therapy for THE TWISTERS
Stop by and visit THE TWISTERS at www.twisters.ca. While you're there, give them your best wishes and even give them some money for one of these great CD's. You've got my word, the Blewzzman says you'll like it.
Naming his newest release "SIDE STREET BOOGIE", is TOMMY KEYS' way of paying tribute to all of the so called "off the beaten path" nightclubs, juke joints, barrelhouses and theaters. The ones you find down the side streets and alleyways of the inner city. There, is where TOMMY feels art and music are at their raw best.
Interestingly enough, I was able to relate to TOMMY'S thoughts on that matter as I listened to the boogie woogie music on the opening track. I was immediately reminded of a day, many years ago, when I was exploring the side streets in New Orleans. It was down one of those alleyways where I discovered an obscure "hole in the wall" where the Legendary "Al Broussard" was working his magic on no more than a hand full of very happy listeners. That afternoon turned out to be one of the highlights of my trip, and recalling it makes me understand exactly how TOMMY feels.
On "SIDE STREET BOOGIE", TOMMY KEYS plays the piano, harmonica, bass, drums and percussion, and he sings all the songs, of which half of them are TOMMY KEYS originals. Damn Tommy, make a guy envious - why dontcha? On three tracks he's joined by KEN "THE ROCKET" KORB on harmonica, AL HENNEBORN on drums, MIRANDA GATEWOOD on bass, and MIKE DE LUCA on pedal steel.
On "RUM BOOGIE WOOGIE", you can forget about all those other things TOMMY'S playin' - this one's all about him and his piano. If large doses of robust barrelhouse blues get you moving, then clear the dance floor 'cause here you come. On this track, TOMMY'S puttin' out some of his best stuff.....vocally and instrumentally.
TOMMY'S expertise on the harp has "SINGING THE BLUES" sounding like some good ole Chicago Blues. One of TOMMY'S inspirations - Pinetop Perkins - is clearly in his thoughts on this one. This is the one and only track that features AL HENNEBORN and MIRANDA GATEWOOD, and they provide an excellent groove on rhythm.
"LAZY DAY BLUES", and "BLUE MOON RIVER" are two tracks that are pure listening pleasure. The first one being an instrumental which just kinda pushes you back in your chair, makes you close your eyes and before you know it, you're seeing TOMMY'S hands softly and precisely pressing every key. The second one has a very similar effect with the extra added pleasure of hearing TOMMY'S exceptional voice perfectly sing this song.
A disc of this nature just couldn't have been produced without including "WHEN THE SAINT'S COME MARCHING IN". You can actually hear the fun you know TOMMY's having playing this one.
Another very well done ballad is "A SONG FOR YOU" which once again features TOMMY'S amazing voice. Adding to this one's highlights are the wonderful sound that MIKE DE LUCA produces on the pedal steel. Hearing more of MIKE could make me a fan of an instrument I've never quite been all that fond of. This is good stuff.
Other tracks on "SIDE STREET BOOGIE" include "HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE", "OH MARIE", "BOOGIE MAN", "ALL MY LIFE", "FOUR UNTIL LATE" and "EARLY IN THE MORNING".
New Yorkers and Long Islanders - or as those of us from there may say, "Nu Yawkers and Lawng Eyelanders" - are more likely to see TOMMY than the rest of the world, but you can all check him out at www.tommykeys.com. While you're there, make yourself happy and pick up a copy of "SIDE STREET BOOGIE". Make me happy as well by telling TOMMY that Pete the Blewzzman - from Hicksville L.I. sent ya.
If you've ever been to Memphis, you surely would know about BILLY GIBSON and CHARLIE WOOD. If not, that would mean you've never cruised Beale Street and never stopped in the RUM BOOGIE CAFE or one of the streets' many other juke joints - and if you didn't do those two things, what in hell did you go to Memphis for?
BILLY GIBSON and CHARLIE WOOD, in addition to being long time and well know Memphis musicians, are part of a family of house bands playing Beale Street clubs, particularly - THE RUM BOOGIE CAFE. I say that because at any given time, BILLY'S band may have the gig and CHARLIE will join them.....CHARLIE'S band may have the gig and BILLY may join them......or one of the other bands of the family (The Daddy Mack Blues Band, The Eric Hughes Band or some other kin - so to speak) may have the gig and either BILLY or CHARLIE, or sometimes both, will join them. It's like going to a family reunion and never knowing which family members will be there.
This Memphis comradeship is remarkable and it all has a lot to do with DADDY-O-RECORDS. The following is a bit about their two new releases and a bit about their operation.
THE BILLY GIBSON BAND'S "LIVE AT THE RUM BOOGIE CAFE" consists of eight of BILLY'S crowd pleasing tracks - including two originals. Joining BILLY, on harmonica and vocals, are: DAVID BOWEN on guitar and background vocals; JAMES JACKSON on bass; and CEDRIC KEEL on drums and background vocals.
One of BILLY'S originals, "WHAT IS LOVE", opens the show in typical frantic and flaring BILLY GIBSON style. What that means is that if this were a movie, it might be accompanied by a "not for the faint of heart" warning or if this was a ride at an amusement park it might have a "not for children" notice posted nearby. Those of you that know BILLY are right now shaking your heads in agreement and those of you who don't.......well, just get to know him - you'll be happy you did.
After that, it's pretty much forty more minutes of BILLY doing his thing, which usually consists of incredibly good and incredibly long harp solos. I've never seen anything or anyone like him. He blows his brains out until he's just short of turning purple, let's the talented band take over till he catches his next wind, sings a few bars, then goes back to blowing his brains out again.
Other tracks include "LOVE EVERYBODY", "PRETTY THING", "HOME AT LAST" (A.K.A. "COUNTRY GIRL"), "DARLING PLEASE COME HOME", "BAD BOY", "EARLY IN THE MORNING" and "POLK SALAD ANNIE".
With the abundance of magnificent harp players in today's blues scene, saying any one is the best is impossible. However, I will tell you this. BILLY GIBSON is one of the most energetic and charismatic players I've ever seen. He's the Mick Jagger of harp playing bluesmen.
CHARLIE WOOD AND THE "NEW MEMPHIS UNDERGROUND", which include: CHARLIE WOOD on vocals, keyboards, bass and drums; JOE RESTIVO on guitar; KIRL SMOTHERS on saxophone, MARK FRANKLIN on trumpet; BILLY GIBSON on harmonica; and TAMARA JONES on backup vocals is being referred to as "Stax Meets Beale Street".
The disc contains fourteen tracks, of which ten are CHARLIE WOOD originals, that take the remarkable and unmistakable sound of Stax Records accompanied by witty lyrics, superior arrangements and a dash of contemporary Beale Street. Amongst the discs many highlights are the range and soulful sound of CHARLIE'S vocals, his superior songwriting and his mastery of the Hammond B3 organ.
One particular song, of many, that will attest to the above is "YOU DON'T REALLY WANT TO KNOW". On this ballad CHARLIE sings his heart out on topical subjects such as there always being enough money for bullets and bombs but never enough for some nurses, teachers or moms. On this one, not only will the lyrics blow you away, the organ solo will as well.
Other tracks include "LET IT RIP", "BRAND NEW FEELIN", "I JUST WANT YOU CAUSE I WANT YOU", "TOO MUCH IS NOT ENOUGH", "KEEP IT COMIN", "PLEASE SEND SOMEONE TO LOVE", "DON'T LET THE MONEY GET FUNNY, HONEY", "I ALMOST FORGOT ABOUT THE BLUES", "COME ON IF YOU'RE COMIN", DROWN IN MY OWN TEARS", "COFFEE IS FOR ME", "BOOT-LEG" and "CITY HOME"
In addition to being the maestro that he is, CHARLIE WOOD is also the owner of DADDY-O-RECORDS. He and his right hand man, KEITH SOLTYS, have developed a project that should be very interesting to other self-produced musicians. It involves a distribution, promotion and media relations program that I myself, just being an avid fan and not having anything to do with the business aspect of a recording artist, don't quite know how to explain. On the other hand, I'm sure CHARLIE and KEITH will be more than happy to do that. Check them out at www.daddyorecords.com or email Keith at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell them Pete the Blewzzman told you they were good people.