Good things sometimes happen in strange ways. Take what's happened to DELTA MOON for example. Since their inception, the band has always been fronted by a female lead. When Gina Leigh left, thinking something was broke, the band fixed it by bringing on Kristin Markiton. Now that she's gone as well, it looks as if the band's discovered that these departures were somewhat of a breakthrough. After two divorces of sorts, TOM GRAY and MARK JOHNSON have come to discover "addition by subtraction" and from the looks.....and certainly from the sounds of things....."CLEAR BLUE FLAME" makes it very clear that nothing's broke. And, as the saying goes....."If it ain't broke, don't fix it".
"CLEAR BLUE FLAME", DELTA MOONS fifth release and first as an "all male revue", is clearly - from what this listener's ears heard - their best effort to date. On this project, DELTA MOON founders TOM GRAY on vocals, guitar, steel guitar, organ and dulcimer and MARK JOHNSON on guitar and mandoguitar are joined by TED PECCHIO on bass, TYLER GREENWELL on drums and percussion, CHRIS LONG on backup vocals and bass, ZEB BOWLES on fiddle, and JEFF BAKOS on tambourine. The eleven well written and perfectly performed tracks are all originals.
The opening and title track, "CLEAR BLUE FLAME", quickly solidifies the bands confidence in the direction they've chosen to go - capitalizing on: arguably being the best damn guitar team to ever work together; their extremely talented song writing: their captivating performance persona. And on "CLEAR BLUE FLAME", that's exactly what you get. Gritty and gutsy vocals by TOM, great, user friendly lyrics that are fun to sing along with and phenomenal guitar work from TOM and MARK.
"BLIND SPOT" is somewhat of an eerie song reminiscent to something you'd expect to hear from the master of such songs -Dr. John. It's bad enough that we all seem to have that so called "blind spot", but the devil just happens to be living in this one. The track is highlighted by some of the discs best rhythm and percussion by TED and TYLER.
Cyndi Lauper had a hit with his song, and now, twenty-five years later, TOM may have a one with "MONEY CHANGES EVERYTHING" as well. This is one of those anti-genre songs that should go over well with many musical tastes. Everything about this track - by far the discs best - is a highlight.....TOM'S vocals.... TYLER'S drum work....ZEB'S fiddle....the backup vocals......etc. I believe I may have hit the replay button on the media player as many times as I did the letters on the keypad while listening to this monster track.
Some of the discs best lead guitar work can be heard on the all too short "COOL YOUR JETS". This is one of those three and a half minute tracks that you end up wishing was 10 minutes longer......at the very least!
Other equally impressive tracks on "CLEAR BLUE FLAME" are "TROUBLE IN THE HOME", "JESSIE MAE", LIFE'S A SONG", "STRANGER IN MY HOMETOWN", "LAP DOG", "I'M A WITNESS" and "YOU'VE DONE TOLD EVERYBODY". What I found to be interesting about more than less of them is that although the band was quite often in a jam mode, the songs had catchy sing along chorus lines. I liked that a lot.
Being someone who has seen DELTA MOON perform with both of it's excellent female leads, and with all due respect to both Gina and Kristin, I think the band may be onto something with this new direction their headed in.
To purchase this, as well as all their CD's, check out TOM and MARK at www.deltamoon.com. Make sure you tell them you heard the good newzz 'bout them from the Blewzzman.
Lead Guitar, Bass and Drums - it just doesn't get any more basic than that -there you have your fundamental three piece blues band. However, when that three piece blues band is the BLUEHOUSE BAND, the words basic and fundamental seem to take on whole new meanings.
The BLUEHOUSE BAND consists of ROBBIE ALTAR on Lead Guitar and Vocals, RICHIE GOLDMAN on Bass Guitar, Bass Fiddle and Vocals and BOBBY "BBG" GOLDMAN on Drums and Spoons. Special guests on individual tracks of "WHO'S IN THE HOUSE?" are: HOLLY DOHERTY on Vocals, BRYAN BASSETT on Slide Guitar, MICHAEL MARCIANO on Harp and the MOUNT BETHEL MUSIC MINISTRY CHOIR.
Local three piece bands, especially those who's members all have successful day jobs - as ALTAR, RICHIE and BBG do - are usually content with playing covers from the slew of artists available. Not these guys. On "WHO'S IN THE HOUSE?", their debut release, all thirteen tracks, except for the 40 seconds of "Over the Rainbow" used as the intro on "BLUESMAN TIM", are band originals.
"WHO'S IN THE HOUSE?" opens with a dynamite track appropriately titled "DYNOMITE". It's a total all out, no holds barred jam, in which the guys waste no time letting you know they can kick some musical ass. It's pretty much what you should expect to hear lots more of on the next dozen tracks - and that's a good thing.
BLUEHOUSE gets into more of a traditional mode on "MAYBE SOMEDAY". With RICHIE and BBG locked into a smooth groove on bass and drums, ALTAR (as he likes to be called) cuts it loose with lots of sharp blues guitar highlights and excellent vocal work.
To say that "BANG, BANG, BANG" totally rips is extremely understating it. This one's like "Helter Skelter" taking a ride in a "Hot Rod Lincoln". It features some of the best, and certainly the most furious rhythm on the track, it's got MICHAEL blowing some ferocious wind into the harp and ALTAR at his discs best on vocals. WARNING: Listening to this track while driving may result in speeding citations - do so at your own risk!
The title says it all on "JUMPIN", and unless you're in a coma, that's exactly what this track will have you doin'. No further explanation necessary for this one.
If you've ever traveled Highway I-95, there's absolutely no doubt in my mind that you've been in some type of horrific situation that made you think "There's got to be a blues song in here somewhere". Well, BLUEHOUSE wrote it - "I-95" - and the lyrics could not have been more perfect.
Some of the discs best harmony can be heard on "GIMME THE NEWS", which features HOLLY DOHERTY on vocals and backup vocals. Unfortunately, the song is short and it's HOLLY'S only appearance. However, if she impresses you as much as she did me, you'll hit replay at least 4-5 times. HOLLY'S, sharp, strong and sure vocals highlight this one.
Having known the person that the next song is dedicated to - "BLUESMAN TIM" - makes it a bit special. Before moving on to that Big Blues Club in the sky, TIM pretty much never missed a live BLUEHOUSE show . And, if ALTAR, RICHIE and BBG have anything to say about it, he never will. The guys wrote this song in his memory and play it at every gig making sure, that even if it's in spirit only, TIM will always be at their shows. This hot Gospel Blues track is highlighted by ALTAR'S vocals and guitar, the back up vocals of the MOUNT BETHEL MUSIC MINISTRY CHOIR and smokin' rhythm that I'm sure will have you throwin' your hands in the air for TIM.
Over the last few years I have had the pleasure of being at many of this bands live performances. From experience, let me tell you that the BLUEHOUSE BAND is a powerhouse trio that will rock your house.
Stop by www.bluehouseband.com and tell the guys that their friend the Blewzzman sent you. Of course, while your there, I'd recommend you add a copy of "WHO'S IN THE HOUSE?" to your CD collection.
CHARLES "BIG DADDY" STALLINGS is one heck of an interesting musician. Although there's no questioning his musical talent, nor his ability to sing and play the blues, his eccentric style seems to create a genre of it's own. I discovered this charismatic character back in 2005, when he blew me away with his first release, "ONE NIGHT LOVER". Now he's back, doing the same non-concentric work on fifteen songs with equally as many different styles.
Once again, CHARLES is surrounded by quite an entourage of talent on "BLUES EVOLUTION". On guitar and vocals, and having written, produced and arranged all the tracks, CHARLES "BIG DADDY" STALLINGS is joined by: BILL PRATT on drums, keyboards, organ, strings and background vocals; TOMMY GUN & RON JENKINS on drums; GLENN WORKMAN on piano and organ; RONALD BLAND on bass and guitar solo; GAIL PARRISH on bass; JOE "E FLAT" THOMAS on sax; KELVIN ONEAL on trumpet and background vocals; MARK WENNER, RICH SAMPSON & STEVE LEVINE on harp; STERLING PETTERSON on guitar solo; JOE THOMAS, ALEYSHIA STALLINGS & QUESSE STALLINGS on background vocals; DEBORAH BROWN & MILVIA BRUNEL as the "female voices". Gee, that's about as many people as you'll see at Camden Yards for an Orioles home game.
"BLUES EVOLUTION", as eluded to earlier, contains fifteen original tracks that range from full blown horn blowin' boogie to good ol' harp blowin' down home blues, from the sounds of Soul Train to the sounds of futuristic funk, from disco dance songs to cowboy dance songs and from instrumental concertos to booty slappin' rap. You think I'm kiddin? Come along and listen..........
After a short intro, the blues party kicks off with "LET'S BOOGIE". This is a smokin', four and a half minute instrumental that eventually gets around to featuring each and every instrument in the band. And as you'd expect, everyone's peaking. An absolutely perfect way to start things off.
"GOING DOWN SOUTH" also goes down a few decibels......quite a few. It's a bluesy track which features some sharp harp work by MARK WENNER and great rhythm by GAIL & RON. The lyrics on this one, aside from being very well sung, are totally bizarre....I'm not even going to attempt to explain them.
"HARD TIMES / GOOD TIMES" is pretty much the best down home blues track on the disc. Once again, along with some smooth piano by GLENN, MARK'S harp is the highlight on this one.
All of us who have been working hard at keeping the blues alive will be happy to know that it's survived to the year "2999". The very clever lyrics on this one are about some very disappointed Martians who greet a bunch of earthlings arriving on their planet - but they didn't bring any blues music with them. It seems these Martians are blues fans and were hoping to hear Jimmy Reed, B B King and others. Great song!
"CHA CHA 3000" is an outstanding instrumental. The contrast, or dare I say the clashing of instruments on this track is amazing. At times, the piano and organ playing of GLENN and BILL make you think you're listening to the soundtrack of a 1940's Oscar winning movie, then the harp of STEVE LEVINE blatantly takes over and completely changes the sound, but yet things remain constant. This all happens while the rhythm section of GAIL and RON make you feel like you're watching Ricky Ricardo at the Copa Cabana. If none of that made sense to you, you need to hear this track.
Some of CHARLES' best vocals and guitar work can be heard on "STRANGE THINGS". This one is good ol' straight up, in your face, it don't get any better than this, Chicago Blues.
Other tracks, which you'll no doubt enjoy but I just don't have the space to cover are: "BLUES TRAIN EXPRESS", "BLUES LINE DANCE", "BLUES COWBOY", "HOBBSVILLE # 2", "BOOTY SLAPPIN", "HAND DANCIN", "HOLA SENIORITA" and "THANK-YOU BOOGIE".
If you've yet to discover CHARLES "BIG DADDY" STALLINGS, it's time you have. This cat is a little bizarre, a little humorous, a little delirious, a little facetious, a little farcical, but when you get right down to it, CHARLES "BIG DADDY" STALLINGS is a lot entertaining.
Check him out at www.bigdaddystallings.com. While you're there, tell him you heard the Blewzzman talkin' 'bout him and grab yourself a few CD's as well.
Although this is his first release for Rockin' Camel Music, "NO EASY WAY OUT" by DANNY BROOKS, is the third disc of his to be reviewed here at Mary4Music.com. Congratulations Danny, on being the first musician to "three-peat" with us.
As usual, when DANNY goes to work recording, he likes to bring his friends - lots of them. While employing nearly as many people as a General Motors Plant on each of his discs, he simultaneously creates havoc for writers like myself - those of us who feel that if a person was responsible for any kind of noise coming off the disc, they should be credited for that noise. Having said that, let me now introduce you to DANNY'S musical assembly line. Joining DANNY, who sings all of the vocals, plays acoustic guitar, slide dobro, harp, and who wrote most of the discs tracks are: BILL STEWART & ROGER HAWKINS on drums; DAVID HOOD on bass; KELVIN HOLLY on electric, acoustic, baritone and lap steel guitars and electric sitar; KEVIN MCKENDREE & SPOONER OLDHAM on piano and Hammond B3 organ; N. C. THURMAN on piano; CHARLES ROSE on trombone; HARVEY THOMPSON on tenor and baritone sax; VINCE CIELESKI & KEN WATERS on trumpet; JAMES PENNEBAKER on acoustic and steel guitar; JOHNNIE SANDLIN on trombone, percussion, tambourine, and hand claps; SCOTT BOYER on electric guitar and background vocals; BONNIE BRAMLETT, CARLA RUSSELL, TINA SWINDELL & JAY WILSON on background vocals; ANN SANDLIN & JEFF COPPAGE on hand claps.
"AIN'T THAT THE TRUTH" is DANNY'S response to his own statement of "it just don't get much better than that". These are a few of the phrases DANNY uses as he testifies about several influential blues concerts he's attended, the first being at the age of fifteen. It seems that bearing witness to Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Taj Mahal, Jessie Edward Davis, Ry Cooder, the Five Blind Boys of Alabama and Susan Tedeschi was an awakening of sorts for young DANNY - apparently, his blues torch was lit. "Ain't that the truth" could very well be my response to this being the runaway track on the disc. On top of DANNY tearing it up on the vocals, this one's also highlighted by his harp, the smokin' horn section and KEVIN rippin' away on the piano. "Song of the Year" are words that should be used in conjunction with this track title.
"NO EASY WAY OUT" is another of DANNY'S tracks - and I'm sure there will be others - that, once again, "Ain't that the truth" can be said to. As DANNY points out with these very truthful lyrics. "there are many easy ways down, but there are no easy ways out". Amen! The outstanding and realistic vocals are so perfectly sung by DANNY and BONNIE with great support from CARLA and SCOTT. Great rhythm's provided by BILL and DAVID on this one.
Fans of Gospel, Soul, Country and Blues are all going to notice their genre represented on "KEYS TO MY HEART". This soulful ballad is - as all tracks are - highlighted by more amazing vocals by DANNY and smooth steel guitar by JAMES.
"MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE" is a smoker that has CHARLES, HARVEY and VINNIE in full throttle on their horns, the rhythm section doing double time, and rest of the band in an all out jam. Everyone's working it out on this hot one.
Other tracks on "NO EASY WAY OUT" are: "ALL GOD'S CHILDREN", "BAMA BOUND", "MIRACLES FOR BREAKFAST", "LONESOME ROAD", "WHERE SINNERS AND SAINTS COLLIDE", "I BELIEVE IN LOVE" and "CARRY ME JESUS".
In a recent correspondence from Danny complimenting me on a review of mine that he had just read, he states that "If I ever run for an office, I'll be calling you to write my speeches". To that I say "DANNY, if you are even remotely the kind of person your music suggests you are - and I believe you are, the world would be a better place with a person like you in office. Keep up the good work my friend.
Check DANNY BROOKS out at www.dannybrooksmusic.com. While you're there, tell him Pete the Blewzzman sent ya and I recommended you buy all three of his last releases.
This project has had me excited from the very first minute I was asked to be involved with it. Working with MICHELE SEIDMAN at "THE NATIONAL WOMEN IN BLUES FESTIVAL" and SCOTT THORNTON at JOMAR RECORDS, has been an absolute pleasure. Being asked to write the liner notes for the "NATIONAL WOMEN IN BLUES" CD was one of the biggest thrills that the blues has bestowed upon me. Now I get to savor the thrill even further, by sharing my thoughts about the music with all of you. Man, it just doesn't get any better than this for this over zealous blues fan.
"NATIONAL WOMEN IN BLUES" is a compilation CD that includes sixteen original tracks by sixteen different, astounding, women in blues. These women are talented singers, talented songwriters, talented musicians and on top of that, they all have looks as well. I guess this is what it means to have it all goin' on.
In order to be fair to all of these lovely ladies, and more importantly - because each and every track certainly rates recognition, I'm going to say something about all the songs. Having said that, let's start talking about the "NATIONAL WOMEN IN BLUES".
The disc opens with SANDY ATKINSON sexily telling someone to "LET YOUR HAIR DOWN BABY".....and fool around with me. Typically, words a man does not need to be told twice. This one features great vocals and guitar by SANDY and lots of rockin' by a great rhythm section.
On the next track, PATTY BENSON sings about how it took "2,666 MILES" to get over him. Hmmm, ya can't help but wonder if the 666 mile part of the trip is any indication as to how devilish this character really was. Lots of great horns and a hot organ backing up PATTY and her vibrant vocals.
JULIE BLACK sings about what it takes to "LOVE THIS MOMMA", and the sultriness with which it's sung makes you want to do just that. This beautifully delivered track is highlighted by a constant and soft organ in the background with very smooth and precise piano playing. Good stuff right here.
The funksters and the dancers will absolutely love "ON MY WAY", by KELLY DEES. This one's got a totally frantic and funkified jam thing going on. Let the party begin.
NICOLE HART belts out some seriously soulful and very bluesy vocals on "THINK ABOUT LOVE". She really gets to show her broad and versatile range on this lovely ballad. This one's also highlighted by more great organ and guitar work.
"ASK YOUR MAN", by PAT HUNTER is a great rhythm and blues number that's nice and heavy on the blues. PAT'S strong vocals are nicely supported by several very good back up singers. The blues guitar on this one is some of the best on the disc.
If you've ever strolled the side streets of the French Quarter and wandered into one of those obscure joints that didn't have a sign out front but did have a bar and a piano inside, then one listen to "MIDNIGHT HOUR BLUES", by SOPHIE KAY, will bring you right back to that joint. Great Nawlin's style vocals and piano on this one.
"WATCH ME WORK IT", is ANDREA MARR'S contribution to the project. Having already had the pleasure of reviewing her disc of the same title, I knew what I was in for here. ANDREA displays lots of attitude on this strong vocal effort backed up by great organ and guitar work.
OCTAVIA belts out the blues from the gut on "SERVICE CALL". This one is good old raunchy blues at it's best. Hot, rippin' raw guitar, harmonica and vocals highlight one of the discs real smokers.
As LARA PRICE gets driven "CRAZY", she tells about it in this slow and soulful ballad. Exceptional vocals and outstanding low down and dirty blues guitar make this one the best. Eight minutes in length also makes it that much more pleasurable 'cause this is the kinda stuff you can listen to for hours on end.
PEGGY RATUSZ musically and vocally paints a very soothing, passionate and sensual picture as she sings about being on a "SEXUAL HIGH". Trust me on this one, this sultry mood setting music is not intended to be listened to while typing a review.
"CHEATING ON ME", by SUZANNE THOMAS, is a nice blend of soul, R&B and funk. It features some of the discs best rhythm and has possibly one of the discs best guitar solos.
"THAT'S A PRETY GOOD LOVE" is a jumpin' jazzed up tune done by someone who's name you just may hear mentioned at this years Blues Music Awards - GINA SICILIA. Great baritone sax and percussion work highlight this track.
SARAH LEMIEUX is cooking up a "BLUES STEW". Just a few of the ingredients she's using are sass, soul and sultry - all in abundant amounts. Great vocals, guitar and possibly the discs best drum work highlight this one.
MICHELE SEIDMAN, The "WOMEN IN BLUES FESTIVAL" organizer herself, sings about something I am all too familiar with and easily relate to - "MIDDLE AGED BONES". As MICHELE points out, "they may look good on the outside, but it feels so bad inside". And I can't agree more with her claim that they "creek and they moan". This one's good ol' rockin' blues.
MICHELE LUNDEEN, or to those of us who know her better - the "QUEEN OF STEAM", seems to be "STARTING ALL OVER AGAIN". Simply said, this track kicks ass. MICHELE has one of the most powerful voices in the blues today and she's got the confidence to back it up. Having already done a review of her CD titled "SONG INSIDE ME", I was looking forward to hearing this one. Top notch accompanying musicians add to the quality of this one.
MICHELE SEIDMAN and SCOTT THORNTON should be very proud of themselves and deserve tremendous recognition for there efforts. MICHELE for being THE woman in THE WOMEN IN BLUES FESTIVAL and SCOTT @ JOMAR RECORDS for putting out - which more than likely will be this years best compilation CD - "NATIONAL WOMEN IN BLUES".
Below are the links to everyone involved with this project. Please stop by and check them out. While your there, pick up some of their products and don't be shy - tell them Pete the Blewzzman sent ya'.