When CHARLES BURTON contacted me to say he was sending me his new release for review consideration, I quickly thought about how much I enjoyed listening to, and writing about, "I WOULDN'T LIE TO YOU" - his previous release. I knew that if the new disc was nearly as good as the last - and indeed it is - that this would be an enjoyable task.
On "EVERYBODY'S TALKIN", THE CHARLES BURTON BLUES BAND consists of CHARLES BURTON on guitar and vocals, PAUL JEFFREY on drums and STEVE WELLES on bass. A good old fashioned powerhouse blues trio. And once again, all of the tracks - and there are sixteen of them - are CHARLES BURTON ORIGINALS.
In spite of not knowing me, on the opening track CHARLES sings about three of my characteristics - "FAT, DUMB AND HAPPY". This is a track where CHARLES offers some very good advice about what you need to know about simultaneously having two women. It's a rocker with hot rhythm and great guitar riffs.
Some of the discs best guitar work can be heard on "STILL GET TOGETHER". It's stuff like this that makes it evident why this band doesn't need a rhythm guitarist, or for that matter - a piano player, sax player or harp player either.
On "POP THE TRUNK", it's STEVE'S time to shine. His bass playing is magnificent on this funky tune, which is actually about using popping the trunk as a way to attract attention from the opposite sex. Use your imagination.
"HOOK LINE AND SINKER" has to be the dance floor filler at THE CHARLES BURTON BLUES BANDS' live shows. It's a hot little number that, with all the shaking I was doing, repeatedly had my chair rolling away from the keypad. This track, featuring great vocals and guitar, and smokin' rhythm, should have been three times it's three minute length.
"TIKI", as it's title might imply, is a soft, jazzy number with a bit of Caribbean flair. It's a beautiful instrumental highlighted by the rhythm section featuring great cymbal work by PAUL.
The title track, "EVERBODY'S TALKING", is probably the discs most traditional blues track - and we all know what that means......it's my personal favorite. Although the guys are in a smooth groove behind him, this one is all about the man the band is named after. It's full of serious blues guitar work and slow, soulful, lowdown vocals that even feature a bit of scat.
On the discs closing track, CHARLES not only sings about falling in love "THE OLD FASHIONED WAY", he sings it the old fashioned way. It's a throwback to the old radio show sounds and it was perfectly done. The vocals are cool and PAUL & STEVE are right there with the rhythm. This is great stuff.
Other tracks on "EVERYBODY'S TALKIN" include: "BLACK MARKET WOMAN", "BABY'S GOT IT BAD", "LOVE THAT GUITAR", "HEAVY HEARTED BLUES", "LOVE YOU BABY", "SWAMP RAT, ""GET BACK WHAT YOU GAVE, "LITTLE JENNIFER" and "TROUBLE HEAD".
Now that you're done reading this, the next thing you should do is head to www.charlesburton.com to pick up this, as well as the rest of CHARLES BURTONS discs. While you're there, tell him that the Blewzzman sent ya and that I'm already looking forward to his next project.
"MAMMA'S GOT THE BLUES" may be the title of the disc, but this listener believes those words are also a proclamation from the artist, because this mama's certainly got the blues. Backed up by THE STRAIGHT-UP BAND which consists of HARRIS VAN BERKEL on guitar, MICHAEL CREBER on keyboards and Hammond Organ, BRIAN NEWCOMBE and RENE WORST on bass, CHRIS NORDQUIST on drums, JIM SALMON on percussion and DAVID SAY on tenor and soprano saxophones, DALANNAH GAIL BOWEN belts out the blues in all sorts of styles. On several tracks, background vocals are provided by JANE MORTIFEE, LINDA KIDDER and DALANNAH herself.
"MAMMA'S GOT THE BLUES", the title track - and one of several DALANNAH originals, is a steamy ballad on which you'll not only hear her soft and sultry side, you'll also realize some of the incredible range she has. This is one of those turn the lights down low, light the candles and get close kind of songs. Adding to it's highlights are the beautiful piano and sax work from MICHAEL and DAVID and the sensual background vocals from the ladies.
The hot rhythm from CHRIS and BRIAN step up the pace a few notches on "MY BLUES KEEP BRINGING ME HOME", another original by DALANNAH. This smoker features more great vocals and perhaps some of the discs best piano playing from MICHAEL.
"STONE COLD AND CRAZY" is all about DALANNAH and DAVID. With the rest of the band in a soft, constant groove behind them, they take turns highlighting their sometimes soft and sometimes strong style of vocalizing and playing.
Sitting still through "STILL ALIVE AND WELL" can only mean one off two things - you're either deaf or dead. BRIAN, CHRIS and JIM are at discs best right here - the percussion and rhythm are furious and funk filled. This three and a half minute track should have been triple that.
HARRIS, with some smokin' guitar licks, and MICHAEL, kickin' it on the Hammond Organ and piano, get things rockin' a bit on "I GOT THIS BRIDGE I WANT TO BUY". This one, with everyone - including DALANNAH - peaking, may just be the discs best track.
DALANNAH, as well as everyone else in the band, really tears it up on "U KAN HAVE MY HUSBAND" - a song I often hear my wife singing. This track, along with four others, was recorded live at THE MAPLE RIDGE JAZZ AND BLUES FESTIVAL and it leaves no doubt that along with the soft, soulful and sultry stuff DALANNAH & THE STRAIGHT-UP are also capable of kickin' a large, live crowds ass.
Other tracks on "MAMMA'S GOT THE BLUES" include: "EARLY IN THE MORNIN", "UP FROM THE SKIES", "WATERMELON MAN", "BORN UNDER A BAD SIGN", "JEALOUS KIND", and "UNCHAIN MY HEART".
Check out DALANNAH & THE STRAIGHT-UP BAND at www.dalannahgailbowen.com. While you're there, tell her that her newest fan - Pete the Blewzzman - sent ya.
Flamboyant is a word that when used in conjunction with KENNY "BLUES BOSS" WAYNE, can refer to several different aspects of the man's demeanor. Anyone that's ever seen some of his outfits knows that the BLUES BOSS will never have to worry about accidentally getting shot in a hunting accident. That same unrestrained characteristic is also quite evident in his stage presence as well as his bold and confident style of piano playing.
On his latest CD, "CAN'T STOP NOW", KENNY exploits that confidence as he expands his horizons, so to speak. Along the way, he also pays tribute to some of his influences - ANTOINE "FATS" DOMINO and JOHNNIE JOHNSON.
Joining KENNY, on vocals, piano, organ, clavinet, bongos and strings and keyboard bass, are: BRANDON ISAAK, LINDSAY MITCHELL, JEFF HEALY, MITCH LEWIS and RICH MC DONOUGH on guitar; DAVE HADDOCK, RUSSELL JACKSON, RODNEY ST. AMAND and GUS THORNTON on bass; LONNIE POWELL, THEO BROWN, MAURINE BROWN and JOE PASTOR on drums; DAVID "HURRICANE" HOERL on harmonica; JOHNNY FERREIRA, RICHARD UNDERHILL, CHRIS GALE and SCOTTY HARRIS on saxophones; CHRIS WHITELY and RON HENDEE on trumpet; WILLIAM CARN and RANDY OXFORD on trombone; CHRIS ISAAK on drum beats and sound effects; COREY SPRUELL on vocal rap; and KAREN KRYSTAL (with many of the above) on background vocals. How's that for keeping unemployment low in Canada?
The opening track, "BOOGIE WOOGIE MAMA" is typical KENNY. A short, fast paced number with him frolicking away on the keys. Although BRANDON gets in a few hot guitar licks, this one's all about KENNY and the piano.
You'll visualize flashbacks, and quickly hear the influence of the "Fat Man from N'awlins" the second you hear "YOU CAN PACK YOUR SUITCASE". With tight rhythm coming from RUSSELL and THEO, this great sing-a-long track features KENNY and JOHNNY smokin' on the piano and sax.
It's KENNY'S vocals that shine - along with some very smooth guitar work by JEFF and some beautifully soft and subtle horns provided by CHRIS, RICHARD and CHRIS on this lovely ballad titled "YOU CURED MY BLUES". This one's definitely for the lovers of close, slow dancing.
For you more liberal blues fans - the one's that like it spiced up with a lot of funk and a dose of rap - "MY SWEET LITTLE PEACH", has your names written all over it. Having never been a fan of what I not so affectionately refer to as (c)rap music, I will to admit to actually liking this song. I just hope it isn't contagious. KENNY'S keyboard and vocal work and the very cool rap by CORY highlight this one.
On a few other tracks, KENNY honors his other influence, JOHNNIE JOHNSON - and there's no better way to do that than by toasting him with a drink of "TANGUERAY". Maybe it's because the song is a classic, maybe it's because of JOHNNIE always being one of my favorites, or it could just be that KENNY did a hell of a job with it, that easily made this track my personal favorite. I'm sure if JOHNNIE'S listening, he's toasting KENNY as well. An added highlight is a very impressive guitar lead from RICH.
Other tracks on "CAN'T STOP NOW" include: "JUDGE BY THE LOOK", the title track, "CAN'T STOP NOW"; "LET'S HAVE SOME FUN", "RAGIN' STORM", "DON'T CRY", "JOHNNIE J. WAS GOOD" and "THE PARTY'S OVER".
To check KENNY out - and to grab yourself a copy of "CAN'T STOP NOW", just go to www.kennybluesboss.com. Once you have a listen you'll know exactly why JEFF JOHNSON of the Chicago Sun says that "There's no boogie woogie blues piano man out there today who pounds the 88s with the conviction of Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne". One more thing, remember to tell the BLUES BOSS that the Blewzzman sent ya.
There are several interpretations as to how the term "Hotlanta" became the descriptive word for the city of Atlanta, GA. Some say "The "Hot" refers to the hot summer temperatures common to Atlanta", while others say "The "Hot" in "Hotlanta" refers to the many wonderful things to do in Atlanta, especially the sexy nightlife Atlanta is famous for." My money says someone in the Blues Community gave it the name because of all the "Hot" Blues Bands in the area. FATBACK DELUXE is just one of those many "Hot" bands.
FATBACK DELUXE consist of IRA MALKIN on vocals and harp, CHRIS KRAMER on guitar, BEN GETTYS on standup bass, and PETE MAIER on drums. On their CD, "RAT NOW", they are joined by MATT WAUCHOPE on piano and organ. The disc contains thirteen tracks, of which a handful were written by CHRIS.
One of the originals is a hot shuffle called "MERCY". It features several sharp harp solos from IRA and the fierce rhythm that's constant throughout the track is highlighted by great bass work form BEN.
"THE SUN SHINES DOWN" is the discs longest track, and since it's easily the discs best track as well, that's a good thing. Everybody is on top of their game on this one. Great vocals, great harp, great guitar, great organ and great rhythm. This is real good blues, right here.
"JUMP WITH YOU BABY" will get you jumpin' with the band. This quick moving track is actually too quick. It's just under three minutes and I would have loved more.
The title track, "RAT NOW", is my kinda stuff - good old down and dirty slow blues. IRA sings and blows his heart out on this one. Other highlights on what I think is another of the discs best tracks include some slow, scorching guitar riffs by CHRIS and very steady organ from MATT.
The title of the next track is also something that I'm pretty sure every man in the world has done - often. It's a JOHNNY "G" WATSON song called "LOOKING BACK". It describes what happens when a pretty girl walks by - you start "looking back" to see if she is "looking back" to see if you are "looking back" at her. Man, say that ten times fast. This fast paced smoker has everyone in an all out jam mode.
"DARKNESS FALLS", another original by CHRIS, is also another of the discs highlights. This one features some his best guitar work as well. As usual, the rhythm sections is sharp as hell and MATT is outstanding on piano.
Other tracks on "RAT NOW" include: "YOU BELONG TO ME", SITTIN' ON THE BOATDOCK", "SHE BELONGS TO ME", "COUNTRY BOY", "SHE SUITS ME TO A TEE", "STEEL BLADE FAN" and "GAWJOOK BOOGIE".
FATBACK DELUXE can be checked out at www.myspace.com/fatbackdeluxe. When you become one of their friends, make sure you tell them their other friend - Pete the Blewzzman - sent ya.
Although JAMES "SUPER CHIKAN" JOHNSON has barely been on the blues scene a mere ten years, until very recently, he's managed to fly under my blues radar. It wasn't until just a few short months ago, at the "Springing The Blues Festival" in Jacksonville Beach. FL, that I was finally exposed to his music, and I immediately became a fan. As the expression goes, better late than never.
"SUM' MO' CHIKAN", is the fourth release for SUPER CHIKAN, and having heard it has certainly whet my appetite for a 'LOT MO' CHIKAN'. On this project, which consists of twelve original tracks, SUPER CHIKAN - on Vocals, Guitar and Chikantar, is joined by DADDY RICH on Bass, JAMEISA "PINKY" TURNER on Drums and LAURA "LALA" CRAIG on Keyboards. Collectively the band is fittingly known as SUPER CHIKAN AND THE FIGHTING COCKS.
The opening track is an instrumental called "FREDDY'S THANG". It's a smokin' jam that quickly introduces the listener to each of the band members' high level of talent. With his unique style of play, SUPER CHIKAN does things I promise you you've never heard come from a guitar, DADDY and PINKY make it obvious the rhythm's gonna be hot throughout the disc and LALA'S piano playin' demonstrates why she's going to be perking some ears in the blues community.
Even though it's a song about yodeling, "HOOKIN' UP" just plain tears it up. It's a cleverly written track describing some banter between SUPER CHIKAN and his mother. It seems she's concerned her son's yodeling has him sounding like a "white boy" and she'd prefer he yodel more like JOHN LEE HOOKER used to. Some of the discs best guitar and hottest rhythm are surely to be heard on this smoker.
Wasps, snakes and bees seem to have given SUPER CHIKAN a bad case of those "YARD BOY BLUES". This is blues the way I love it - slow and lowdown with lots of scorching blues guitar riffs. This is absolutely one of the discs best.
"MEXICO CITY" is another track that features the fabulous FIGHTING COCKS getting in their share of licks. Behind more furious guitar work from their leader, the rhythm section is again peaking and LALA - whom, since that day in Jacksonville Beach, I have been calling 'The female DR. JOHN' - is absolutely ripping up the piano.
Before you listen to "LOVE CRUISER", make sure you've got your dancin' shoes on. This one's gonna get you movin' faster than a chased chicken. Everyone seems to be simultaneously peaking on this hot jam.
If you can figure out where "SIPPI'SEEKAN'SAW" is, then you'll know the exact place that SUPER CHIKAN"S talkin' 'bout as he sings about the things he's done and the places he's been. This is typical of his witty, humorous and very factual songwriting.
Other tracks on this absolutely super disc by SUPER CHIKAN include: "CRYSTAL BALL EYES", "NOVEMBER NIGHTS", "FULL MOON BLUES", "PETER TRUCK", "CRYING ABOUT THE BLUES" and "COOCHIE DADDY".
You can, and really should, visit SUPER CHIKAN at www.superchikan.com. While you're there, do yourself two big favors - pick up some of his music and read his very interesting bio. Also, do me one big favor by telling him the Blewzzman sent ya.
Since her arrival, just about 10 years ago, it's been an absolute pleasure watching - and hearing - the Georgia Songbird spread her wings over the blues community. I've been aboard the flight since day one and what a flight it's been for E G KIGHT. Each new disc she releases seems to take her yet another step deeper into the genre. By recently signing with M. C Records, E G has added the missing link to a chain that already included superb songwriting, excellent vocal ability and good guitar playin'. Her ever present smile and southern charm are the luster on the chain.
On "IT'S HOT IN HERE", E G KIGHT, on vocals and lead and rhythm guitars, assembled musicians galore as band mates on this project. The outstanding supporters are: SEAN FARLEY on vocals and lead guitar; ALLISON RUPPERT on background vocals; KEN WYNN on lead and rhythm guitars; RICHARD RUPPERT on rhythm guitar; BOB MARGOLIN on slide guitar; GIL GILLIS on mandolin; JOHNNY FOUNTAIN, ANDY SEAL and CHRIS BRZELZICKI on bass; GARY PORTER, JEREMY JAFFE and GRANT STOVEL on drums; PAUL HORNSBY and GRAHAM GUEST on piano and B3; TIM HOOPER on background vocals, piano, organ and synthesizer; MARCUS HENDERSON and RICHARD OWENS on horns; GREG PICCOLO on tenor saxophone; DOUG MCMINN on clarinet. As I said - musicians galore.
"IT'S HOT IN HERE", opens with E G doing her usual thing on a track called "I WANT YOU JUST 'CAUSE I WANT YOU" - and that's highlighting the song with her vocals. Led by GARY "POPPIN" PORTER on percussion, this smoker has the horn and rhythm section adding a strong dose of funk.
I think E G may have gotten the idea for the name of the title track when we first met. I seem to recall her walking up to me and saying "Is it me, or is it hot in here"? OK, so that didn't happen, but "IT'S HOT IN HERE" will make it hot wherever it's being played. SEAN and TIM are partly responsible for that due to the hot guitar and piano work.
With her country background and velvety smooth voice, E G often leans on the ballads. Why not? If your left hook is your best knockout punch, then the left hook should be thrown often. "I'M NEW AT THIS" is one hell of a left hook. It's songs like this that dancing was invented for. This one's all about the voice, the keys and the sax. E G, GRAHAM and GREG all nail this one.
On "THEN THERE'S THE TRUTH", E G's getting' lied to and it's giving her a bad case of the blues. She's also getting some serious blues out of BOB on slide guitar. It's this writers opinion that MR. MARGOLIN is, by far, the best in the business to ever slip a slide on a finger. He virtually steals this one.
"PASS THE PLATE" is a CHUCK BERRY style smoker. This one rocks! It's an all out free for all with everyone on it absolutely on fire. This cleverly written track is easily one of the discs best.
E G and SEAN make a great vocal duo on "SOUTHERN WOMAN AND A NAWTHERN MAN". It seems they've got what each of the other one is looking for. SEAN and TIM also get in some of the discs best guitar and piano licks on this, another one of the best on the CD. Hey E G, if it doesn't work out, this Nu Yawker will be your nawthern man any time, Sugar.
Although this song has been done by many, and most of them have done it well, I doubt I'll ever hear a version of "THE HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN" as good as the one by ERIC BURDEN AND THE ANIMALS. On the other hand, I also think it may be a very long time till I hear a version as good as E G's. It's totally flawless and her vocal range on the track is phenomenal. She's soft, sensitive and smooth when the song calls for her to be, yet when it calls for her to be powerful and commanding she handles it with the same intensity. Absolutely stunning! KENNY and PAUL get the kudos for the outstanding work on guitar and B3 on this one.
Other tracks on "IT'S HOT IN HERE", which include eleven originals out of twelve tracks, are: "ROSES AND PROMISES", "SUGAR", "THROUGH THE EYES OF A CHILD", "LOVE ME OR LET ME GO" and "YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU".
Check out the Georgia Songbird at www.egkight.com. While your there, don't just buy "IT'S HOT IN HERE", buy all of her discs. After all, it's what's on some of those earlier releases that's earned E G several Blues Music Award Nominations. Of course, ya gotta remember to tell her the Blewzzman sends his love.
This is going to be an absolutely enjoyable and extremely easy review to compose. Being a good friend of JOEY'S and having seen him perform live at least 100 times, I could easily do this from memory and admiration. However, because most of the tracks on JOEY GILMORE'S newest disc, "BLUESMAN", are new, I will delve into several of my favorites.
On this project, JOEY GILMORE on Guitar and Vocals, is joined by: GEORGE CALDWELL on Bass, RAUL D. HERNANDEZ on Drums, BOB ABERNATHY on Hammond Organ, Piano and Keyboards and REGI OLIVER on Tenor & Alto Saxophones - all of whom are regular members in his current band. Additional musicians appearing are: JEAN EZELL on Background Vocals; JOE BEARD, JR. on Rhythm Guitar; BOB "BLUESBOBBY" WEINBERG on Harmonica.
After a short little intro, "BLUESMAN" opens with "BLUES ALL OVER YOU" - which is sort of the title track. It's a comparison of how people in various occupations may come home from work. Whereas the junk man's never clean and the car repair man smells like gasoline, the fireman's face is full of soot and the soldier's got blisters on his foot, when the blues man comes home from work he'll get his blues all over you. If enough of the right people get to hear this disc, GRAHAM DROUT may just have himself a "song of the year" nomination for this very well penned track. The lyrics, the way JOEY delivers them, and some great sax work from REGI make this one of the discs absolute best.
JOEY sings his heart out on "BIT OFF MORE THAN I CAN CHEW", an eight minute scorching and soulful ballad. It's stuff like this that gives him the credentials to claim, as he did in the previous track, that "I am a bluesman". More smoking sax from REGI and great keyboards from BOB help make this another impressive track.
When you only wear black shoes, and you're a size ten, finding a pair of size fourteen "WHITE SHOES" in your closet is never a good thing. Hot rhythm from GEORGE and RAUL, heat this funky JOEY GILMORE original.
Interestingly, one of the best versions of "LAST TWO DOLLARS" that I ever recall hearing was from one of JOEY'S counterparts - another South Florida bluesman named JUNIOR DRINKWATER. However JOEY, as he pretty much does on covers, nails it on his version. His intense vocals and blues guitar work, along with steady Hammond and piano plying by BOB, highlight this one.
Hearing JOEY sing "I GOT THE BLUES" makes you want to actually respond by saying "You sure do JOEY, you sure do". With some good rhythm going on behind him, and some worthy assistance from JEAN on the background vocals, this one's pretty much all JOEY. Unquestionably, this one features him at discs best on guitar.
Other tracks on "BLUESMAN" include: "YOU PUT THE RUSH ON ME", "THINGS I USED TO DO", "WISHING WELL", "HOW BLUE CAN YOU GET" and "GHOSTS OF MISSISSIPPI".
At the risk of sounding presumptuous, I honestly feel that with the knowledge I have of JOEY GILMORE'S music and the many ensembles his bands have consisted of, I can confidently say that this is one of his strongest supporting casts and that "BLUESMAN" is - by far - his best effort yet.
Ya gotta go to www.joeygilmore.net and pick up a copy. And while you're there, tell the Bluesman that this Blewzzman sent you.
The resemblances are absolutely uncanny. Although there would be a small degree of uncertainty involved, looking at JACK LEAR'S picture - while listening to his music, would surely have me thinking that I might be listening to BOB DYLAN.....on steroids! It's kinda like BOB DYLAN singing the blues while playing like CHUCK BERRY. In spite of never having been a really big fan of BOB'S folksy style, I always did appreciate his musicianship and songwriting. JACK LEAR possesses all those talents with an abundant supply of exuberance.
On his debut CD - "LOVE AND CHARM" - JAKE LEAR, on vocals and guitar, is joined by CARLOS ARIAS on bass, BRAD GORDON on drums, and PETE RUDDLE on harmonica. The disc contains thirteen tracks, of which nine are originals, with a cover of ROBERT JOHNSON, ELMORE JAMES, RICHARD RABBIT BROWN and, of course, BOB DYLAN.
The opening track, an original called "KISS ME", already has me thinking I may be listening to the discs best track. It's a smoker that could even get Beethoven to roll over. With the rhythm section absolutely wild behind him, JAKE is even wilder on lead guitar. It doesn't get any hotter than this one.
"CRY, CRY, CRY" is just what PETE'S making the harmonica do on this one. I guess he wanted to get in the licks he missed on the opening burner. His doing so, along with more great rhythm, highlight this one.
"DUST MY BROOM" is a classy rendition of a classic song. CARLOS and BRAD, on bass and drums, are on top of their game here, and some of JAKE'S best guitar work is heard on this one as well.
"SURE ENOUGH I DO" mean it when I say this less than three minute track is way too short. I could have taken a few more minutes of JAKE'S soulful vocals and the hot guitar licks he put out on this ELMORE JAMES cover.
"LEAVE THIS TOWN" is another smoker. JAKE, CARLOS and BRAD are unbelievably tight together. This is one rhythm section that JAKE needs to keep together. This listener would hate to hear that these guys would ever want to 'leave this town'.
Other great tunes on "LOVE AND CHARM" include: "LOVE AND CHARM", "TROUBLE IN MY MIND, TROUBLE IN MY SOUL", "EARLY IN THE MORNING", "NORTH MISSISSIPPI BOUND", "LORD PROTECT MY CHILD", "RUTH'S BOOGIE" and "JAMES ALLEY BLUES".
Now that you're done reading this, take yourself over to www.jakelear.com and grab a copy of "LOVE AND CHARM". Jake's got a heck of an offer going on that includes shipping. I'm sure you'll tell him the Blewzzman sent ya.
I've always been a big fan of high energy blues bands featuring a powerful female lead singer. And now that I've heard "BIG CITY BLUES", by BECKI SUE & HER BIG ROCKIN' DADDIES, I've just become one of their newest fans.
Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, THE BIG ROCKIN' DADDIES consist of: BECKI SUE on vocals; "T-BOY" TOM BOYLE on guitar; JIM KING on harp, sax and vocals; JEFF HAYES on drums; and "WILDCHILD" LES WHITE on upright bass. Special guests on "BIG CITY BLUES" include: CANDYE KANE, MITCH WOODS, ERIC "TWO SCOOPS" MOORE", PETER DAMMANN, and "THE DEACON" RON WEINSTEIN.
The disc opens with "YOU'RE KILLIN' ME". It's one of several band originals and one that will clearly validate the band having the word "ROCKIN" in their name. This one quickly starts off with flames coming out of JIM'S sax and progressively heats up from there. BECKI'S steaming vocals, TOM'S smoking guitar, LES and JEFF igniting the rhythm and RON fanning the flames on the B3 make this furious jam a six alarmer.
"THE SUN IS SHINING" is nearly seven minutes of slow, scorching blues - just the way I like it. BECKI, singing her heart out, and JIM, blowing out his, make this one of the discs best.
On "I GET EVIL", THE DADDIES spice things up a bit with some Cajun Funk. MITCH WOODS, one of the best there is when it comes to boogie woogie, Nawlin's style of piano, is mostly responsible for that. Hot rhythm and tenor sax add this being another of the discs best.
One of the discs instrumentals is an absolutely splendid track titled "SOUL SERENADE". With the rhythm section in a soft and soothing groove, this one is all about JIM and ERIC. Their command of the tenor sax and B3 organ are truly flawless.
"MAYBE" being old enough to remember the original version of this song had something to do with the effect it had on me. Listening to BECKI SUE and CANDYE KANE sing the song that rocketed THE CHANTELS to fame back in 1957 sent chills through this baby boomers body. I'm one of those people who often use the cliche "They just don't make songs like this anymore" - and they don't. However, it was sure nice hearing these ladies do a job that I'm sure even Arlene Smith, Lois Harris, Sonia Goring, Jackie Landry, and Rene Minus would enjoy hearing. Replaying this track probably resulted in this paragraph taking an hour to write.....and I couldn't think of anything else I'd rather been doing.
Other tracks on "BIG CITY BLUES" are: "FARMER JOHN", "PARDON ME", "TELL ME WHY", "BIG CITY BLUES", "IF YOU LET ME CALL YOU SWEETHEART", "CUT YOU LOOSE" and "BACKSTROKE".
Check out BECKI and the guys at www.bigrockindaddies.com. After you buy the disc, tell them Blewzzman said hello and thanks for the goose bumps.
Since leaving the inner city streets of Brooklyn, NY - at the age of fourteen, rarely have I ever yearned to leave the suburban lifestyle I've come to love over these past 45 years. However, every time I hear another great CD, from another great blues band from Chicago, I can't help but to ponder how cool it would be to live in that city. The latest band to arouse that fantasy is MORRY SOCHAT & THE SPECIAL 20'S, and their new disc, which swings, shuffles and smokes, just so happens to be called "SWINGIN', SHUFFLIN', SMOKIN".
The SPECIAL 20'S consist of: MORRY SOCHAT on vocals and harmonica; JIM ST. MARIE and SHOJI NAITO on guitar; TED BERANIS on electric and upright bass; DAVE ROSS on piano and organ; NICK KREBS on harmonica; KENNY SMITH on drums. The recording was produced by a person who has, on several occasions himself, had me wishing I lived in Chicago - NICK MOSS.
It didn't take long for this disc to start impressing me. The opening track, an original titled "1955", instantly had me shaking in my seat. This shuffle reminisces about the 1955 blues scene in Chicago. Man what an era that must have been.....Muddy, Buddy, Junior, Willie, Wolf and so many more. MORRY, NICK and DAVE heat this one up on vocals, harp and piano.
One of the several reasons this track is "ROCKING" is because of the outstanding rhythm. TED and KENNY, on the stand up bass and drums, are absolutely phenomenal. Your feet and fingers will get a workout on this one.
His baby's "MEAN AND EVIL WAYS" seem to be causing MORRY quite a bit pain. His scorching and emotional vocals will attest to that. This blues burner features some seriously slow and low down harp and blues guitar. Being the kind of stuff that floats my blues boat, this is certainly one of the discs best.
Getcha dancin' shoes on for this next one, 'cause "DANCE LITTLE MAMA" is gonna fill the floor. This one had my fingers doing aerobics on the keypad, yet there was no way I was keeping up. This swinger features a furious rhythm, hot guitar licks and wild piano playing from DAVE.
On another outstanding original, "I'M IN LOVE", MORRY'S cool style is very reminiscent of DUKE ROBILLARD. His suave and assured vocals, along with TED, KENNY and DAVE heating things up on bass, drums and organ, all highlight this one.
On "THE TRAIN KEPT A ROLLIN", the guys make it sound more like the trains running at full throttle. This all out smokin' jam's going so fast I think it finished the three minutes and forty-two seconds it was supposed to be in two minutes and thirty seconds. This is some hot stuff right here. Tell me you sat still through this one and I'll tell you you're a liar.
Other swingers, shufflers and smokers on "SWINGIN', SHUFFLIN', SMOKIN" are: "HUMBOLDT SLIDE", "STANDING AROUND", "SIGNIFYING" (I'M A MAN), "YOUNG FASHIONED WAYS", "CAN'T HOLD ON MUCH LONGER" and "STRAIGHTEN UP BABY".
Swing on over to www.special20s.com and pick yourself up a copy of "SWINGIN', SHUFFLIN', SMOKIN". While your there, after you tell MORRY that the Blewzzman sent ya, ask him to please send me the real estate section of the Chicago Tribune.
By now, I don't think it's a secret to many that my favorite type of blues is good old straight up Chicago Blues. There's no discussing it - there's nothing better. Which is exactly why I fell in love with "BARSTOOL BLUES" by BOB LEVIS. Being a member of the OTIS RUSH and LONNIE BROOKS bands and having over 30 years of experience in the genre, makes it very unnecessary for any reinventing. Just assemble a killer band and play some kick ass Chicago Blues.....and that's just what BOB did on his first solo release.
The BAR STOOL BAND, if you will, consists of: BOB LEVIS on lead and rhythm guitar; BROTHER DAVE KAYE on bass; MARTY BINDER on drums; DENNIS "LINK" LEARY on drums; DAVE WOOD on lead guitar; TED LAWRENCE and WESTSIDE ANDY LINDERMAN on harmonica; JIMMY VOEGELI on vocals, piano and organ; STEVE DITZELL on vocals and lead guitar; BIG JIM JOHNSON on vocals and lead guitar; LARRY PENDLETON on vocals and lead guitar; and special guest LONNIE BROOKS on vocals and lead guitar.
"IT TAKES TIME" takes absolutely no time at all to slip into a real nice groove. From the opening notes, on this opening track, there's no question as to what you're in for from here on out. The rhythm's tight as hell and BOB, STEVE and JIMMY are all gettin' down on guitar and organ.
"CANT HOLD OUT MUCH LONGER" has more highlights than ESPN after a full day of football. This one's got LONNIE singing his heart out and joining BOB on some scorching guitar licks, great harp work from WESTSIDE ANDY and JIMMY putting out what just might be the best piano work on the disc. Good stuff right here.
Have you ever heard a blues song about a train that didn't have a harmonica on it? Of course not. And on "MYSTERY TRAIN", the harmonicas of BIG JIM and TED and the guitars of BOB and DAVE have this train smokin' along at a real nice speed.
In spite of some hot rhythm behind them, BOB, JIMMY and ANDY all shine on "BARSTOOL BREAKDOWN". When featured, they tear it up on guitar, organ and harp on this all out furious instrumental.
There's no questioning LARRY when he says "I'M COMING DOWN WITH THE BLUES". His gritty vocals and scorching lead guitar will have you coming down with the blues as well. This one may very well be the best track on the disc. As a matter of fact, according to liner notes, after LONNIE BROOKS heard the playback of the track he asked LARRY if he wrote it. Responding "no" and asking why he asked, LONNIE then told LARRY that he sang it like he wrote it......need I say more?
Harp heads will be in their glory listening to "SHUFFLE-ISKO". This one is all about TED and his instrument. It's a tribute to JOE FILISKO, the harmonica maestro, instructor, historian and technician and it's written by quite a harp player himself - DENNIS GRUENLING.
JIMMY tells us something we already know on "NOW I'M GOOD". On this smoker, he isn't just good, he's phenomenal. While tearing it up on piano, he seems to be enjoying himself on his only vocal duty on the disc. This one's also one of the few tracks that has BOB doing all the guitar work and it gives you a chance to appreciate his ability.
At the bottom of the disc is the track with all the bottom. "GETTING OUT OF TOWN" is the last of thirteen outstanding tracks and highlight is the rhythm. BROTHER DAVE and DENNIS are right in the zone on bass and drums on this one. BIG JIM'S vocals and DAVE'S guitar are two more reasons this is one of the discs best.
Other tracks on "BARSTOOL BLUES" include: "WHY ARE PEOPLE LIKE THAT?", "DOUBLE TROUBLE", "THREE TIMES A FOOL", "JUST TO BE WITH YOU", and "BLUES BEFORE SUNRISE". If you want to check out BOB - and you really ought to, ya gotta look for him on My Space. When you find him, send him two things - the best from the Blewzzman and a check for a copy of "BARSTOOL BLUES".
Using several harmonica maestros on a disc dedicated to one of the all time harmonica giants - LITTLE WALTER - seems like a fitting thing to do and that's exactly what DENNIS GRUENLING did. Being a formidable player himself, on "I JUST KEEP LOVIN' HIM", DENNIS GRUENLING is joined by: KIM WILSON, RICK ESTRIN and STEVE GUYGER - all LITTLE WALTER enthusiasts - on harmonica and vocals; DAVE GROSS, BILL HUNT, RUSTY ZINN and BOB WELSH on guitar; SCOT HORNICK, STEVE WOLF and KEDAR ROY on bass; MIKE BRAM and MARTY DODSON on drums; DOUG "BIG DADDY" SASFAI on sax; "Choice" and - last but certainly not least - MRS GRUENLING - GINA FOX on vocals.
Attempting to avoid this tribute from being a compilation of overdone covers of LITTLE WALTERS' greatest hits, DENNIS chose some of the legends more obscure works. The list includes "UP THE LINE", "LOVIN' MAN", "I GOT TO GO", "HOT SHOT", "TOO YOUNG TO KNOW", "CORBELLA", "IF YOU WERE MINE", "MY LITTLE MACHINE", "TEENAGE BEAT", "AS LONG AS I HAVE YOU", "TEMPERATURE", "ONE OF THESE MORNINGS", "THAT'S IT" and "YOU'RE SWEET".
Not being a vocalist himself, DENNIS distributed that duty equally amongst the four band mates that are. "LOVIN' MAN" is one that features STEVE GUYGER singing like one of the many great Chicago bluesmen he's backed up over the years, with him and DENNIS both getting in their share of hot licks on the harp.
"HOT SHOT" is a hot instrumental. This one features DENINIS solely, and quite aptly, handling the harp work, great rhythm from MIKE and SCOT on the drums and standup bass, and sharp, steady guitar from DAVE.
RICK ESTRIN, with clearly one of the most distinguishable voices, takes over the microphone on "TOO YOUNG TO KNOW". On this track, the man, who's magnetism is surpassed by none, also provides some of the best harp work heard on the disc.
Doing what seems to come naturally to her, GINA heats it up a bit on "IF YOU WERE MINE". Sultry is a word that - if not careful - can easily become redundant when GINA'S the topic. This one also features tremendous sax work from BIG DADDY, DAVE GROSS at discs best on guitar and DENNIS showing why he is quickly earning himself a spot on many peoples "favorite harp players" short list.
Oddly enough, "TEENAGE BEAT" - an instrumental track - which features DENNIS, RICK and KIM all kickin' it on harp, is highlighted by the rhythm section. STEVE and MARTY are absolutely on fire on this one.
It's KIM's turn to lead on "AS LONG AS I HAVE YOU", and when he's leading you can never go wrong. Being one of the most soulful white singers these ears have ever heard and certainly one of the best at blowin' a harp, automatically make this another of the discs best.
The two of you reading this that aren't harp fans need not pay further attention. However, the rest of you need to head on over to www.dennisgruenling.com and grab yourself a copy of "I JUST KEEP LOVIN' HIM". While you're there you just might look into taking some harp lessons. Who knows, maybe in 20 - 30 years I'll be saying all this good stuff about you.
By the way, with the conclusion of this review, I have just - for the first time ever, reviewed back to back discs by husband and wife. Having said that, I'd like to add that it has been a pleasure working with MR. and MRS. GRUENLING.
Over the past several years, the State of New Jersey has had quite it's share of publicity - thanks to HBO and "THE SOPRANOS". Although Tony, Silvio and Paulie certainly gave a lot of people the blues, a different kind of blues is being dished out by some very talented musicians from the Garden State. As a matter of fact, for two years running, the Blues Music Awards category for "Best New Artist Debut" has included a native of New Jersey - and from what this writer is hearing, GINA FOX may just keep that streak in tact.
On her debut CD, "HER NAME IS GINA", GINA FOX, on vocals and piano, is joined by: BEN MARKLEY and MICHAEL TROTTA, also on piano; CHRIS VITARELLO, BILL HUNT and PAUL KARWIN on guitar; SCOTT HORNICK on bass; TOM CUTTONE on drums; DOUG SASFAI on saxophone; VINNIE BORSELLI on trumpet; JEFF LEVINE on the B3 organ; PAUL RISHELL on a vocal duet; and last but surely not least - especially in GINA'S eyes, her husband DENNIS GRUENLING on harmonica.
On "NIGHT TIME", the opening track and one of six originals, GINA immediately whisked me away to a crowded dance floor in a small, dimly lit, smoke filled jazz lounge. You know the kind of place I'm talking about.....a small club with a tight combo cooly playing a nicely mixed blend of jazz and blues while a sultry vocalist seductively belts out the best of the standards. Oh man, can't you just feel it? Aside from the steamy vocals, what usually makes songs like this what they are, is great instrumental solos and the ones by DOUG, DENNIS and BEN on the sax, harp and piano are just that.
As I researched the following song I was utterly amazed by the number of duets that have performed it. Then as I listened to it, I was equally amazed that this version of "YOU DON'T KNOW ME" - a duet on which GINA is joined by PAUL RISHELL - was as good as, if not better than, any of the others. Together, they nailed this one. The soothing groove that the band is in on this one is highlighted by the subdued guitar and relaxed harp work of PAT and DENNIS.
You can tell she's feelin' it on "FEELIN' ME". Showing some versatility, GINA temporarily abandons the slow, sultry stuff and gets right down to some seriously spirited blues. This smoker features CHRIS dosing out the blues with some hot slide work on guitar.
In spite of her vocals pretty much highlighting most of the tracks, I think some of GINA'S best singing is heard right here on "NOW THAT I BELONG TO YOU". With the band in a tight and mellow groove, stellar backup from JEFF and DOUG on the B3 organ and saxophone, and GINA leading the way with her powerful and impressive vocal range, this is by far one of the discs best.
With SCOTT and TOM laying down some ever so soft rhythm behind them, "ONE MORE TIME" is pretty much all about the spouses. As her main support, DENNIS provides a steady stream of delicate harp work for GINA'S velvety vocals.
Other absorbing tracks on "HER NAME IS GINA" include: "LOVERMAN", "NO BIG DEAL", "I WASN'T READY", "HOW LONG HAS THIS BEEN GOING ON?" and "ON THE WILLOWS".
If you know who I'm talking about by just using these ladies first names - ELLA, SARAH, NANCY, NINA, LENA and DIANE - then you'll obviously love this disc. Check out GINA at www.ginafox.com and pick up a copy of "HER NAME IS GINA". While you're there, tell her that the Blewzzman has a suggestion for her. Staying with the format of using her name in the title of the disc, I'm thinking her follow up should be called "SHE'S A FOX".