Whiteboy James And the Blues Express, a band that's self proclaimed as being "a detonative force not to be reckoned with" consists of: Whiteboy James on vocals and harmonica; Scott Abeyta on guitar; Blake Watson on bass; Max Bangwell on drums; and having absolutely nothing to do with the music at all, but certainly adding pleasure to the discs appearance - Bridget Blonde as the cover model.
Everything I'm reading about this band - the one sheet included with the disc, the liner notes written by Dan Jacobson of Southland Blues Magazine and quotes at the bands' website - all indicate that this is one hell of a band to catch live. Let's see if my ears will lead me to agree.
The opening track, "Chicken And The Hawk", immediately starts off in high gear and never lets up. This smoker is highlighted by wickedly wild rhythm from Max - on drums, and Blake - on what sounds like a stand up bass. Dancers, especially the swingers, will surely love this one.
The title track, "Last Time Was The Last Time" is one of several tracks which feature Whiteboy playing harp. As good as he is, I'm surprised there aren't a lot more of these wonderful harp highlights. The rhythm, as you'll probably hear me say throughout, is once again intense.
This instrumental is only 80 seconds long, but it's full throttle all the way. It could be that there was a "Fat Chance" the guys could go on at this pace much longer. I got out of breath just listening.
Being written by the guitarist, "T-Bone For Daisy" just so happens to feature some of the discs best guitar work. From the pen to the pick, this instrumental is all Scott. Slow, scorching blues, just the way I like it.
"Worried Life Blues" is another of what appears to be many well done tracks. Strong vocals from Whiteboy and hard driving guitar from Scott highlight this one. As a matter of fact, right about now I'm wondering how the heck I haven't heard of this incredible guitarist - who also happens to own the label - before this disc.
Untamed musicians, performing untamed acts on their instruments can only lead to one thing - "Untamed Melody". Track after track the Blues Express has continued to blow me away. This is another free for all instrumental led by "Mad" Max on drums and "Scorching" Scott on guitar.
"Shave 'em Dry #2" is another of the tracks that the "Parental Advisory" on the disc jacket applies to. On this one Whiteboy seems to take pleasure in graphically describing his sexual pleasures as well as patting himself on the back for his apparent superior ability in performing them. If you can hear past the lyrics on this one you'll experience some remarkable guitar chords from Scott.
Other tracks on "Last Time Was The Last Time" include: "By My Side", "Upside Your Head", "Reefer Man", "Don't Fuck Around With Love", "Keep It Clean", "Walk Around The World" and "Kiss Me When I Kiss".
From what I just heard, I'd have to agree with live show sentiments mentioned earlier. The guys are certainly talented enough, definitely entertaining enough and surely crazy enough to make me want to see them.
If you'd like to pickup a copy of "Last Time Was The Last Time", and I think you should, just go to www.whiteboyjames.com. While you're there, please tell the guys that the Blewzzman's hoping they make it to Florida someday.
By the way - and this might be a good idea for interested radio stations - there is a PG version of the disc available. Just ask the band for the details.
Blind Willy consists of: Doug Jones on vocals, guitar and harmonica; James Cook on bass and background vocals; Derek Mixon on drums; Johnny Neel on keyboards; Joanna Cotten on background vocals; Chris West on saxophone; Adam Jones on trombone; and Dan Cohen on guitar (1 track). The disc is an EP which contains five outstanding original tracks.
Doug may be "Living The Blues" but, as he happily states on this opening track, he's "not going down without a puttin' up a fight - 'cause he fells like rockin' tonight". Atta boy, Doug! Right from the get go the band gets into one of those toe tappin', head bobbin' grooves - led by the rhythm work of James, Derek and Johnny - and they lock it right in. That, combined with the amazingly harmonic vocals and background vocals sung by Doug and Joanna, make this one hell of a track. While writing this paragraph, it's a close call as to what my fingers hit more - the keypad or the replay button. Excellent stuff!
In order to get his woman back, Doug's not only man enough to let her see his teardrops fall, but he's also "Willing To Crawl". The emotions relayed through his powerfully yet passionate vocals, leave absolutely no question as to his sincerity. With a steady, intense organ background and a strong drum rhythm behind him Doug's at discs best as he squeezes tears out of his guitar as well.
"My Little Feelgood" is a heck of a party song. As a matter of fact, there's quite a party going on in the background. This one's highlighted by wind - hot wind and lots of it - Doug blowin' it into the harp and Chris and Adam blowin' it into their horns. Add some hand clapping, lots of laughing and several people singing background and you've got a real smoker goin' on.
"Leave The Light On" is an absolutely exquisite and sensually sung ballad. About two thirds into the track Doug hits some notes that sent chills through my body. I know there are literally thousands of beautifully sung love songs out there, but this one's got to be one of the best. My apologies to the rest of the guys in the band - I know you're there, but I'm lost in the vocals on this one.
I'm sure the guys worked up a "Sweat" while recording this one, because they all sound on top of their game. James, Derek and Johnny are at it again - serving up some intense rhythm, Chris and Adam are blowin' fire outta their horns, and Doug..... oh he's just up to his usual singin' the hell out of the song.
Even though it's an EP, I believe I may have just listened to the front runner in the 2010 "Blewzzy Award" competition. Short of offering a money back guarantee, I am promising you that there won't be one second of this disc you will not love. Go - right now - to www.blindwilly.com and get one (being an EP, it's priced right). And while you're there, tell Doug the Blewzzman says "WOW!"
It's a pleasure and an honor to have the opportunity to work with this posthumously released Pat Ramsey CD. Besides being one of my favorite harmonica players and vocalists, Pat was also a very dear friend. It seemed like we bonded from the very first minute we introduced ourselves, at Alligator Alley, in Sunrise, FL. That was ten years ago, and since then the club is gone and so is Pat. Although it saddens me that he won't be able to read these words, I'll always have a fond memory of Pat that will forever put a smile on my face. Following a Saturday night gig about 10 minutes from my house, I had Pat and the band over for a good old fashion Sunday afternoon Italian dinner, before they headed back to Tallahassee. I swear, I never saw a bunch of skinny guys eat so much, and after we were done, Pat said it "was the best Italian food he's ever had." It's a compliment I'll never forget, especially since it came from the best harmonica player I ever heard.
"Live In Key West!" was recorded from Pat Ramsey & The Blues Disciples in Key West, FL shows during 2004. The band consisted of Pat Ramsey on vocals and harmonica, Dave Renson - Pat's band mate for over ten years - on guitar and Dobro, Duane Waider on drums and John Wentzien on bass.
The sincerity in his voice, and the feeling he puts into his words, leads you to believe he really needs it when he says "Somebody Loan Me A Dime". The first eight minutes of this eleven minute soulful ballad is all Pat - singing and blowing his heart out as he did so well. Of course, on a track this long you couldn't keep Dave quiet the whole time. Some excellent crying guitar licks add to the melancholy mood.
Just saying the name of this track pretty much tells the whole story - "Whammer Jammer". Those two words should be listed in the dictionary with a description that states: "One hell of an ass kicking, all out free for all instrumental jam led by fierce and frantic harmonica playing." Did I make my point? I'm betting even Magic Dick and J. Geils would love this version.
One of the two original tracks on the disc, this one penned by Dave, is "Got Love If You Want It". Coincidence or not, some of the discs best guitar work can be heard right here. Fueled by a hot rhythm, led by Duane on the drums, Dave tears it up on this one.
One of my favorite styles of harmonica playing is the type that Jimmy Reed made famous - that high pitched, sharp, piercing sound. On the cover of his "Honest I Do", Pat nails the sound. The smooth sound coming out of Dave's guitar and the mellow rhythm being produced by Duane and John, on drums and bass, make this a classic for a slow dance.
At the opening of "Dead Shrimp Blues" there's a three minute harmonica intro that could have been a song in itself. Then there are several vocal breaks where the band, at discs best, just locks into a groove that would have had me saying "lock the door and throw away the key" if I was in the room. Great rhythm, great guitar leads, and great vocals make this the best version of this song I've ever heard.
Other tracks on "Live In Key West!" include: "Dog House Blues", "Jammin' In The Jungle", "Stingin' Stang", "Highway 49/Highway 61 Revisited" and "Last Night".
This is the part of the review where I always advise the reader to visit the artists' website - to purchase a disc, and to send my regards to the artist as well. Well, you can get the disc at www.snailworx.com, but the regards part won't be necessary. My friend Pat already knows I'm thinking of him.
The amount of good blues music coming out of the top left corner of the United States is unfathomable. It's getting to the point that when I get a CD in the mail, if the return address has a zip code with the first three numbers anywhere between 970 and 979, I've already started liking it. It's gotta be the water. Somehow, somewhere, some of the mud from the Mississippi got mixed in with the cascades of Columbia River.
The newest CD in the ever growing list of submissions I'm receiving from the Pacific Northwest is a self titled disc from Lisa Mann. Like her neighbors before her, Lisa is quite impressive. Joining Lisa, on bass and vocals are: Jeff Knudson, Sonny Hess and Larry Haggin on guitars; Dave Melyan and Michael Ballash on drums; Alex Shakeri, Janice Scroggins and David Vest on keyboards; Alex Shakeri and Jim Wallace on harmonica; Brad Ulrich and Mark Hutchinson on saxophones; Megan James on vocal and harmonies; and Sonny Hess & Rae Gordon on backup vocals. Should some of those names have you thinking you've heard them before, think Insomniacs.
"Lisa Mann", Lisa's third release, is a mix of some of the bluesiest songs from her first two CDS along with several new tracks. Now let me tell you about some of it.......
Due to being vaccinated with a Victrola needle, Lisa is "Hooked On Rock And Roll". With a title like that you'd expect this one to be a smoker and that's exactly what it is. It's one of two tracks that feature the 'alternating musicians' and from what I'm listening to, they've all earned their so called 'guest appearance'. It's Michael beatin' the hell out the skins, Janice slappin' the hello out of the keys, and Brad blowin' the hell out a saxophone, that are firing this one up.
Although the lyrics find her asking for one, there's no way Lisa needs a "Helping Hand" on this track. Her voice is so strong, so commanding and so soulful that this one could have been sung acapella and still been outstanding. Having said that, I'm glad it wasn't, because Alex and Mark are phenomenal on the organ and saxophone leads.
On "Little Sister", Lisa gets to feature one of her other talents - amazing bass. With her leading the way, and Dave and Alex keeping right up on drums and organ, the trio gets a fine, funky rhythm going. Alex doubling on the harp, Jeff tearing it up on guitar and Meagan's harmonizing on vocals all add up to this being a hot one.
Long time readers of mine know that when it comes to styles of blues, there's nothing I like hearing more than good old "Down Home Blues".... at least every.... other.... record..... or two. With Jim leading the way on harp, and Lisa belting it out vocally, the rest of the band fall into one of those "it doesn't get any better than this" kind of grooves. Real good stuff.
Unless Alvin and the Chipmunks do it (which would be a sacrilege), I doubt I'll ever hear a version of "At Last" - the most beautiful song ever written - that I won't like. Lisa's rendition is flawless. She uses one of the slower, softer and sultrier styles I've heard. Although she nails it, even the crescendo never seems to be a strain. On this solo effort, Lisa's skilled use of a six string bass serves up the impression that there's a three piece combo backing her up. Great work, maestro.
Stating that she keeps making the same mistakes over and over again, Lisa feels like her life is like a "Broken Record". This is one hell of a clever composition that anyone who's ever used a turntable will relate to. Several times throughout the track Lisa makes the song sound as if the record is stuck...the record is stuck...the record is stuck. It's an absolute riot. And musically, it rocks. A furious paced rhythm led by Lisa and Dave, hot guitar leads from Jeff, killer piano work from Alex and a strong vocal performance by Lisa all highlight this one.
Other tracks on "Lisa Mann" include: "Someday", "Bentonville Blues", "Chemicals", 'Tryin", "Real Life Woman" and "Pray For The Junkie".
Over the past year or so, I've heard some very good work coming some from very good lady blues artists whom I think may be ready to breakout of that 'local' / 'regional' area mold. I've just added Lisa Mann to the list. When you're a good writer, a good musician, a good singer - and of course being good looking never hurts either, your time is sure to come. Lisa's time is soon....very soon.
To find out more about Lisa, and to purchase a copy of "Lisa Mann", just go to www.lisamannmusic.com. Please be sure to tell her why you came...... you heard the Blewzzman saying "WOW!"
Right now, people all over the country are screaming out the words "Give Me A Job"......even those who have yet to hear the CD - with that title - from the Burnsville Band. Hopefully, after reading this review, a lot more people will be screaming out those same words..... but for a better reason.
The Burnsville Band is from the San Diego, CA area and consists of: Steve Burns on lead and slide guitars, Dobro, and vocals; Joe Bernal on lead vocals and rhythm guitar; Michael McGinty on keyboards; Dave Seely on bass and vocals; Joseph Hager on drums; and special guest Scottie "Mad Dog" Blinn on tremolo guitar.
"Give Me A Job" - a blend of smokin' rock, down home and Delta styles of blues - is the bands debut CD and consists of ten tracks, of which eight are excellent band originals.
"Mississippi Mud" is progressive blues at it's best. This rippin' instrumental took me right to the edge of my low "this is not blues, it's rock" threshold without going over the top. The band's in fierce jam mode and everyone is full throttle. Real good stuff right here.
When it comes to the blues, this type of stuff is my "Drivin' Wheel" - slow, down home blues. The kind with the rhythm guys locked into a sweet groove and highlighted by profound guitar and keyboard leads along with gritty, soulful vocals. This one fits the description. Steve, Joe and Mike nail it here.
On this track, The Burnsville Band - well at least the three rhythm cats anyway - get themselves "Locked Up" in a bit of a funky groove. Then about two minute into the song the guitars take over and kick ass.
Once again, the guys cut loose with some smokin' blues on a track justifiably titled "Cut You Loose". With Michael's organ being the fuel, Dave and Joseph set the bass and drums on fire as the rhythm highlights this one.
In these tough times, many songs are being written, and sung, about the gloomy situations facing a lot of us. However, it can't get too more topical than one titled "Give Me A Job". With his intensity on the vocals, you'd actually think Joe's really asking for one, as he shouts the title words. More great guitar and organ work additionally highlight this one.
When I saw this title - "Road Warrior Blues" - I was expecting to hear some serious, possibly over the top wailing. However, being wrong did not upset me. The track turned out to be a very well done acoustic performance both vocally, and on the Dobro.
If you want to catch up with the band, they hang out a lot at a place called www.burnsvilleband.com. While your hangin' with them tell them you want a copy of "Give Me A Job", because you heard the Blewzzman talking about how good it was.
"Stuck With The Blues" is the second release for Brad Vickers and his Vestapolitans (hmmmmm, just what heck is a vestapolitan?). The disc contains nearly an hour of interesting music which covers several styles, and as many eras, of music. With the exception of a few covers of some of his inspirations, most of the tracks are band originals.
Those responsible for this pleasurable listening experience are: Brad Vickers on electric & acoustic guitars and vocals; Arne Englund on piano, electric guitar and vocals; Jim Davis on tenor sax and clarinet; Matt Cowan on baritone sax; Margey Peters on electric bass, fiddle and vocals; Bill Rankin on drums; Dave Gross on upright bass and vocals; V.D. King on acoustic guitar, maracas and vocals; and special guest Bobby Radcliff on electric guitar.
The disc opens with the title track - "Stuck With The Blues". An absolutely great vocal duet 'tween Brad and Margey, and several sharp guitar and tenor leads, are just a part of this tracks highlights. However, it's the rhythm makers that fuel this fire. Margey, Bill, Arne and Matt are outstanding together on bass, drums, piano and that bottomless baritone. Good tappin' and snappin' stuff.
The two instrumental interludes that take place during the vocal breaks on "Cold Fish" are both extraordinary. The first one sounds like it may have captured Jim at disc's best during an extended tenor sax highlight, and the second features Bobby mastering his guitar on a similarly lengthy solo.
"What About Me?" is all about that baby they say the blues had - rock & roll. This one is - no pun intended - a great ball of fire. On this original track Brad's nailing it on vocals and guitar, Arne's got ya thinking Jerry Lee on piano and Margey's smokin' up the bass. By far the hottest track on the disc and with no exaggeration, possibly the hottest track I've heard all year. Several...... make that many.... replays were in order here.
You'll surely hear a resemblance on "Jaguar And The Thunderbird" as Brad covers this Chuck Berry song. As the title would have you think, the track is about a race - not just lyrically, but musically as well.
"I Want To Tell You Right Now", that if you play this track in a room full of baby boomers, don't be surprised if you see two parallel lines form with couples taking turns strolling down the middle. Man, talk about music painting a picture....this one sure did. This is a classic.
This track finds the band paying tribute to some of the elder states people of the blues because, after all, "They Gave Us The Blues". It contains a little commentary, good vocal harmony from Brad and the tracks writer Margey, excellent stand up bass from Dave, and great boogie woogie piano playing from Arne.
The disc closes out with a style of song that's been predominant throughout - an all out jam called "I'm A Love You". On this one, it's Brad on top of his game with the guitar.
Other tracks on "Stuck With The Blues" include: "I'm Betting On You", "Can't Stand To See You Go", "Deep Elem", "Vestapol Rag", "Winding Boy", "Coming And Going" and "Hobo Jungle".
Ya know, now that I think about it - being "Stuck With The Blues" isn't a bad thing. As a matter of fact, after hearing this disc, I actually think it's a good thing. I highly recommend you contact Brad Vickers at www.myspace.com/vestapolitans, or look him on Facebook, and tell him you want to get "Stuck With The Blues" too. Of course you'll tell him the Blewzzman sent ya, but besides that, you may just want to ask him what the heck a vestapolitan is.
As blues lore goes, many a blues man was born with the blues. However, few can testify to that, and one of those few is blues man John D'Amato. You see, due to a congenital heart defect which caused a lack of breath at birth, John was actually born blue. He spent his childhood paying his dues. And now, with the grace of God and some wonderful medical help, John's doing something he's earned the right to do, and that's play the blues.
On his debut release - "Ain't No Big Deal" - John D'Amato, on electric guitar and vocals, is joined by: Lauren Cook D'Amato on background vocals; Kim Shrum on acoustic guitar, background vocals & keyboards; Dennis Taylor on saxophone; Keith Kenyon on bass; Ray Gonzales and Nick Lauritano on drums; and Jay Vern on keyboards.
Knowing about his early life's problems, I can't help wondering if John D"Amato picked this song for his opening track as a way of letting people know he really has his "Mojo Working".....and man is it working. Granted, this song's been done by everyone, but I don't recall anyone ever doing it quite this fast. Ray's lightening fast rhythm lead has everyone in super high gear and there are several blistering guitar leads culminated by a ninety second accelerated romp to end the track. This one's hot stuff.
At one point during that last track I thought I may have been listening to some of the discs best guitar work - I was wrong! Not thinking it possible, John actually takes it up a few notches on "Got No Shame". At this moment I'm in an absolute state of awe. Keith and Ray help this one out with some solid, and at times a bit funky, rhythm. Another smoker.
The first of several originals is titled "What's Up?" Of course the guitar riffs are as intense as ever, but this track had me focused more on John's vocal talents. A nice pitch and just the right amount of rasp, combine for a natural voice for singing the blues. More great rhythm with some extra help from Jay on piano.
"Black Orpheus" is nearly six minutes of perfect instrumental work. With Keith and Jay adding tremendous rhythm on bass and organ, Ray is at discs' best with the percussion. And John....he's being the usual guitar God I've come to know him as. This one rated several replays.
Now I'm sure there are many bar bands around the world that have butchered this song, but I seem to like it by anyone I ever hear do it. I think this particular version of "Folsom Prison" would even have Johnny smiling.
"Double Stop Me". The musicians reading this will understand what I mean, the rest of you will just have to hear it. On this instrumental, John D'Amato gives new meaning to the term "double stop". Let me just say it's double stopping on steroids and leave it at that. I can understand this one being less than three minutes - I was out of breath just listening.
Other tracks on "Ain't No Big Deal" include: "Stormy Monday", "Walk With Me", "Lift Me Up", and "Ain't No Big Deal".
If you haven't done so yet, you need to stop reading right now and get over to www.bluezzman.com. And instead of suggesting you pick up the disc while you're there, I'm going to do something a bit more stringent.....I'm going to insist you do so. Don't worry about it, you'll be thanking me later. BTW, please tell that Bluezzman this Blewzzman says "thanks, and great job".
When Foghat contacted me and asked if I'd be interested in reviewing their newest CD, my immediate reaction was - and as you read this, it may be yours as well - FOGHAT? Being known for working with mostly "obscure local blues bands", it was quite surprising to hear from a group of "celebrated international rock stars". However, since their ancestry traces back to a very successful British blues/rock band called Savoy Brown, Foghat certainly does have blues in their blood. "Last Train Home" is proof of that.
On "Last Train Home", Foghat consists of Roger Earl on drums & background vocals, Charlie Huhn on lead vocals and lead & rhythm guitars, Bryan Bassett on lead & slide guitars and background vocals, Jeff Howell on bass and background vocals, Colin Earl on keyboards, and Lefty "Sugar Lips" Leflowitz on harmonica. Additionally, the band is quite proud to have an old friend whom they first played with over 30 years ago, join them as a special guest. The year was 1977, the place was the Palladium in NYC, the event was a benefit for forming a "Blues Archive" at the New York Public Library, the host band was Foghat, the special guests were a slew of blues giants, and that old friend is none other than blues legend, Eddie "Bluesman" Kirkland.
This caliber of a band could easily make this type of a disc with a bunch of well know blues standards and get away it. However, that didn't happen. Along with several of their own personal blues favorites and two of Eddie's masterpieces, there are three very well done Foghat originals. Let's go listen........
If you're going to make it in the music business, then you had better be "Born For The Road". As you might have guessed, this original track - like many blues songs before it, is about that sometimes wonderful and many times not so wonderful life on the road. With great drum work, killer vocals and slide guitar, Roger, Charlie and Bryan shine on this one.
"So Many Roads, So Many Trains" leaves absolutely no doubt that the guys know their way around when it comes to my kind of stuff - pure, unadulterated, low down, scorching blues. With soulful, emotional vocals and blistering guitar work, Charlie and Bryan nail this one.
If this one doesn't get you to "Shake Your Money Maker" you may just want to consult a physician. It's pure smoke, and that's always due to the rhythm guys. Roger and Jeff are out of control on drums and bass with Colin chasing them as fast as he can on piano. Needless to say, the guitars are slinging as well.
I'm about halfway through this disc and I gotta tell ya... I'm liking Foghat as a blues band - especially on tracks like "It Hurts Me Too". The guys have this dirty blues thing down pat. Sure it's rough, but rough and dirty go well together.
"495 Boogie" contains the word that usually makes songs containing that word self explanatory - boogie. And yes, this one measures up. I can't even think as fast as the pace on this one, so I did what you're supposed to do with these kind of songs - stop everything and start dancing. As expected, everyone's at their peak on this full fledged instrumental jam. I especially enjoyed Colin and Lefty slugging it out on piano and harp. Amazing stuff right here.
Eddie Kirkland joins in on the last two tracks and of course one of them would have to be his incredible "In My Dreams". Sounding 50 years younger than the 87 he is, Eddie Kirk - as he was know back in the day - is as good as ever. Singing with conviction and playing sharply, this phenomenal man sounds on top of his game. God bless you, Eddie.
Other excellent tracks on "Last Train Home" include: "Needle And Spoon", "Last Train Home", "Feel So Bad", "Louisiana Blues", "Rollin' & Tumblin / You Need Love", and "Good Good Day".
Although I won't predict it will win, I'm telling you that Foghat surely has themselves a CD worthy of a nomination for the "Best Blues / Rock" category at the 2011 Blues Music Awards. Remember where you heard that. Also remember to visit Foghat at www.foghat.net. There you can pick up a copy of "Last Train Home" and tell them how impressed you heard the Blewzzman was.
"Bake Sale" is the fifth in a series of compilation CDs consisting of tracks from bands of the Great Northern Blues Society, in Wisconsin. Over the years, I've always found discs like this to be interesting. How else can you hear from anywhere between 10 - 20 "local" bands that you might not ever get a chance to hear?
On the other hand, discs like this are somewhat of a nightmare to review. First of all, there are usually enough musicians on the disc to warrant their own area code, making it virtually impossible to list them all (as I generally like to do). Secondly, when a disc has 20 plus tracks, as this one does, it's a bit hard to say something about all of them - possibly alienating the bands not mentioned.
Having said that, I will now list all the tracks, name all the bands and say something about some of the tracks. Of course, they will be the ones that were my personal favorites.
In order of appearance, the bands and tracks on "Bake Sale" - Volume Five are:
Meantooth Grin / Intro and "Drive"
Clovis Mann / "Turpentine" and "Wade In The Water"
Michael Murphy & The Mob / "Why Get A Chevrolet"
Aaron Williams And the Hoodoo / "Drinking Blues"
Cadillac Pete And The Heat / "Rolling Pin"
The Charles Walker Band / "Boogie Woogie"
The Nitecaps / "King Swing"
Deep Water Reunion / "I Came Here To Play"
Pat McDonald / "My Troubled Mind"
Hounds Tooth / "Blues Is Truth"
Perry Weber & The Devilles / "Got My Room"
The Delta Jets / "My Baby Blues"
The Playground Of Sound / "Leavin' Suzanna"
South End Blues Band / "Blues Tsunami"
Queenie & The Blues Cats / "Crossdresser's Blues"
Jimmy Voegeli / "Know What I Like"
Jerry Henry Band / "Sugar Momma"
Doug Kroening / "Walkin' Shoes"
Sue DaBaco And Wise Fools / "Crucify"
Aaron Williams And the Hoodoo / "Hypnotize"
"Why Get A Chevrolet" features some humorous lyrics of which some - without getting into details - are way too relatable. With great rhythm backup from Don Berry, Richard Smith and Marc Golde on the drums, bass and keyboards, Michael Murphy is smooth on the vocals and sharp on the guitar.
If fast paced rockin' blues - the kind you can get out on the floor and dance yourself into a frenzy with - is your bag, then you've got to hear "Drinking the Blues" by Aaron Williams And the Hoodoo. I was shocked that this was just a trio. Damn, Aaron Williams, Eric Shacklefold and Z tear it up on guitar, drums and bass.
Some of the discs best harp and guitar work can be heard on "Rolling Pin" by Cadillac Pete And The Heat. The harps by Pete Rahn and the tandem guitars are by Michael and James McCarthy. This all goes on while Bill Siebert and Carl Betz are laying down a somewhat funky rhythm.
"Boogie Woogie" will have you doin' just that. It's a fast paced shuffle led by the great drum and bass work of Joey B. Banks and Kent Hamele. Add some strong, soulful vocals from Shanna Jackson, some hot guitar leads by Misha Siegfried and intense organ interludes from Rob Walters and this ones a real smoker. Strangely enough, these ears never did hear Charles Walker, the bandleader, listed on tenor & alto saxophones.
Perry Weber & the Devilles are all locked into a solid groove on a very nicely done instrumental titled "Got My Room". It's a virtual jam with Perry on guitar, Tony Menzer on bass, Benny Rickun on harmonica, Victor Span and Barrelhouse Chuck on piano all puttin' out their best. Another smoker.
I "Know What I Like" and it's stuff like this. Unrestrained piano and guitar leads, big bottom rhythm, and harmonic vocals. And that's just how Jimmy Voegeli, Gary Hendrickson, John Wartenweiler and Mauro Magellan delivered it. This is one hot track.
For a copy of this disc, and possibly volumes one thru four as well, just visit the Great Northern Blues Society at www.gnbs.org. Please, make sure you tell them Pete The Blewzzman sent ya.
At his live shows, I'm sure the introduction might sound something like this... "Ladies and Gentlemen, please put your hands together and welcome to the stage Mr. Tommy Dudley, the Blues Buddha . However, looking at this strapping, statuesque being, I can't help but think it should sound something like this..."Ladies and Gentlemen, in this corner, standing 6'6" an weighing in at a very muscular 297 lbs, the reigning World Wrestling champion, Tommy 'The Blues Buddha" Dudley". However, that's not how it goes, and thankfully it's his fans he's giving the blues - not his opponents.
The musicians appearing on "I Like It A Lot", which I indeed did, are nearly enough to fill a Zip Code. Being a firm believer of giving credit where it's due, I'll now do my best to mention them all. Joe Piteo, Eddie "Sticky" Crucy, Howie Lucero, Larry Alexander and Alan Childs, although never simultaneously - all play drums; Likewise for Al Payson, Mike Garner, Jeff Ganz and Scott Stanton on bass, and Gil Parris, Chip Larison, Denny Leroux, John "Johnny Feds" Federico, Scott Stanton, Ronnie Mirro and Matt Rae on guitar. Slide guitar is played by Stefan Wildman , Keyboards are played by Scott Stanton, Sax and harmonica are played by Hank Logan, and the background vocals are sung by Scott Stanton, Nicole Hart, Gail Newman, Susan McMahon and the Blues Buddha Band.
Because of the wonderfully written lyrics, and the intensity at which they're sung, Blues Buddha just runs away with this one. Who would have figured that "Better At Hello", a melancholy ballad, would be his strong suit. This is my interpretation of what "songs of the year" sound like.
Sometimes all you gotta do is just say the name of a song. "Buddha Boogie" - need I say more? Now I know that got ya thinking swiftly sung vocals, frantic rhythm, rocking piano, and lots of hip shaking, right? There ya go!
I'm having fun just thinking of the fun it sounded like they were having while recording this one. There's a party going on in the background with lot's of very melodic, in time, hand clapping and the musicians are nailing a groove. I'm probably on my eight or ninth replay right now with several more very likely coming up. With the help of strong background vocals, the big guy sings his heart out on this one. Add several smoking sax interludes and some frolicking at the keyboards and you've got the disc's best track right here. "Don't Worry", once you listen, you'll have a good time as well.
I had no "Trouble" liking this track, a duet featuring Tommy and Scott. It reminded me of a place I strolled by on Bourbon Street about 25 years ago. It was midday and I heard some great barrelhouse piano being played inside. I walked in and wound up spending the day there. That piano player happened to be none other than the great Allen Toussaint and on this track, Scott Stanton sounds just as great.
I doubt anyone could listen to this track and not want to say "I Like It A Lot". This one's a virtual runaway train fueled by some of the disc's best - and fastest - rhythm provided by Alan & Jeff. With Denny, John and Scott wailing on guitars and keyboard and the background babes giving Tommy a push on vocals, the train just gets faster and faster. This one's gotta pack the dance floor at live shows.
Other tracks on "I Like It A Lot" include: "Like I Do", "Break My Heart", "Give And Take", "Morning Song" and "Low Cotton".
For more on the Blues Buddha, and to pick up a copy of the disc, check him out at www.bluesbuddha.com. While you're there, tell him that if he ever needs a tag team partner that the Blewzzman is available. I can hear it now......"In this corner weighing in at a combined weight of 650 lbs, the "Bearers Of The Blues".
What's going on up there in the Pacific North West? Is it the cold air coming down from Canada? Is there something in the water they're drinking? Or, is there a finger of the Mississippi River that flows into that part of the country that I don't know about? Whatever it is, something up there's giving them the blues - and that's a good thing. Lately, it seems that most of the new blues talent that I'm finding exciting is coming from that area. First there was Karen Lovely, then Cee Cee James, and now Kevin Selfe and the Tornadoes. Keep it coming.
Kevin Selfe And The Tornadoes are a strong three piece ensemble consisting of Kevin Selfe on guitar, vocals and harmonica, Allen Markel on bass and backing vocals, and Don Shultz on drums and backing vocals. Their debut disc - "Playing The Game" - impressively consists of ten Selfe penned originals. Let's go hear some.........
"How Much Longer?" is my kind of stuff - eight wonderful minutes of slow, scorching blues. Yeah! With Allen and Don supplying the very mellow rhythm behind him, this one's all Kevin. Emotional, soulfully sung lyrics accompanied by low down, dirty guitar riffs, with both perfectly performed. This is the blues at it's best.
Just as the guys did no holding back whatsoever with their performance of this track, there'll be no holding back with the clichés to describe it. "Walking Funny" is a rockin', jumpin', hell raisin', ass kickin', smokin', no holds barred, roof raisin', all out jam. Simple as that, nothing more needs to be said - ya just gotta listen.
"The Way She Moves" will remind you of how Muddy sang about that 19 year old. It's got that beat, similar type lyrics, and above all, that killer harp playin' you heard from many of the greats that blew for him.
Every one of us, at one time in our lives, has had a "Long Greasy Night", right? "What's that" you say wondering, as I also did, what the heck a long greasy night is? Well, once you hear Kevin explain it, you'll agree you've had one. What won't need explaining is the amazing guitar work. Your ears will quickly tell you it's some of the best on the disc. The same could be said for the harp and rhythm, obviously making this another of the discs best tracks.
With a name like "Pulled Pork", you might think this is some Memphis sounding blues song which - as many of these types of songs do - sings about BBQ, hot sauce or some other types of spicy, deliciously edible products. Quite the contrary. It's actually a soft, jazzy instrumental with Kevin, Allen and Don displaying a mastery over their instruments.
Other tracks on "Playing The Game" include: "Just Like Pulling Teeth", "Blues Don't Take A Day Off", "Playing The Game", "Lay it On The Table", and "Good Dog To Kick".
You can check out Kevin Selfe And The Tornadoes at www.kevinselfe.com. While you're there, pick up a copy of - what I'm thinking just might be a "Best New Artist Debut" nominated disc at the 2011 Blues Music Awards - "Playing The Game". And please, tell Kevin the Blewzzman said "Good Job".
It amazes me that as talented as this man is, with as many releases that he's had, and the number of great artists he's worked with, that the name Forrest McDonald isn't a household name in the blues community. Although he's not all that young, let's all hope - for the good of the music - that he doesn't have to pay another 20 - 30 years of dues before enjoying a more widespread recognition. After all, this is the blues, and as the song goes..... "It Be's That Way Sometimes".
To be exact, "Certified Blue" is Forrest's eleventh release on his own World Talent Records. On this project, besides playing guitar and organ, Forrest steps in front of the microphone for the very first time. That's right, after all these years, for the first time on a record, he actually sings a song. There'll be more on that when I get to the song. The rest of the ensemble on the disc are: Kaylon (Mrs.) McDonald on vocals; Lee Gammon on bass; Roddy Barnes on piano and organ; Rich Ianucci on organ; Terry Garland and Barry Richman on guitar; John McKnight and Bob Saydlowski on drums; John Lieberman on harp & vocals; "Little Ronnie" Owens on harp; and Chuck Williams on tenor & alto sax.
On the opener, Forrest and Barry have a good time trading off guitar leads as Lee and John are maintaining the fierce pace with rippin' rhythm behind them. All while Kaylon belts out about driving down 95 "Keeping The Blues Alive" - something we are all hoping gets achieved. This is the first of nine McDonald originals.
Just as mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce make the turkey better, the saxophone, harp and organ do the same thing for a blues song. Chuck, Ronnie and Rich do just that on the swinging "Till The Morning Light", which is surely a fast dancer's delight.
"Rock & Roll Bye, Bye, Bye" is one of two tracks that feature Jon Liebman on both vocal and harp, and he's all over both of them. Along with that, the groove that Lee, John, and Rich are in on bass, drums and organ, make this one hell of a track.
"You Keep Telling Me" is the kind of stuff that attracted me to Forrest way back in '99 when he released "Spirit Of the Blues". That disc was full of straight up scorching guitar riffs, one track right after another, and that's what I'm hearing right now. This is what I call the blues.
Although he won't give much competition to Darrell Nulisch as my all time favorite male blues vocalist, Forrest does a heck of a good job on "Double Back" - his debut as a singer. As a matter of fact, part of the lyrics have Forrest singing ".....I'm just a guitar player......". Well Forrest, that's no longer true.
The discs, and maybe the decades, best drum work can be heard right here on "Piney Brown". I've got to tell you, John McKnight is about to take off on this one. With Forrest and Jon chasing him on guitar and harp, this one's a total rush.
The title track's been "Blewzz approved" which definitely means it's "Certified Blue". All it takes for that to happen is burning blues guitar work, soulful and passionate vocals, great rhythm and some sharp harpin'....which are all right here.
Other tracks on "Certified Blue" include: "Mess Around With Love", "Danced Our Last Dance", "Double Dipping Man", "Trying To Get By", "Gas Pump Blues Revisited", and "Chicken Scratch Boogie".
You can visit Forrest at www.forrestmcdonald.com. Once you're impressed with what you read, pick up a few of his discs and be impressed with what you hear. Of course you'll tell him the Blewzzman sent ya, right?