Bluesman - as he is known - is actually multi talented George Ferrell. On "Girl Of My Dreams" - in addition to having penned all the tracks - George sings all the lead vocals and plays guitar, keyboards, bass and drums. In spite of his capabilities at being a well versed one man band, he's joined by: Brad Wilcox and Rande Sanderbeck on drums, Tyler Logan on bass; Tony Rominger on organ, harmonica, flute, vibes & horns; Scott Simmerman on keyboards; Bill Rafferty on organ; John Stone on timbales; George Ferrell III on keyboard strings; and Jonathan Ferrell on harmonica. That's a lot of folks, playing a lot of instruments and the result equals a lot of good music.
"Girl Of My Dreams" is broken down into two quite different parts. The first eight tracks - although quite bluesy - would easily appeal to a broader base of fans. They're the kind of songs that people who swear they don't like blues like.
The disc opens with "Blind Love Blues". With so many keyboardists listed in the credits, this will surely be one of the many tracks highlighted by one or more of them. This time it's Tony on the organ.
The Bluesman is oh so smooth on the vocals that "The Way" this song is sung, if you knew the words you'd be singing along with him. Smooth and steady rhythm, and several strong guitar and harp leads also make this one of my favorites.
"I Can't Say Goodbye" could possibly be the discs best track and on it, George is certainly at his best on vocals and guitar. It's a scorching ballad highlighted by intense and soulful singing with blistering guitar leads. And yes, there's a keyboardist kicking some ass as well. This time it's Scott on the organ.
"I Don't Understand It" is the discs smoker and is sure to appeal to the blues rockers. It features the Bluesman wailin' away on guitar, Rande pounding out some of the disc's best drum work and yes, lots of wild keyboard work - this time it's Scott makin' the noise on piano.
The last three tracks are referred to as "The Trilogy". They are "Girl Of My Dreams", "The Dream" - which was recorded live - and "Girl Of My Dreams" (Conclusion). Together. they make up nearly fifty percent of the disc's music and they are three absolutely amazing tracks.
"Girl Of My Dreams" features just three musicians and yet I'll swear on a stack of bibles I'm listening to a full orchestra. With Tyler and Brad providing tight rhythm behind him, George Ferrell is absolutely magical on this one. His vocals sound heavenly, his guitar leads are smoldering and what he's doing with the keyboard strings is mind blowing.
As masterful as the first version was, the conclusion of "Girl Of My Dreams" - an instrumental - is blowing me away even more. I'm sure what Tony is doing on the flute and vibes has something to do with that. This track completely carried me away. In a way, I was reminded of the effect that certain Moody Blues songs used to have on me way back when. They had a knack for getting you lost in their songs and this band does as well.
Other tracks on "Girl Of My Dreams" are: "Satisfied", "Armadillo", "I Can't Stay", and "All I Want To Do".
To get a hold of Bluesman George Ferrell, just go to www.Reverbnation.com/Bluesmanmusic. Please make sure you tell him the other Blewzzman sent ya.
"Showcasing The Blues / Volume 3" is obviously the third in a series of CDS produced by blues brothers Jerry and David Blum, of Mosher St. Records. As with their first two offerings, bands from their stomping grounds - South Florida - are showcased. While "Volumes 1 and 2" featured blues bands in general, this particular project centers around bands with killer blues guitarists - many of whom are now household names in blues communities all over the world.
If some of the following names do sound familiar to you it's because the list contains several Blues Music Award nominees, several International Blues Challenge winners and several International Blues Challenge finalists and semi-finalists. To say this is a talent laden bunch is like saying it's windy during a hurricane - a major understatement.
Taking into consideration that this Cd is:
- such an extraordinary compilation or outstanding artists
- contains so many excellent songs
- and makes it impossible to give credit to every musician involved
I am going to be a bit unorthodox in how I go about presenting it. This will be more of an FYI than a review.
In order of appearance on the disc I'm going to list the fifteen guitarists and their original songs, except where noted (*), and tell a bit about them. I think it's the best way to realize what a talented bunch this is.
If Dave had something to say about playing jazz, reggae, rock and blues; writing songs for and appearing in movies; appearing in videos aboard aircraft carriers (Cher); performing at the American Music and MTV Awards shows; having songs played on no less than six TV shows; and representing the South Florida Blues Society at the International Blues Challenge several times; he'd probably just say..... "Been there done that". What a talent. www.davidshelleyandbluestone.com
Talk about being on a roll. In 2009 JP Soars and the Red Hots took top spot in the International Blues Challenge; at that same event he was honored with the Albert King Award for being the best guitarist in the competition; and just a few weeks ago he was back in Memphis as a Blues Music Award nominee in the "Best Contemporary Male Artist" category. He currently has two CDS making lots of noise on the airwaves - his very own "More Bees With Honey" and "As Live As It Gets", which was recorded with Jim Thackery and the Drivers on the west coast Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise. Yep, you might say that J P is Red Hot! www.jpsoars.com
As a 13 year old, Josh used to be able to get into many bars and clubs in Ft. Lauderdale. No, he didn't look older or have phony proof, he was the lead guitarist in the Rhino Cats band. At 15, the band adopted his name and Josh Smith and the Rhino Cats were winning all kinds of local awards. and by age 20 he had already completed four national tours. Currently, he has been touring world wide as the lead guitarist in the Raphael Saadiq R&B Band. A baby by blues standards - 33 - Josh's best years are yet to come. www.joshsmithguitar.com
What do you do when you travel to Memphis, enter the International Blues Challenge, win, then have it taken away on a technicality? Scream & holler? Start a petition? Get angry? Not Joey. He just went back next year and won it again - this time with no glitches. If you dig the blues and you live anywhere in the Sunshine State, you know who Joey Gilmore is. He's the B B King of Florida. www.reverbnation.com/joeygilmore
Hands down the most likeable musician in the area. South Florida musicians gravitate to Frank like national musicians gravitate to Bob Margolin when he runs a jam at the Rum Boogie Cafe in Memphis. Frank's the lead singer and guitarist for the Nucklebusters, a band that's been around some 30 years. Additionally, he books all the national acts that appear at Boston's On The Beach in Delray Beach, FL. www.nucklebusters.com
Never heard of him? Then get back under that rock you've been living under for the last 20 years. Let's see......five CDS, guitarist in Junior Wells' Band, 2008 Blues Music Award Nomination in the "Song of the Year" category for his original "These Are The Days", winner of the Illinois Blues Blast Awards in the "Song of the Year" category for the same song.....not a bad resume, I'd say. And by the way, it's "Ka-STEEL-ya". www.albertcastiglia.com
Before having to put music aside for family and business matters back in 1981, Kenny Tsak (Sack) was a hot commodity on the DC blues scene. Now, by way of Arizona, Kenny has settled in South Florida and has quickly become a hot commodity in that areas blues scene. www.56deluxe.com
I'll never forget the first time I ever saw Joel play. It was a very long time ago in a joint called Incahoots and he was an 18 year old guitarist in a group called Junior Drinkwater & The Thirstquenchers. From that day - until now - he's always been one of my local favorites. www.jdandthehowl.com
As a member of many Florida Blues Societies, Josh has represented several of them at the International Blues Challenge and has twice been a semi-finalist in that event. He's performed in blues festivals as part of The Lee Boys' Band, Albert Castiglia's Band and his own band as well. www.thepitbullofblues.com
One of the most famous schools for jazz is the University of Miami and that's exactly where Michael majored in jazz guitar. But then he heard the blues - and like all of us, once that happens there's no looking back. After working gigs from coast to coast, Mike can now be found tearing up the Ohio blues scene. www.michaellocke.net
Sean's probably best know for his 7 year stint as the guitarist for New Blood, Jason Ricci's band with which he toured the world and released four albums. Since then he's toured with Kelly Hunt, Shaun Murphy and is currently touring with Otis Taylor. www.shawnstarskimusic.com
Over the years the Jeff Prine Group has been the band behind South Florida legends such as Joey Gilmore, Juanita Dixon and Big Mama Blue. As the house band at one of the areas premier clubs - Cheers - Jeff's bands have also played with Albert Collins, Coco Montoya, Buddy Miles, Kim Simmonds, Dave Mason, Rick Derringer and Steve Morse. www.jeffprinegroup.com
As a former member of Joey Gilmore's band, Darrell has participated in, and won, the International Blues Challenge and he's toured the world with Joey as well. He was with the band when they were named the "Best Unsigned Blues Band" and has been nominated for the Albert King award. He's a double threat because in addition to mastering the guitar, he's quite the keyboard player as well. myspace.com/darrellrainesband
I've yet to have the pleasure of meeting or seeing Eric play. Other than this - www.myspace.com/ericaustinmusic - I don't know much about him.
Ditto for Steve. Other than being the guitarist for Bobby & The Renegades, I don't know much about him either.
As they say in her hometown - "Mama Groove, le secret le mieux gardé en ville!" For us Americans, that translates to Mama Groove being the best kept secret in town. Gee, I hope they don't mind me letting the secret out because I'm about to tell the whole world about them.
Mama Groove is: Ysabel Gagnon on vocals and backing vocals; Guy Cardinal on keyboards and backing vocals; Jacques Gagne on drums, percussion and backing vocals; Sylvain Hache on lead & rhythm guitar; George Papafilys on guitar, lap steel & slide; Joel Marinier on bass; and Louis-Philippe Gagnon on backing vocals. BTW, if those names haven't yet given it away, that town in which they're the best kept secret is Montreal - Quebec, Canada.
"How Mama Got Her Groove Back" contains ten all original tracks, all done in English. Be it a sensual or a powerful song, they all have one thing in common - Ysabel's beautifully sung, scale defying vocals.
You shouldn't have a sole distraction while listening to "Soul Distraction". This compelling opening track just commands too much attention. The driving rhythm, George and Guy tearing it up on guitars and organ, and the dominance of Ysabel's vocal artistry will all blow you away. Super introduction to the band.
With Ysabel singing, it's nearly blasphemous to say the song was stolen by someone else. However, it's appropriate to commit the sin on "Rubbed Dry", because the rhythm section is absolutely on fire right here. Guy's keyboard's are so impressive and his skillful synthesizer work actually had me looking to see if I missed the horn section on the disc's credits. On top of that, Jacques and Joel gave new meaning to the term good vibrations with wicked drum, conga and bass performances.
Oh Yeah! Gut wrenching, down and dirty blues time. That means intense and deeply emotional vocals with lots of scorching blues guitar licks - and not just from one guitarist. Supported by a steady rhythm and strong backing vocals, that's exactly what you get from Ysabel, George and Sylvain on "Black Widow". Another of what I like to call replay worthy tracks.
In spite of not being able to describe it as blistering, ferocious or scorching, some of the discs best guitar work can be heard on "Salt In My Wounds". Sylvain's performance is as stunning as it is subtle and easily one of the tracks highlights.
"And I Feel" is the perfect name for this song. As Ysabel belts out and holds the opening words "And I feel like dying..............". I felt her pain, I felt her frustration, I felt her anger and I felt her sincerity. The emotions her vocals convey and the range she uses to do it sent chills through me. I'd have to think long and hard as to recall hearing a song sung this beautifully. Although the band was quite tight behind her, Ysabel just carried me away. To use another of my favorite cliches, this is song of the year material.
The disc closes with a rocker called "Don't Give Me The Blues". It's a totally relentless jam led by Sylvain fiercely attacking the guitar and Jacques hammering the hell out of the drums.
Other tracks on this chef-d'oeuvre CD include: "Chill Giver Blues", "Sell My Soul", "Shattered In Thousand Pieces", and "Rookie Blue".
With the title of this disc being "How Mama Got Her Groove Back", I can't help but wonder if it ever left in the first place. Hoping that I've now aroused you to do so, you can find out more on Mama Groove by going to www.mamagrooveband.com. When you do, please tell her Le Blewzzman vous a envoyé.
Ordinarily, 20 years of making records puts you in a category with dinosaurs. However, since these are blues records we're talking about, it's more likely that Mike Goudreau & The Boppin' Blues Band could still be considered youths by the genres standards. That's fine with me, I'd be happy to listen to them putting out records for another 20 years.
As the title states, this disc is a celebration of the twentieth anniversary for Mike and the band. I'm sure that since 1992 there were a few personnel changes but on "20 Years Of Bop & Blues", the ensemble consists of: Mike Goudreau on vocals and guitar; Jonathan Boudreau on bass; Jean Francois Begin on drums; David Ellas on tenor and baritone sax; Maxime St-Pierre on trumpet; Serge Arsenault on trombone; Lorrie Goodman on organ; and Pierre Lacocque on harmonica.
The disc contains thirteen original tracks of what Mike calls "songs that range from swing to funk, from New Orleans to blues rock, with some southern soul and gospel thrown in for good measure". Now let's go hear them.......
"20 Years Of Bop & Blues" opens with a smooth shuffle called "I'm Headin' Out the Door" and at tracks end I was already using my replay button. Mikes suave vocal style, the amazing horn arrangements and the intensity of the rhythm - led by bassist Jonathan - all made me the Boppin' Blues Bands newest fan.
The deep guitar leads and the fierce rhythm on "Mean Old Man" are very reminiscent of ZZ Top's "La Grange". As a matter of fact, after the opening notes I was thinking the next thing I'd be hearing would be "A haw, haw, haw, haw......". This is gritty track is about the gruff old guy next door. The guys so mean that Mike has to warn anyone who visits him about the old grouch.
At the opening of "I'll Be On My Way", Pierre and Maxime provide a very interesting instrumental duet that also occurs several times throughout the track. It's an incredible musical marriage created between the harp and the trumpet. Along with the rest of the horns, the constantly great rhythm and Mike tearing it up on smokin' guitar leads, this is a musical masterpiece.
"Jumpin' To The Jive", "Flippin' To The Funk", "Boppin' To The Bop" or "Movin' To The Groovin"......pick a title, they all work. In actuality it's the latter that's the real title to this fiercely funky instrumental. Hot horns? Raucous rhythm? Of course!
On "Happy Birthday Blues" Dave, Maxime and Serge use their instruments to take the birthday party for a stroll down Bourbon Street. Although Mikes's vocals are a highlight on all tracks, this one included, it's the horns that steal the show here.
If like me, you enjoy the jazzy blues sound - or the bluesy jazz sound - with that big band feel, then you are going to love "See You Later Baby". The vocals and instrumentation on this one are easily as good as Harry Connick Junior being backed up by the Glenn Miller Orchestra.
Other tracks on "20 Years Of Bop & Blues" include: "Shake A Tail Feather", "I'll Be On My Way", "She's Spreading Rumors", "I'll Be On Your Side", "What Did I Say", "In The Pocket", and "Ca Peut Pas Marcher" (sung in French).
I'd like to mention, and with all due respect to other bands with horn sections, that this is one of the best use of horns I've ever heard on any disc. Not only were they influential on every song but they were influential throughout the whole song as well. Kudos to Mike for allowing that to happen and kudos to David, Maxime and Serge who all shared in the various arrangements.
To pick up a copy of "20 Years Of Bop & Blues", check Mike Goudreau & The Boppin' Blues Band out at www.mikegoudreau.com. While there, tell him you heard the disc has been "Blewzz Approved".
It's been just shy of two years since the release of Lisa Mann & Her Really Good Band's last CD and as expected - its still a really good band.
Led by Lisa Mann, on bass and vocals, Her Really Good Band consists of Jeff Knudson on guitars, Michael Ballash on drums, and Brian Harris on keys. Guest artists include: Lloyd Jones on vocal and guitar; Kevin Selfe on guitar; Dave Melyan on drums; Alex Shakeri on keys; Mitch Kashmar and Joe Powers on harmonica; Brian Foxworth on drums & backup vocals; LaRhonda Steele and Rae Gordon on backup vocals; Sonny "Smokin" Hess on guitar & backup vocals; Kevin LaBaron on saxophone; Joe McCarthy on trumpet; Dan Fincher on tenor sax; Brad Ulrich on baritone sax; and Caton Lyles on percussion.
Although I know the title of this song has nothing to do with it, by being old enough to remember the "Popeye" cartoons, the opening track sure did make me think one of it's characters. On this original recording the line Lisa uses to brush off people who annoy her is "See You Next Tuesday", obviously avoiding any immediate - and possibly future confrontation. Very much like the glutinous "Wimpy", the "Popeye" character who constantly uttered the phrase "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today" as he attempted to avoid paying.....possibly ever. Musically, this track features the four band members doing what they do best - being a really good band.
"Satisfied" is a song by one of Lisa's inspirations - the late Little Milton. Once again it's another track that features the basic four and that usually means smokin' rhythm from Lisa, Michael and Brian on the bass, drums and keys and lots of hot guitar leads from Jeff.
There's no questioning her sincerity as Lisa emotionally admits it's time to "Surrender To The Blues". This may very well not just be the disc's best song but possibly the best song I'll hear all year long. There's a phrase I repeatedly use to describe songs of this caliber and here it is - this is song of the year material. To me, this is what the blues is all about....well written melancholy lyrics that are sung with the heart and soul, slow and steamy rhythm that features deep and sultry horns and beautiful piano highlights, and of course, scorching guitar leads. Lisa, Jeff, Michael, Brian and the whole horn section - you all nailed this one. Thanks for making me feel this good.
Another of Lisa's nine original tracks is "Catch Me When I Fall". In addition to Lisa and Michael providing their usual strong rhythm, "Smokin" Sonny Hess' masterful guitar work and Kevin Labaron's wailing sax make this another strong track.
"Alone" is a very appropriately titled song that Lisa chose to do as a solo. It's all about her beautiful voice and her bass guitar. Really well done.
Another of the four covers includes a retro sounding track called "Don't Touch Me Baby". This one's highlighted by Lisa absolutely belting out the blues, and some incredibly amazing guitar playing by someone I've had the pleasure of working with in the past - Kevin Selfe. Another awesome tracks deserving of several replays.
Other tracks on "Satisfied" include: "Gamblin' Virgin Mary", "Have I Told You I Love You Today?", "Always Nobody", "Till The Wheels Come Off", "I Was Gonna", "Kings Of Gold" and "Doin' Alright".
Over the years Lisa Mann has won many awards given out by her local blues society - The Cascade Blues Association - and I'm happy to say that I was in the audience when she represented them in the 2011 International Blues Challenge. Had the judges felt as I did, she would have won.
To get to know more about Lisa Mann, you can visit her at www.lisamannmusic.com. When you do, please tell her she's totally "Satisfied" the Blewzzman.
As this review is being prepared, Darren Jay is on his way to Kuwait as a member of the United States Naval Reserves. His tour of duty will keep him there till the end of the year. As a staunch supporter of our troops, and a United States Navy veteran myself, I thank Darren for his service and wish him, and the rest of his unit, a safe deployment. The CD was completed just before his departure.
Darren Jay calls his music "Memphis based blues". As a matter of fact, he doesn't just call it that, he makes sure he keeps it pedigree to the utmost degree. "Drink My Wine" was not only recorded in Memphis but it was created by all Memphis musicians as well. Those Memphians, as they are known, include: Darren Jay on electric guitar & vocals, Laura Cupit on Bass, tambourine & backup vocals, Hubert Crawford on drums, Tony Thomas on organ & piano, Art Edmaiston on tenor & baritone sax, Mark Franklin on trumpet, and Chris Cloys on backup vocals, with special appearances by Grammy winner Wayne Jackson - of the Memphis Horns - on trumpet, and Rodd Bland - Bobby's son - on drums. The disc contains eleven tracks of which nine are Darren Jay originals.
"Drink My Wine" opens with an instrumental called "Rider" and it features the nucleus of the band. With scorching rhythm coming from Laura, Hubert and Tony on the bass, drums and organ behind him, Darren literally tears it up on the guitar. Strong first impression.
With a rhythm section this good, it's going to be a struggle as to not sound repetitive with my compliments. However, once again, Hubert and Laura are all over the rhythm on "Workday Blues". Throw in the organ and the four horns and you're now listening to a full throttle smoker featuring excellent vocals from Darren.
The title track - "Drink My Wine" - is a rockem, sockem, guitar driven scorcher. Yeah, the bands providing him with some sparks but it's Darren who's turning them into a blaze.
"Too Late Baby" is the disc's replay track 'cause hearin' it once just doesn't cut it. It features and highlights everyone at their peak, has great vocals and back up vocals that will have you singing along.....while dancing. I absolutely loved this track - all six times.
This one's called "Everybody Get Together" and that's exactly what everybody on it did. It's another track that features the basic four but there's nothing basic about the song. You can just feel Darren and Hubert feeding off each other as they put out some of the discs best guitar and drum sounds.
If Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry and Bill Haley were to jam I'm thinking it might sound like Darren Jay & The Delta Souls doing "Baby Don't Lose My Number". This is good ol' rock 'n' roll at it's best. Everyone's absolutely on fire on this fast and furious track.
Other tracks on "Drink My Wine" - a strong contender for the 2012 "Blewzzy Award" - include: "Lovin' Man", "Hoochie Coochie Man", "Tin Pan Alley", "Zilla", and "River's Edge".
You can find out more about Darren Jay & The Delta Souls by going to their website at www.darrenj.com. However, with Darren currently serving his country in Kuwait, all requests for CDS should be directed to Laura Cupit at firstname.lastname@example.org. When you contact them, please say "the Blewzzman sent me".
Most of us are aware of the "Blues On Cardboard" scenario. It usually involves a person standing on the side of a road holding a cardboard sign proclaiming a grave situation. These aren't people who's mates ran off with their best friend, or left and took the dog and their Muddy Waters records too. These are desperate people who are usually hungry, broke and homeless....and lots of them are Veterans. Yes, I know the character Eddie Murphy played in "Trading Places" makes it easy to question the sincerity of this bunch - and I sometimes do - but listening to Bobby "BlackHat" Walters describing the situation has to make you wonder.
"Blues On Cardboard" is Bobby "BlackHat" Walters' third release and I'm pleased to say that all three have been reviewed and posted at www.Mary4Music.com. This project features Bobby on harmonica and lead vocals, Larry Berwald on guitar and backup vocals, Brian Eubanks on bass and backup vocals, Tony Lucero on drums ad backup vocals, Clifford Clark on saxophone, Lisa Wathen on violin, Herbie Desseyn on acoustic guitar, Greg "Termite" Rich on keyboards, and Chris Kemp on standup bass. Of the eleven tracks, ten are band originals.
"Blues On Cardboard", the opening and title track, is about a close friend of Bobby's who has become one of the "cardboard sign holders". This man served his country, went to college, had a good job, paid his taxes and had children that played soccer on the same team as Bobby's children. Now his paycheck is spare change in a cup. I know that somewhere on this track there were several musicians doing a very good job, however, hearing past the sullen lyrics was quite difficult for me.
Damn! You've got to be one scary person if Bobby's willing to kiss a spittin' cobra, pull the teeth from a pit bulls mouth, wrestle a hungry grizzly, kick a hornets nest, chew on broken glass and gargle with gasoline - all in place of being on the "Bad Side Of You". Knowing that, I don't want to be on your bad side either...yikes! Great vocal and harp work outta Bobby, strong drum performance from Tony, several blistering guitar leads from Larry, and deep blown sax by Clifford all musically highlight this one.
Beautiful and melancholy aren't words I usually use in conjunction with each other but they both perfectly describe "I Hear Mama's Voice". It's a beautifully done melancholy song. Lisa is the songs standout. Her graceful violin playing and Bobby's scornful vocals are perfect together. On top of that, she and Bobby, then she and Larry are masterful together on a harp/violin and later on a guitar/violin duo. This is amazing stuff.
The first minute of "Further On Up The Road" had me thinking it was an instrumental. And with the vicious rhythm Tony and Brian were throwing out, accompanied by Bobby's smokin' harp, I actually would have enjoyed that.
"Four Drunks In The Corner" might sound like the title of a sloppy and boisterous song, but quite the contrary. It's a softly done number that features Bobby doing some monotone crooning, real mellow rhythm and lots of sultry sax leads.
I think Bobby speaks for all of us when he says that "If there ain't no 'Blues In Heaven' just send me to that juke joint down below". It may be called the devil's music, but to Bobby - and all of us as well - the blues means heaven to him. This shuffle could be the cream of this crop. It's got great original lyrics that are perfectly sung, excellent rhythm, hot harp and guitar leads, wailing sax, and Greg shining on the organ. Worthy of several replays....of which I'm on four already.
Other tracks on "Blues On Cardboard" include: "Jericho", "Put On You", "Evil Woman Blues", "Sixteen Years" and "Jericho Reprise".
As you'd expect, Bobby "BlackHat" Walters can be reached at www.bobbyblackhat.com. Please pay him a visit. And on top of telling him the Blewzzman sent ya, tell him I'm looking forward to him making it to Florida one day soon.
Being an "EP", "Me Without You" contains just seven original tracks totaling approximately 30 minutes of music. However, as the saying goes, good things do come in small packages. Assembling a band of a dozen choice musicians, Amanda Broadway's debut disc is quite long on talent.
Backing up Amanda, on the lead vocals, are: Derrek Phillips on drums; Steve Mackey on bass; John Deaderick on Hammond B-3, Wurlitzer & clavinet; Steve Walsh on acoustic guitar; Rob McNelley on electric guitar; Max Abrams on alto, tenor & baritone saxophone; Jon-Paul Frappier on trumpet; Jimmy Hall on harmonica; Angie Primm, Gale Mayes and Travis Thibodaux on background vocals; and Dan Cohen on guitar.
Musically and lyrically there's no doubt as to which genre of music "Me Without You" falls into because it's all about the blues. On the other hand, like several other young, female, contemporary blues artists, Amanda's vocal style would compliment songs of many genres.
As she belts out the opening and title track - "Me Without You" - graceful, soulful, powerful, and range defying are just several descriptions that come to mind concerning Amanda's vocal technique. Also outstanding are John and Rob on keyboards and guitar. An outstanding first impression.
"This and That" is the type of song that's a hit on several charts if put out by a more recognizable artist. No question about it. It's a beautiful song that's beautifully sung, and it's got a catchy chorus line that's a natural for singing along with. Amanda's leads and Travis' backup combine to make this the disc's best vocal track. Very good stuff!
"Ride" is one of the tracks that fits into the aforementioned "many" genres" comment. Amanda's soulful delivery, Angie and Gale's moving backup vocals, and John's heavenly sounding organ playing all give this one a spirited Gospel feel.
The first minute and a half of "Somethin' Funny Goin' On" is a soft duet between Amanda and Rob on guitar. Then about two minutes in, Rob wails away on some hot blues riffs, Amanda's voice gets increasingly powerful, the rhythm picks up and the horns start blaring. From then on it's all out heat.
Other tracks on "Me Without You" include: "Better Than You Can", "Left & Let Down", and "Out Of Your Way".
If you want to meet this young, beautiful and talented (all qualities I envy) singer, songwriter and bandleader, check her out at www.amandabroadway.com. And don't forget to tell her the Blewzzman sent ya.
Don't let the words original and originality fool you. Although there aren't any original tracks on "Goin' Back", the CD is quite full of originality. To say it's a recording of covers would be unjust. You won't be hearing "Mustang Sally", "The Thrill Is Gone" or "Red House" here - I promise you that. However, what you will be hearing are a collection of songs - from the soul, blues, rock and R&B genres - that influenced and inspired Dan Sinasac through some forty years as a musician. Many of these songs will have you goin' back as well.
"Goin' Back" features bandleader Dan Sinasac on lead and backup vocals, B3 organ and harmonica, Sandro Dominelli on drums and percussion, Steve Hoy on drums, Jack Semple on guitar, Dave Chabot on bass, Ray Baril & Dino Dominelli on tenor sax, Doug Zimmerman on trumpet, Audrey Ochoa on trombone, Andrew Glover on piano, B3 organ and Rhodes, Chris Andrew on piano, Louis El Tavar on timbales, Raul Tabera on congas, and Shelley Jones & Kelly Alana on backup vocals.
"Goin' Back" opens with Dan nailing a Temptation's classic called "Can't Get Next To You". Not only is his scratchy voice perfect on the lead vocals, but he's also perfect on all the backup vocals that it took several of them to do. The track features deep rhythm led by Dave on bass, and an outstanding horn arrangement.
Done by performers of every genre, Dan adds his rendition to the list of well done versions of "Ain't Doin' Too Bad". His vocals, both sound and style wise, along with his mastery on the B3 organ, provide him with a formidable 1 - 2 punch. Quite good guitar and tenor sax solos by Jack and Dino help make this track a winner.
More reminiscent of Joe Cocker than Dave Mason, Dan's "Feelin' Alright" and sounding even better on this one. Dan's either got an uncanny knack for picking songs that suit him or he just sounds good on anything he sings. This listener is thinking the latter. More great vocals by Dan, great backup vocals from the ladies, and hot piano and conga work from Chris and Raul all make this one smoke.
Dan's deep and strong deliverance are an interesting contrast to the soft and relaxed way Bill Withers sang "Ain't No Sunshine". A wonderfully done version of an absolutely wonderful song.
The blues is well represented with a version of Elmore James' "Can't Hold Out". With a deep, slow rhythm behind him, this one's pretty much highlighted by Dan - regardless of it being his vocals, his B3 or his harmonica.
OK, inasmuch as disco sucked, there were a couple of very good disco songs (yikes, did I say that?). One of those was "Lowdown", by Boz Skaggs". And since I've already stated that Dan Sinasac sounds good singing anything, that includes disco. Need I say the rhythm section excelled on this one?
Other tracks that influenced Dan include: "Polk Salad Annie", "Use Me", "Don't Burn Down The Bridge", "Now That The Music Has Gone", "Hi-De-Ho", "Lady Soul", "I Don't Wanna Know" and "You're No Good".
You can reach Dan Sinasac by going to www.dansinasac.com - I'm sure he'll be happy to hear from you. I'm also sure he'll be happy to hear the Blewzzman sent you, so please make sure you tell him.
Too many bands so little time. That's exactly what I say to myself whenever I discover another good band from a distant city, state or country. I swear, one of the definitions of the word infinity could easily be....."the unending amount of bands in the world that all of us will never get to hear or see". This week it's Ellen Whyte who has me wondering why it's taken me this long to hear of her. Ellen is the latest of the rapidly growing list of great talent that's been finding me, all the way from the Pacific Northwest.
On "Four Way Stop" - her latest of several releases - Ellen Whyte sings lead vocals & background vocals and plays acoustic rhythm guitar, accordion and percussion. Joining her are: Garry Meziere on electric lead and rhythm guitars; Gene Houck on electric bass and electric fretless bass; Jean-Pierre Garau on organ, clavinet & piano; Reinhardt Melz on drums; Dave Mullany on slide guitar; Janice Scroggins on piano; and the ESP Horns which include: Renato Caranto on tenor sax solos; Pete Peterson on tenor sax; Greg Garrett on trumpet; and Mike Kelly on baritone sax.
"The Blues Walked Through My Door"....good thing or bad thing? Well, if we're talking about the blues as a music genre - all of us would agree that it's a good thing...a very good thing. However, in this particular case, Ellen's talking about a sad case of the blues...a very sad case. The opening track features great lead and harmony vocals and it highlights Ellen's very wide vocal range. That, combined with some strong rhythm, featuring lots of tenor sax leads, and I may very well already be listening to the disc's best track.
Sandwiched between two strong, soulful and sultry vocal segments, the three minute instrumental interlude in the middle of "Over My Shoulder" steals the song. It starts off with Renato slowly, then robustly, blowin' the hell out of a tenor sax then switching to Garry going through the same slow to robust range on guitar. In the middle of all this are Janice, Pete and Greg wailing away on piano and horns. Phew! This is a hot one.
This one may be called "Four Way Stop" but these ears haven't heard anyone even close to slowing down. As a matter of fact this is full throttle, rockin', rhythm and blues from start to finish. With "Beltin' Ellen" doing her thing on the vocals, the rhythm, the horns and the organ are all blarin' behind her.
The "Last To Know" is all Ellen and Jean-Pierre. The piano playing on this bluesy ballad is flawless and Ellen's "voice" would have Adam, Celo, Christina and Blake simultaneously spinning their chairs. Amazing stuff.
One of the more mellow, as well as one of the most masterful tracks, is "Wide Awake Woman". The silky soft vocals, along with the fading of the whispering back up vocals and the delicate sound Dave's got going on the slide guitar are all so amazingly soothing. For massage purposes, this one needs to be made into a forty-five minute version.
Other tracks on "Four Way Stop" - which by the way features all original music - include: "No One Knows Better Than Me", "Jacks & Jokers", "When You Walk Away From Love", "Falling", "Lucky In Love" and "Thanks For the Ride".
You can check Ellen Whyte out by going to www.ellenwhyte.com. After you tell her you want to buy a copy of "Four Way Stop", please tell her the Blewzzman sent you as well.
When Little Freddie King hears the expression "Ya got to suffer if you want to sing the blues" I'm sure his response sounds something like this....."Damn, have I been there and done that"! This disc will testify to that. It made me kinda wonder if it's Freddie that's "Chasing tha Blues" or tha blues that are chasing Freddie? Whichever it is, there's sure a whole lotta chasin' goin' on.
Making up the band are Little Freddie King on lead guitar and vocals, "Wacko" Wade Wright on drums, Anthony "Skeets" Anderson on bass, and Robert Lewis diTullio, Jr. on harp, along with special guest Greg "Laid Back" Shatz on piano.
Sure, the Emancipation Proclamation had been declared some 75 years earlier, but as Freddie tells it, if you were a black man born in Mississippi during the 1940's, you might as well have been "Born Dead". The hardships of working just like a slave in the cotton fields are clearly felt through his solemn and terrifyingly descriptive vocals. Somber rhythm and sullen guitar leads perfectly reflect the mood.
If I didn't already know he was born in Mississippi, I'd think "Louisiana Train Wreck" was another way of describing Little Freddie King's blues filled life. As you might expect. "Wacko" Wade and Anthony are all over this one on the drums and bass. After all, what's a song about a train without churning rhythm?
Hearing him sing this one there's no doubting Little Freddie King when he says I "Got Tha Blues On My Back". This is one of my personal favorites and describes Freddie's life after being displaced by Katrina and getting put into a place with toxic drywall. "Wacko" Wade works wonders on the percussion and the soft harp and piano accompaniments fit in nicely.
The name of this one should pretty much describe it - "King Freddie's Shuffle". It's an upbeat instrumental that, due to it's lack of melancholy lyrics, actually has a happy sound. It's nice to hear Freddie's guitar painting the bright picture on this one.
"Night Time In Treme" is another instrumental but this one gets down and dirty. Another one of the disc's best, it features real deal blues guitar, harp and piano highlights all backed by a rock solid rhythm.
I like to think of myself as a tough guy but for hangin' out at a place called the "Bucket Of Blood", I'm thinking Little Freddie's got a lot more balls than Big Blewzzman. C'mon, the song has police radios and sirens mixed in with the quite macabre music the band is nervously playing.
Other tracks on this ultimately true blue disc include: "Crackho Flo", "Pocket Full Of Money", "Back In New Orleans", "Great Great Bamboozle", "Bywater Crawl" and "Standin' At Yo Door".
To get to know more about this real deal, first hand blues man, and to pick up a copy of "Chasing Tha Blues", check out Little Freddie King at www.littlefreddieking.com. Please, do tell him another Blewzzman sent ya.
Statements like this are the exact reason I don't like reading the liner notes or one sheets before I listen to a CD....."Wrapped Up In The Blues” is a collection of tunes that range from traditional blues, to world blues, to sonic experiments that acknowledge their blues roots but dare to push the boundaries".....Being someone who prefers Chicago Blues over "World Blues", being someone who doesn't see a need for "experimentation" with those blues and being someone who feels the genre's "boundaries" are fine right where they are, reading that statement could very well have stopped me from listening at all. However, I didn't read, I did listen and the results were wonderfully interesting.
"Wrapped Up In The Blues" features John Pippus on vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, and harmonica; Tim Proznick on drums; Darren Parris on bass; Ronii Wata on programming and percussion, slide guitar and additional vocals; and EV on additional vocals. Nine of the ten tracks are originals.
"Airplane Woman" is one of the disc's fastest tracks. Although the rhythm is significant, it's the melding of John's acoustic guitar, electric guitar and harmonica that highlight this smoker.
From a blues point of view, "Tell Me Why" may very well be the most.....and only traditional track. It features Tim and Darren locked into a slow and smooth rhythm groove with John softly strumming his guitar and gently whispering the song's beautiful lyrics.
One listen to "One World" and you'll understand why SoundProof magazine declared John Pippus a "Folk/Roots Gem"....he truly is. This is one heck of a beautiful song and easily the disc's best track. The vocals, vocal harmony and acoustic guitar work are all perfectly done. This two and half minute song should have been at least triple that.
Another interesting track is "I Dreamed of Muddy Waters Last Night". In the dream, Muddy was dressed in his 3 piece suit, playing his telecaster and doing a Jimmy Reed song. Now that's a dream we should all have. Of course a song about Muddy would have to feature some good harp playing and indeed, John does some excellent blowing on this one.
A pilgrimage to the former home of his biggest influence took John Pippus to 61 Greig Street, Rochester, NY. There he saw where Eddie "Son" House once lived and it inspired him to write this song - "Son's House". It's a short track featuring excellent acoustic guitar by John and strong rhythm by Tim and Darren on drums and bass.
Other tracks on "Wrapped Up In The Blues" Include: "When My Baby Loves Me", "Walk Away", "Coming Home Blues", "Hard Headed Woman" and "Preachin' Blues".
If you're a listener that likes your blues outside the box and don't always care for the same old basic twelve bar routine, then you need to check out John Pippus. That can easily be done by going to www.johnpippus.com. When you go, please tell him the Blewzzman sent ya.
Although it's barely three weeks into the new year, and this just being my second review thus far, it's a little early to be making any predictions. However, with about 50 weeks - and possibly that many CDS to go as well, I'm going out on a limb and saying that "Swamp Cabaret" will easily be the most interesting and diversified CD I'll hear by one of the most interesting and versatile performers I'll hear from. And surprisingly, it's not all blues. Suze Lanier-Bramlett's "Swamp Cabaret" is exactly that - swamp and cabaret music with some of everything in between thrown in.
With most of the original songs telling a true story, "Swamp Cabaret" is virtually a musical jaunt through Suze Lanier-Bramlett's sometimes sad and other times glamorous life. Singing lead vocals, Suze is joined by David Scott Cohen and J. T. Thomas on keyboards, Hank Barrio and Dylan Thomas on guitars, Chad Watson and Randy Sharp on bass, Denise Fraser and Randy Sharp on drums, Chris Fast on harmonica, Alfredo Ballesteros on saxophone, Katie Weed and Lisa Haley on strings, and Lynn Fanelli, David Morgan, Alicia Morgan, Carolyn Baker, Hand Barrio and Randy Sharp on backup vocals.
The disc opens with the title track, "Swamp Cabaret". Musically, the first part of the song had me on a slow moving canoe navigating the dark, foggy passages through the swamps of the Bayou, while escaping from voodoo worshipers. Then by tracks end, with hardly any indication of the radical change, it sounded like the introduction number to a Broadway musical being sung by it's flamboyant star. Nice work.
"If Roy Rogers Was My Daddy" is Suze's way of fanaticizing about a better childhood. C'mon, have you ever seen Roy Rogers drunk, mean, and misbehave in any way? Her point, exactly. This smokin' country rocker features foot stompin' rhythm, great guitar and piano leads, outstanding vocals - lead and backup - and a little bit of fine yodeling.
August 15, 1969. That's the day Suze, and a bunch of other hippies, got themselves some weed and a tent and headed off to see Janis, Jimi and The Who, The Grateful Dead and Joe Cocker too. That's right, they were "On The Way To Woodstock".....oh man, oh man, oh man. And what a trip it was. To hear all about it you'll just have to listen for yourself. The guitar work and vocal harmonizing on this one are both amazing. Without exaggeration, every time I spin this disc I listen - and sing along - to this track at least a dozen times. Excellent stuff.
"B Movie Star" is a theatrically performed song about Suze's theatrical career. She's a real ham when it comes to poking fun at herself for being a ham. However, acting on Broadway, and having parts in such popular TV shows as "Happy Days", "Barnaby Jones", "Three's Company", "Alice", "Phyllis", "Welcome Back Kotter" and more, and a starring role in the classic horror movie "The Hills Have Eyes" are accomplishments many actresses would love to have on a resume. Musically, the song is right out of a Broadway musical. It's sung as a Soliloquy with beautiful piano and string accompaniments.
I'm pretty sure there's a male version of this logic but I won't go there. This one's about falling in "Love With Your Head" and not your heart. This is another fast paced number with rollicking piano and something common to most tracks - great lead and harmony vocals.
"Soup Kitchen" may just be the disc's most bluesiest track. It's soothing, mid-tempo give Chris an opportunity to jump in with some very sharp harp work.
Suze is at her emotional best on "Superstar". It's a song co-written by her late husband Delaney Bramlett, his then wife Bonnie Bramlett, and Leon Russell. This is a wonderfully done version of a classic and very beautiful love song. Great job, Suze.
With a voice that nails it on ballads, I thoroughly enjoyed "If I Should Die Tonight" and "Friends Forever". Both of these Gospel style tracks are lyrically inspirational and vocally hymnal. The sax, the organ and the choir sounding back up singers all take it up a notch.
Other tracks on this very well done and well produced project include: "You Don't Know My Name", "My Baby Ain't My Baby", "I Refuse To Get Over You", "Something To Hold On To", "I'm Gonna Shoot You", and "Leave Your Hat On".
Regardless of your musical taste, and I do mean regardless, you need to hear this CD. If there were ever a disc I'd recommend and consider offering a personal money back guarantee, it would be "Swamp Cabaret". I absolutely love this CD and know you will too. Now get over to www.suzelanierbramlett.com or www.magnoliagoldrecords.com and just before you buy the disc, tell Suze she knocked the Blewzzman out.
The name Jeff Stone should indeed sound very familiar to you. As a member of The Mid South Blues Revue - he's an International Blues Challenge winner and a Blues Music Award winner as well. Back then, band leader Zac Harmon and his sideman Jeff Stone were arguably the best 1-2 punch in the blues business. I'll never forget the performance they put on at the Beale Street Music Festival in May of 2004. As the opening act in the blues tent, they tore the place apart. As their set ended they stood on opposite sides of the stage, each soaked with sweat and physically drained. Zac motioned Jeff toward him, put his arm around him - then said to the audience with all his heart - "Jeff Stone is to me what Junior Wells was to Buddy Guy". The crowd of course went wild and the moment was as incredible as the performance. I'm blessed to have witnessed it.
Speaking of blessed, that's exactly what Jeff Stone's music, and I'm assuming his life, have become. Since those days with Zac Harmon, while still one of the best harmonica players in any genre, Jeff Stone's musical preference has turned spiritual.
His latest project - "3 Faces Of the Blues" is put together in three different four song segments, with all of them being spiritually and Gospel influenced.
The first segment is mostly a duet with Jeff on harmonica & vocals, and Rev. KM Williams on vocals & guitar and it features Andre Collins beating out a rhythm on track 4. These four Delta style Gospel tracks include one of Jeff's originals - "I Know You Don't Love Me", along with covers of three traditional songs - "God's Got It", "Goin' Over That Hill" and "The Blood Of Jesus".
The second segment is a lot more livelier. It features Jeff on harmonica and Charlie Love on vocals and guitar along with: Doug Tramble on guitar; Dawonis Harmon on bass; Renrick Smith on Hammond C-3 organ; Enrico Cecconi on drums; Alex Perruchot on guitar; Eric Calloway on introductions; and the Vocal Authority Choir.
This segment opens with a smoker that will definitely have you feeling "So Full Of Jive". Well sung, uplifting vocals backed by great harp and guitar leads and a snare drum beat that will induce hand clapping all highlight this Jeff Stone original.
Sounding a lot like the late Barkin' Bill Smith, Charlie knocks it out of the box singing "I Know You Don't Love Me" - another original from Jeff. With it's slow and relaxed rhythm, the ever present hum of the Hammond, the swapping of scorching harp and guitar leads between Jeff and Doug, and the seriously soulful vocals, this track is six and a half minutes of absolute bliss. Replays required!
The other two songs in this segment are "Dance Of the Holy Spirit" and "I Went Down To The Water".
The third segment features Jeff on harmonica with Sherry Pruitt on vocals and guitar. They're joined by: Charlie Love and Jason Cobb on guitar; Crystal Robins on keyboards; Nelson McElrath on drums; Peter Jeffery on Hammond C-3 organ; E. G. McDaniel and Andre "Big Perm" McCottry on bass; and the Vocal Authority Choir.
There's no question you're riding in the right direction if you're riding on "This Train". The harmony between Sherry and the Vocal Authority Choir, her vocal range, Robin's heavenly piano playing, the faint but distinctly noticeable guitar leads, the whispering of Jeff's harmonica, and the pulsating rhythm all make this a classic version of this Gospel classic.
Other tracks in this segment include: "Sunshine In Ever Rain", "Standing In The Mercy Of Our Lord" and "It Won't Cost Very Much".
Having nothing to do with the disc or the review, I'd just like to give a quick mention that on my first ever visit to Chicago this past October, I accidentally discovered that Jeff Stone was also in town. Knowing that, I made the trip over to bad, bad Leroy Brown's side of town to a place called Lee's Unleaded. Interestingly , seeing him play with Jeff Dale and The South Woodlawners - an unexpected event wound up being one of the trips highlights.
Please check Jeff Stone out at www.3facesoftheblues.com. After you hear his heartfelt welcome, and some killer sound clips, click onto the record store and grab a few discs. And as always, please tell him the Blewzzman sent ya.