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Blues CD Reviews 23



Charles "Big Daddy" Stallings
"One Night Lover"


I've got to admit that I loved this CD so much that I couldn't wait to review it. There's so much good stuff on "ONE NIGHT LOVER" by CHARLES "BIG DADDY" STALLINGS, and it's all so different, that it is actually a fun CD to listen to.

The thirteen songs, of which twelve are originals, cover so many different styles of music and I enjoyed every one of them. In addition to some very serious blues, there's some funk, some jazz, some swing, some R&B, some rock, some gospel and even some rap. About the only thing missing is country, but the rap song is about "country life on a funky farm". Line dancers would have a ball with that line. In the meantime, all of the music is done within the scope of the blues.

Before I get into some of these great tracks, let me spend a paragraph telling you about the amazing ensemble of players on "ONE NIGHT LOVER".

In addition to CHARLES "BIG DADDY" STALLINGS on guitar and vocals, the rest of the band are: GAIL PARRISH, bass; WAYNE JOHNS and STERLING PATTERSON, guitar; JOHNNY MASON, drums; WENDELL SHEPARD, trumpet; STEVE TURNER, alto sax; DEANNA BOGART and COREY BROOKS, piano; DENNIS FISHER and COREY BROOKS, Hammond B-3 organ; BILL PRATT, keyboards; MARK WENNER, harp; MONET GUTHRIE and KAISIA ASKINS, background vocals. "THANK YOU JESUS" features JAMES T. BRYANT, WILLIAM T. ELLISON, NORMAN RICHARDON, JAMES L. JENKINS and MASON GUTHRIE all on vocals.

Phew that was a mouth full, but it all equates to an ear full of some very delightful music.

"I GOT THE BLU-HOOS", as the title might lead you to believe, is one of the more serious blues tracks. This is one of four great tracks that features MARK WENNER (Nighthawks) on harp.

Very appropriately named "B-3 Blues" is a masterful instrumental. It features DENNIS FISHER performing a perfect demonstration on exactly how the Hammond B-3 organ should be played. With GAIL and JOHNNY locked into a really tight and rhythmic groove on the bass and drums, DENNIS basically goes into a five minute fling that may very well be the musical highlight on this disc.

"GETTING OLD" is an interesting story about a quite scary dilemma. It matter of factly states that "If you keep on living you are gonna get old". On this very humorous track CHARLES sings of an all too familiar list of the consequences of getting old. DEANNA'S piano is hot on this one.

The first track that introduces the horn section is "SWING" It's no coincidence that this is also one of the hottest and hippest track on "ONE NIGHT LOVER". The name of the track more than lives up to itself. WENDELL on trumpet, STEVE on sax and ME on air drums really ripped it up on this one. This one got a lot of action from the replay button.

"4X4 Woman" temporarily shifts back to some good old, down home, slow burnin' blues. CHARLES' best vocal work is heard right here on this track. Add that to some super, low down harp by MARK and some great organ work by BILL and this easily becomes one of the discs highlights.

"SOPHISTICATED" is a very jazzy number in which MARK and COREY, one of the several piano/keyboarders, steal the show. Backed up by a solid performance by the rhythm section, these two take turns soloing on harp and piano and the result is magnificent. This was another one of those 5 minute tracks, that because of four replays, took me 20 minutes to get through.

There is no other way to describe "FUNKY FARM" other than to say it was a riot. To describe this very popular form of music, rap (did I really call it music?), I have always added an additional letter to it by calling it (c)rap music. But, as the saying goes, "never say never", I actually had a lot of fun listening to this track.

Another one of my favorite tracks on this terrific CD is the last track, a gospel song called "THANK YOU JESUS". JAMES BRYANTS lead vocals, along with the harmony of his four background vocalists - WILLIAM, NORMAN, JAMES and MASON absolutely blew me away. I could listen to a whole CD of this stuff.

As I said earlier, this very diverse mix of so many styles of music was sheer pleasure to listen to. With the writing of the songs, the picking of the players, the horn arrangements, all the great background vocals and the excellent quality of the finished product, this was a great production from beginning to end.

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Honey Davis CD Review

Honey Davis
"Prince of the Blues"


After listening to just a few tracks from "PRINCE OF THE BLUES", by HONEY DAVIS, there's no question that this is real deal, hard core blues. The guitar playing is rough, the vocals are gruff and this disc contains none of that phoney baloney 'new blues'; stuff. YEAH!

Having been the lead guitarist for Charles Brown and Solomon Burke, and having worked with such blues giants as Bobby Blue Bland, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Jimmy McCracklin and others, its quite clear that HONEY absorbed plenty of what that pool of talent had to offer him.

Other than a Koko Taylor and a Howlin' Wolf cover, the rest of the tracks on this disc are HONEY DAVIS originals. Joining HONEY, who does all the vocals, plays the guitar and was responsible for all the horn arrangements are: DARYL DARDEN, rhythm guitar; HAROLD JOHNSON, organ; AL WHITE, lead trumpet; BILL (no last name given), second trumpet; DAN MC CANN, bass; DAVID GOODSTEEN, drums.

The title track "PRINCE OF THE BLUES", is all about the band leader. With the rhythm section in a very nice, low key groove, HONEY tears it up on vocals and guitar. This is a self serving song in which HONEY claims that when he finds the right women and falls in love, she'll be recognized as "the fine lady who married the Prince of the Blues".

"PRETTY KITTEN" pretty much stays on the same track. It's another very bluesy track with lots of HONEY'S signature searing guitar licks. The trumpets and the organ get in a few nice solos as well.

On "CHANGE MY NAME", we find HONEY really suffering from a case of the blues. Here, he's ready to move to another city, cut off his hair and change his name. Although I believe the blues could have him feeling this way, I didn't buy the haircut part. DAVID and HAROLD on drums and organ are this tracks highlights.

"THE FIRST TIME I MET YOU" is a track about someone who just can't take his sleazy lady doing all the cocaine she does. All throughout the song he talks of trying to get her to stop, even to the point of buying her a muzzle. However, as frustrated as he may get, he just can't leave her. You see, he also has an addiction - which he makes quite clear when he tells her "You can't quit the devils dander and I just can't quit your fish net panty hose". This track features the trumpets at their best.

"ITS A POOR DOG" and "SMALL APARTMENT" were my two personal favorites. On both of these tracks HONEY seems to be really loose and relaxed and it shows in his style of guitar play. It was good, smooth, ala B. B. King kinda blues.

In this genre of music, where many claim to be the "PRINCE OF THE BLUES", HONEY'S stake to the title seems legitimate as any.

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Robi Zonca CD Review

Robi Zonca
"You Already Know"


About a year and a half ago, ROBI ZONCA sent me a CD in hopes of having it reviewed. After listening to the CD several times, I politely emailed him back explaining that I thought the CD was more of a rock than a blues product. I did however compliment him on several points and suggested that if he ever puts out another CD, that leaned more toward the blues, I'd love to hear it. Well, here I sit, listening to some very outstanding blues on ROBI ZONCA'S new CD, "YOU ALREADY KNOW".

"YOU ALREADY KNOW" consists of 11 original tracks and a cover of a Beatles song. The musicians that make up the ROBI ZONCA BAND are some of the best musicians on the Italian Blues Scene. They are: ROBI ZONCA, vocals and acoustic, bass and lead guitars; STEFANO GALLI, guitars; PAOLO LEGRAMANDI, bass; MARCO SACCHITELLA, drums and percussion. Guest musicians include: ANTONELLO "JANTOMAN" AGUZZI, piano and Hammond organ; SERGIO CAPOFERRI, harp; ROBY PEREGO, tenor sax; And from another excellent Italian Blues Band - FAMILY STYLE - very special guests MARCO and FRANCO LIMIDO. Phew! That almost sounds like the cast of the Soprano's.

The opening track, "ROCK THIS CLUB", is a real smoker and one of the best on the disc. The lyrics basically say that the band is going to come out, play the blues, and rock the house - and they do. On this one, the nucleus of the band gets into a real nice groove and lets the guests stars take control. The harp solo by SERGIO, the whaling sax by ROBY and the ripping piano work by ANTONELLO are the highlight on this.

"NOTHING" is another hot number. As the rhythm section locks into what appears to be an effortless yet constant groove, ROBI'S vocals and guitar work take center stage.

Although I thought the lyrics and the subject of "MY FRIEND" were all too similar - almost to the point of being redundant - to "ROCK THIS CLUB", the harp solos by FRANCO made this one good listening.

The track that features some of the better guitar playing on this disc is definitely "GB-SHUFFLE". Not only do ROBI and STEFANO take turns laying down some nice licks on lead, but ROBI also provides some great work on bass guitar.

"JUST A LITTLE BIT" is a very bluesy number about a man feeling down and low. ROBI'S advice to the man is that he needs women and blues to get him back in the groove. Hey Robi, next time I'm sick, I want you to write my prescription.

I Thank ROBI and the band for remembering to send this CD to me and not dissing me for my actions of a year and a half ago. And if he does not mind me borrowing the title of this CD, I will say to him "YOU ALREADY KNOW"............I am looking forward to receiving your next release.

Arrivederci e buona fortuna i miei amici. Spero a chiamata giorna Italia, il paese dei miei antenati e del wilth di vist tutti voi musicisti fini degli azzurri.

You can visit Robi Zonca on the Web at:

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Blues Cousins CD Review

The Blues Cousins
"Alive In The U.S.A."


THE BLUES COUSINS are said to be the "Best Blues Band in Moscow, Russia." Interesting! Obviously then, there must be several other blues bands in the city. This could virtually make Moscow a city with a better blues community than many in America. I for one am happy to see the REDS turning to the Blues.

The band, which has been together for 15 years, consists of LEVAN LOMIDZE on guitar and lead vocals, SLAVA IGNATOV on drums and background vocals, and SERGEY PATRUSHIEV on bass. "ALIVE IN THE U. S. A." was recorded live at the Sunbanks Blues Festival, in Grand Coulee, WA, during the bands second trip to America. As is the case with many foreign blues bands, playing and being recorded in the country where the blues was born was a dream come true for the BLUES COUSINS.

Although "ALIVE IN THE U. S. A." consists mostly of the 'usual' blues covers, there is nothing 'usual' at all about this band. These three young men have this interpretation thing under control. Their musical talents are masterful, and their stage presence and crowd handling are of veteran caliber. On top of that, I don't know what kind of dues they've paid, but they got the blues down pat.

The CD opens with a nicely done version of "MESSIN' WITH THE KID". Right off the bat the cousins start kickin' some blues ass and never let up. The high energy, tight groove that they started off in already had me impressed. This relentless version of this track would probably have impressed Junior and Buddy as well.

The next track, "NO MORE DOGGING", had me wondering just how long these guys could keep the frantic pace on this 75 minute performance. Here it was, only halfway through the second track, and their high energy level had me getting exhausted. This was one serious effort by all three players.

"TALK TO ME" slowed it down to a pace where this dynamic rhythm section had a chance to take a short breather - real short. This one was all about the guitar and LEVAN handled it as well as any I've heard. This is one of the best tracks on the disc.

The next track, "SWEET HOME SIBERIA"..........excuse me, I mean "SWEET HOME CHICAGO", was performed - in my opinion - as well as any blues band has ever performed it. They had the crowd 'hootin', howlin' and singin' along as if they were a veteran Chicago Blues Band performing to a hometown crowd at Legends.

Midway through this live recording, THE BLUES COUSINS literally had the crowd in their hands. Now it was time to rock the joint and that's just what they did with a blistering version of "JOHNNY B. GOODE".

"MY BABY IS COMING HOME", a slow soft ballad, featured LEVAN at his peak. Once again, this was blues guitar at some of it's finest. He was also quite impressive with his vocals. Although there is no question that this band is geared for the louder, faster, harder and higher energy style of blues, I found myself impressed at their ability to equally play a slower, sensitive style of play as well.

There is no question in my mind as to why THE BLUES COUSINS are the best blues band in Moscow. Hopefully, on their next visit to the States, Florida will be one of their stops.

If I may be so bold, at this time I'd like to offer the cousins a few nicknames that I feel will help 'bluesify"...if you will....their names. Possibly, on their next tour, they can bill themselves as........LEVAN "LITTLE LENIN" LOMIDZE, "SIBERIAN" SLAVA IGNATOV and SERGEY "THE BALASHIKHA BASS MAN" PATRUSHIEV.

You can visit the Blues Cousins on the Web at:

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