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Blues CD Reviews 28

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Robert Rand & Nick Trill CD Review

Robert Rand & Nick Trill
"Laid Off"


Don't let the names of these two performers, written as they are above fool you. This disc is far from a duet. As a matter of fact, "LAID OFF" features a slew of top notch players. Joining NICK TRILL on Lead Vocals and Harp and ROBERT RAND on Lead and Rhythm Guitars are: MARK HUMMEL on Harp; ROBERT RIMINGTON on Bass; DAVE KROLL on Drums; SCOTT ANKROM on Saxes; STEVE LESTER, DONNIE LOWELL and JEFF KNAUFF on Keyboards: and BARBARA "HONEY" BROWN on Background Vocals. Also appearing on a half a dozen tracks, are: CHARLES WHEAL on Lead and Rhythm Guitars; STEVE WOLF on bass; and MARTY DODSON on Drums; All members of MARK HUMMEL'S "BLUES SURVIVORS".

"LAID OFF" consists of sixteen tracks, totaling nearly a full hour of good blues, with the title track being the only original song. However, the excellent covers that were chosen are all done in a unique way and are as good as, if not better, than their original versions. On the opening track NICK shows where some of his influence came from by doing a cover of Little Walter's "NOBODY BUT YOU BABE". Nick's smooth vocals and great harp playing, along with some excellent keyboard work, highlight this one. Much the same holds true for "MOVE ON BACK", the very next track. The band, without ever leaving the tight groove they were in on the previous track are now joined by some very hot sax work from Scott.

The band temporarily abandons it's west coast swing style of play and slows it down a bit on a very sultry ballad called "BLUES COME FALLIN' DOWN". Low down and dirty blues piano, soft and sultry sax, and slow and soulful vocals make this one of the discs highlights.

"REAL LOVIN' MAMA" is good old fashioned shake, rattle and roll, rockin', boogie-woogie blues at it's best. Being a Floyd Dixon cover, ya just gotta know there is some ass kickin', rippin' piano on this one. Add to that some serious wailing on the sax, a rhythm section so tight it's stunning, and a phenomenal vocal duet between NICK and BARBARA, and quite frankly, it just does not get any better than this. This is, by far, the best track on "LAID OFF" and quite possibly one of the best produced tracks these ears have heard in a real long time. PHEW! Give me more of this, guys.

"TURN ME LOOSE" is another hot one. On this one, NICK'S vocals and harp playing are once again highlighted while being backed up by a very hot rhythm section featuring a baritone sax.

The title track, "LAID OFF" almost didn't make the disc. Late in the recording and production stages, both ROBERT and NICK lost jobs. ROBERT got the boot from IBM, which was a cause of his "BIG BLUEs" and NICK lost his day job as well. Having more time to now work on this project, they fittingly wrote a song about this misfortune and dedicated the disc to being "LAID OFF".

I must admit that, "GOODNIGHT SWEETHEART", the last track on "LAID OFF" had me guessing. Who did this great classic and what year was it done. Finally, Internet searches revealed it was a WWII Era song that was done by many artists, ranging from the McGuire Sisters to Guy Lombardo, to the Platters and more. I guess you can now add ROBERT RAND and NICK TRILL to the list.

I'd like to end this review by mentioning an interesting fact. Living about 50 miles from NICK, our paths often cross at one of our favorite places to see live blues shows - "THE BAMBOO ROOM". More often than not, when NICK is in the audience, the star of the show will call him up as a guest performer. I thought this deserved mention, because when the likes of Terry Hanck, Mark Hummel, Junior Watson and many others want you to join them on stage, you've got to be one hell of a harmonica player and NICK TRILL is just that.

On the Web:

Musical Bar

The Cell CD Review

The Cell
"Are You Ready?"
Street Records


"Welcome" to another new country being heard from for the very first time here at - the Czech Republic. It's a good feeling to know that the blues is out there reaching all the corners of the world.

In the fall of 1993, DAVID GORE, of Lafayette, Louisiana, had one of those days similar to the one that Michael Douglas had in the movie "FALLING DOWN" (which by the way, was released in 1993). In case you've never seen the flick, Michael plays a very stressed out member of the work force, who buckles under the pressure of long commutes, in constantly heavy traffic, and goes on a rampage. And I do mean a rampage!

Fortunately, DAVID didn't quite take it to the same extreme. He simply said “That’s it, I'm leaving the country!”. And he did. From reading his bio, it's apparent that it was one of the best decisions he ever made in his life. Not only did he end up in several very successful business ventures, but he obviously met a bunch of extremely talented Czech musicians and formed himself one hell of a band - THE CELL.

Members of this excellent band are: DAVID GORE, Lead Vocals, Guitar and Co-Writer of all the songs; MICHAL BENES, Guitar, Vocals and Co-Writer of all the songs; TOMAS HOMUTA, Hammond Organ and Piano; VERONIKA MILATOVA, Vocals; LEO KOUDELKA, Bass and Vocals; MILAN MILATA, Drums and Vocals. Special guest cell mates include: PETER BOSKA, Guitar; HANA VANIKOVA, Vocals; MIKE GORE, Vocals; JAN MOC. Violins; JAN CZAKAL, Cello; JARDA HULA, Harmonica.

The opening track on "ARE YOU READY", which features eleven all original tracks, is "THE BLUES NEVER STOPS (UNTIL YOU'RE DEAD)". Hopefully, that's true. I can handle the blues in the rest of my life. Unfortunately that's not how this song is addressing it. These haunting blues are caused by the "devils daughter' who yanked out her lover's heart and carved it up. This is why his blues will never stop. This is a real hard drivin' number with excellent lead and background vocals and some serious guitar playing. A very impressive opening track, it leaves you looking forward to what's ahead. Which, by the way, is another very similar smokin' track called "READY FOR A RIDE".

"BURNIN' LIKE A FIRE" features some absolutely stunning drum work by MILAN. This, added to what by now has become this bands signature features - it's lead and back ground vocals and phenomenal guitar work, makes this one of the discs highlights.

"DREAMS INSIDE MY HEAD" , a much slower paced track, features several very nice organ and piano solos by TOMAS and a real nice, very bluesy guitar solo by MICHAL. As usual, the background vocals by VERONIKA and HANA are right on the spot.

"BACK DOOR WOMAN" features the two ladies that have, all disc long, been blowing me away with their background vocals. However, on this track, they're even more enjoyable because VERONIKA and HANA are sharing the lead vocals. The talented ladies make this track an automatic highlight.

"THIRD BITCH IN A ROW" could be the theme song of many a single man. After being with three bitches in a row, this poor soul cannot take it anymore, as he decides to shoot or hang her, he is already preparing himself for what he's going to tell the judge - quite simply - "She's his third bitch in a row". Fortunately it's just a dream. Excellent vocal, lyrics musicianship make this another of the discs many winners.

I don't exactly know if the THE CELL will be planning an American tour any time soon, especially since there's always the chance that DAVID may go "MICHAEL" if he ever returns. However, you should look into getting your hands on a copy of "ARE YOU READY" by this Southern Fried Bohemian Blues Rock Band.

You can visit The Cell on the Internet at:

Musical Bar

Bellevue Cadillac CD Review

Bellevue Cadillac
"Black and White"
Ardeo Records


It's a given fact that bands, musicians and artists are thrilled when a complimentary article or review gets written about them. On the other hand, as a writer, there are times when I get equally as thrilled to be writing about a particular artist or band. This is one of those times. Having just read BELLEVUE CADILLAC'S bio, I can't help but wonder what an article/review by me could possibly do for a band of this caliber?

Having said that, I'd like to interject a short little paragraph from the bands web site.........

"BELLEVUE CADILLAC is celebrating its 14th year playing various stages around the world. you've heard BELLVUE'S music in major motion pictures like Shallow Hal, and on the TV shows The Sopranos, Las Vegas, Ed, Sex and the City, Touched by an Angel, Brimstone, and Good and Evil. BELLEVUE CADILLAC'S performances have been seen on Access Hollywood, CNN Showbiz, Hard Copy, and VH1. To date, BELLEVUE CADILLAC has songs on 17 compilation CDS with such artists as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Prima, Louis Jordan, Sammy Davis Jr., Peggy Lee, Brian Setzer, Joe Jackson, Cab Calloway, Mel Torme, Rita Coolidge, Eva Cassidy, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and others. The reviews have been raves in Rolling Stone, Jazziz, Blues Review, and People magazines. BELLEVUE CADILLAC has appeared with Jack Nicholson, Bill Murray, Joe Pesci, Aerosmith, Kenny Rogers, Matt Damon, Tara Reid, Shannen Elizibeth, the New England Patriots, and The Boston Red Sox Allstar Game. They've played with Ray Charles, James Brown, Tito Puente, Patty Austin, Kool and the Gang, Ruth Brown, Percy Sledge, Keith Richards and Bo Diddley. Surely, their place in history as the band that turned down the JFK Jr. secret wedding had to start somewhere. The BELLEVUE CADILLAC sound of "Jazz, Gospel, Blues and Soul, Swings on top of Rock & Roll" had to have a beginning, and that was 1991."

And they want me to say something about this CD. Thanks for the honor guys.

Since "BLACK & WHITE" is BELLEVUE CADILLAC'S first of nine releases and was originally recorded in 1995, some of the personal may have changed. However, appearing on this disc are: GENTLEMAN JOE COOPER, vocals; PROFESSOR DOUG BELL, guitar & vocals; TIM LONG, piano, hammond B3, electric vibes & vocals; RUSSELL WOOD, drums; PETER WOOD, bass; "THE RADIO HORNS", featuring JEFF 'BEBOP" GIACOMELLI on tenor and alto sax & vocals, and BRUCE CUMMINGS on baritone sax & vocals; special guests Glenn Allen, piano & vocals, and ROB FRABONI, tamborine.

Let me warn you right now - if your the type of person who likes to put on a CD then curl up on your couch with a good book, or sit down to read the Sunday paper - pick a different CD. "BLACK & WHITE" is for listening while moving.

The opening two tracks "BLACK & WHITE" and "BODY & SOUL" had this wall flower acting like Fred Astaire as they played. The first one being a very up tempo, jumpin', swing number featuring a very hot horn section and lots of phenomenal keyboards by TIM and the second being a funky, R&B number with more great horns and very soulful vocals.

"WHY CAN'T WE BE" is one of those very slow, soulful blues ballads that just stops you in your tracks. As JOE sings you can just feel his emotions and want to start singing along with him. This one is a classic and may just be the best track on the disc. It's interesting that the song opens with the words "Slow down...take it easy......." and that's just what the song makes you do.

"CRUISIN", in a way, is a bit like "WHY CAN'T WE BE". It has a similar fifties sounding style and an easy to sing along with chorus. It also features JOE once again belting out some very smooth vocals along with lots of great background help. Another classic.

"WIND, RAIN AND TEARS", because of it's low down dirty blues style, is another one of my favorites. PROFFESSOR DOUG gets to get into the act on this one with a load of searing, blues licks on electric guitar. As for JOE, he was born to sing this type of song.

"GUILTY" is a jazzy style blues shuffle that immediately had me snappin' and tappin'. Everyone's in the pocket here. Excellent groove provided by the WOODS - RUSS & PETE, great guitar by the PROFESSOR, outstanding piano by GLEN and the RADIO HORNS at their usual best.

"LAY YOUR MONEY DOWN" opens with the horn and rhythm sections painting a picture of a scene from a detective move that takes place on a gloomy night down a dark, narrow street. Then it opens with the following lyrics...."Cold dark streets beneath the city lights...Flash cars gleaming in the pouring rain..." Amazing! Never have I heard a better lyrically and musically matched recording.

I can't think of any other way to close out other than to say that "BLACK & WHITE" literally blew me away. It's stuff like this that makes doing what I do enjoyable.

Because of the lack of a national distribution contract and the infancy of the Internet at the time of it's original release, BELLEVUE CADILLAC has decided to re-release BLACK & WHITE. They, and I agree 100% with their thought, feel that this disc deserves a better chance to reach the masses. This also makes it eligible to be in contention - and it already is - for the 2006 BLEWZZY.

You can visit Bellevue Cadillac on the web at:

Musical Bar

Theresa and TC Blue CD Review

Theresa and TC Blue
"Roll of the Dice"


The blues scene in South Florida will rival that of any city in the country, including some of the so called blues meccas. While many clubs in Chicago, Memphis and New Orleans are closing down or abandoning the blues, the scene is exploding in South Florida. The area has about twenty clubs that now play blues on a quite regular basis and there are at least thirty blues bands that are working on a regular basis.

One of those bands is THERESA AND TC BLUE. The band consists of: THERESA LINDSTROM on lead and background vocals and acoustic guitar; RIT JOHNSON on lead, rhythm, slide, acoustic and dobro guitars and background vocals; MARK LILLIS on bass guitar and background vocals; FRED "BEETLE" BAILEY on keyboards; and DAN HESS on drums. Their new CD is titled "ROLL OF THE DICE" and it consists of fourteen tracks of which all are THERESA and RIT originals. Special guests on this project are: RICHARD MALFITANO, saxophone and flute; JOHN HARRIS, harmonica; PETER SOLLEY, keyboards; BILL MEREDITH, percussion; DIANA D'AMBROSIO, NANCY HARTLINE and MICHAEL-ANN STEWART, harmony vocals.

The first of the many personal favorites of mine on "ROLL OF THE DICE" was "YOU'RE NOT FOOLIN' ME". This one's very hot and may very well be the best track on the disc. My whole body was shaking as it tried to keep time with the great drum work by DAN. Being one of several tracks that feature great sax by RICHARD also highlighted this one. THERESA'S very country sounding vocals are absolutely marvelous and the harmonic and rhythmic hand clapping was superb. A few more like this and this disc will be a big hit.

"CAN YOU TELL", is a steamy, slow blues burner which is ALWAYS a good thing. This is the kind of song that saxophones were made for and RICHARD surely backs up that statement. Along with some real nice, piercing blues guitar riffs by RIT and a very soulful and sultry vocal performance by THERESA, this one's another of the discs highlights.

"DAMN THAT FULL MOON" is an all too short, outstanding, country blues ballad. The vocal harmony between THERESA, DIANA and NANCY is outstanding, JOHN's harmonica is perfect and RITS guitars are dynamite. This three and a half minute track should have been ten minutes long - I could have easily taken more of his one.

"LET ME IN" is a straight up jam with everyone right in the pocket, even the crying baby, the barking dog, the screaming neighbors and the screeching police cars. This is a hot, fun song with THERESA, as she does on just about every track, belting out some great vocals.

"ROLL OF THE DICE", the title track, is a country blues number with a bit of a gospel feel. As usual THERESA is on top of her game while being nicely backed up by her harmonic harem. PETE'S organ provides a very nice spiritual effect on this one.

Because of locale, I had seen TC BLUE several times before, but always as an acoustic act. Due to that fact, I must admit that "ROLL OF THE DICE" most certainly took me by surprise - and a very nice surprise at that. This electric ensemble, guests included, is quite a talented bunch. If this disc was indeed a "ROLL OF THE DICE" for THERESA AND TC BLUE, trust this listener - an avid craps shooter - when he tells you this product is a "natural" seven/eleven (and for those of you who aren't familiar with craps, rolling a "natural" is as good as it gets.

You can visit Theresa and TC Blue on the web at:

Musical Bar

Albert Castiglia CD Review

Albert Castiglia
"A Stone's Throw"

Blue Leaf Records


What an absolute pleasure it is for me to be reviewing this CD. After reviewing products from so many unknown bands, in so many different cities, states and countries, I am really looking forward to writing about a performer that is a South Florida local and, in addition to having seen about one hundred times, is a very dear friend - MR. ALBERT CASTIGLIA.

Sure, the cynics will be wondering if this review will be biased? If it may be over complimentary? And, if I may get over zealous with my praise? To all of them I say this - "PROBABLY"! On the other hand, what I say matters not - "A STONE'S THROW" will speak for itself and definitely back up anything that's said here verbally.

"A STONE'S THROW" is a mix of half a dozen covers, a few tracks written by GRAHAM WOOD DROUT - another South Florida local and fine musician himself - and a few of ALBERTS originals. Joining ALBERT, on Lead Vocals and Guitar are STEVE GASKELL on Bass, JERRYY MASCARO on Keyboards and Background Vocals, BOB AMSEL and NED BERNDT on Drums and SANDY MACK on Harmonica.

The CD opens with "BIG TOE". The first few bars lead you to believe it's a slow acoustic solo. Then, out of nowhere, ALBERT and JERRY light it up. With the rhythm section in a nice groove throughout, the guitar and organ - along with ALBERT'S vocals - highlight this track about a chain gang worker who, out of frustration from being abused by the big boss man, cuts off his big toe with his shovel. His rationale is that if he can't walk, he won't have to work. Can I borrow that shovel?

On "WALKING BLUES", a Robert Johnson cover, another of ALBERT'S strengths is highlighted - his smoking slide guitar playing. On this one he's relentless. JERRY on piano and NED on drums provide lots of hot support.

Some fancy picking and more great slide add up to a hot serving of Delta Blues on "THE GHOSTS OF MISSISSIPPI". Other than some very soft and very nice background harmonica by SANDY, this one is all ALBERT. The guitar work is nothing but masterful.

"HURRICANE BLUES" is a song all too familiar to us South Floridians and our geographic neighbors. On this one ALBERT sings of summertime activities familiar to our residents. No, I don't mean going to the beach, sunning or surfing, I'm talking about battening down the hatches, hunkering down, putting up the shutters and getting out the wood and nails. On this track ALBERT'S guitar playing tears it up as bad as any hurricane can.

"PARTY TILL THE COWS COME HOME" is another highlight amongst highlights. On this one it's all about everyone. With JERRY leading the way on piano everyone falls into a very fast and fantastic jam. What else would you expect on an Elvin Bishop track? Immediately following is "RISE AND FALL OF FLINGEL BLUNT", a toned down instrumental on which STEVE and BOB provide ALBERT with lots of rhythm.

"CRYING THE BLUES", one of his originals, finds ALBERT doing what he does the best....singing and playing the blues. This track features vocals you can feel and has some of the best guitar licks on the disc.

"SITTIN HERE WAITIN" closes out "A STONE'S THROW" with a bang. It's one of those catchy sing-a-longs that gets all your limbs moving and just plain old makes you feel good. A big part of that is JERRY MASCARO'S wicked piano playing. He's one of the best piano players in South Florida and although I have seen him play in several bands, JERRY'S at his highest level since joining ALBERT.

Although ALBERT CASTIGLIA'S been around the block a few times - once as lead guitarist for Junior Wells and once as the opening act for Sandra Hall's tours, this time around it's him the people are wanting to see, it's him that's blowing away audiences and it's him the cheers, applause and curtain calls are for..........and deservedly so I must say.

You can visit Albert Castiglia on the web at:

Musical Bar

Mark Cook CD Review

The Mark Cook Project
"Blue VooDoo"

Wendster Records / Mec Jetlag


Just about a week ago, I did a review of a CD from a band called BLUE VOODOO, now here I am doing a review of a CD, by THE MARK COOK PROJECT, called "BLUE VOODOO". Is this a coincidence or should I be expecting to receive a doll called BLUE VOODOO soon? Hmmmm!

I must admit that when MARK COOK contacted me recently and asked if I'd give his latest release a listen, I was ECSTATIC! I immediately thought back to one of his prior releases that I had reviewed in 2003 and found myself hoping that this new disc would be as good as that one was. As a matter of fact, it was that earlier release - "AN EVENING WITH THE BLUES" - that won the very first BLEWZZY, the award we give annually to Blewzzman's favorite CD of all the CD's reviewed that year.

As Mark usually does, when he assembled this band, he chose from some of the finest musicians in his area, and he chose a lot of them. His ensembles are generally the size of a small audience. Hence the word "PROJECT". The members of this MARK COOK PROJECT, in alphabetical order, are: MIKE BARRY, trumpet; CHUCK BITHORN, percussion; ANDREW BLACK, vocals; MARK COOK, guitar, bass and keyboards; WENDY COOK, porch board; HEAVEN DAVIS, vocals; TOM GIBSON, trombone; LARRY GRIFFITH, vocals; LOLA GULLEY, vocals; JOEY HUFFMAN, B3 organ, STEVE MAYS, bass; BOB MOBLEY, B3 organ and piano; SEAN O'ROURKE, drums; STEVE RUSIN, harmonica; RIC SEYMOUR, vocals; SAM SKELTON, alto, tenor and baritone saxes; TIM YOUNG, bass.

"BLUE VOODOO" is a very tasteful and versatile mix of Funk, Soul, R&B, Roots Blues, Blues Rock, Big Band Blues and good old straight up, lowdown Chicago Blues. The disc contains 15 excellent tracks of which all lyrics and music were written, produced, recorded and mixed by MARK COOK. Amazing!

Although it will be difficult to not name them all, here are some of the tracks that particularly got my mojo working.

If you've got any speakers near a smoke alarm, be very careful as the opening track, "NO ONE LIKES A GOOD WOMAN (WHEN SHE'S DOWN)", comes on. This one's very hot and full of fiery funk. The rhythm section of SEAN, TOM and JOEY is rippin', the horns of SAM, MIKE and TOM are howlin', STEVE'S harmonica's hummin' and LOLA's vocals is the fuse that sets it all off.

There's no indication of anyone letting up, as the heat continues to spread into the next track, "GONNA FLY THE COOP". This one features ANDREW singing his heart out and mixing in lots scintillating scat. The horn section, once again - and as usual - are right there, and MARK and BOBBY are tearing up the guitar and keyboards. What a hell of a one-two punch for opening tracks.

"MOONLIGHT BLUES" brings things down a bit, but certainly not in quality - only in tempo. Once again, LOLA is featured on the vocals but this time she's belting out some good old down home blues, and damn can she belt it out. As you'd expect, there are lots of great blues guitar licks by MARK.

"BACK TO TENNEESSEE", is a very Sonny Terry & Brownee McGhee / Cephas & Wiggins sounding roots blues track which is all about STEVE on harmonica and LARRY on down home vocals.

"DON'T PULL ME DOWN" is another one of those tracks that everyone's tearing it up on, with RIC, one of a slew of excellent vocalists who have sung on this disc, leading the way. MARK, STEVE & JOEY are at their best on guitar, harp and organ.

"TOMORROW'S COME AND GONE", is a steamy and sultry vocal virtuoso performance by HEAVEN & LARRY. This wonderfully done 5 minute track added 75 minutes on this review because I literally listened to it 15 times over. It's songs like this that create a need for "Song of the Year Awards".

"BLUE VOODOO" is the musical comparison to the sky on a very clear and cloudless night....IT'S FULL OF STARS. Never have I listened to a CD and been this impressed with each and every performer. It breaks my heart to know that there are such talented people doing such talented things and the masses will never know about it. On the other hand, I'm thankful that I am one of the those that do.

Purchase a copy of "Blue VooDoo" directly from us by clicking

You can visit Mark Cook on the web at:

Musical Bar


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