"STIRRIN' UP BEES" may very well be the farthest I've ever strayed from the blues. My regular readers pretty much know that if it's not straight up blues, or at least something pretty close, I'm not even listening to it let alone writing about it. Yet something about this disc - which features songs sounding more like 60's or 70's R&B, Soul and Funk rather than blues - caught my fancy. I guess it's just a combination of the good writing, good vocals and good musicianship.
"STIRRIN' UP BEES" features fourteen tracks of which thirteen are ROBERT PECKMAN originals. Joining ROBERT on lead vocals, background vocals, bass and percussion are: BRANDON BARNES on drums; JIMMY BRITON on keyboards, vibes and background vocals; STEVE DALACH on guitar; DAN DONOHOE on trumpet; ROBBIE KLEIN on saxophones; JOHNNY DAYE and BO WAGNER on lead and background vocals; PETE HEWLETT on background vocals.
If you're a dancer, you'd be heading to the dance floor three seconds into the opening track, "PUT IT IN THE POCKET". I'm not, but it even had me feeling like stepping up from the keypad and bouncing around my office. Everyone's at their peak on this track - what a way to open. This is fierce funk at it's finest.
Telling a joke that isn't funny, robbing a bank and getting no money, and "STIRRING UP BEES".....and not getting any honey.....are all comparisons as to what's happening to ROBERT as he makes his move on a woman. At least the song sounds a lot better than ROBERT'S doings. Great vocals and horns on this one.
"A MAN MUST STAND FOR SOMETHING"......or he will fall for anything, is another sample of some of the very well written lyrics on this disc. The vocals - lead, background and harmony - highlight one of this discs highlights.
Once again, along with the horns getting very funky, the vocals and harmonizing rise to the top on this very "top ten type" Motown sounding track titled "STOP AND TAKE A LOOK". This one's for singing along with.
"LETS TALK IT OVER" features STAX recording artist JOHNNY DAYE, who prior to this recording had not been in a studio since 1968. Amazing, after nearly a forty year layoff he sounds like what most singers today wish they could sound like. After hearing what I just heard, I'm thinking - and certainly hoping, that a comeback could be a strong possibility. Great rhythm and guitar on this one, which the slow dancers will absolutely love.
"DON'T BE A REAPER" will definitely get you movin' & shoutin'. More great lyrics and harmony are featured on this wonderful Gospel track. Great drum and piano work by BRANDON and JIMMY add to another one of this discs highlights.
Other tracks included on "STIRRIN' UP BEES" are: "BAMBOOZLED", "PLEASE COME HOME" "I WANNA GO DOWN TO NEW ORLEANS", "BETTY CAN GET MAD", "SLEEPIN' ON THE JOB", "JUST A FEW WORDS", "HEY JOHN R" and "STRUGGLIN".
Although my name is the Blewzzman and NOT the Rhythm & Blewzzman, I'll have to admit that this little stroll outside the blues genre was a most enjoyable listening pleasure. ROBERT PECKMAN will never convert me however, he did impress me.
Visit Bonedog Records on the Web at: www.bonedogrecords.com/
Watch out all you blues divas - KOKO TAYLOR is back. And if "OLD SCHOOL" is any indication, all of you aspiring heirs to her throne may as well just put those aspirations on hold - "THE QUEEN" is showing no signs of being ready to relinquish it.
A long layoff, bouts with illnesses and stays in the hospital were all just a part of paying the dues to sing the blues. With all that behind her, KOKO's sounding as vibrant and confident as I've ever heard her sound.
"OLD SCHOOL" features a dozen good old, hard core, down in the basement blues tracks of which five are KOKO TAYLOR originals. On various different tracks she is joined by various different musicians who include: "STEADY ROLLIN' BOB MARGOLIN on guitar; CRISS JOHNSON on guitar; BILLY BRANCH on harmonica; BROTHER JOHN KATTKE on piano; KENNY HAMPTON on electric bass; JIMMY SUTTON on standup bass; WILLE "THE TOUCH" HAYES" on drums; MARK KAZANOFF on tenor sax; and members of THE BLUES MACHINE featuring VINO LOUDEN and SHUN KIKUTA on guitar, STANLEY BANKS on piano, MELVIN SMITH on bass and RICKY NELSON on drums.
The opening track, "PIECE OF MAN" - a KOKO TAYLOR original - immediately tells the listener that "THE QUEEN" is feeling and sounding like she's in her prime. The gritty growling, the fiery attitude and all of her other classic characteristics are vibrantly present right from the opening "Heyyyyyy Yawwwwwwl". BILLY BRANCH'S harp & CRISS JOHNSON'S guitar highlight this one.
I wouldn't want to be the "BLACK RAT", whose trail KOKO is on. This dude's in for some serious problems if she get her hands on him. BOB MARGOLIN, who in this writers opinion is the best slide guitarist in the business, and KOKO'S vocals, steal this one.
Some of the best vocals on the disc can be heard on the slow, soulful ballad 'MONEY IS THE NAME OF THE GAME". Songs like this were made for KOKO to sing.
The gritty growling doesn't get any better as KOKO tells her poor excuse of a man "YOU AIN'T WORTH A GOOD WOMAN". This one features BROTHER JOHN sounding great on the piano and CRISS once again smokin' on guitar.
"YOU BETTER WATCH YOUR STEP" has everyone in high gear. This fast paced smoker is led by the fiery rhythm section of KENNY and WILLIE on bass and drums while BILLY and BROTHER JOHN duke it out on harp and piano. One of the discs best.
A stroll down "BAD AVENUE" will ultimately lead you to one of the more down and dirty blues tracks. BOB'S at it again on slide and BILLY'S best work on the harp can be heard right here. More great work by KOKO.
A disc by "THE QUEEN" just wouldn't be right without a WILLIE DIXON song or two. "DON'T GO NO FURTHER" takes care of that. This one's got lots of big sounds coming from CRISS'S guitar, JIMMY'S bass and MARK'S sax.
"OLD SCHOOL" closes out with what seemed like such an appropriate song. It's another WILLIE DIXON track titled "YOUNG FASHIONED WAYS". The lyrics state "I may be getting old, but I've got young fashioned ways". Having heard what I just heard, I believe KOKO just may be sending us a message with that line. This track unites KOKO TAYLOR & THE BLUES MACHINE.
Other tracks include "GONNA BUY ME A MULE", "BAD ROOSTER", "ALL YOUR LOVE" and "HARD PILL TO SWALLOW".
Give KOKO a holler at www.kokotaylor.com and let her know that you heard from Pete the Blewzzman that she's Wang Dang Doodling again.
For the longest time now I have been very aware of the popularity of American Blues Music in other parts of the world. Many touring blues artist have done much better for themselves overseas than they have right here in the states. On the other hand, I've never given much thought to what, if any, the "local blues scene" would be like in these far away places. However, since being involved with www.Mary4Music.com for the last seven years, access from and to these places has changed all that. I now know, from the discs I receive from countries I'll probably never visit, that just as in the states, there are many good local bands in many different cites, in many different countries, all over the world. That my friends, makes me feel great. The blues is being kept alive all over the world.
One of the places that seems to have an abundance of good local blues bands is the home of my forefathers - albeit they were not blues fans - and that's Italy. BLACK CAT BONE is the latest of many Italian Blues Bands that I've had the pleasure to listen to. The band consists of GENNARO CARRILLO on vocals, harmonica and rub board, GIANNI DI RUVO on guitars, NUNZIO DRAGONETTI on keyboards, CLAUDIO DE PALO on bass, and MIRCO DAL BARCO on drums. Special guests are the DADAMA HORNS featuring DAVIDE SPARANZA on trumpet, DANIELE BRUSETTI on tenor sax and MARIO VALENTE on alto sax with a choir consisting of ADELE URPI, VANDA MAZZERELLI, PAOLO CORDIO, CLAUDIO DE PALO, GIANNI DE RUVO, NUNZIO DRAGONETTI, and MIRCO DAL BARCO, and PAOLA IMPOSIMATO on background vocals.
"TOO BLUES TO SUCCEED" consists of a dozen very well done tracks of which about half are BLACK CAT BONE originals and, quite interestingly, a few of those are done in their native tongue. The disc opens with the band taking a safe and sure way of introducing themselves to the listener - covering two classics, "CORINA, CORINA" and "GIVE ME BACK MY WIG" - and doing a great job on each. On both of these tracks the vocals, the harp blowing, the guitar solos and the piano playing are all top notch. The rhythm section, not to be outdone, adds a very dominant bass to "CORINA, CORINA" with the drummer taking charge on "GIVE ME BACK MY WIG".
On an original titled "I'M 45", GENNARO sings about his characteristics at what I guess is his age. Some of those are he's too old to be sexy and too young to die. Now, before I go any further, let me set this young man straight....."Hey GENNARO, us Italians are sexy at any age". He then goes on to sing about things that happened to him at various ages of his life - all of which seem to have made him very happy. The song is very interesting with great piano background and a very good guitar solo right at the end.
"UN PICCOLO BLUES", is a real slow and very sultry song featuring lots a serious harp riffs, and it's sung in Italian. No matter what the language, it's very clear GENNARO'S got the blues on this one. MARIO'S amazing sax work makes this one of the discs highlights.
"CRAZY, WRONG AND CONFUSED" is a hot original. NUNZIO and GIANNI tear it up on organ and guitar, and GENNARO blows some of the best chromatic harp (which I'm generally not a fan of) I've ever heard.
"THERE'S A WOMAN" is a great original blues ballad. And on it, there's a woman - PAOLA - who adds a lot to the track with some absolutely beautiful backup vocals. Maybe next time around the guys will put her on a few more tracks, hint, hint, hint. Great guitar work once again by GIANNI.
The disc closes with yet another original, a red hot, jamming instrumental called "RED ONIONS". Move your speakers away from the smoke alarms and turn up the volume on this one.
Other tracks featured on "TOO BLUES TO SUCCEED" are "PERFECT LOVE", "WATCH ME MOVE", "DON'T LET IT GO", "SO EXCITED" and "SABATO SERA".
Now that you're aware of the fact that not all Italians are actors on the Sopranos, and that some of them are actually out here making some very good blues music, why don't you contact the guys and tell them that the Blewzzman said "la vostra musica è molto buona e dovrei averlo nella mia accumulazione". You can do that by going to www.blackcatbone.it/
The notes inside DANNY DRAHERS CD, "BIG FUN TONIGHT", have me puzzled. I'm sitting here in sheer amazement wondering to myself how this guy could have been involved in everything he's been involved with, and yet he's not a household name within the blues community. Forgive me for not even attempting to list his credentials.....space just doesn't allow. You'll just have to go to his website and read it for yourself. Or better yet - get the disc, and as your reading about his life's accomplishments, relish in his musical accomplishments.
"BIG FUN TONIGHT", features thirteen original tracks by DANNY that showcase him shuffling between jazzy, funky and slow blues. Joining DANNY, on guitar and vocals, is a very impressive ensemble of distinguished guests that include: DR. JOHN and BRIAN MITCHELL on piano; BERNARD PURDIE, MIKE CLARK, GREG ROCKINGHAM, TOBY WILLIAMS and GEORGE RECILLE on drums; WILBUR BASCOMB on bass; BOB MALACH on sax; LARRY ETKIN on trumpet and CHRIS FOREMAN, REUBEN WILSON and EVERETTE DE VAN all on the Hammond B3 organ. If you're an organ fan, I'm sure by now you're salivating.
"BIG FUN TONIGHT" isn't just the title of the disc and the title of the opening track, it may very well describe what you'll be doing as you're listening - having big fun. The band's real tight on this hot shuffle. As you'd expect from the bands introductions, and you can expect this on most of the tracks, CHRIS on the B3 is just one of this tracks highlights. DANNY'S vocals and his extended solo at the songs end are others.
The rapid rhythm of GREG on drums and WILBUR on bass set the blazing pace on this smokin' instrumental called "GARLIC & ONIONS". The leads, passed back and forth 'tween DANNY on guitar and CHRIS on the Hammond, are phenomenal. This one's spicy hot.
Anyone who has ever read one of my reviews knows that on discs featuring different styles of blues, it's the low down dirty blues tracks that are always my personal favorites. "DON'T KNOW MUCH" is one of those tracks. It opens with some serious blues guitar riffs and very soulful vocals by DANNY before it's turned over to the DR for some scorching blues on the piano. After the horns and the Hammond kick in it's DANNY all over again. This is nine and a half minutes - and that's if you resist hitting replay, which I couldn't - of ass kickin' blues.
The jazz lovers will just love "32nd & 3rd". It even sounds like a corner you'd expect a jazz joint to be on (who know's, perhaps it is). Once again, GREG and WILBUR are setting the pace. However, it's a much smoother and slower pace this time around. The kind that gets the foot tapping, the head bobbing and the body swaying like a Jello mold. Meanwhile, DANNY and CHRIS are putting on a virtual music class on the guitar and the organ. Another 9.5 minutes of musical bliss.
"GOIN' HOME" and "I DON'T KNOW WHY"are both quick 3 minute tracks with excellent drum work. On "GOIN' HOME", with everyone in jam mode, some fast and furious stick work can be heard by GEORGE, and on "I DON'T KNOW", its GREG layin' down the beautiful beat.
The rest of "BIG FUN TONIGHT" features "MY DESIRE", "LI'L GIRL", "DISCO WOMAN", "BLUES FOR C. L.", "GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?" and "JIGSAW".
Most people, as the saying goes, prefer quality over quantity. With nearly eighty minutes of absolutely excellent music on "BIG FUN TONIGHT", you enjoy the pleasure of both. Give DANNY DRAHER a shout and tell him the Blewzzman said your record collection should include this disc.
You can visit Danny Draher on the web at: www.dannydraher.com
It must be a drag going to your favorite blues artist's website and seeing that they will be in all the cool juke joints in all the big cities while you are living in Smallsville or Tinytown which are both 50 - 100 miles outside of Hickton or Blinksburgh which are both 100 - 200 miles from any city that even has a cool juke joint. I can feel your pain. I'm living in a big city and I sometimes have to still drive 4 hrs round trip to a good blues gig. I'm thinking there are some blues fans out there that may never, or at very best, rarely ever get to see a really good blues show. To you folks I have only one thing to say, after offering my sympathy of course, and that's DVD.
One in particular is TAB BENOIT'S "VOICE OF THE WETLANDS", recorded live at the North Atlantic Blues Festival. The video features, who every female blues fan that I know refers to as the hunk of the blues, TAB BENOIT on vocals and guitar, CARL DUFRENE on bass and DARRYL WHITE on drums.
TAB wastes no time getting into the groove. On the opening track, "WE MAKE A GOOD GUMBO", within 15 seconds of being on stage, he's tearing up guitar riffs and that's pretty much what you can expect throughout the whole nine minute track. The shows just starting and the crowd is already wild.....Woo Hoo!
After a brief but interesting interview about how, what and who got him into the blues, hosted by PAUL E. BENJAMIN, TAB showcases his excellent vocal ability on "BLUES SO BAD". The songs wonderful lyrics consist of innuendos such as "The blues don't sing but it swings", "The blues don't burn but they smoke" and "The blues come but they don't go". Great song with great close ups.
Another smoker is a song which features the words that I'm sure every one of us has used one time or another....."WHY ARE PEOPLE LIKE THAT?" Between asking why people do all the dirtbag crap they do to each other TAB lays down some of the best guitar work on the video. Ladies, ya gonna love this one. Many great shots of TAB'S intensity on this one.
Those boozers amongst the bluesers will appreciate "I GOT LOADED". The song tells of getting loaded last night on a bottle of gin, getting loaded the night before on a bottle of whiskey and getting ready to get loaded tonight on a bottle of wine. Watch out the day after tomorrow. Great Delta blues song.
Dirty doesn't only describe the dishes, it describes the song as well on "TOO MANY DIRTY DISHES". This is good old straight up down and dirty blues at it's best- which always leads to making a particular track my favorite - and this one is. The singing and guitar work are unreal on this one.
In addition to a second short interview with TAB about the cause he is heavily involved in - Saving the Louisiana Wetlands, there is footage featuring scenes of the picturesque wetlands. The video also features "WHEN A CAJUN MAN GETS THE BLUES", "THE BLUES IS HERE TO STAY" "GOT LOVE IF YOU WANT IT", "LOUISIANA MAN" and "LOUISIANA SUNSHINE".
If you're a T. B. fan, regardless of whether you've never seen him or you've seen him several times, you'll love this video. I highly suggest going to www.jukejointvideo.com/ and picking one up. And don't forget, when they ask ya how ya heard, tell them it was from the Blewzzman.