Every once in a while, I'll do a review of a CD by an artist that I feel honored to be doing it for - this is one of those times. It is with a humbling pleasure that I sit here about to offer my thoughts on one of the last of the original Delta bluesmen - the Grammy Award winning Mr. DAVID "HONEYBOY" EDWARDS.
There's no question this high profile disc is going to be written up, talked about and commented on by the masses within the blues community. Having said that, I'll leave getting into the production and historical aspects of "ROAMIN' AND RAMBLIN'" to the more qualified crowd. I'm just going to tell ya 'bout the music and those making it.
Saying HONEYBOY EDWARDS has played with some of the best in the business, as well as with most of the genres legends, would be like saying the color of the sky is blue. Listing everyone he's played with would be like changing the color of the sky to green. However those that he's playing with on these nineteen tracks are: BOBBY RUSH, PAUL KAYE, KENNY "BEEDY EYES" SMITH, BILLY BRANCH, RICK SHERRY, SUGAR BLUE, WALTER HORTON, MICHAEL FRANK and JOHNNY "YARD DOG" JONES.
One of my favorite moments on this disc is a less than a minute and a half conversation with HONEYBOY and BOBBY RUSH. I could listen all night long to some of the stories these old bluesmen tell - especially the way BOBBY tells 'em. This anecdote has the guys "TALKING ABOUT LITTLE WALTER", and reminiscing about how HONEYBOY was responsible for discovering LITTLE WALTER, and then BOBBY telling how LITTLE WALTER would steal his harmonica licks. Leave it to BOBBY - he should put out a CD of all these little stories.
Speaking of BOBBY, he - on guitar - and KENNY on drums do a great job on a short instrumental titled "STROLLIN' DOWN HIGHWAY 61".
"SMOKEY MOUNTAINS" & "JUMP OUT" are the two tracks featuring LITTLE WALTER. This first one has WALTER on vocals as well as harp, and on the later, you get a good taste of what all these other harmonica players have been trying to sound like all these years. Great pickin' by HONEYBOY on this one.
Even at this age, HONEYBOY claims - and proves - he's still a "BOOGIE RAMBLER". On this track, which was only recorded nine months ago, his stamina shines as well and his vocals and guitar. "YARD DOG" gets in his share of hot harp licks on this one.
For this listener, some of HONEBOY'S best vocals on the disc can be heard on "LITTLE BOY BLUE". His emotions are intense as he growls out for Little Boy Blue to please blow his horn. In response, he gets some equally emotional harp playing out of MICHAEL FRANK.
Apparently, HONEYBOY and I have something in common. As he sings......I didn't know "I WAS IN NEW ORLEANS LAST NIGHT", weird feelings of deja vu came over me. I may have also spent nights in NEW ORLEANS not knowing I was there. Bourbon Street will do that to ya. What I do know is HONEBOY and SUGAR BLUE are hot on this duet.
"SHUFFLIN' THE BLUES CONVERSATION" is another chat between HONEYBOY and BOBBY. It features the two legends talking about what the blues is. Of course for BOBBY, the blues is getting into town late, and all the other guys getting the girls before he gets there. Ya gotta love it.
Other tracks on "ROAMIN' AND RAMBLIN'" are: "APRON STRINGS", "CRAWLING KINKSNAKE", "TROUBLE EVERYWHERE I GO", "HOW LONG", "MAXWELL STREET SHUFFLE", "THE ARMY BLUES", "ROAMIN' AND RAMBLIN'", 'LOW DOWN DOG", "FREIGHT TRAIN TALE", "RIDING THE RAILS", and "SHE WORRIES ME ALL THE TIME".
If you're like me and want to know more about the legendary HONEYBOY, visit his website at www.davidhoneyboyedwards.com. While you're there, click on to the EARWIG MUSIC COMPANY link and pick up a copy of "ROAMIN' AND RAMBLIN'". The Blewzzman's thinking you'll be glad you did.
It seems that of late, a lot of my blues pleasures are coming from - of all places - Red Bank, NJ. And please, don't even ask me "what exit is that?" The past several summers have found me roaming the grounds of Marine Park for the Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundations Blues Festival and now I'm sitting here listening to a great local band from that area - THE DENNIS PETERS BAND.
The band is a very strong, three piece combo featuring DENNIS PETERS on guitar and vocals, RUSS DEINSTADT on drums and DAN CHRISTIE on bass. And, as I've said in the past, a good three piece band deserves a lot of respect - and these guys are good. Their self titled disc - THE DENNIS PETERS BAND - consists of all original music with quite a broad range of styles.
"IM SATISFIED" might just be what a listener - especially those liking blues rock - would say after hearing this opening track. It's a smoker with lots of good and rough guitar work, hot rhythm and great vocal work.
"HEY HEY MAMA" gets a bit more traditional. It's a good ol' blues shuffle that immediately got my foot tappin' and my fingers snappin'. More great rhythm from RUSS & DAN and some great down and dirty blues licks form DENNIS highlight this one.
Fans of the late great Stevie Ray Vaughan - and who isn't - will appreciate "TOO MANY NIGHTS". Although the rhythm cats are as tight as usual, this one's pretty much all DENNIS. The gruff vocals and the rough and tough type of guitar licks that made SRV so famous are this tracks highlights.
DENNIS is right on the money when he says "I GOT THE BLUES BABY". On this fast as a speeding locomotive track, RUSS and DAN are smokin' on the rhythm and DENNIS flat out kicks ass on the Resonator Guitar.
If this were Jeopardy, would you know the question when the answer was "Because you want to sing the blues"? It would of course be, "WHY DO I SUFFER LIKE I DO?". It would stand to reason that the players would be at discs best on the discs best track, and that's exactly what's going on here. Along with phenomenal guitar work, DENNIS nails it on the vocals. The other guys? They're kickin' ass as they've done all disc.
Although there are only eight tracks with just over thirty minutes of music, THE DENNIS PETERS BAND brings it's game for every one of those minutes.
Other tracks not mentioned include "YOU WANTED IT THAT WAY", "I'VE BEEN DOWN FOR SO LONG" and "PANCAKES".
Check the band out at www.thedennispetersband.com and tell them the Blewzzman told you they rock.
Ironically, as I'm sitting here listening to some red hot blues from Canada, the very people who sent me the disc are experiencing a mid spring snow storm. I guess, as the expression goes, you've got to suffer if you want to sing the blues.
"PURE PLEASURE", by DONALD RAY JOHNSON, consists of thirteen wonderfully arranged tracks of which eight are DRJ originals. While assembling the ensemble for this project, DONALD not only sought out high quality musicians, he sought out a high quantity of musicians as well - nearly thirty of them. They are: DONALD RAY JOHNSON on drums, keyboards, piano and vocals; CHRIS BRYRNE, GEORGE PHILLIPS, ROB VAUSE and RUSSEL JACKSON on bass; MICHAEL HUSTON, JOHN MILLS, BILL JOHNSON, JAMES CHIP BURNEY and MAURICE JOHN VAUGHN on guitar; RON CASAT on organ; B. J. EMERY on trombone; GRAHAM GUEST, NATE STRONG, DALE RENE` and GARY BOWMAN on piano; RALPH MONCIVIAS, MIKE YOUNG, DON "DICKIE" CHILDS, MIKE CLARK (also on background vocals) and PAT BELLAVEAU (also on soprano sax) on tenor sax; JIMMY CARVER on keyboards; GIBB MONKS and P. J. PERRY on alto sax; BRAD STECKEL on acoustic guitar; JOHN PAIN on drums; JANIS KIBLLE and STEVE PINEO on background vocals; PHEW! It's a good thing the horn section had no trumpet players or I'd be out of room.
Obviously, the opening track wasn't titled for the band, 'cause they certainly didn't "SLOW DOWN BABY". This track features a funky rhythm with hot sax and guitar solos by RALPH and MICHAEL and dynamic vocals by DONALD. Great opener.
In spite of some fine guitar and tenor riffs by JOHN and MIKE, "HERE TO STAY" is all about DONALD. His very soulful and slightly sultry vocals and outstanding keyboard work highlight this very sexy and somewhat Barry White-ish type dance song.
"SONG FOR PERRY" (WALK AROUND HEAVEN ALL DAY), is a spiritual ballad which, according to the liner notes, appears to be dedicated to a late friend of DONALD'S. Although melancholy in mood, the performance is stellar. GIBB'S alto sax at the onset and RON'S organ work throughout the track are both outstanding, the background vocals are right on and you can just feel the sorrow in DONALD'S voice. Ya gotta know Perry's hearing this one.
Had this song been written this year, "THRILLING YOU KILLING ME" would have been my nomination for song of the year. It just does not get any better....or more blue than this. If the question "What is the blues" should ever be asked, this is the song that should be played as the answer. It's the type of song that just stops you in your tracks, makes your eyes close, your head hang down and carries you away. I'm feeling this one. DRJ, ROB VAUSE and JOHN MILLS are flawless on this one. By far, the discs best.
In addition to musically being another of the discs highlights, "NO GUITAR BLUES" is a lyrical pisser. In the middle of this very serious and low down blues number, while MICHAEL'S making his guitar cry out some scorching blues, DONALD starts softly telling a story about how a record company exec once said something to him about not having a guitar. The hotter MICHAEL'S notes get, the more hilarious DONALD gets. Good stuff right here.
Trouble is just one of the many "NAMES" that DONALD comes up with for his lady on this one. Because she "digs" so many guys, Shovel is another, and of course, there's Misery as well. Hmmm, I wonder if he's seeing one of my ex's? Along with some good tenor work by DON, some of the discs best bass and piano work can be heard right here by GEORGE and NATE.
Other tracks on this incredibly good disc are:"ROCKING IN THE SAME OLD BOAT", "GONE SO LONG", "DON'T LET THE GREEN GRASS FOOL YA", "IT AIN'T EASY BEING BLUE", "HEY GIRL", "WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD" and "TOO YOUNG TO KNOW".
Although this disc is several years old, I'm highly recommending that if you don't yet have it, then you should make it new to your collection. You can do that by visiting DONAL RAY JOHNSON at www.donaldray.com. Of course, after you buy the disc, ya gotta tell him the Blewzzman sent ya.
Now before I even get started here, let me say a word to all of the married men that may read this review. Although you may find this hard to believe, when BOBBY "BLACKHAT" WALTERS wrote "YOU CHANGED YOUR MIND AGAIN", it wasn't only "your" wife he was writing about. Mrs. Blewzzman, as well as all of our wives, will attest to that. Can I get an "Amen" on that?
One of the things I love most about what I do here is the fact that I am constantly getting introduced to new musicians from all over the world. Musicians, who perhaps, I possibly may never have had the pleasure of listening to their wonderful music. Those incredibly good local or regional players who - due to the business being so tough - may never get well known outside of their own environment. BOBBY "BLACKHAT" WALTERS is one of those musicians.
Having served over twenty-six years in the Coast Guard - to which I tip my hat and say "Thank You Bobby" - BOBBY "BLACKHAT" WALTERS is now ready to make his mark on the blues scene, and for us fanatics - that's a good thing. On his first CD, "YOU CHANGED YOUR MIND AGAIN", BOBBY, on harp and vocals, is joined by LARRY BERWALD & MARK HOPKINS on guitar, VON JOSE` ROBERTS on bass, MARTY GEMAIN on drums, TOMMY FISHER on keyboards and JACKIE SCOTT on vocals.
On the title track,"YOU CHANGED YOUR MIND AGAIN", BOBBY offers his male listeners some very good advice by warning us all that "It's a woman's prerogative to have a change of mind, and that all a man can do is hang on for the ride". I'm hangin' Bobby. This is a hot shuffle featuring outstanding vocals and some sharp harp from BOBBY, all while being backed up with great rhythm from VON & MARTY. A very good first impression.
BOBBY seems to be fond of a particular pair, as he tells his lady "PUT ON YOUR RED SHOES". How quickly he forgets. After she does put on the red shoes, she'll probably change her mind and switch to the green ones and then change her mind again and switch to the yellow ones. More smooth stuff from BOBBY, good guitar work and some sexy vocals by JACKIE highlight this one.
Ya just gotta love a musician who can turn nursery rhymes into a song that makes you want to get up and dance. That's exactly what BOBBY does on the "NURSERY RHYME SHUFFLE". I've never, ever heard E...I...E...I...O sound so damn G...O...O...D. Get ready to boogie on this one - the band certainly did.
"I HEAR MAMA'S VOICE" is unquestionably the bluest track of all. The scorching guitar riffs, the smoking harp and the melancholy sounding vocals all come perfectly together on what I'm calling the discs best track.
Other tracks on "YOU CHANGED YOUR MIND AGAIN", which consists of mostly original stuff, are: "HELP ME", "NO ROOM FOR YOU", "PLEASE GIVE ME A CLUE", "OUT LATE WITH THE DEVIL" and "GRIM REAPER".
If you like stepping outside the box and venture listening to someone new, check out BOBBY "BLACKHAT" WALTERS. I'm betting my reputation that you'll be glad you did. You can visit him - and purchase a CD - by going to www.bobbyblackhat.com. And please, make sure ya tell him the Blewzzman sent ya.
You just can't keep good gorillas down. Mighty Joe Young had several hits, King Kong keeps coming back, and now, THE GAS HOUSE GORRILAS have returned. Unlike those former famous gorillas, whose first hits were their best, "FIVE GORILLAS WALK INTO A BAR......", the latest release by THE GAS HOUSE GORILLAS, which features many new band originals - is as excellent as their first.
The five, gorillas for whom this discs title refers to, are: RICK FINK on vocals, CRUSHER CARMEAN on bass, TIM VEEDER on tenor sax, HIRO SUZUKI on guitar, and DAN HICKEY on drums. Now let's go listen.
It's no wonder that "ALL SHE WANTS TO DO IS ROCK", it's probably because she's listening to this track. However, the Gorillas may have something else in mind when they say "She wants to rock and roll all night long". This hot rocker features fabulous vocals by Rick, with alternating heat being provided by TIM and HIRO on sax and guitar. Meanwhile, the rhythm Gorillas are furiously fanning the fire.
While RICK is asking "WHERE DID HARLEM GO?", the band seems to have musically found it. This short, swinging, one and a half minute track - featuring some great scat by RICK, is very reminiscent of the era when Harlem, NY, was one of the city's hot spots.
The Gorillas do a great job on "KIDNEY STEW", a cover of a song made popular by one of my early blues influences, EDDIE "CLEANHEAD" VINSON. This one features the band tightly locked into a smooth groove throughout the track.
"MEMORIES OF YOU" is one of those tracks that, just after the first few beats, has the slow dancers taking their partners by the hand and leading them to the dance floor. This one brought back great memories of some of the classic songs of early rock and roll. This is the kind of stuff that most of us blues fans grew up listening to and THE GAS HOUSE GORILLAS make it sound as good now, as it did back then. Great vocals by RICK on this one.
"NINE LIVES" is what you might need if you listen to this track while driving. Calling this one an all out jam would be an understatement. If an all out jam were equal to driving on I-95 at a pretty fast speed of 85, "NINE LIVES" is the vehicle that just blew by you making it look like you were standing still. Now you got the picture? This track may very well be the wild and frantic cousin of a song by The Boss - "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out"......it could have easily been called "Tenth Avenue, Freak-Out".
"SWING THAT THING", as with several other tracks, is one of those short numbers that I could have easily taken a lot more of. Of course, by hitting replay I did, but this should have been at least double in length. Once again, the Gorillas are all in a smooth groove on this swinging shuffle featuring more great sax and guitar leads.
Some of the discs best rhythm, guitar and sax work can be heard on "NOBODY'S FOOL". CRUSHER, DAN & HIRO are all on the mark and TIM is easily at discs best, as he makes the tenor sax alternately sound like it's a baritone and an alto. Great stuff.
Other tracks on "FIVE GORILLAS WALK INTO A BAR......" are: "QUEEN OF THE NIGHT, "EVERYONE SAYS I LOVE YOU". "LAST TO KNOW", "STAY", "HEP CAT KING OF EVERYTHING", "THREE WORDS" and "BURGLAR IN THE HOUSE OF LOVE".
Not only have I had the pleasure of reviewing both of THE GAS HOUSE GORILLAS CD'S, but about two years ago, at the Red Bank Jazz & Blues Festival, I also had the pleasure of being blown away by their live act. I highly recommend you check out the band at www.gashousegorillas.org - and make sure you tell them the Blewzzman's responsible for your visit.
It's been well over a year and a half since my first encounter with these Daddies, and here they are - still in the doghouse. That's right, the DOGHOUSE DADDIES are back, and on their second CD "DIG THIS", it appears they're still dishin' out blues with a bite.
On "DIG THIS", the nucleus of the DOGHOUSE DADDIES, BILL MORLAN on upright bass & vocals and MARK ROLLINGS on guitar & vocals, are joined by newcomers NEIL NOLAN on saxophone & harmonica and JERRY RICCARDI on drums & vocals. And from the sounds of things, the two newcomers seem very comfortable in the doghouse.
On "MESSIN' WITH THE KID", the discs opening track, it doesn't take the new kids long to establish their credentials. The scorching 90 second solo NEIL performs on sax is surely this tracks - and possibly one of the discs highlights, and JERRY on the drums proves to be a admirable rhythm partner for BILL on the big bass. Good stuff on this very popular cover tune.
Although the band slows the pace down a bit on "CONJURED", that's the only thing that changes. Lots more great sax; softer, yet scintillating rhythm; mellow, yet masterful guitar work by MARK and soothing, soulful vocals by BILL make this another highly enjoyable track.
When's the last time you made someone say "OH BABY" for nearly seven minutes? That's OK, I can't remember either. Well, with "OH BABY" being one of the longest songs on the disc, what that means is you just get to hear that much more of what's been highlighting all the previous tracks.
This track rocks way too much to be called "AIN'T NO ROCKIN' NO MORE". And what's got it rockin' is MARK performing some of the discs best guitar work. This one also features all the dogs in the house on some harmonic howlin'.
I'm sure everyone will have fun adding their own lyrics behind the title of "IF THE SEA WERE WHISKY". Some of mine might be.....then I'd be a swimming fool". However, if you want to find out how it really goes, you'll just have to get the disc. This particular track was one of the bluesiest - and all of my readers know what that means - it was also my most favorite. BILL'S got the perfect voice for this song.....as a matter of fact, he may have just had a swim before recording it. Being a soft, slow and low down blues number means lots of great sultry sax and hot guitar licks - and that's always a good thing. The Doghouse Daddies nailed this one.
"MO BLUES", written by JERRY, is the discs only original track, and as you might expect, it's heavy on the rhythm.....very heavy. This eight minute, nearly all instrumental track, features the band in total jam mode often fed by hot drum leads. This one's a smoker.
Although there are only nine tracks on "DIG THIS", most of them are long and the disc features nearly an hour of rockin', sockin' music. Other tracks not mentioned are "BLACK DIAMOND", "FUN TO VISIT" and "MY BABE".
Check out the band at www.doghousedaddies.com and tell them you wanna be in the doghouse too.
Used to be if someone told me I was a bone head, they'd be very likely to get slapped up side their head. That was, however, prior to having discovered the debut CD from a band that's spreading the blues up in the Pacific Northwest - BOOGIE BONE. Just give a listen to their self named CD "BOOGIE BONE", and you, just like me, will be a "bone head" too.
BOOGIE BONE is a group of five musicians, who while attending school at Boogie High, all failed Math, Science and English, yet all got an A+ in Band (sorry, you've gotta see the CD to be in on that joke). These educated, and very talented musicians are "HOWLIN" JAKE JOHNSON on vocals, STEVE "FANGERS" WILLIAMS on guitars, TODD "SPUD MONEY" STEVENS on drums, HENRY "GROOVE MASTER" GAVALDON on bass and STEVE "TRIPLE THREAT" SNYDER on sax, harp and keyboards. And yes, their music IS as cool as their nicknames. Let me tell ya 'bout a few of the tracks that got my bones boogieing.
Nowhere in this review will you ever hear the words - "AIN'T NO GOOD". Unless, of course, it's to mention the title of one of the disc's hottest tracks. Caution should be used if listening to this track - which starts out fast and continuously get faster - while driving. This one features some of the best rhythm that's ever vibrated this listeners ear drums. Speaking of drums, TODD is at discs - and for all I know, maybe his career best - on this one. I don't know about him, but if this keeps up, I'm going to be out of breath by the end of this review. Adding in some hot guitar licks by STEVE and great vocals by JAKE make this one of BOOGIE BONES' best.
After the pace not dropping a notch on "MEAN STREAK WOMAN", the guys settle down nicely into a more traditional blues number called "CHEATIN' HEART". This one features lots of sharp harp by STEVE, the usual smoke from TODD and great bass lines from HANK.
"WHAT I NEED" is the same thing I always need - good ol' straight down the alley blues. And I'm getting my needs filled right now. With HANK and TODD providing a nice slow rhythm - well, slow for them anyway - the two STEVE'S take turns turning up the heat. First is STEVE SNYDER with a scorching sax solo, followed by STEVE W. - not allowing himself to be out-scorched - putting out some serious blues licks. Of course, all this is happening in between JAKE showing how he got "HOWLIN" for a nickname. More great stuff here.
Although I prefer mine seven days a week, sometimes "WEEKEND BLUES" just has to do. This one finds the guys doing what most of us do on the weekends - cuttin' it loose. It's a short three and a half minute song featuring everyone in a cool little jam.
If you haven't "GOT THE FEVA", this one will give it to ya. This is unquestionably the one that gets BOOGIE BONES' live audiences dancing. I dare you to listen to this one and not move - I couldn't. This one had even my old bones shaking. Once again, - great rhythm, good harp and some of the disc's best guitar work.
Other tracks featured on "BOOGIE BONE" are: "MAMA TOLD ME", "WORKING CLASS STIFF", "BLUE SEA BOOGIE" and "SEE THROUGH IT".
Check out the BOOGIE BONE BAND at www.boogieboneband.com and tell them you, like the Blewzzman, want to become a "bone head"