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Blues CD Reviews 97
Line Divide

Jewel Brown
Thanks For Good Ole' Music And Memories
Nic Allen Music Federation
Publicity: Blind Raccoon
By Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro © January, 2023


Although she was playing shows at the age of twelve and cutting records shortly thereafter, Jewel Brown is best known for her work during her nearly decade long stint ('61 - '68) singing with Louis Armstrong and His All-Star Band. In the early seventies, she took a break from music to spend the next thirty years as a "successful entrepreneur" instead of a "successful entertainer".

Interestingly enough, it was during her retired years when Jewel was inducted into the Blues Smithsonian (2007); received a congressional acknowledgement for her contribution to the arts (2015); and was honored by Houston, TX Mayor Sylvester Turner, when he declared December 12, 2000, as "Jewel Brown Day". But her story isn't over yet because in her mid-80's, Jewel Brown is back. As Living Blues put it.....
"Reintroducing the one and only, the legendary Jewel Brown. The most jazzy-blues singer on earth."


Thanks For Good Ole' Music And Memories contains ten tracks with seven being collaborations between Jewel and Nic Allen, the album's producer. The many musicians backing up the fabulous vocals of Ms. Brown include: Robert Clayton Sanders on keyboard; Clayton Dyesse on guitar; Joshua Washington on bass; John Fontenot on drums; Dwayne Williams Sr. on percussion; Christopher Cotton and Eli Micheaux on trumpet; Wycliffe Gordon II on alto and tenor saxophones; Nic Allen on bass and background vocals; with Zedekiah Franklin and Dashon Brown on background vocals. Additional musicians, who - with some of the others already mentioned - are part of groups called the RADS Krusaders and Live! In The Clutch, include: Mark Scurlock Jr on saxophones, Yul Dorn Jr on drums, Al T. Alexander Jones Jr on keyboard and organ, Nic Allen on bass, Jarvis Hooper on trombone.

The disc opens with a rhythm driven rumba titled "Jerry" (H. Belafonte & L. Burgess), a fifties hit for Harry Belafonte that was fully titled "Did You Hear About Jerry?" Oddly enough, the song is about the life of a troubled mule.... I think. The reason I say I think, is there's a line in the song where Jewel sassily tells of her man coming home after being out drinking and gambling and he's just too tired to take care of 'home work', and that's when she calls Jerry....I'm just leaving it at that. With lots of heat coming from the full horn section, the track is highlighted by fabulous percussion from Dwayne.

This original is titled "Pain And Glory" but it could have easily been titled "The Gospel According To Jewel". It's an inspirational spoken word type presentation that features several members of the band providing the outstanding background music - with their voices.

Another original titled, "Nitches And Glitches", finds Jewel addressing the antics of her game playing lover. As it turns out, it's the other 'itches' not mentioned in the title that are the real cause of her frustration, anger and attitude. It all becomes clear as she exclaims "I'm, tired of all your nitches and glitches.....and all them funky bitches". Another powerful rhythm track led by strong drumming from John, outstanding organ leads by T. Alexander, and sizzling horn arrangements.

"Song Of The Dreamer" (Eddie Curtis), which was written by her ex, is my favorite song of the lot. It was like two different songs that became one. On one hand, when I focused on the jazzy groove the band was in, it sounded like I was listening to an instrumental being performed by a 6-piece jazz band, and on the other hand, when I focused on the fabulous voice of Jewel, it sounded like I was listening to an intimate solo performance. All of it coming together was nothing short of a masterful production.

Another original that showcases the amazing vocal skills and versatility that Jewel Brown possesses is "On The Road". It's a soft and silky ballad where the band is in an easy groove which allows Jewel to shine with style, sass and even some scat.

Other songs on this quite jazzy and very blues disc include: "Why Did You Do That?"; "Which Way Is Up?" (N. Whitfield); "Flatitude"; "I Love Sunshine Even More Than Rainy Nights"; and "How Did It Go?"

If you've not yet received a copy of Thanks For Good Ole' Music And Memories for airplay, please contact Betsie Brown at - - and should like to find out more about Jewel Brown, just go to - Remember, wherever you go and whomever you speak with, please tell them their friend the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient

Musical Bar

Mississippi MacDonald
Heavy State Loving Blues
APM Records
Publicity: Blind Raccoon
By Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro © January, 2023

With Heavy State Loving Blues being Mississippi MacDonald's eighth release since 2014, I'm going to start my own little personal 'release date pool' and pick the end of February, 2024 as for when I should expect to receive number nine. Mac does know how to bang them out.

With his last release - Do Right, Say Right - which I also had the pleasure to write about, reaching number one on the Independent Blues Broadcasters Association (IBBA) chart; Number seven on the Living Blues chart; and number one on the Roots Music Report (RMR) UK chart; from what I'm listening to, Mississippi MacDonald should expect all that and more with Heavy State Loving Blues.

As with that last release, except for the drummer, the music makers on Heavy State Loving Blues are: Mississippi MacDonald on guitars and vocals; Phil Dearing on guitars and keyboards; Elliot Boughen on bass; Lucy Dearing on backing vocals; the newest member of the band, "Texas" Joe McRoury on drums; and special guest vocalist, Vaneese Thomas. Of the disc's ten tracks, nine are Oliver (Mississippi) MacDonald originals.

As a young boy, because of his love for the blues and having been the only kid in his school who had been to America, Oliver MacDonald acquired the nickname "Mississippi". However, with his diverse style of play, many of these tracks could have any number of geographical locations precede his last name - and on the opening track, Chicago would be a good fit. The song is titled "Howlin Wolf" and from his twenty second guitar intro, his many stinging runs throughout, and his raspy bluesy vocals, Mississippi MacDonald is pretty much telling us he's going to be a force to be reckoned with in this genre and I'm indeed a believer. Meanwhile, behind all this scorching guitar work, the band is in a hard driving, highly funky groove that kind of had me baffled. It was Phil's masterful synthesizing that actually caused me to contact Mississippi and ask if the horn section was left off of the credits. To that he replied...."It’s keyboard horns - but proper high-end samples, and we spent days on getting them right! Extreme levels of attention to detail!".....I'll say!

This duet with Vaneese Thomas is kind of like Mississippi meets Memphis. The way these two take turns belting out the soulful vocals on "Blind Leading The Blind", gives you the impression they've been a duet of many years. On what is going to obviously be a constant, the rhythm - with powerful bass lines from Elliot, potent pounding of the skins by "Texas" Joe, and Phil playing a half-a-dozen instruments on the keyboard, is once again taken to a whole other level.

Lyrically, vocally, emotionally and musically, "I'll Understand" is a total masterpiece. It's a bluesy ballad that finds a very sensitive Mississippi trying to prepare himself for an inevitable breakup, while at the same time keeping a glimmer of hope that, after a while, she'll come back. With slightly different lyrics, this song of hymnal quality could be sung at churches of any denomination.

"Trouble Doing The Right Thing" (Zachary Logan) and "The Devil Wants Payment" combine to create the perfect segue. The first is a country blues song that has Mississippi doing those exact things that he's going to have to make good on, on the latter - a swampy, diabolical tale of the devil always getting his due.

The disc comes to a close with a six-minute track that features one minute of Mississippi Mac telling us about growing up back in the old days, when you actually had to buy records instead of hearing music on Spotify and I-Tunes. He then goes on to tell us about this record he saw in the blues section of the record shop that was black and white, with a picture of a Telecaster, and the name Albert Collins on it.

Once he finally saved up enough money to buy it, the record changed his life. It was a wonderful and warm way to honor his idol. However, it's the other five minutes of "Blues For Albert", where Mississippi goes into a relentless tear of some the best Albert Collins riffs I can ever recall hearing that really pays homage to the Ice Man. Wow! By far my favorite track of the lot.

Other tracks on yet another excellent Mississippi MacDonald release include: the title track, "Heavy State Loving Blues"; "Heading South"; "(I Ain't Gonna) Lie No More"; and "I've Been Searching" (Wright/Williams/Jamerson).

If you've not yet received a copy of Heavy State Loving Blues for airplay, please contact Betsie Brown at - - and should like to find out more about Mississippi MacDonald and this release, just go to his website - Remember, wherever you go and whomever you speak with, please tell them their friend the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient

Musical Bar

Douglas Avery
Take My Rider
Greenwave Music
Publicity: Blind Raccoon
By Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro © December, 2022

From the way I see it, Douglas Avery is the kind of man who can pretty much do anything and what he does choose to do, he does very well. As a surfer, he's been atop the waves in many of the world's most famous surfing destinations; As a photojournalist, he's internationally renowned in the sports, fashion and music worlds; and as a musician, his early career found him deeply involved within the lively Los Angeles jazz scene, and currently - from what I'm listening to - he seems to have found himself quite at home with the blues.

On his debut release, Take My Rider, Douglas Avery - on vocals, harmonica and flute - is joined by some of SOCAL's finest players. They include: Carl Sonny Leyland on piano; Franck Goldwasser on guitar and horn arrangements; Ralph Carter - the disc's producer - on bass, bongos, organ and horn arrangements; Johnny Morgan on drums; Aaron Liddard on saxophone and horn arrangements; Jerome Harper on trombone; and Simon Finch on trumpet. Featuring an hour of diverse styles of blues, the disc's fourteen tracks include eleven Douglas Avery originals, and three covers.

This is a song of his from when Little Walter, who really wasn't little, was in only being nineteen years old. It's a little in just two minutes, but like Walter, it's big on style. The jumper is called "Just Keep Lovin' Her" (M. Jacobs) and it's the perfect vehicle for Douglas to showcase his dynamic harmonica and vocal chops.

There's something about a song with the word 'jelly' in it that makes me think it just reeks of the blues. If you want to compound that and indicate the song is totally drenched with the blues, calling it "Jelly, Jelly" works good on me. That's what this one's called and that's what this one is. Sounding like they're more from Southern Mississippi than Southern California, Douglas and Franck are nailing the vocals, harp and guitar with this down-home Delta blues vibe.

On a much livelier tune titled "Blind Owl Boogie", Douglas and Franck are going at it again, but they've left the back porch and are now going toe to toe on a runaway train. With a 'Hooker and Heat' feel, this one is indeed a full throttle smoker with the rhythm of Ralph and Johnny fueling the train.

There's no better way to pay tribute to the great John Mayall than to do a song that features killer harmonica and piano leads, both of which he excelled at. That appropriately chosen song is from John's 1967 release titled Blues Alone and it's called "Sonny Boy, Blow!" With a rollicking rhythm going on behind them, Douglas and Carl totally tear this one up on said instruments.

A straight up Chicago blues style shuffle titled "Safety First" is probably my favorite of the lot. Right after a short but fabulous piano intro by Carl, Aaron joins with some robust sax chords and just like that, all of my movable body parts went on automatic pilot. Then, once Ralph and Johnny got into a smokin' rhythm groove; Douglas started belting the hell out of the blues - both vocally and with his harp; and Frank started laying down scorching blues guitar licks; my ability to focus on what I wanted to say went right out the window while I focused on what I needed to hear. That said, it easily took five or six listens just to get me through this paragraph. Wow!

Like Douglas, before I became totally consumed by the blues some forty-plus years ago, I was quite the jazz fan. That may be the very reason "Green Wave" is one of my favorite musical tracks. With Ralph nailing it on percussion; Frank shining on jazzy guitar chords; and Carl faintly flirting with the piano keys; this quasi-instrumental features Douglas reaching back to his jazz roots with a masterful and mesmerizing performance on the flute.

The disc closes with a most beautiful song that definitely caused me to have the most relaxing six minutes of my week. It's a duet titled "Looking Over A Rainbow" and it features Douglas softly and emotionally pouring his heart out to someone who obviously deserves it, while Carl softly and emotionally executes one of the more masterful piano pieces I've heard.

Other tracks, on what I have no problem saying is a must have album, include: a cover of Billy Boy Arnold's "Bad Luck Blues"; the title track - "Take My Rider"; "Malibu Burnin'"; "How Long Can This Last?", "Leaving Trunk"; "Good To Me"; and "Riding With The Devil".

If you've not yet received a copy of Take My Rider for airplay, please contact Betsie Brown at - - and should you like to find out more about Douglas Avery and this release, just go to his website - Remember, wherever you go and whomever you speak with, please tell them their friend the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient

Musical Bar

Big Shoes
Fresh Tracks
Qualified Records
By Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro © November, 2022

If there were ever a band that I could spend as much time and space listing their resumes as I would on writing an in-depth review, it is Nashville based Big Shoes (who's show at Bourbon Street Blues was the highlight of my recent five-day trip there). These guys have played with and/or recorded with the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Van Morrison, Delbert McClinton, Taj Mahal, Etta James, Levon Helm, Bobby Blue Bland, and many other greats of varied genres. Calling Big Shoes a super band would indeed be a huge understatement.

Fresh Tracks is the band's third release and their first on Qualified Records. For the project, those all-stars I just referred to are: Rick Huckaby on lead vocals and guitar; Mark T. Jordan on piano, B3 and background vocals; Will McFarlane on guitar and slide guitar; Kenne Cramer on guitar; Tom Szell on bass; Lynn Williams on drums; and Bryan Brock on percussion. Additional guest artists include: Shaun Murphy and Vickie Carrico on background vocals; Dana Robbins on horn arrangements and saxophones; and Quentin Ware on trumpet.

Billing themselves as an "American Roots" band, and knowing that many of them have their roots in country, a majority of the disc's twelve tracks (of which ten are band originals/compilations) will indeed have at least one foot in a few different genres. That said, since it is me writing this review, that should tell you the other foot will often be in the blues. .

Some of that blues is quite evident on an original titled "Hole In The Sky". With tight rhythm, percussion and horns working hard behind them, Will, Rick and Kenne take turns belting out some killer guitar licks. Speaking of belting, Rick is also handling that part on the soulful vocals, as well.

Lyrically, this song is very humorous and somewhat truthful. I'm sure there are some who can relate to lines like: If I had a dollar for every time you made me cry, there'd be no end to the things that I could buy;
If they paid me cash up front for all the lonely nights I spent, I'd be covered up in pictures of dead presidents;
If each time you broke my heart was a money-making thing, the only sound I'd ever hear would be ka-chink, ka-ching;
Yes, these - and more, would indeed happen "If The Blues Was Green" (Randy Handley & Richard Flemming). Vocally, although he didn't write the lyrics, Rick's singin' 'em like he's lived them. Musical highlights include Tom and Lynn in a toe-tappin', knee-slappin', head bobbin' groove that had me doin' some of my finest chair dancin'; and Mark's fabulous piano dynamics, which are constant throughout the track.

One of my favorite songs of the lot is "Permanent Midnight". It's a bluesy, melancholic ballad and I'm of the belief that it's Rick's best vocal performance on the disc. When songs like this are done so beautifully like this, they always cause me to wonder if it was lived or if it's just a song. I may never know for sure but I'm going with this was not just a song. Wow!

Led by an exuberant pounding of the skins by Lynn, the whole band is in jam mode on a dance floor filler of Mark's "I've Seen The Light". With Rick and Shaun in a bit of a rockin' country vibe on the lead and background vocals, the song reminded me of footage from a country music concert where everyone in front of the stage is lip syncing every word of the lyrics.

For as many times as I've been to the Bahamas, this track transported me right back to Grand Bahama International Airport in Freeport where, as passengers arrive, they are greeted by a native band playing island sounds. Very welcoming indeed. On "There Ain't Nothing You Can Do", the rhythm; percussion; piano; and guitars; all combine to create that same fabulous feeling and I don't know if it's my imagination or one of the guys working pure magic, but I could have sworn I heard a steel drum in there somewhere.

A track similar to "I've Seen The Light", although more of a shuffle than a smoker, is one of Kenne's originals titled "Drunk On Love". That title, being the chorus line as well, tells me that at live shows this is a very popular sing-a-long. I truly enjoyed twenty second intro that sounded like a bunch of musicians stumbling around to get it all together just as Rick chimes in with "I've stumbled around"......the opening words of the song's opening lines. Classic! As with everything you'll hear from these guys, when it comes to the vocals; the rhythm; the guitars; the keyboards; and in this case, on the last of the four tracks they appear on, the horns as well; precision and perfection are the common denominators.

A love song of his, titled "Tell Me I'm Wrong", features Rick once again singing his heart out while showcasing some nice vocal range. Reminiscent of a disco beat, the track features a deep rhythm groove led by Lynn on the drums; fabulous piano and guitar leads from Mark and Kenne; and harmonic humming and background vocals from Shaun and Vickie.

Other songs on this outstanding release include: "I Got You Covered"; "You Can't Love Me Like That" (Pat McLaughlin & Kenneth Wright); "Roses Are Blue"; "That's What I Get (For Lovin' You)"; and "Dreaming Again".

If you've not yet received a copy of Fresh Tracks for airplay, please contact Qualified Records at Also, for booking and interviews, contact the Big Shoes Band at - Remember, wherever you go and whomever you speak with, please tell them their friend the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient

Musical Bar

Tomislav Goluban
20 Years On The Road
Blue Heart Records
Publicity: Blind Raccoon
By Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro © November, 2022

20 Years On The Road is the fourteenth studio release for Tomislav Goluban and as its title indicates, it's a celebration of his two decades as a performer. The disc contains thirteen original tracks and a cover of a song by the late and legendary Sonny Terry - the musician who first inspired Tomislav to play harmonica.

The music was recorded live in the studio by three different sets of musicians - numbering seventeen in all - in Croatia and Austria; and it features nine different vocalists who are mostly very familiar to me from our mutual association with Blue Heart Records, Nola Blue Records and Blind Raccoon.

The instrumentalists making the music with Tomislav "Little Pigeon" Goluban - on harmonica - are: Peter Prammerdorfer, Mike Diwald, Hrvoje Funda, Vid Kotarski and Mike Sponza on guitar; Christian Egger, Tomislav Kusar and Damjan Grbac on bass; Klaus Sauli, Dragutin Hojsak and Igor Vugrek on drums; Jurica Leikauff and Paul Kempf on keys; Robert Polgar on saxophone; Zvonimir Bajevic on trumpet; and Mario Sincek on trombone; while the vocalists making the music with Tomislav include: Skylar Rogers; Mark Cameron; Malaya Blue; Kelly Zirbes; Gregg Martinez; Teresa James; and Crooked Eye Tommy.

The disc opens with an all-out, full throttle instrumental smoker called "Express Ride". If you've ever taken an express ride - be it on a train, an elevator or what have you, you know its only goal is to get from point A to point B as fast as it possibly can, with no stops or slowdowns along the way. With Tomislav in a runaway train groove on the harmonica; and the members of The Tobacco Road Blues Band - Peter and Mike involved in an aggressive guitar slugfest; and Christian and Klaus in a high-speed chase on the rhythm - the band seems to take this express thing quite serious. Facetiously speaking of course, they actually finished this five-minute-long song in under three minutes.

On a song titled "Searchin' For My Baby", the first of the guest vocalists to kick things off is Skylar Rogers. The common denominator here is that the song originally appeared on Tomislav's Chicago Rambler and Skylar is a blues belter from Chicago. Should you not be familiar with her, a listen to this one and you'll know why her last release was called Firebreather. The shuffle features significant bass lines by Tomislav Kusar; fabulous organ and piano leads by Jurica; and jumpin' harmonica leads by the "Little Pigeon".

The next track featuring another fabulous woman of the blues - Malaya Blue, is titled "Electric Lights". It features a powerful organ and drum led rhythm by Jurica and Dragutin with Malaya belting out the blues with large amounts of sass and range.

I know the use of the words "No Means No" actually don't limit the gender they apply to, but I have to admit that hearing them used by a man did throw me for a loop. That said, in a song about an overly aggressive woman overstepping her boundaries with an uncomfortable man, the lyrics "if this was the other way around, I'd be in jail laying on the ground" did put it all into perspective. With his deep voice and smooth vocal style, Ryan Donohue - the only vocalist of the lot I had not yet heard - was most impressive. Musically, the track is kind of two songs in one. Combining an up-tempo get-a-long-little-doggie country vibe with a powerful rhythm led by a full horn section, it was like Roy Rogers and Dale Evans meet Tower of Power.....and it worked.

"Disappear For Good" is one of the disc's more laid-back tracks. The relaxed rhythm and percussion, the soft bluesy guitar and organ leads; and the tranquil harmonica riffs; all indeed highlights, are the perfect musical backdrop for Gregg Martinez to shine with his swampy, soulful style of vocals.

This one is titled "Speedin' Train" and there's no doubt in my mind that, like in the opening track, it's an express ride. Doing songs with a frantic pace as instrumentals are one thing but having a vocalist keep up with the craziness is just plain crazy. That said, with her vocal performance on this way, Teresa James was indeed in crazy good!

On this track, when Crooked Eye Tommy tells his mean and evil woman "I Can't Take It Anymore" I'm sure she got the point. With some growl in his voice and a whole lot more of it in his attitude, Tommy sounds as serious as a heart attack. He's also sounding as good as I've ever heard him. And just like there's smoke coming out of Tommy's ears, it's quite apparent in the music, as well.

When it comes to picking red or black, rolling the right numbers in the game of craps, or being dealt the two cards needed for blackjack, Mark Cameron indeed has the "Gambler's Blues". On the other hand - no pun intended - although he's singing about losing, his vocal skills sure do make him a winner. Just stay out of the casinos and stick to the juke joints, Mark.

If I were to go down this list of these great guest vocalists - and then some - I couldn't have picked a more perfect person to sing this song than Kelly Zirbes (a.k.a. Kelly's Lot). Knowing her as I do, and having worked with her many times before, I know for a fact that when it comes to protest songs, preaching peace and just plain old being inspirational, Kelly truly practices what she preaches. The song is titled "Everyday's Fear" and it features Kelly doing what Kelly does best.

The disc comes to a close with Tomislav singing a joyous version of "I Love You Baby" as he pays homage to his biggest inspiration, Sonny Terry.

Other songs on 20 Years On The Road include: "Blow Junkie Boogie"; "Party Time Blues"; "Hittin' The Road Again"; and "Forhill's Boogie".

If you've not yet received a copy of 20 Years On The Road for airplay, please contact Betsie Brown at - - and should like to find out more about Tomislav Goluban, just go to - Remember, wherever you go and whomever you speak with, please tell them their friend the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient

Musical Bar

Yates McKendree
Buchanan Lane
Qualified Records
Publicity: Blind Raccoon
By Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro © November, 2022


Simply said, Yates McKendree is a musical genius. Between his writing, vocal and engineering skills (which garnered him a Grammy while still in his teens), and his ability to play just about whatever instrument he feels like, there is no better word to describe him. C'mon, how many other "high school kids" do you know who engineered and performed on recordings of legendary artists between classes? Speaking of school, being self-taught since the age of three, using a humorous comparison, I can't help but wonder if while in school he intimidated his teachers by knowing more about music than they did - just as that adolescent science brainiac on that TV situation comedy does. Yep, Yates McKendree could very well be the Sheldon Cooper of music. Remember where you heard that, in case it becomes a thing. :>)


Yates McKendree's debut release, named for a street where he and his father Kevin McKendree reside, is titled Buchanan Lane. The project contains thirteen tracks with a few being Yates' originals, a few being collaborations between him and Gary Nicholson, and the rest being covers of his inspirations and heroes. Musically, Yates - on vocals, guitar, piano, Hammond organ, bass and drums, is joined by: his dad, and the disc's producer, Kevin McKendree on Hamond organ. piano and Wurlitzer electric piano; Big Joe Maher and Kenneth Blevins on drums and percussion; Steve Mackey on upright bass; Jim Hoke on saxophones; Andrew Carney on trumpets; Roland Barber on trombones; Gregg Garner on electric bass; Andrew White on rhythm guitar; and The McCrary Sisters on background vocals.

The disc opens with a satirically titled original track called "Out Crowd". The instrumental features Yates, Kevin and Big Joe, in a mighty fine jazz groove on the piano, Hammond organ, drums and percussion. Those familiar with it will surely notice its similarity to a hit with a similar name by the late and legendary Ramsey Lewis.

Switching instruments and tempo, this dance inducing rendition of B. B. King's "Ruby Lee" has Yates laying down some very nice guitar runs and soulful vocals that I'm sure the king himself would have approved of. And just as B. B. himself often did, Yates surrounded himself with a piano (Kevin) and a fabulous three-piece horn section (Jim, Andrew and Roland), to give a little extra oomph to the already powerful rhythm that Steve and Big Joe are pounding out on the big bass and drums.

The opening line on this collaboration with Gary Nicholson caused me to chuckle. It has Yates, who is twenty-one years old, wanting to "Ask father time to turn back the clock". Although the chuckle quickly stopped, the smile on my face that accompanied it remained, as "No Justice" developed into a killer slow blues number - always a favorite for me. Instrumentally it isn't, but musician wise the song is actually a duo. It features Yates: belting out real deal, old school blues on the vocals; lighting it up with slow, scorching blues guitar licks; and providing his own moody rhythm groove that help these types of songs work so well on the Hammond organ, drums and bass; along with his very first inspiration and hero, his father Kevin, helping out on piano.

On a song that fuses jump blues, soul and some old school R&B - that was originally done by a full orchestra back in 1953 - Yates and company stepped up to the plate and knocked their rendition of "Brand New Neighborhood" (Fletcher Smith) out of the park. At just two-and-a-half minutes long, the track may be short on time but certainly not on what it's got going on.

It takes big ones to take on a Dr. John cover and it takes immense skills to do it masterfully. On "Qualified", Yates and the band checked both of those boxes. The song contains a barrage of similes that include "Your steak ain't no hipper than my pork chop", "Your Cadillac ain't no hipper than my bus stop", and many, many more. It's classic Dr, John material that Yates just took and ran with. Musically it features a funky N'awlins vibe with barrel house piano (Kevin); blaring horns (Jim, Andrew and Roland); Hard driving rhythm and percussion (Gregg and Kenneth); and bodacious backup vocals (The fabulous McCrary Sisters).

It's this listener's opinion, and that's probably because the song is a scorching blues ballad, that Yates' vocal and guitar performance on this track could be his best on the disc. It's a flawlessly done cover of an early fifties song by Eddie "Guitar Slim" Jones titled "It Hurts To Love Someone". Interestingly, hearing this very young man sound so perfect on these old school songs, I'm wondering if father time did indeed turn back the clock when he asked.

Sticking with what he obviously loves to do, Yates again takes on another classic titled "Wine, Wine, Wine". The song was originally done in 1954 by Jimmy Binkley and His Jazz Quartet and this time it's being nailed by the Yates McKendree Trio, with Yates on vocals and piano; Steve Mackey on upright bass; and Big Joe Maher on drums.

Other tracks on 'Buchanan Lane' - which should at least garner Yates some "rising star" or "new artist" type nominations - include: two more originals, titled "Wise" and "Voodoo"; "Always A First Time" (E. King); "Papa Ain't Salty" (G. McDanial/T-Bone Walker); "No Reason" (C. Davis/M. Young); and "Please Mr. Doctor" (H. Whitaker); all songs I could have easily raved about as well.

Side note: while in Nashville very recently, I had the pleasure of seeing Kevin McKendree at the Blue Bird Cafe and I mentioned to him that I had just received the CD before leaving town and was looking very forward to it being my first review after returning home. That said, I hope that he, Yates and the rest of The Rock House All Stars liked what I had to say as much as I liked saying it.

If you've not yet received a copy of Buchanan Lane for airplay, please contact Betsie Brown at - - and should like to find out more about Yates McKendree and this release, just go to the labels' website - - Remember, wherever you go and whomever you speak with, please tell them their friend the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient

Musical Bar

The Honey Project
Burning Bridges
Self Released
By Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro © November, 2022

Over the past decade or so, the State of Florida - particularly the region known as South Florida - has had its share of blues success stories. Several of our ladies and gentlemen of the genre have been International Blues Challenge winners; Blues Music Award nominees; Blues Music Award winners; and have headlined festivals and events all over the world. That said, having known and seen Honey play in various ensembles over the last ten years, and having watched her grow as she has, I'm going to go on record as saying I think she's got the credentials to be the area's next break out artist.

The Honey Project's debut release is titled Burning Bridges and it contains five tracks on which all the music and lyrics were written by Honey. The quartet consists of Honey on vocals; Todd Weinkle on guitar; John Harden II on keyboard and left-hand bass; and Richie Corricelli on drums.

The minute long jazzy intro on "Burning Bridges" - the opening and title track - had me thinking it might be an instrumental, which I actually would have been fine with.....that is, until that silky and sultry voice of Honey's joined in. Lyrically, the song finds Honey chastising a jilted lover who, in spite of having burned down many bridges, still thinks he has a chance. Somehow, I can almost understand the guy's confusion. Lyrically he's being whip-lashed but with Honey's melodic and soft-spoken vocal presentation, slightly different words would make this a love song.

The piano intro on this track was so beautiful my brain had me expecting it to be followed by Elton John belting out the line "Hold me closer tiny dancer.....", that's the level of musicianship John brings to this recording. From there "Holy Water and Hellfire" becomes one of the disc's most powerful tracks with Richie and Todd passing the smoking drum and guitar leads back and forth, while Honey belts out one of her most commanding vocal performances.

This track, titled "Whiskey & Bourbon, features Honey fantasizing about a ménage à trois - or more - with some of her favorite gents, Jim, Johnnie and in Jim Beam, Johnnie Walker and Jack Daniels. Yeah, Honey doesn't want any of those sweet drinks, cheap beer or bourgeois wine, it's whiskey and bourbon that make her feel fine. The song's lyrics present the perfect platform for Honey to showcase lots of sass and her fabulous vocal range. Musically, this dance floor filler features quite a remarkable keyboard performance from John; in addition to his fabulous organ and high-end piano leads, his other hand is laying down a bass line so strong I'd have bet the stand-up bass player was left out of the credits. Add that to what Richie is banging out and this formidable rhythm section is totally on fire. Then there is Todd, who, in between all of these goings on, manages to lay down several dynamite guitar runs. Performance and production wise, this six-minute track was a brilliant presentation.

The disc closes with an emotionally charged melancholic song titled "Your Body (Nothing Of You At All)". It features Honey pouring her heart and soul into a song about a former boyfriend who is no longer with us. Rather than me attempting to explain my thoughts on the song I'm just going to bow out by saying pay close attention when you listen and keep the Kleenex handy. Wow!

Also featured is another outstanding track titled "All She Needed".

Since this release is not being distributed to radio in mass, in order to get your copy for airplay please email Zachary Franciscus at - - and to find out more about The Honey Project check them out at - When you do, please tell Zac and Honey that their friend The Blewzzman sent you

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient

Musical Bar

The Mighty Soul Drivers
I'll Carry You Home
Hog Heaven Records
Publicity: Blind Raccoon
By Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro © October 2022

The Mighty Soul Drivers are a seven-piece band made up of: Bob Orsi on vocals and rhythm guitar; River City Slim - whose parents know him as Peter Rost - on drums; Larry Willey on guitar; Tony Delisio on bass; Steve Donovan on keyboards; John Smayda on alto, tenor and baritone saxophones; and Neil Tint on trumpet and fluegelhorn.

In celebration of their tenth anniversary, The Mighty Soul Drivers have just released their second album. It's titled I'll Carry You Home and it's a collection of seven originals and four covers. For the project, the band is joined by: Dayna Snell; Aaleya Hardy; Kim M Hawk; Tanairy Barton; and Denise Powell on background vocals; and special guests Paul Gabriel and Michael St. George on guitar.

The title track, an original called "I'll Carry You Home", lives up to its title in so many comforting ways. Hearing lyrics such as: "If you find yourself in trouble and your burden is too much to bear, don't hesitate to call, baby I'll be there......; or "When you're tired out and the world's about to break your heart, call me day or night and I will take your part. You don't need to fight your battles all alone. You know I got you baby, I'll carry you home"; if you're the person they're meant for, that kind of support has got to already have you feeling good. Between the lyrics, the heartfelt lead and background vocals, and the hand claps, calling this a hymn is not at all reaching. Musically, the band is in an equally glorious groove.

Another original titled "A Little Bit Of That", is a funky dance floor filling number that features Bob getting down ala James Brown on the vocals. That said, the instrumental highlights being passed around makes it the perfect track for some band recognition. The heavy rhythm River City Slim and Tony are hammering out is a perfect set up for: Paul's edgy guitar leads; the brawny sax and trumpet leads of John and Neil; and a monstrous organ run by Steve. Strong song indeed.

Name everyone who covered this song and I'll give you a thousand dollars. Exactly, you can't. However, I'll not dare say name everyone who covered this song and nailed it, because that is a select few. That said, I'm now adding The Mighty Soul Drivers to that short list. On "Cry To Me" (Bert Russell), The Mighty Soul Drivers did just that. Let me say that again - The Mighty Soul Drivers nailed their rendition of "Cry To Me"! After listening twice to support what I needed to say about the performance, I swear I gave this one several more replays just to sit back and listen. Wow! Wow! Wow! Thank you Bob Orisi, I'd have to dig deep into my abundant music collection to find a song sung with so much emotion.

"Piece of My Pride" addresses the items involved in a breakup settlement. It seems that Bob has no problem letting her have his house and his Cadillac car, but it seems to be a struggle getting her to let him keep a piece of his pride. This original is a swinger and is highlighted by fabulous honky-tonk piano playing from Steve and baritone sax leads from John.

If Etta is listening, The Mighty Soul Drivers' rendering of "Tell Daddy" (Carter/Terrell/Daniel), she's unquestionably dancing up a storm up there. This is by far the band's most relentless effort.

The disc closes with another of the band's original tracks titled "Dressed To Kill". Believing in ZZ Top's theory that every girl is crazy about a sharp-dressed man, this is a tale of how Bob likes to strut his stuff in his sharkskin jacket, slacks to match, Italian shoes and his fly hat with his target being younger women. However, unlike that other sharp dressed man, Bob's also accessorized with a rap so smooth that the ladies can't wait to hear it. If his game is as good as his claim, I'm liking his odds. Very soulful vocals; Great horn infused dance rhythm; and lots of snappy finger snapping.

Other excellent tracks on the very well-done disc include: "I Can't Get Next To You" (Whitfield/Strong); "Party By The Tower"; "I Wouldn't Treat A Dog" (Price/Walsh/Bari/Omartian); "Cold Cold Night"; and "Parking Lot Blues".

If you've not yet received a copy of I'll Carry You Home for airplay, please contact Betsie Brown at - - and should you like to find out more about The Mighty Soul Drivers, just go to their website - Remember, wherever you go and whomever you speak with, please tell them their friend the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient

Musical Bar


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