Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Wanna Feel Somethin' reviewed by Rick Davis

Wanna Feel Somethin'
Mary Bridget Davies
10 Tracks

Mary Bridget Davies started out in competition and on professional tours as a dancer. Since she was from Cleveland, Ohio and also very talented as a singer she went to Robert Lockwood Jr.’s jam night at the original Fat Fish Blue in Cleveland. She attended as an observer and then returned to perform the following week. After hearing her on the opening tune, she got her first band job on the spot! The band starting touring nation wide and represented the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the International Blues Challenge two years in a row. The band was nominated several times by the Cleveland Scene and Free Times for Best Blues Band, with Mary winning the Best Vocalist Award in 2004.

In 2005 a new lead actress/vocalist was needed to portray Janis Joplin in the smash Off-Broadway musical, Love, Janis. Mary got the lead out of 150 people auditioning for the honor of portraying Janis, with the musical later touring the country. For her performance, she was awarded Best Moment In Theatre in 2007 by the Kansas City Pitch. Big Brother & the Holding Co., Janis Joplin’s original band, was so impressed they asked Mary to sing with them in 2006 as they toured the United States and Europe.  Once again in 2007 she had the opportunity and was asked to join the cast of the Tony Award nominated Broadway musical–It Ain’t Nothin’ but the Blues–a musical about the history of the blues.

Mary is now focusing all her efforts on delivering her powerful, soulful, blues vocals with The Mary Bridget Davies Group. In 2011, the group was the International Blues Challenge second place winner. They are enjoying the success of their new CD, Wanna Feel Something, with Mary handling the lead vocals, Dave Hayes on guitar and vocals, Gary Roberts on bass and vocals, Chris Hazelton on organ, keys and vocals, Joe Voye on drums and vocals, Pete Carroll on trumpet and vocals, Nick Rowland on saxophone and vocals, and Aaron Thomas on tambourine. The first tune, "Your Kinda Love" by G. Roberts, opens with shades of Muddy Waters as Mary delivers the blues like no other female vocalist that you will hear! "Won't Pay You Mind," another original song, offers a superb rocker by this extraordinary group of musicians. Dave Hayes will impress you with his guitar solos on the original, slow number "Same Ol Blues." Mary will set you straight with her bold and beautiful vocals on the fast pace, funky, K. Massey tune "Real Thing." It delivers some tasty rhythm and lead guitar, along with support from a very sharp horn section. Another original song, "Getting Stronger" opens and continues with a raw slide guitar, along with that "Janis" quality that can be heard in Mary's vocals. Chris Hazelton is showcased on organ with the original song "Wanna Feel Something" and the Eagles mega hit "Take It To The Limit." Mary delivers her own gospel performance with her vocals that you won't hear on the original Eagles version. You will receive some good advice from Mary on the original song "Trick The Devil" blended with smooth slide guitar  solos. The band shifts gears with the muted trumpet opening on the Noel Gallagher jazz tune "Wonderwall." Mary Bridget Davies shows you how versatile her vocals can be on the concluding Chi Coltrane tune "Thunder and Lightnin'."

You have to experience vocals and a band performance like this for yourself. This CD smokes from beginning to end. This has to be one of the premier bands to capture live!

Review by Rick Davis

Just a Dream reviewed by Steve Jones

Just a Dream
Moreland and Arbuckle
Telarc Records
12 tracks

Gritty, grunge-based blues rock is the staple of these two Wichita based gents whose second Telarc release is a great follow-on to the critically acclaimed album Flood. These two guys are perhaps not the cup of tea everyone expects in the blues world, but if you like a heavy distorted lyrics and sound with big, nasty guitar licks, throbbing drum beat and overblown harp, well then step right up and enjoy this CD.

Opening with “The Brown Bomber”, the boys get right down to it with a filling busting driving beat and huge sound.  Track two tones the pace down a bit with the cover track, understandable lyrics and more of a faster ballad rock approach.  “Purgatory” is not as overdone as the opener, and it gives us a cleaner version of the grunge sound to appreciate.  Good lyrics and a nice harp leads and solos sold me on this one.  The mean harp opens track 4 (“Travel Every Mile”) and comes back in “Heart Attack and Vine”.  The big driving rocking beat and sound is there, too, as it is in almost every track.

“Troll” has more musical heavy handedness and then comes the short “Gypsy Violin” with some coolly odd voiceovers.  “Shadow Never Changes” is as close to a ballad as these guys get in a dark retro sort of way.  But then “Good Love” blasts off and it’s back to hot, straight and normal. “Who Will Be Next” and “So Low” are somewhat similar to the rest, but then they switch it up a little and close with a more country sound on “White Lighnin’.

If you like large, overblown sound and good lyrics (when you can understand them) in a heavy handed rocking blues sort of way, this is something to check out.  I like the sound, but sometimes the three or so variations on the theme get a little repetitive.  It’s good stuff, but the songs have some similarity in their approach. It’s raw and hardy stuff, and one can picture if the Delta blues was created today in this world of electrical technology we might have gotten something that sounds like this. 

Reviewed by Steve Jones

Teaser reviewed by Steve Jones

Little G Weevil
Apic Records
12 tracks

Born in Budapest, Hungary, Little G Weevil fell in love with the blues and heavy metal.  The blues won out and he moved to Birmingham and then Memphis to experience the blues.  He was successful in Europe, but wanted to feel the blues where they bubbled up from.  The results are on this, his second CD; 12 original cuts done is a very traditional and upbeat style.

Listening to Weevil, there is no evidence of an accent on his English- his delivery and vocals sound authentic.  If I had to compare his vocals to some other current US blues artists, it would be a mix of Studebaker John, Reverend Raven and Rick Estrin.  His guitar work is also hot and spicy.  He lays down some great stuff here and his band is also quite good in support.  Maurice Nazzaro adds some great harp work to the mix, and Bob Page’s piano and organ work is equally super.  Bill Burke (bass) and John V. McKnight (drums and percussion) add a solid backline to the music.

The tracks are all pretty good here; I liked his lyrics and stories and the music accompanying them was also quite good.  The title track is all about keeping it real in relationships.  Being fake won’t get you to the promise land, according to Weevil.  On “Back Porch” Weevil strips it down to just he and his acoustic guitar and delivers a strong performance, singing about hangovers from a fun night the evening before at a blues bar.  “Highway 78” is a song Weevil wrote about the road from Birmingham to Memphis that he knows like the back of his hand as he kept up with friends on both ends.  The groove is cool and the harp work is greasy and sweet.  “Apple Picker” features a lot of mean guitar licks. 

His former job cleaning a hotel is the motivation for “8.47”; it was his hourly wage as he slaved away 6 days a week for 10-11 hours a day.  He wails about how he “ain’t gonna do this no more.”  The need for an occasional good bottle of wine brings Little G to the “Liquor Store”. “She Used to Call Me Sugar” is some slow electric blues; the tinkle of the keys and wail of the guitar make this a pleasure to listen to. He closes with “Which Way Shall I Go” where Weevil tells us about getting kicked out by his ex with no notice.  A little bare slide and vocals; nicely done.

I have no complaints.  This is a solid CD of new songs done by a 34 year old who feels and lives his blues.  It just goes to show that the blues have no bounds and exist everywhere man toils and works.  From Hungary to the deep South, Weevil has taken to and lived on the road, worked at tasks to support his love of music and now performs full time.  He’s a solid young artist and worth a listen; you won’t regret locking and loading this CD up for a spin!

Reviewed by Steve Jones

The Cost of Love reviewed by Steve Jones

The Cost of Love 
Suzanne & the Blues Church
www.theblueschurch. com
10 tracks

Suzanne Thomas is not the average blues woman; Korean-American by birth, raised in an African-American household, tutored by Jimmy Smith on Hammond organ at 6 years of age, attended music school in Los Angeles, became a guitar player in her 20’s are but a few of the interesting things listed in her bio. She played in the Blind Racoon Showcase at the 2012 IBC’s in February after releasing this CD on January 17th. Thomas had at least a hand in 8 of the 10 tracks here and selected two great cover tracks to highlight her skills. She plays with a heavy, rocking tone and sings with great conviction.

“Damn Right I Got the Blues” and “All Your Love I Miss Lovin’” are the Buddy Guy and Otis Rush covers on the CD. As in the original, Guy’s song has a massive guitar sound, and Jimmy “Z” on harp adds even more to this big cut. Rush’s track is smoothly and effectively done; both do not stray a lot from how they were intended, and Thomas does them justice.

“Musta Been Gone 2 Long” features a scratchy record sounding overlay on top of a retro sound where mentor Ray Bailey (guitar, bass and drums) fills in well, too. The title track shuffles and grooves in a minor key as it follows the opener, “Cheatin’ On Me” which is a medium tempo and minor key song that sets the stage for this great new artist to get you ready for some hot stuff. These two cuts are impressive and tell the listener that what is to come is some serious stuff.
Also joining her on the CD are Jerry Jones-Haskins (drums), Frank W. Garrett (bass), Bruce Edwards (organ and Fender Rhodes), “Rev” Charles Jones (B-3), Tyree (organ), and BR Millon (guitar). This is a very solid set of musicians who are together and play well together. Whether in a down tempo song singing for her lover to Set Her Free” or blasting away in “Mr. Bailey”, Suzanne is adept at her craft. Even the spoken story track “Dusty Six String Box” is intriguing and not over done; Thomas tells us of her brother’s “inheritance” and lays on some licks and a groove as she tells her story in a mythical manner.

Suzanne Thomas is an accomplished and interesting musician who understands and feels her blues. She bares her emotions as she performs, giving authenticity to what she sings about; she gives the listener a great ride as they go from song to song together on this well-done debut CD. I think we will be hearing a lot more from this musician!

The Devil Ain't Got No Music
Lurrie Bell
Aria B.G. Records
12 tracks/47:38

In 2007, guitarist Lurrie Bell lost the love of his life, Susan Greenberg, as well as his father, blues harp great Carey Bell, a few months later. Lesser men would never have recovered those devastating blows. With the help of Greenberg's family, Bell started a record label dedicated to their daughter, Aria, and released a solo effort titled Let's Talk About Love, which received high praise from the critics. Bell has since received nominations for several Blues Music awards in addition to being named Living Blues magazine's Artist of the Year in 2008.

His new project finds Bell exploring the depths of human emotion and the conflict between good and evil. For decades blues musicians have struggled with playing the “Devil's music”, since many of them grew up in the church. Bell spent seven years of his childhood in the South playing guitar in churches, four of those years in Alabama with his maternal grandparents. His grandfather was a preacher. Bell developed a real love for gospel music, which often utilizes music that is often the same as blues, the only difference being that you are singing about the concerns of the heavenly father.

This is a stripped-down project as producer Matthew Skoller keeps the musical support to a minimum, letting focus rest on Bell, who delivers one amazing performance after another. The opening track, “Swing Low”, is a traditional hymn that finds Bell reveling in his faith with Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith on percussion and Bill Sims Jr. providing hand claps. The title song is a haunting piece written by Skoller, who plays harp with Smith on drums and Josef Ben Israel on upright bass. Bell's powerful voice convincingly explains that the Devil has everything but music – and that is why his home is such a forsaken place. Smith provides the only accompaniment on Tom Waits “Way Down in the Hole”, with Cynthia Butts contributing an ethereal backing vocal that is the perfect contrast to Bell's muscular vocal.

The program includes two songs composed by the greatest writer of gospel music, Thomas A. Dorsey, once known as Georgia Tom, a singer known for his ribald blues tunes. Mike Avery and James Teague's backing vocals on “Search Me Lord” surround Bell and his guitar with heavenly harmonies. They return on “Trouble in My Way”, their contributions punctuated by some magnificent harp playing by billy Branch. Joe Louis Walker joins Bell on “Peace in the Valley”, his slide guitar crying out as Bell quietly pleads for a better world. “It's a Blessing” finds Walker sharing the vocal duties with Bell, who sings with a determined passion while Walker's higher pitched voice matches his slashing licks on slide guitar.

Bell closes with an extended version of the classic  Rev. Gary Davis hymn, “Death Don't Have No Mercy”. It is Bell and his guitar in a moving performance that sharply illustrates how blues and gospel share the same roots. While his guitar playing may be filled with fire and brimstone, his vocals will bring you to heaven's gate.

This CD is uplifting and evocative- Bell is in some sort of a zone where he appears to be driven by a power beyond himself.  And yet he is completely in control throughout the CD, never showing off or flashy in his approach, remaining completely convincing and authentic.  Lurrie demonstrates how restraint can sometimes be more powerful than an “in your face” style of play.  The blues and Gospel go hand in hand here, telling us that the power of God and the darkness of the devil share a place in our humanity.  Lurrie Bell has had his share of devils to battle throughout his career, yet we see that God and the love of family and friends have truly helped him triumph overall.  This is by far the finest album that Bell has given us, with performances that are overwhelmingly inspired.

Reviewed by Mark Thompson

Son of the Seventh Son reviewed by Mark Thompson

Son of the Seventh Son
Mud Morganfield
Severn Records
www.severnrecords. com
12 tracks/54:29

Having a famous parent can be a real burden for any child, especially if that child decides to follow the same career path. And when that parent has attained iconic status, expectations can bury the offspring before they can find their voice.

Larry “Mud” Morganfield embraces his father's legacy, which might be the only way you can go as the first-born son of the legendary Muddy Waters. Morganfield's vocal tone and phrasing are often similar to Muddy's. Repeated listens show that Mud is not intentionally copying his father – rather he embraces his lineage, totally comfortable in the knowledge that he has the talent to find his own niche. His laid-backed style meshes perfectly with a program that favors slow to mid-tempo songs, including seven originals penned by Morganfield.Producer Bob Corritore once again shows his deep understanding of the traditional electric blues genre. He surrounds Morganfield with an all-star line-up that includes Rick Kreher and Billy Flynn on guitar, Barrelhouse Chuck on piano, E.G. McDaniel on bass and Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith. McDaniel Corritore and Harmonica Hinds split the harmonica duties. McDaniel and Smith certainly understand the pressure that Morganfield faces. McDaniel's father, Floyd, was a singer/guitarist who was long-time fixture on the Chicago blues and jazz scenes, recording for Delmark Records late in his career. Kenny's father - the late, great Willie “Big Eyes” Smith – served a long stint as Muddy Waters drummer.

Morganfield captures the essence of his father's sound on the title track, penned by Studebaker John Grimaldi, a song filled familiar imagery pulled from Water's best-known material. “Love to Flirt” describes a woman with troubling ways, sending Morganfield to his minister for help only to find out that she has already hit on the pastor. You'd expect a song about fishing to be more upbeat but “Catfishin' “ has a more somber feel to it. Morganfield turns in one of his strongest vocals and Barrelhouse Chuck enlivens the proceedings with his Farfisa organ. Another highlight is the minor key slow blues “Midnight Lover”, with Morganfield eloquently relating his back-door man activities.

A cover of “You Can't Lose What You Ain't Never Had” has the band perfectly capturing Muddy's distinctive sound, with Flynn adding some taut slide guitar licks. “Health” is a Morganfield original that preaches that the riches of this world mean little if you aren't healthy enough to enjoy them. Barrelhouse Chuck once again provides a boost on the Farfisa organ and Corritore blows some mean harp. The rollicking opening track, “Short Dress Woman”, has another strong vocal from the leader while Barrelhouse Chuck shines on the piano and Corritore once distinguishes himself on harmonica. Another Mud original, “Blues in My Shoes”, has Smith laying down a tight, propulsive rhythm while Hinds makes expert use of his harp to fill out the arrangement while Morganfield describes the trials of growing up on Chicago's west side.

Just when it seemed like blues music was careening off in all directions, we have been blessed with several releases that prove that there is still life in the traditional blues format. In a recent conversation that I had with Billy Flynn, he praised Mud Morganfield as being a genuine, down-to-earth man who is excited to have the opportunity to share his talent with the world while honoring his legendary father. He has certainly done that – and then some on this recommended release that will undoubtedly get plenty of consideration for this year's blues music awards.

Reviewed by Mark Thompson

Longtime Friends in the Blues reviewed by Mark Thompson

Longtime Friends in the Blues
Tail Dragger & Bob Corritore
Delta Groove Music, Inc.
10 tracks/53:29

Let's make it clear right from the start – this is one of the best traditional blues recordings you will hear this year. Co-leader Bob Corritore is the owner of the renown Rhythm Room club in Scottsdale, AZ, host of a blues radio program, the producer of this project and many others, as well as being one of the best blues harmonica players around today. With the passing of Pinetop Perkins, Henry Gray is now the dean of the blues piano players, first getting recognition for his lengthy stint in Howlin' Wolf's band. Kirk Fletcher and Chris James are well-schooled in the traditional Chicago blues styles. The rock-solid rhythm section is comprised of Patrick Rynn on bass and Brian Fahey on drums.

The star of the show is singer Tail Dragger, whose given name is James Yancy Jones. He has been working clubs throughout Chicago since the early '70s, earning his stage name from Howlin' Wolf. Tail Dragger would often take the stage to fill in when Wolf took a breather. His deep, raw-edged voice is not for the faint of heart, his raspy voice conveying emotions on an elemental level. All but one of the ten songs were written by Jones.

Whether it's a shuffle like “Birthday Blues” or a brooding slow blues like “She's Worryin' Me”, the band is locked in tight while Tail Dragger belts out stories with familiar themes like love, cheating women, alcohol and the ravages of time. He delivers an energized performance on “So Ezee” with the band setting a wicked pace. On “Through With You”, Tail Dragger takes his time telling his woman that he wants her but she has to give up her other man. The interaction between James and Fletcher's guitars with Corritore's harp highlight “Please Mr. Jailer” as Tail Dragger pleads for justice from legal system for his falsely accused woman. He adopts a more subdued approach on “Cold Outdoors”, done in the Jimmy Reed style
Henry Gray shares the vocal duties on the lone cover, “Sugar Mama”, his lighter tone providing a nice contrast to Tail Dragger's more forceful singing. On “Boogie Woogie Time”, Gray rocks the house with his superb piano playing as Tail Dragger exhorts his friend on with stories from their past. Corritore's contributions are another key to the recording's success. His eloquent fills and dynamic solos are a constant delight throughout the disc.

These days blues music seems to be headed in a lot of directions, many with only tenuous connections to the music's heart. If you have a real appreciation for the electric Chicago blues music from back in the formative days of the '50s, this disc will take you back to those glory days. Superb effort that is highly recommended!!

Reviewed by Mark Thompson

Singing the Blues with Stories -Vol. 1 reviewed by Mark Thompson

Singing the Blues with Stories -Vol. 1
Fruteland Jackson
IT Records
3 tracks/30 minutes

On his latest release, Fruteland Jackson displays his skill as a storyteller on two lengthy tracks. The first relates the stirring saga of Stewball, the blind racehorse. This storyline is based on an actual race held several centuries ago in Ireland. The tale was a favorite of African-American slaves in the southern states, who reworked the song until there was little left of the original piece. Versions of the song have been recorded by many, including Joan Baez and Peter, Paul & Mary.

Jackson spins his interpretation using a spoken delivery that is highlighted by a variety of sound effects. The big race has Stewball competing against two champion thoroughbreds – the black stallion Wild Bill and Molly, the filly that many had picked to win the race. Even though he had won every one of his local races, few had much hope for Stewball's chances against such formidable competition. After all, he was just a common farmhouse, left blind by a bolt of lightning. Jackson takes a measured approach as he describes the background for the race, gradually building the excitement as the tale unfolds. You hear the trumpet calling the horses to the gate and the sound of the pounding hoofs as Jackson describes the race in detail, right up to its dramatic conclusion. The next track has Jackson singing a shorter version of the Stewball saga while playing slide on a resonator guitar.

The other narrative blends fact and fantasy as Jackson chronicles the life of famed blues musician, Robert Johnson. As he lays out the key elements of Johnson's early years, Jackson relates the growing frustration Johnson might have felt at his inability to master the guitar and cut a hit record. The main thrust of Jackson's piece is his imagining of that fateful evening when Johnson arrives at the mystical crossroads, determined to sell hi soul to the Devil for fame and fortune. Jackson's rendering paints a vivid picture of the dialogue between the two as they bargain for Johnson's eternal soul. For the Devil's speaking parts, Jackson electronically alters his voice,  resulting in the Devil sounding like your average heavy metal singer. Jackson carries the story forward to the end of Johnson's life, relating the version of his death as described by the late David “Honeyboy” Edwards.
One has to wonder how much staying power this release will have over repeated listens. Perhaps the disc could have been fleshed out with a few more musical performances, given the short playing time. But Jackson is a natural storyteller, able to inject a strong sense of realism into both works. It would be a wonderful disc to play for younger children as well as those who are young at heart, looking to exercise their imaginations.

Reviewed by Mark Thompson

Soul of the Man
Biography of Bobby “Blue” Bland
Charles Farley
University Press of Mississippi
263 pages

Back in the mid-1960's, I started digging into the history of blues music. There were a few books on the subject and not much else. Magazines devoted to the music, like Living Blues, were still years from start-up. One publication that provided a wealth of information was Hit Parader. Every issue had a column that had popular musicians list their favorite recordings. One name that kept getting mentioned was singer Bobby “Blue” Bland and his Two Steps From the Blues record. On one of my regular trips to the Jazz Record Mart in Chicago, I was able to purchase a copy and once I had a chance to listen to this classic recording, Bland became one of my favorite singers.

Author Charles Farley takes an in depth look at Bland's career, from its start in talent shows and clubs in Memphis to stages all over the world. All Bobby ever wanted to do was sing – and thankfully he was blessed with a rich, expressive voice that easily captivated listeners. Bland's formal education never went further than the third grade level. He was also shy by nature until he hit the stage, where he was entirely at home belting out one of his sixty-three R&B hits.

Memphis in the early 1950's was a musical hotbed, with Bland trying to carve a niche for himself at the same time that B.B. King and Junior Parker were reaching for the spotlight. Bland and King quickly started a friendship that endured over the years, even recording a live-in-the-studio set together in 1974.

At the age of twenty-two, Bland signed a recording contract with the brand new Duke label, owned by David Mattis, the program director for WDIA radio in Memphis. Mattis soon took on a partner, the infamous Don Robey, to get additional cash for his label. Robey had a number of interests in Houston, TX where he ran a big club as well as the Peacock record label, one of a handful of black-owned labels.    Robey soon bought out Mattis and together with his business manager, Evelyn Johnson, they began to search for that elusive hit record. They signed Bland to a contract and cut several records that failed to make much noise.

After a stint in the U.S. Army, Bland returned to Memphis only to find out that the Duke operations were now based in Houston. Once there, Bland was set-up for a session that yielded his first modest hit, “It's My Life, Baby”. In 1957, Bland scored a #1 hit on the Billboard R&B charts with his classic version of Joe Medwick's “Farther Up the Road”, with Pat Hare contributing a taut guitar solo. Robey surrounded Bland with the best musicians available. Hare was one of many guitar greats that helped define Bland's patented sound – Wayne Bennett, Mel Brown, Clarence Holliman, Texas Johnny Brown, Roy Gaines and Matt “Guitar” Murphy. Many of his horn players and drummers would often leave, recruited for slots in the bands of James Brown or B.B. King.

Robey packaged Bland with Junior Parker for a killer live combination that filled clubs throughout the country. Once Bland began working with trumpeter Joe Scott, he started generating hits on a regular basis. Scott was a skilled arranger and he tailored songs to Bland's strengths as well as those of the backing musicians. Many feel that Bland's success was a product of Scott's ability to pick the right songs and then add dramatic flourishes that highlighted Bland's voice. Scott would also stand next to Bland in the studio, teaching him the lyrics to a new song by whispering them in the singer's ear.

Bland admired singers like Tony Bennett and Nat “King” Cole in addition to being fond of country music. His vocal style mixed soul-wrenching intensity with a smooth voice that displayed none of the usual rough edges that were common on blues records of that era. Bland did have one unique characteristic, what the author refers to as a “squall” - a throaty exclamation that the singer felt distinguished him from other vocalists. Bland also had a great appreciation for T-Bone Walker. At one session, Bland cut the gigantic hit “Turn on Your Love Light” and then decided to attempt one of Walker's tunes. After hastily working out an arrangement with the band, Bland turned what was a “throw-away” track into a classic rendition of “Stormy Monday Blues”. The team of Bland and Scott mixed blues elements with big band arrangements to create an updated sound that was equally pleasing to listeners from rural areas to big city environments.

Bland's limited education left him ill-equipped to handle the business aspects of his career. He relied on Robey and especially Johnson to take care of his affairs. He had simple tastes – he was interested in singing, booze and women. Since he didn't write his own songs, he did not earn a lot from all of his hit records. In order to generate income sufficient to support Bland and his large band, they spent decades doing more than 300 shows a year in small honky-tonks to large, lavish clubs. Bland was not a dynamic stage performer – he simply stood there and dazzled audiences with his soul-wrenching vocals.

When the blues revival started, fueled by a generation of white listeners, Bland seemed to get overlooked. The author speculates that may be due to Bland not playing an instrument at a time when guitar rose to prominence. Still, Bland was able to continue working due to his standing in the African-American community. He enjoyed two career resurgences, one with the ABC-Dunhill Records and later with Malaco Records.

Farley did extensive research for this book, as witnessed by the ten pages of sources that are listed. He also includes brief biographies of many of the musicians that were a key part of Bland's success. It all adds up to a fascinating look at a man whose influence on modern blues has been under-appreciated for too long. Hopefully Farley's biography will help rekindle interest in the all of the outstanding music that defines Bobby “Blue” Bland's legacy.

Reviewed by Mark Thompson

Essential Collection reviewed by Rick Davis

Essential Collection
Omar & The Howlers
Ruf Records
www.omarandthehowlers. com
2 CDs/30 Tracks

The Howlers were started in 1973 by "Omar" Kent Dykes in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, as a party band and then relocated to Austin, Texas. Omar & The Howlers will soon celebrate their 40th anniversary of that Mississippi/Texas bayou blues sound they have so famously crafted and performed across the nation. Texas blues artists like Blind Lemon Jefferson, T-Bone Walker, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and blues guitar extraordinaire Freddie King preceded the blues renaissance of the 1970s and 1980s. Continuing that Texas blues tradition with a modern blues sound during the 60s and 70s were groups like Janis Joplin, the Winter brothers, and ZZ Top, keeping the Texas blues edge alive and putting it into the popular rock mainstream. The 1980s saw the Austin area a blues mecca, full of bands like the Vaughan brothers, Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets, Jim Colgrave and the Jukejumpers, the Cobras, Bill Carter, Denny Freeman, Marsha Ball, the Fabulous Thunderbirds and host of other musicians selling records and filling venues like Clifford Antone’s famous blues club. Included in this group is Omar & The Howlers with "Omar" Kent Dykes being one of the best in the blues business at blending both the forms of the old masters as well as the styles of his Lone Star contemporaries.

Their latest release Omar & The Howlers- Essential Collection is a double CD set of 30 live and studio recordings, with the first disc being a collection of 15 fan favorites titled “Best Of” and the second disc is 15 of Omar’s personal favorites titled “Omar’s Picks.” This is one of the best collections of Texas blues music and blues musicians you will find anywhere! After looking at the lineup of musicians throughout the 30 tunes, familiar names like Reese Wynans, George Rains, Derek O’Brian, Terry Bozzio, and Mark “Kaz” Kazanoff suddenly appeared. Texas blues fans will find names like these on many albums of Texas blues artists from the 70’s and 80s. Guest artists, Chris Duarte, Magic Slim, Gary Primich, Jimmy Vaughan, and Lou Ann Barton appear on this treasury of Texas blues.

The “Best Of” CD opens with four live recordings with the first being “Magic Man,” a tribute to Ellas Otha Bates (Bo Diddley). That Bo Diddley beat is a fitting way to kick off a disc of this caliber! “East Side Blues” is one of the best pure blues numbers in the package. The remaining live selections are Steve Ray Vaughan inspired “Border Girl” and rock ‘n’ roll driven “Hard Times In The Land Of Plenty.” Omar’s “Texas growl” vocals echo distinctly on the three selections from Big Delta “Bad Seed,” Monkey Land,” and “Wall Of Pride.” That swamp blues sound emerges out of the bayou on yet another live number “Mississippi Hoo Doo Man.” The two superb selections that were chosen from Blues Bag are “Big Chief Pontiac” and “Tears Like Rain.” Another great choice with incredible slide guitar is the tribute to the psychic soothsayers “Snake Oil Doctor,” with Omar sounding just like the late great Wolfman Jack. In my opinion, the pair of songs “Muddy Springs Road” and “Boogie Man” exemplify Omar & The Howlers at their best. Both tunes would be in my top ten Texas blues list. Disc one would not be complete without the influence of Jimmy Reed on the two numbers “You Made Me Laugh” and “Jimmy Reed Highway” the tribute to legends like Jimmy Reed, Lightning Slim, Slim Harpo, Eddie Taylor, and Lazy Lester.

Omar’s personal favorites on disc two include “I Want You,” “Snake Rhythm Rock,” and “Burn It To The Ground,” top shelf selections from the 1996 album Southern Style. From the album World Wide Open tunes “Got My Heart Set On You,” “Sugar Ditch,” and “World Of Trouble” were included. Tunes from Swingland are the jazz flavored “Work Song,” swamp drenched “Alligator Wine” and “That’s Your Daddy Yaddy Yo” with a zydeco twist. Included from the early 1994 disc Courts of Lulu are “Do It For Daddy” and “I’m Wild About You.” Completing the tunes on Omar’s list of favorites are “Stone Cold Blues” from Boogie Man, slide guitar classic “Girl’s Got Rhythm” from The Screamin’ Cat, and the soulful “Life Without You” from Muddy Springs Road. Disc two concludes with Omar and Magic Slim delivering the acoustic Willie Dixon tune “Built For Comfort.”

If you are not familiar with Omar & The Howlers, this double barrel shot will only ignite your desire for more. For the Texas blues fan, Omar & The Howlers- Essential Collection won’t stay on your shelf long. This collection is a candidate for the blues hall of fame.

Reviewed by Rick Davis

Last Time I Saw You reviewed by Rick Davis

Last Time I Saw You
Microwave Dave & the Nukes
13 Tracks

Dave Gallaher of Microwave Dave Microwave Dave & the Nukes formed the group in 1989. They began as a back-up band for Jerry 'Boogie' McCain for three years as well as Bo Diddley for some shows with influences from both reflected in their music. The Alabama Blues Society presented them with its Blues Achievement Award in 2001 "for accomplishments in performing, writing, and preserving blues music." The group performs with Microwave Dave handling the vocals, guitars, percussion, Lowebow, Cigtone, and drums, with Rick Godfrey on bass and harmonica, and James Irvin also on drums and percussion.

They have recently released their seventh album, Last Time I Saw You. Cover songs include David Elliot’s up-tempo roadhouse driven “I’ve Got a Bet with Myself” and Billy C. Farlow’s juke joint classic “Alabama Saturday Night.” The opening tune “Drinkin’ Wine Since Nine,” describes a night out and the progressive events to follow. Dave interjects a little humor and sarcasm with the tongue-in-cheek numbers “Jesus Was Smart,” “The Last Time I Saw You,” and “Tire Man.” “The Worst Thing” is a slow romantic tune with haunting guitar solos.  It sounds like “Hydraulic Grind,” a 13 second recording of a Dodge van winch, could be the intro to following tune “All Nite Boogie.” Strap yourself for this up-tempo, high energy, rocker that sounds like some out of the ZZ Top or George Thorogood songbook. “Going Downtown” is another hard drivin’, guitar-driven rocker with a rockabilly beat. Dave takes you out to the open road, headed for Memphis, strumming his Lowebow with his road song “Cadillac Ride.” You almost find yourself in the middle of a bullfight when listen to the Dick Dale guitar style with Microwave Dave singing in Spanish for the song “Vagabundos.” The CD is concluded with the seven minute instrumental “Rafferty” with a little Allman Brothers sound at times.

You find quite a variety of music in the new Microwave Dave & the Nukes release Last Time I Saw You. It has something for everybody’s taste and it is a CD you will want to play over and over again.

Reviewed by Rick Davis

Spider Eating Preacher reviewed by Rick Davis

Spider Eating Preacher
Eddie C. Campbell
Delmark Records
15 Tracks

Eddie C. Campbell developed his blues style at an early age on Chicago’s West side, playing venues like the 1125 Club with Muddy Waters, and the Alex Club with Magic Sam. He directed Jimmy Reed’s band for period of time and worked with Willie Dixon’s Chicago Blues All-Stars, Luther Allison, Koko Taylor, Willie James Lyons, Big Monroe, drummer Willie Buckner, Otis Rush, Mighty Joe Young, Little Walter, and harp player Pee Wee Madison. By the late 50's, Eddie C. Campbell's band was backing up Percy Mayfield, Lowell Fulson, Tyrone Davis, and Little Johnny Taylor.
His new CD Spider Eating Preacher on Delmark Records is a follow-up to his previous 2009 release, Tear This World Up. Eddie’s superb guitar style echoing with reverb can be heard throughout the entire album. He has a strong family backing with his wife and bass player Barbara Mayson, his son David Campbell on violin, and his godson Lurrie Bell on guitar, vocals, and harmonica. Rounding out this all-star band are Robert Pasenko on drums, Lurrie Bell’s keyboardist Darryl Coutts, Vuyani Wakaba on bass, Alexander Meija on guitar, Marques Carroll on trumpet, Chris Neal playing tenor sax, and Aaron Getsug on baritone sax.

At the age of 72, Campbell is still creating new music as 12 out of the 15 cuts on the new CD are original tunes. The only cuts that are not original are Ricky Allen’s “Cut You A-loose,” “Skintight,” a funky remake originally done by the Ohio Players, and the Jimmy Lee Robinson slow blues tune “All of My Life.”  The song “Soup Bone (Reheated)” is a remake one of Campbell’s early 45s. He opens the CD with the up-tempo “I Do” and the title track “Spider Eating Preacher” backed by a first class horn section from Guy King’s Little Big Band. Chicago blues number “Call My Mama” sounds like a tune that could be belted out by Howlin’ Wolf himself, much like he did on “Smokestack Lightning.” Campbell’s vocals match those of the Wolf on this one. He doubles on harmonica on this tune as well as “My Friend (For Jim O’Neal).” “I Don’t Understand This Woman” has that strong Jimmy Reed influence with strong piano solos by Darryl Coutts. Coutts is brought to center stage once again with rich organ solos on the instrumental “Starlight” blended with Eddie’s echoing reverb on guitar. The funky instrumental “Brownout” showcases the unequaled horn section along with those familiar guitar riffs from Campbell, the master himself. The CD is completed with the two sensational blues tunes “Boomerang” and “Been Gone A Long Time.” He finishes this collection with the acoustic/harmonica number “Playing Around These Blues” with Lurrie Bell, discussing the evolution of their blues family.

The influence from the many legends Eddie C. Campbell has worked with over his long and rewarding blues career can be heard on this fabulous collection of tunes. It is one of his best yet! You simply can’t miss this CD.

Reviewed by Rick Davis

Old School Blues reviewed by Steve Jones and David Stine

Old School Rockin'
Studebaker John
Delmark Records
14 tracks


WOW! I l have been a fan of Studebaker John's for many years. When he was signed by Delmark and released his "Maxwell Street Kings" album I was impressed by the somewhat minimalistic but totally authentic music he produced on that great CD. I reviewed it for our Blues Society and was happy to see Studebaker at the top of his game. When I got this CD and popped it in to the opening strains of "Rockin' That Boogie" and I knew I was in for something far more intense than his first Delmark release. Big, bold sounds, a driving groove, hot guitar licks, and John's always intriguing vocals sold me after a few bars, and I still had 13 tracks to go!

Perhaps one would label Studebaker John Grimaldi a throwback. He turns 60 later this year, having grown up in the tumultuous era of the 1960's in an Italian American neighborhood in Chicago. The walls between musical types were beginning to break down when he was a teenager learning to play guitar. He had already mastered the harp and drums and was cutting his teeth on the six stringed ax while listening to a mix of blues and early rock. One can see the blending of these influences in this CD, where Slim Harpo, Jimmy Reed and Hound Dog Taylor meet Peter Green and Mike Bloomfield.

I've enjoyed John's music for many years, but it seems to me he's even turned it up an additional notch with this recording. I saw him live on Saturday, April 14th in the midst of reviewing this CD and I also saw him a couple of times last year, so many of the tunes were familiar to me. His live shows are filled with the same electricity and energy as this album is. He recorded this live in the studio with minimal overdubs, so what you hear on this record is hot stuff.

"Rockin' Hot" is another of the big, driving numbers that bring the dancers out- your feet just want to move to the strains of his guitar and the back beat of Bob Halaj on bass and Albert "Joey" DiMarco on drums. It's just three guys but they produce a huge sound and make for a fiery CD. "She's rockin' hot" groans John as he sings of his woman, and the same can be said for this CD- it is rockin' hot! He stays on that theme with "Fine Little Machine", singing of being the driver for his woman's fine little machine. "Fire Down Below" features blistering harp by Grimaldi and Doug Organ appears on the B3 (the only track where the trio expands). Hot, hot stuff. The innuendos are not deep, but they don't need to be as they remind us of blues lyrics from days past. He's got some hot songs that will make believers of the those not familiar with his work and really impress those who are.

He occasionally takes the pace down a bit. The stuff in the lower gears is equally appealing. "Mesmerized" features a Latin-styled beat while "Disease Called Love" dips into the swampy side of the blues. "Dark Night' is really the only other tempo cut; but they all drip with authenticity and goodness. He handles any tempo with ease and delivers powerfully moving music to the listener at all paces.

Other songs of interest are, well ,all of the cuts. I can't single out each and every other but a few bear mention. "Deal With the Devil" is a pounding, and hauntingly cool song where John grabs you like the devil can. "She Got It Right (Dress So Tight) is another track that will get heart pumping and folks on their feet and dancing. A huge guitar solo where John takes a tour way down the neck of the guitar in a whirling and squealing 100 mph drive. And, of course, the title track is so, so true- old school rockin' done just right!

14 original tracks done by a Chicago blues original. This album is a no-brainer- buy it now. It is one of the hottest CDs I've heard in a long time and one of the best CDs I've heard in the past year! Every time I hear it I love it even more; do not pass this one up! Studebaker John has really outdone himself.

Reviewed by Steve Jones

And Cons….

First, let me say that I have been a Studebaker John fan for years. His funky and sometimes other-worldly slide guitar work has transfixed me. So it is with some sadness that I can’t seem to get “into” this CD. Much of it sounds like ZZ Top outtakes. No offense to that little ol’ band from Texas, but I’ve come to expect more originality from John.

Cut one, “Rockin’ The Boogie,”is a tell-all. The lyrics are simplistic, over a pounding rhythm that never varies. Is this the end of old school blues for John? You can almost see the on-stage choreography here. Let me add, however, that the slide work is as good as ever. Song two, sounds more like the SJ of old. Quirky chording and a varied beat take us into “A Disease Called Love.” This cut is a nice glimmer of Studebaker John’s older work. Unfortunately there isn’t enough of the John we love. Cut three, “Fire Down Below,” takes us right back to heavy arena rock with slide guitar over top. Could AC/DC cover this tune – yes. Add John Popper on harp and, well, it’s rock n roll. “Rockin’ Hot” follows. More ZZ Top meets Dave Edmunds. Sokay, a guy’s gotta make a livin’. More simple lyrics in the vein of “Sharp-Dressed Man,” or “She’s Got Legs.” What’s missing is the radio-friendly groove. Oh, what was I saying about ZZ Top? Cut five, “Fine Little Machine,” stinks of, well, you know. John – why, why, why? “Old School Rockin’” a romp-boogie that John struggles to force in some cumbersome lyrical phrases.  I’ve heard this before: cantankerous lyrics that the writer refuse to a amend for some reason or another when a little whittling would smooth out the phrase. Oh well, I’m just a reviewer. Did I mention that this song sounds a lot like ZZ Top? “She Got It Right” has a subtext of “that dress so tight.” Couple the lyrics with the slide work and false harmonic fretboard play and the take-no-prisoners boogie, and the Then Play On-era Fleetwood Mac coda and, well, he sort of DOES have it right. “Deal With The Devil,” is a slower, more of the same, droning boogie. By this point in the CD, we realize that all songs employ overdrive on the guitar work. It rocks, yes, but it get wearisome as well. Cut nine, “I Stand Alone” only swims because of the alternating rhythm pattern; otherwise it has been grafted from other songs on the CD. Lyrically, no big message. There is a pleasant break of the formula with song ten, “Mesmerized,” that employs a Latin groove, a Wes Montgomery octave-over slide that becomes some of the nicest single string work I’ve ever heard John do. If I have to pick a best cut, “Mesmerized” is it. Rock n roll revisits on cut eleven with “Band New Rider,” which is no more than “Fine Little Machine” meets “”She Got It Right.” I guess if you clone yourself it’s ok. “Dark Night” is sort of a Sonny Landreth-sounding thing that I wish would have bubbled up earlier on this CD. Too late, I’m afraid to save my ZZ Top-riddled assessment. “On The Down Low,” sounds a bit like the SJ I like with it more intricate structure, better phrasing, and well-heeled lyrics. Bravo! Studebaker John’s foray into area rock ends with “Tumblin’ Down The Road,” that features more harmonica – sorely missed herein. Not many words here, a few Billy Gibbons-esque asides, but the groove here is unquestionably rockin’.

As, I said, a guy’s got make a living. It may seem as though I hate this CD. I don’t. There are handful of cuts that remind me of why I’m a Studebaker John fan. There’s a LOT that is derivative of, well, you know. Throw this on shuffle, with THAT band and maybe Savoy Brown and Johnny Winters and you have a party!

Deeper in the Well reviewed by David Stine

Deeper in the Well
Eric Bibb
Stony Plain Records
13 tracks/50:07 min.

Eric Bibb is not so much a bluesman as he is an American songster. His latest outing took him to Louisiana and this CD is steeped in a lazy, willow-in-the-water feel. Aiding Bibb are Cedric Watson on fiddle; Christine Balfa on Cajun triangle; Dirk Powell on banjo, fiddle, mandolin, accordion, and bass; and Danny DeVillier on percussion.

Bibb’s “Bayou Belle” with its fiddle and syncopated rhythm gets us in the mood for some dancing. Nothing complicated here in this tribute to a Southern Belle. Harrison Kennedy’s “Could Be You Could Be Me’ is more traditional blues with the topical theme of homelessness. One day it COULD be me or you, indeed. The mood takes a turn a little with the spiritual-meets-Cajun-beat “Dig A Little Deeper In The Well.” This song will have you singing a long – I guarantee it. “Money In Your Pocket” is another upbeat song, but is it tongue in cheek? The mysterious reversal of fortune, remains, alas, unsolved. The traditional “Boll Weevil” get a polishing through Bibb’s metal-bodied guitar and the harmonica from Grant Dermody. Maybe it’s the metal guitar, but there are shades of Son House in Bibb’s singing here. “Sinner Man,” too is treated to a loose Cajun intro including asides before it finally catches with its rhythmic bass/guitar/harmonica lines. This is a hypnotic piece and maybe my favorite on the disc. Well done. “In My Time” again returns to more tradition acoustic blues. Here too, we return to the theme of being on the top and the bottom of life. Simply called “Music,” cut eight pretty much capsulizes Eric Bibb’s approach to things. Call it what you like, he calls it all music. Interesting, them that he treats this as a fiddle tune. “If I feel it – that’s good enough for me” kind of says it all. “Moving Up” is another toe tapper with a political twist. “No Further” is a warning to a young lady about to go down the wrong road (drugs). Taj Mahal’s “Every Wind In The River,” is a nice choice for cut eleven. Thematically and arrangement-wise this cut appear where it should in the storyline of Deeper In The Well. These are not just a bunch of songs thrown on a CD. Bibb took his time in placing each track to help convey the feel and changing moods of this disc. “Sitting In A Hotel Room” seems to have just come alive in Bibb’s hotel room probably in one sitting. The last line: “Lord, I’m happy to be in this moment, being alive” says it all. The inclusion of the final cut, Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A Changin’” brings in the themes of water, change, forward movement and the need for action. At first I thought this cut didn’t belong, but upon revisiting the disc it seems a perfect conclusion. Done slower that other versions, the low-key banjo and weary vocals create a near perfect disc from Bibb. Maybe not a feel good disc, but an important disc in Bibb’s Americana.

Fans of Bibb’s take on the blues should buy this disc as well as those who like acoustic, Southern flavored, old-timey and Americana. This is a very pleasing, and thoughtful disc.

Reviewed by David Stine

Detoxing reviewed by David Stine

Blues News Records
9 tracks/54 min.

The last CD grab-to-review go around left me with this CD – nobody else wanted it. The fairy tale artwork and obvious "European" look put most of us off. Blues? Pristine? What the . . . ? BUT, I was pleasantly surprised by this disc. Although Pristine covers Greg Allman’s “Whipping Post,” this CD is a LONG way from the blues I usually listen to or review. Loaded into Itunes, the genre reads “Alternative.” I will call it “emo blues.” Pristine is Heidi Solheim, vocals, Espen Elverum Jakobsen, guitars, Anders Oskal, Hammond organ and Clavinova; Asmund Wilter Eriksson, bass; and Kim Karlsen, drums and percussion. This is not your grandfather’s blues, let me warn you. Solheim has pipes to spare, and Pristine’s blues get translated through a young Norwegian band’s sensibility. The vocals are forefront, sometimes only backed by one instrument. The result is hypnotic and new. The music sometimes is a whisper that swells and disappears only to return with a whole new approach.  Solheim’s vocals and Jakobsen’s guitar interplay to create a force to be reckoned with. It may or may not be blues, per se, but Pristine’s music IS forceful.

Cut one, “Damned If I Do,” begins with Solheim’s vocals over a faint Hammnd organ which builds to a near scream, only to fade where restrained guitar/organ/drums/bass interlude take over. Let me mention that Pristine feels no constraints how long a song should be, well, portrayed. Yes, there’ a lot of EMOtion in Solheim’s singing and the band’s presentation, but for me it’s nice break from the samey samey stuff that comes in the little brown envelopes. “You Don’t Know,” funky guitar should make some American ears acknowledge that we do not, indeed, own the blues. Granted, Jakobsen had listened to Stevie Ray’s choppy rhythms and solos, but he adds his own flavor to his approach. I guess I’d call his playing “under the top.”

The thing I admire about Jakobsen and Solhelim is their ability to “hang out there” with very little, sometimes NO backing and do their thing. In a world where EVERYONE is watching this takes guts.  To my ear, they don’t always hit the note, but that’s OK. “Breaking Bad,” is another SRV-like tip of the hat. It is nicely executes and may sent some back to their SRV collections.  My little knit cap is off to Pristine for their stripped down version “Whipping Post,” which is just Solheim and Jakobsen. Brave or foolish, taking on this iconic Southern mainstay is an interesting call for this new band. To me, it a brave move. Things get a little heavier with “The Countdown.” There is some Deep Purple seeping out of this song, but the lyrics evoke the bluesy theme of Solheim’s taking her man to task. The big organ sound kicks off “Damage is Done.” Again, a little bit Deep Purple, meets Pristine in a short (barely 2 minutes) to hurt. “Last Day” is slow lament to the last day of a love affair which allows Jakobsen to lay down some fine Strat work that parlays into a nice interchange with Oskalo’s organ work with Solheim soaring over top. “Detoxing” is the longest song on the CD, clocking in at nearly 12 minutes and seems to owe a lot to latter day Led Zeppelin. One can imagine Robert Plant tacking the Eastern sentiments in its portrayal. The song builds into a sort of Apocalypse Now I’m-going-crazy-kill-kill-kill theme song only to return to Solheim’s ragged and emotive vocals to take us out. Are we, indeed, detoxed? Well it feels like we’ve been through something heavy. Pristine’s final cut, “The Blind” takes no prisoners.

All in all, Pristine is power and drama and emotion. To many, it’s heavy rock. Just the same, I’m glad this little insight into Norwegian “blues” ended up in my hands.

Reviewed by David Stine

Future Blues reviewed by Harmonica Joe Poluyanskis

Future Blues
Patrick Dodd Trio
Patrick Dodd Music (self-released)
7 tracks/29:43

Patrick Dodd, born and raised in Memphis, has been on the blues scene for many years. Having a good run with the Patrick Dodd Trio in the mid 90’s he left music to raise his family. Now, after ten years, he is back with a band to release his first CD, “Future Blues.” This recording features seven songs written by him. The band for the disc was only formed about a month before going into the studio to record. Dodd is a really talented guitarist with the ability to take time for the music to flow and have good phrasing in his solos. His vocals are of a gritty, gnarly type with maybe an Allman Brothers quality to them.  With the addition of Harry Peel on drums and Landon Moore on bass this band has a country, rocking blues sound to it. You can check their web-site for more band information.

“Evil Ways’ is one of the CD’s really true, grab your attention blues tunes. This track features some rock solid guitar playing from Dodd along with his bluesy vocals and lyrics. Also on this tune there is a really strong bass line, from Landon Moore, taking us down the blues highway. Everything on this song is held together with the solid drum beat of Harry Peel. To me this is a very outstanding addition to “Future Blues.’

“Restless Soul” is a well written gospel type blues song. It is very apparent this was written with deep emotion from Patrick Dodd. This was written for a friend that left this world way too early. All the vocals have a heartfelt and meaningful tone to them. The addition of the piano and the background singers is really a plus on “Restless Soul.” Patrick’s guitar solo has a sad, whining, tearful quality that really grabs the ear. I also really enjoy this tune.

At only about thirty minutes in length “Future Blues” lacks the time needed to really showcase the bands’ ability to show us all of the talent they have. It leaves me with the feeling that I want to hear more of the Patrick Dodd Trio! I enjoy the whole package presented to me, the band, the vocals, the lyrics, song choices and their approach to the “Future Blues.”

Reviewed by Harmonica Joe

The Go reviewed by Harmonica Joe Poluyanskis

The Go
Hunter Wolfe & ARE
13 tracks/43:14

Hunter Wolfe & Are have just released their self produce CD “The Go.” Hunter is a 19 year old slide guitarist, vocalist and song writer. Joining him to form this dynamic duo is his 15 year old sister, ARE. She is a very solid drummer as well as a song writer for this project. “The Go” is filled with 13 well written meaningful tunes by Hunter and ARE. They create a rocking type blues feel without glitz and glitter and do tend to drift away from the blues genre as we know it.

Hunter has been a performer twice at the International Blues Challenge Showcase and also a Blues Foundation Generation Blues recipient. He has also been on stage with Honeyboy Edwards as well as doing a 10 day tour in London England. ARE, at her young age, has also shared the stage with several other groups as well as co-writing this CD. Both Hunter and ARE are very accomplished musical artist. These tunes contain some deep dark lyrics from such young writers. These lyrics take your mind to a place that makes you pay attention to them .This is not a bad way to go.  Check these two out on their web-site.

“Your Death (is killing me)” is a well written up tempo that showcases Hunters slide guitar style. He does some really fine guitar playing on this track. ARE’s steady drum beat is ever present though out the entire song. Adding Cassie Taylor on bass was a good plus here also. The lyrics are very strong here. “Yes I love you, but your death is killing me” seems to take us to a dark desperate place. This tune, to me, is the best blues tune on the CD. Cassie Taylor joins Hunter on “Letter” in a really good vocal duet, as well as putting her bass playing into the mix. This combination has a good bluesy quality with plenty of Hunter’s guitar soloing and a swell vocal mix. This is a good tune.

Hunter Wolfe and Are have done a fine job of writing the tunes, playing on the recording and producing their first CD, “The Go.” As a blues recording, it is what it is. As they say, “they are playing the Blues a little outside the lines.” Yes, the genre of the blues has been stretched on this recording but it is still good to listen to. This is the road they choose to take. I do hope that Hunter Wolfe & ARE release a full blown blues recording someday.

Reviewed by Harmonica Joe.

Revolution Rhapsody aka Uprising Music reviewed by Harmonica Joe

Revolution Rhapsody aka Uprising Music
Bushmaster- Gary D. Brown
16 tracks/ 58:05

“Revolution Rhapsody aka: Uprising Music” is the fourth CD to be released by the Bushmaster band. This band has a very solid blues base while throwing in some funkiness and rock sound to it. The leader and composer of the band is the very talented guitarist Gary D. Brown. All sixteen tunes on this recording were penned by Brown. He takes a bold approach of hitting on just about every political and social issue facing us in this country. One does not have to agree with all of his thoughts as he uses his lyrics and musical skills to get us to listen and think about things. Gary likes to play festivals to share his music, thoughts and emotions.

For this recording project Brown is joined by a big list of talented players and singer on different songs. This group is too numerous to give them all the credit that they deserve at this time. More info is available at the www.bushmasterblues.com web-site.
“War On The Poor” is a very current song about recent political events in the great state of Wisconsin. We all know this story, destroy the unions, take from the working class etc. As Gary states’ “there is war on the poor, war on the middle class and if we don’t fight the power all the rest of us are thru.” This is told as it is by Gary, things in this country need to be changed. “War On The Poor” is a solid blues based tune showing of Brown’s guitar soloing, a solid band behind him and a welcome addition of Rodger Edsall blowing some fine harp for us.

The Bushmaster CD, “Revolution Rhapsody aka: Uprising Music” gives us sixteen well written songs performed by a fine mix of talented musicians and vocalist all led by an awesome leader Gary D. Brown. Having songs such as “Arizona Shame On You”, “Phony People” and “40 Acres And A Mule” makes you realize where this recording will take us. With Gary D. Brown leading the way on guitar, vocals and lyrics this is a recording to be listened to and to think about.

Reviewed by Harmonica Joe