2010, Vol. 01/02/03

CD & DVD Reviews

The Well

Alligator ALCD 4939

Charlie and Alligator go together very well indeed - his three albums for the label in the nineties helped to rehabilitate Charlie with today’s blues audience and in the process contributed towards shaping the blues as it is today. He has recorded many albums since his debut back in the mid-sixties, but somewhat incredibly this is his first full-band album of original songs, and many of these are very personal. He tackles his alcoholism head-on – and the title track is so life-affirming – and his youth in Mississippi, plus personal tragedies.
He does this whilst singing in his trademark laid-back style, which still carries quite a punch, playing some of the finest harmonica you are ever likely to hear, and with a band that catch his every nuance, whether it be a Magic Sam styled accompaniment, a no-nonsense shuffle, or a playful, jazzy backing. Mavis Staples duets with Charlie on ‘Sad And Beautiful World’, and ‘Sonny Payne Special’ is a lovely vintage styled harmonica instrumental, but really every track is worthy of mention and helps to make up a winning set of first-class blues.

Norman Darwen

This review has been complimentary written for your newsletter by Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro, a contributing writer for BLUESWAX, BluesART and the Blues Editor at
where you can read many more CD and live show reviews, view lots of blues photographs and find an abundance of blues material.
I can be reached at

Blind Willy
"Willing To Crawl"

Spec Records

Blind Willy consists of: Doug Jones on vocals, guitar and harmonica; James Cook on bass and background vocals; Derek Mixon on drums; Johnny Neel on keyboards; Joanna Cotton on background vocals; Chris West on saxophone; Adam Jones on trombone; and Dan Cohen on guitar (1 track).  The disc is an EP which contains five outstanding original tracks.

Doug may be "Living The Blues" but, as he happily states on this opening track, he's "not going down without a puttin' up a fight - 'cause he fells like rockin' tonight".  Atta boy, Doug!  Right from the get go the band gets into one of those toe tappin', head bobbin' grooves - led by the rhythm work of James, Derek and Johnny - and they lock it right in.  That, combined with the amazingly harmonic vocals and background vocals sung by Doug and Joanna, make this one hell of a track.  While writing this paragraph, it's a close call as to what my fingers hit more - the keypad or the replay button.  Excellent stuff!

In order to get his woman back, Doug's not only man enough to let her see his teardrops fall, but he's also "Willing To Crawl".  The emotions relayed through his powerfully yet passionate vocals, leave absolutely no question as to his sincerity.  With a steady, intense organ background and a strong drum rhythm behind him Doug's at discs best as he squeezes tears out of his guitar as well.

"My Little Feelgood" is a heck of a party song.  As a matter of fact, there's quite a party going on in the background.  This one's highlighted by wind - hot wind and lots of it - Doug blowin' it into the harp and Chris and Adam blowin' it into their horns.  Add some hand clapping, lots of laughing and several people singing background and you've got a real smoker goin' on.

"Leave The Light On" is an absolutely exquisite and sensually sung ballad.  About two thirds into the track Doug hits some notes that sent chills through my body.  I know there are literally thousands of beautifully sung love songs out there, but this one's got to be one of the best.  My apologies to the rest of the guys in the band - I know you're there, but I'm lost in the vocals on this one.

I'm sure the guys worked up a "Sweat" while recording this one, because they all sound on top of their game.  James, Derek and Johnny are at it again - serving up some intense rhythm, Chris and Adam are blowin' fire outta their horns, and Doug..... oh he's just up to his usual singin' the hell out of the song.

Even though it's an EP, I believe I may have just listened to the front runner in the 2010 "Blewzzy Award" competition.  Short of offering a money back guarantee, I am promising you that there won't be one second of this disc you will not love.  Go - right now - to and get one (being an EP, it's priced right).  And while you're there, tell Doug the Blewzzman says "WOW!"

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @

This review has been complimentary written for your newsletter by Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro, a contributing writer for BLUESWAX, BluesART and the Blues Editor at
where you can read many more CD and live show reviews, view lots of blues photographs and find an abundance of blues material.
I can be reached at

Pat Ramsey & The Blues Disciples
"Live In Key West!"

Snailworx Productions


It's a pleasure and an honor to have the opportunity to work with this posthumously released Pat Ramsey CD.  Besides being one of my favorite harmonica players and vocalists, Pat was also a very dear friend.  It seemed like we bonded from the very first minute we introduced ourselves, at Alligator Alley, in Sunrise, FL.  That was ten years ago, and since then the club is gone and so is Pat.  Although it saddens me that he won't be able to read these words, I'll always have a fond memory of Pat that will forever put a smile on my face.  Following a Saturday night gig about 10 minutes from my house, I had Pat and the band over for a good old fashion Sunday afternoon Italian dinner, before they headed back to Tallahassee.  I swear, I never saw a bunch of skinny guys eat so much, and after we were done, Pat said it "was the best Italian food he's ever had." It's a compliment I'll never forget, especially since it came from the best harmonica player I ever heard.

"Live In Key West!" was recorded from Pat Ramsey & The Blues Disciples in Key West, FL shows during 2004.  The band consisted of Pat Ramsey on vocals and harmonica, Dave Renson - Pat's band mate for over ten years - on guitar and Dobro, Duane Waider on drums and John Wentzien on bass.

The sincerity in his voice, and the feeling he puts into his words, leads you to believe he really needs it when he says "Somebody Loan Me A Dime".  The first eight minutes of this eleven minute soulful ballad is all Pat - singing and blowing his heart out as he did so well.  Of course, on a track this long you couldn't keep Dave quiet the whole time.  Some excellent crying guitar licks add to the melancholy mood.

Just saying the name of this track pretty much tells the whole story - "Whammer Jammer".  Those two words should be listed in the dictionary with a description that states: "One hell of an ass kicking, all out free for all instrumental jam led by fierce and frantic harmonica playing."  Did I make my point?  I'm betting even Magic Dick and J. Geils would love this version.

One of the two original tracks on the disc, this one penned by Dave, is "Got Love If You Want It".  Coincidence or not, some of the discs best guitar work can be heard right here.  Fueled by a hot rhythm, led by Duane on the drums, Dave tears it up on this one.

One of my favorite styles of harmonica playing is the type that Jimmy Reed made famous - that high pitched, sharp, piercing sound.  On the cover of his "Honest I Do", Pat nails the sound.  The smooth sound coming out of Dave's guitar and the mellow rhythm being produced by Duane and John, on drums and bass, make this a classic for a slow dance.

At the opening of "Dead Shrimp Blues" there's a three minute harmonica intro that could have been a song in itself.  Then there are several vocal breaks where the band, at discs best, just locks into a groove that would have had me saying "lock the door and throw away the key" if I was in the room.  Great rhythm, great guitar leads, and great vocals make this the best version of this song I've ever heard.

Other tracks on "Live In Key West!" include: "Dog House Blues", "Jammin' In The Jungle", "Stingin' Stang", "Highway 49/Highway 61 Revisited" and "Last Night".

This is the part of the review where I always advise the reader to visit the artists' website - to purchase a disc, and to send my regards to the artist as well.  Well, you can get the disc at, but the regards part won't be necessary.  My friend Pat already knows I'm thinking of him.


It's always been my opinion that Pat Ramsey was one of the artists that the blues community so wrongfully overlooked.  How or why he never achieved the recognition he so deserved still baffles me.  Maybe his time is yet to come - here are some words from someone who believes that as well......

"The overall musicianship of the band was outstanding and Pat's vocals sounded like the real thing. I was very impressed by the dynamics, performances and song combinations of Pat Ramsey & The Blues Disciples. My label has just submitted this CD for Grammy consideration for Best Contemporary Blues Album."

Michael Lewis
Snailworx Productions

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @

Georgia Warhorse

Alligator ALCD 4938

The roots-rocker and friends from Florida are back, having become Alligator’s best-selling act! The first four tracks provide a strong example of just why these guys are so popular – the opener is a piece of slinky, swampy funk, followed by an aching acoustic number with a country tinge, before 'The Sweetest Thing' has gospel-influenced reggae star Toots Hibbert joining JJ for a piece of classic soul, and then it's onto a number that defines 'rock 'n' soul'. The title track is an inventive slab of slide guitar driven down-home funk (and also with a fine blues harp solo by JJ), and the sparse, slow-burn 'Gotta Know' brings the return of those country tinges, with some excellent sax playing by Art Edmaiston. This kind of roots eclecticism continues through to the end of the set, with a relaxed but insistent groover like 'Slow, Hot And Sweaty' and some more undefinable numbers.
This may not strictly be a blues set, but I do suspect it will be close enough for many readers.

Norman Darwen

Can’t Get No Loving Over The Telephone


Toni’s latest album is a powerful and mature piece of work from this excellent American singer. She sings with a powerful enthusiasm on the storming, boogying opener and then it is into the sassy blues of ‘Kind Of Girl’. The band behind her is tight and cooking, especially guitarist Michael Vochezer, though it seems a shame to have to single anyone out as all the musicians are impressive. ‘Apple On A Tree’ is a slow blues, soulfully sung and played, with a touch of vintage Peter Green in the guitar work. Toni then changes tack with ‘Who’s That Girl’, a pop-flavoured quasi modern track that would do well with some radio play, then ‘Toni’s Groove’ opens with some Muddy Waters styled slide guitar before heading off into a jaunty, Willie Dixon inflected blues dancer.

This blues-based eclecticism continues throughout the remaining four meaty hard blues tracks and a closer which is good fun if a bit of a surprise!) of this excellent album – in my opinion this is her best yet!

Norman Darwen

Alligator Records

SONGS: Rambler’s Blues; Dig The Pain; The Well; Where Hwy 61 Runs; Sad And Beautiful World; Sonny Payne Special; Good Times; Just You, Just Blues; Cadillac Women; Hoodoo Queen; Clarkdale Getaway; Cook County Blues; Sorcerer’s Dream

In this CD, Charlie Musselwhite shares some of his life experiences with twelve original songs.  That includes some of his early childhood dreams and memories as well as his struggle with drinking problems and how he overcame them. That’s where the title track, The Well, is significant. He also sings an emotional duet with Mavis Staples in “Sad And Beautiful World,” which are things he wanted to say after the murder of his mother. Charlie elaborates on his relationship with each song in the liner notes.

There are a lot of blues in the album. Charlie ‘s storytelling vocals and his melodic, dramatic, and masterful harmonica playing  make this CD very downhome and appealing. His harp playing shines in the two instrumentals on the album. One is about his good friend, Sonny Payne, a DJ on the King Biscuit radio show. In the other, “Clarksdale Getaway,” one can imagine Charlie walking around his favorite town on a crowded, bustling afternoon. All the rhythm patterns match the lyrics.

Over the last 43 years, Charlie has released over 30 albums. “The Well” is the first where Charlie wrote or co-wrote all the tracks. It is also his most emotionally personal one. Charlie Musselwhite’’s latest album is powerful and heartfelt. Check it out.


Viper – Snakebite V

Retroworld FLOATB 6055

This 15 track reissue of early material from Buddy and Junior – Mel London's recordings and Chess sessions – is a salutory reminder that the music that inspired the early blues booms of the sixties was performed by young men, with influences not only from their blues predecessors but also from rock and roll and with the fervour of the coming sounds of soul. Junior's tracks in particular have a pop flavour – or what was pop at the time – whilst Buddy's have a nagging, nervous intensity. Many are now recognised classics – and deservedly so!

Norman Darwen

Provogue PRD 7326 2

This triple album set was recorded live at The Roxy Theater in Atlanta, Georgia, beginning on 31st December 1999 and there is a telling few minutes just after midnight when the band tackle three covers – King Crimson’s ‘21st Century Schizoid Man’, The Who’s ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’, and Led Zeppelin’s ‘Dazed And Confused’ – it is a pretty clear indicator that the band’s roots lie in the rock of the late 60s, much of which was blues based, of course. That section closes out the first disc, and the second CD finds the band introducing a special guest – none other than the late Little Milton, who has a six song showcase getting on for an hour in length and is obviously enjoying himself immensely. So, even if you are a blues purist who has never previously heard of southern rockers Gov’t Mule, you do have a reason to check them out. Existing fans will already have bought this anyway… and if you have a hankering for the sounds of the late sixties, investigate this release forthwith – you’ll enjoy it, I guarantee.

Norman Darwen

Under The Sun


As Bo Diddley might have sung, “You can’t judge a CD from looking at the cover” – the sleeve design is OK but I immediately noticed the presence of Ray Parker Jr. on guitar (Ghostbusters’ Blues”?). Solomon moved west to California from Detroit, adding a hefty dose of Motor City soul to his blues – strange though it seems for me to write it, but the backing singers here are quite outstanding! This album has already received a lot of acclaim and I am only going to add to the enthusiasm. Yes, there are soul covers – Al Green, Smokey Robinson, Bobby Bland (an ace version of ‘Ain’t No Love’) – but these days they are not too much out-of-keeping with the blues, and then there are the stone blues such as the tough opener and the wonderful, subtly John Lee Hooker influenced (both musically and vocally) ‘Jack Me Up’.

This is a CD that should be checked out by those looking for the next big name in the blues – Solomon deserves it!

Norman Darwen

I Got It Bad
Blue Skunk BS 4510

Blue Skunk BS-4511

Singer and guitarist Marc was born in 1947 in Dallas, Texas, and came to the Blues at a young age; he went on to work with Lightnin’ Hopkins, The Doors, Eric Clapton and others, but is probably best-known for his association with session man Leon Russell. He made his debut as a solo artist in 1970 and returned to the blues around 1972. “I Got It Bad” was originally released on Marno in 2003 and finds Marc solidly in blues mode, with plenty of clean picking on some intelligent songs and delivered in a warm voice, with more than a hint of humour in places, and a backing band of top-notch musicians. This is a mature and extremely enjoyable, original work firmly in Texas mode – my only criticism is of the short playing time of just 32 minutes.

“Crawlin’” dates from 1973, when Marc and his band The Nightcrawlers were touring with The J. Geils Band and Humble Pie. They seemed on the verge of making it big, but then the manager fired everyone to concentrate on managing Humble Pie’s Peter Frampton. It also meant that work immediately ceased on the album Marc and his band were working on. It finally sees the light of day now, and has assumed a new significance, as Marc was using a young guitar player called Stevie Ray Vaughn, who makes significant contributions to these 11 tracks (the original album sessions had only yielded seven numbers – the others are from Marc’s subsequent solo album). The tracks are mean and moody blues, rocking items, soul inflected tracks and occasionally songs with a New Orleans flavour, not unlike the kind of music Doctor John was playing back then, once he’d dropped the ‘Nite Tripper’ persona. Although one or two tracks have dated – but not too much - fans of Marc, Stevie Ray, or early 70s blues can buy with confidence.

Norman Darwen

Take It Off And Get Loose With It

Cincinnati’s ‘King Of The Blues’ is a tireless worker for the music and musicians. He is also a fine blues singer in his own right, as this set demonstrates. His rich, deep voice is something of a throwback to the fifties, with little soul influence on some tracks, though he can also tackle R&B and soul, as the covers reveals and the occasional number here proves. There numbers are all blues, very individual and not really owing much to most of the forms of blues popular these days; but then, try ‘it’s All About You’, which has a heavy-duty funk feel and arrangement, whilst remaining accessible for most blues lovers, the sophisticated southern soul tinged ‘I’ve Had My Fun’, or just listen to the closing, sublime ‘Rainy Night In Georgia’. There are plenty of lovely little touches on all tracks, such as the quartet intro to ‘You Can’t Ride’, to give just one example, and throughout the CD the lyrics are intelligent, though-provoking, humorous and always interesting. Let’s hear more please!

Norman Darwen

Everything I Want
Self-production BPCDEP2010

Ben Poole may be a new name to most, but this young (only 22 years old!) British guitarist has been touring extensively across Europe with Ruf Records' Dani Wilde, and has jammed with such heavy-hitters as Jeff Beck and Gary Moore, as well as his hero Richie Kotzen. Big things are predicted for this blazing blues-rocker – such as “the new Joe Bonamassa”! For those of us for whom Joe is still “new”, Ben Poole deals out four memorable original tracks and a scintillating cover of UK blues boom band Free's classic 'Fire And Water' – and all five offerings provide plenty of blistering guitar work (his vocals aren't bad either). Joe B. had better look to his laurels.....

Norman Darwen

Live From The Archive
Nugene NUG1002

Matt Schofield is one of the brightest hopes of the young, new British blues scene and these archive recordings find him in a stripped-down trio format, leaving no hiding places for the faint-hearted or uninspired. Matt does not go the for power-trio route though on these recordings made for a live-to-air broadcast by the Dutch radio station NPS in 2007; playing guitar and with his fine, muscular singing, he is backed by Jonny Henderson on organ and drummer Evan Jenkins, who both get the chance to shine on the funky ‘Room At The Back’ (and other places too). The remainder of the material ranges from Matt’s own powerful blues numbers through items such as a more-than –worthy cover of Albert Collins’ ‘Lights Are On But Nobody’s Home’ and a superheated version of Hop Wilson’s ‘Black Cat Bone’ (though it is far more likely that the “Showdown” album was the source for this particular track) to the closing, 18+ minutes long rendition of The Box Tops’ sixties hit ‘The Letter’. What I do find difficult to understand is just why such wonderful material has not been issued before! 

Norman Darwen

Walk With Me
(own label) STCD4

For a very brief time back in the early sixties, the English folk scene could include blues, 'art' songs, strings, and whatever esoterica any given artist felt might be appropriate. Sean Taylor's music reminds me of this short-lived era. I enjoyed his previous set, “Calcutta Grove”, but this set is bluesier – and his vocals remind me of Tom Waits in several places, and of Neil Young on one track. Mind you, Sean also includes a quite bluesy treatment of a Shakespearean sonnet (previously, links between the Swan Of Avon and the blues were limited to Champion Jack Dupree's on-stage pronouncements). Some idea of the prestige in which Sean is held can be gauged from the calibre of some of his accompanying musicians – BJ Cole on steel guitar, Justin Carroll on organ and Michael Buckley on sax, whose collective experience spans Elton John, Van Morrison, and Joss Stone. Not a traditional blues set by any means, as you may have gleaned by now, but beautiful blues-influenced songs all the same.
Norman Darwen

Artist: The 44’s
Boogie Disease
T’s Music Company TS 1004

For more information go to:

Based in Los Angeles the 44’s are one of many bands playing on it’s thriving and highly competitive blues scene. They first came to wider attention when they were placed fourth in the International blues challenge in Memphis in two thousand and seven. Since then, they have  begun to steadily build a solid fan base with their highly enticing, heady mixture of  Chicago blues and Rock’n’Roll.

In two thousand and eight they toured with Los Lobo and have backed such artists as; Kid Ramos, Johnny Dyer and Rod Piazza.

After watching the band perform at their favourite venue The Doll Hut, Kid Ramos offered to produce their debut album and with his sharp eyes and ears he and the band have created a sharply focused set that emphasises the harshly, ever present barking harp of Tex Nakamura (War); who strides over the relentless driving guitar work of Johnny Main; who also supplies ‘rough hewn’ hoarse  lead vocals, on the more slowburning numbers Johnny’s guitarwork  produces a sweetly lyrical ringing effect. Mike Turturro (Lynwood Slim/Candye Kane); upright bass and J.R. Lozano; drums, maintain a tight, crisp and powerfully driven rhythm section.

The nine numbers are a mixture of two band originals and seven marvellous covers; one of the band originals is the title number, which is an evocative piece of slowburning Chicago blues. Willie Dixon’s “Take it Easy” is a fully loping shuffle that has harp and guitar almost caressing the tune. Kid Ramos provides one number; “Johnny Cochino,” a pleasing easygoing harp led, twisting and turning Latino guitar ringing shuffle. Throughout the album the atmosphere of a club in the sweat’n’sleazy mean Chicago town is fully maintained.

A very fine debut!

Brian Harman

Artist: Chris James & Patrick Rynn
Title: Gonna Boogie Anyway
Label: Earwig CD 4960

For more information go to:

Second albums are always expected to be difficult, awkward or just plain disastrous, but sometimes, artists, shall we say, ‘get away with it.’ In this case though, this second album dispels any possible lingering doubts and is a veritable triumph.

Because, from the opening number, Robert Lockwood jnr’s   “Money Don’t like Me,” onwards, the whole album moves like a runaway steam train simply belching out from the speakers the classic sound, atmosphere and indeed the very essence of all that was wonderful about the blues of the Chess label.

Some numbers contain Chuck Berryesque guitar flurries and insistent jocular and crisply sounding piano work which is very reminiscent of the late Johnny Johnson.

A cracking version of Bo Diddley’s “Dearest Darling” splendidly, evokes fond memories of his irresistibly tight and pulsating signature guitar work. On “You Can’t Trust Nobody,” entertaining images are formed of an upright piano being jauntily played to within an inch of its life in a dusty, sweat stained saloon bar.

Chris and Patrick possess highly instinctive and intuitive playing abilities, which when combined, with the naturally easygoing swinging manner that is found in abundance on this album they become a simply irresistible force. Bob Corritore and Rob Stone’s interjecting harp playing is so hot it’s like dancing on molten lava. To further enhance this feeling on the album they are assisted by stalwart veterans from that period; Henry Gray; piano, Sam Lay; drums, both ex Howlin’ Wolf sidemen, also providing excellent backing  is Eddie Kobek on drums, ex Freddie King sideman, David Maxwell; piano and Jeff Stone; guitar, Providing the fat juicy succulent horns are Johnny Viau and Allen Ortiz.

The two covers and twelve wholly original compositions found on this album succinctly trigger pleasant and fond memories of the simply wonderful music from Chess in the fifties and sixties.

Excellent! Recommended

Brian Harman

Artist: Rob Stone
Title: Back Around Here
Label: Earwig Records CD 4961

For more information go to:

Although Rob has not recorded an album in seven years, the intervening time has been well spent, ceaselessly performing on the road, improving his stage craft and honing his harp skills, to such an extent that on this, his new album, he plays with all the evident hunger and desire of a butchers’ dog and sounds as comfortable and relaxed as a man in a rocking chair.

After providing some excellent harp blasting on former band members Chris James, guitar and Patrick Rynn; bass, latest album they have here retuned the favour to Rob.

Joining them on the album is; David Maxwell and Aaron Moore; Piano, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and Sam Lay; drums with Rodney Brown; tenor Saxophone and John Bowes; Baritone saxophone.

All twelve numbers have a warm, glowing forties and fifties Chicago atmosphere about them, they also have an engaging and irresistible swinging, shuffling pace about them. Robs vocals may not be his strong point but, when he is front of the microphone he exudes a charming vulnerability which carries you with him. His frequent blasting on Leroy Carr’s “Sloppy Drunk Blues,” is superbly matched by some amazing and seriously swinging piano work from David Maxwell. In fact most of the numbers are harp and piano led goodtime dance tunes and the odd slowburner.

The sweet ringing mixture of guitar and bass happily bounces off the solid drum beat that also features some of the most nifty stick work that you will not  have heard for quite some time. Cosseting all of this is a fat sounding rich, smooth chocolately horn section that alternates between sending ripples all the way down your spine and raising the hairs on the back of your neck.

Get your dancing shoes on!


Brian Harman

Artist: Tim Woods
Title: The Blues Sessions
Label: Earwig Music CD4962

For more information go to: or

For over twenty five years Tim has been playing music in one form or another, whether it was with his good friend George Frayne (Commander Cody) or opening for artists such as; Sonny Landreth and Donna Godcheaux (The Grateful Dead).

Although, now he resides in Irwin, Pennsylvania; At the age of eighteen Tim moved with his family to Macon, Georgia, not long after settling there he gained a job as a club promoter which enabled him to meet a wide variety of musicians and singers and during his time in Macon and his subsequent further travels into the south he gained a greater understanding of the music and the people that played it.

In June two thousand and five he was fortunate enough to meet David ”Honeyboy” Edwards; Homesick James, Sam Lay and Pine top Perkins and after spending a musical evening with these living legends a friendship was born and Tim was inspired enough to seek out the right locations, the right time and most importantly the right players to create a lasting tribute to all those great players that have gone before him.

Between the years two thousand and two and two thousand and nine Tim played in the Mountain Jam Band but, after the break up of the band due to the unfortunate death of a band member Tim became able to follow his dream.

So, after six months of travelling on the road; recording in Atlanta, Chicago, Clarksdale and Savannah. Tim; vocals and guitar, has with  David “Honeyboy” Edwards; vocals and guitar, Allen Batts and Aaron Moore; piano, Joe Craven; violin, Michael Frank; harmonica, Big Jack Johnson;  Eric Noden; John Primer and Bobby Lee Rodgers; guitars, Bob Stroger; Terry “Big-T” Williams and Shannon Hoover; bass, Ike Stubblefield; Hammond B3, Jeff Sipe; Kenny ”Beedy Eyes” Smith and Lee Williams; drums.

Created together with these fine musicians a stunningly crisp and fresh collection of old classics, such as the grippingly fast moving footapper “Spoonful” and the slowburning, almost remorseful “Bad Whiskey and Cocaine,” to irresistibly grooving  instrumentals as “Howlin Wind Blues” and “Clarksdale boogie.” In fact all twelve of these classic and not so classic numbers have been revitalised and re-invigorated by Tim; not for a new hip audience but because they deserve a ‘dusting off ‘ and with a fresh approach we can again enjoy them for the fine, fine songs they in fact are.

Recorded by, artists that have an appreciation and understanding of the music’s longevity.

Thoroughly enjoyable!

Brian Harman

Artist: Grady Champion (featuring Eddie Cotton Jr.)
Title: Back in Mississippi ‘Live at the 930 Blues Café ’
Label Earwig Records GSM 740

For more information go to: or

One of the many pitfalls of a live recording is the inclination, whether consciously or subconsciously to over extend a certain solo here or add extra choruses there; fortunately Grady and his right hand man guitarist, Eddie Cotton Jr. have together wisely chosen to avoid these tactics and as consequence have created a sharp, concise free flowing collection of diverse numbers ranging from the rap section featured in ”Policeman’s Blues,” a socially relevant number focusing on the less than friendly aspects of the ‘stop and search’ policy that is experienced by many a black citizen. to the warmly glowing upbeat dancing tones of “1-800-Blu-Love” and “You Got Some Explaining To Do,” two numbers co-written by Grady and Dennis Walker.

Originally from Canton, Mississippi; the champion family moved to Miami when Grady was aged fifteen, he moved back to Mississippi to graduate; he then returned to Miami and started his musical career, firstly, as a rap artist but, was soon advised to take up the blues to which he was more suited to. It was whilst he was packing out the blues clubs of Miami in the late nineties that he came to the attention of the Shanachie Record Company and released two albums for the label at the turn of this century. Over the last few years Grady has attended college to continue his musical studies. Now, he is back performing and entertaining us all.

All the fourteen numbers on this album are played in a rousing atmosphere of a ‘travelling medicine show-cum revivalist meeting,’ that has been given a ‘live injection’ of Southern soul, infused with the blues. The influence of the Malaco sound is certainly evident (some post production work was performed at the Malaco studios).

Grady’s vocals come across like an interesting mixture of ‘Little’ Richard and Jimmy Reed; add to that his naturally evocative harp playing which soothes and stirs the soul, he never forces or overly amplifies his instrument at any point; gelling wonderfully with Eddie’s superb and beautifully understated and sustained guitar work, which has a light sweetly ringing resonance to it which is even more noticeable in his more vigorously insistent solos. Working marvellously away, in the background is the spot on and dependable rhythm section of Calvin Wilson; Hammond b3 and keyboards, Marquis Champion (Grady’s son) bass, Frank White; drums and Xavres Champion; (also, Grady’s son) drums on “Lonesome Bedroom Blues.”

A great live album, Recommended!

Brian Harman

Artist: Andy Cohen
Title: Built Right Down On The Ground
Label: Earwig Records CD 4959

For more information go to: or

Andy is one of the few solely acoustic roots players who have devoted their professional career (if not their lives) to keeping alive the raw, ragged and beautifully sounding original blues, folk and country music that was played in the early part of the last century by many an itinerant, roving unknown musician who left the Mississippi Delta and other regions of the deep south to eke out a meagre living as best they could in pre-world war America.

Andy’s wife Larkin Bryant; provides guest vocals and mandolin, duties on “Tennessee Blues,” together they give a tender and heartfelt touching tribute to the late Bobby Charles.  Jimmie Rodger’s”My Old Pal,” is given a more personal edge when Andy’s great friend Kurt Anderson lends his robustly gravelly vocal talents.

All the fifteen numbers here have a solid connection with the with the here and now; whether it is the serious darkly anti-social and brooding “Mean Talkin’ Blues” of Woody Guthrie” or the seriously difficult and slightly odd nineteen twenty-nine “Cairo Blues” by Henry Spaulding.

Whatever he plays, his heart and soul goes into each and every piece of musical history that he brings to effervescing life, just listen to the way he plays piano on his energetic foot-stomping versions of ”Honky Tonk Trains” and “Shake-a-Your Boogie.” Delight at the enticing Memphis Minnie classic “Me and My Chauffeur.” Or simply lay back and relax with the wonderfully acoustic sound of Henry Lodge’s nineteen hundred and nine “Temptation Rag.”

All the while, his captivating voice continually wavers and wanders between hope and despair, as did the lives of most of the original performers.

Education and enjoyment combined!


Brian Harman

Artist: Les Copeland
Title: Don’t Let the Devil In
Label: Earwig Records CD4958

For more information go to: or

This debut album by Les on the Earwig label has his friend, one David “Honeyboy” Edwards sitting in with Les on two numbers, firstly on the stirring Robert Nighthawk number “Anna Lee” and Les’s laconic and teasing “How’s That Drummer?” a highly original and amusing take on the story told many times to Les by “Honeyboy” about how a drummer ran off with ”Honeyboy’s” second wife.

Les is from Kelowna, in British Columbia, a town which also is the name of a grizzly bear; fortunately no part of Les’s performances could in any way be described as grizzly except perhaps his vocals. He was galvanized to take up acoustic and slide guitar after hearing a “Mississippi” Freddie McDowell record at the age of eleven, from then on, there was no stopping him.

After being lifelong fan of “Honeyboy” he has now become a much treasured friend and colleague for fourteen years now.

Les, who plays both lead and rhythm guitars is joined by “Honeyboy “on guitar and Michael Frank; harmonica; together they create a stunning collection of fifteen numbers that linger long in the memory.

The wonderful clean, clear and sparkling freshness of tone and the gentle touching tenderness that is found throughout the album has its roots in Les’s confident and dexterous string plucking ability, in which he creates a strong resonating mixture, with hints of classical and flamenco influenced tunes, which are cohesively entwined within the styles of traditional bottleneck blues, country blues and folk.

Each number is finely sprinkled with brightly inventive guitar work; some have tight fast flurries others have delicate melancholy passages; one or two even contain seemingly impromptu toe-tapping Jazz inflected swing.

A very, very fine debut, indeed.


Brian Harman

Artist: Bottleneck John
Title: Northern Heart, Southern Soul
Label: Bark Lake Records BLR 226

For more information go to:

The invitingly soft wailing, almost morose tenor voice of Johan ‘Bottleneck John’ Eliasson is by itself a wonderfully formidable instrument  but, when matched with his heartfelt and passionate approach to his music and the peerlessly intricate delicate dexterity that he shows with both resonator and twelve stringed acoustic guitars his performances become breathtaking. Born and still residing in the small town of Lit in the delta region of deepest Sweden; where, from the age of three Johan was encouraged by his grandparents and their friends to listen to Swedish Folk tunes, Spirituals and Gospel.

It is the combination of these various types and styles of music that led him to discover the richness and wonder of the down-home, rural and country blues that was not only hugely popular but was also found in great abundance in the twenties and thirties in and around the delta region.

Johan has nurtured and honed his incredible talent to such a degree that you could be forgiven for mistaking his original deep country blues recordings for the genuine article, not, that any deception is intended. The inclusion of period instruments such as the calming sound of the tuba merely accentuates the period feel to the music.

Throughout the sixteen numbers here, Johan effortlessly manages to capture intense emotional highs and lows, which range from happy go lucky foot-stomping goodtime music and enjoyably solid crunching slide, to stark images of sadness and despair which exude more than a palpable sense of loneliness and desperation. Nonetheless, this is a cracking album and should grace anybody’s collection.

The spirit of blind Willie Johnson and Son House must surely be watching over Johan.


Brian Harman

Artist: Blues Cargo
Title: Delayed Delivery
Label: PAN-VOX 3601184013

For more information go to: or

Blues Cargo are from Athens, Greece, the birthplace of civilisation, Ouzo and sunshine; they have been playing together since nineteen eighty-seven, having released their debut album “First Delivery,“ in nineteen ninety-three on the Pegasus label; we now fifteen years later in two thousand and ten, have their follow up album. I must say that regardless of the passage time it definitely has been well worth the wait, for on the fourteen fluidly arranged numbers you can feel that the band are as crisp and tight as the production, that startlingly and fortunately not too faithfully evokes pleasant memories of classic and contemporary hard driving Chicago blues. The whole album seems to contain the exuberant feeling and atmosphere of a highly charged live rolling revue, after each number not only do you have the urge to applaud you also expect to hear the whooping of the crowd in the background.

During the intervening fifteen years BG have been busy honing and shaping their style by backing virtually all the American bluesmen that have visited the islands, artists such as Louisiana Red, Lurrie Bell, Guitar Shorty,  Byther Smith and U.P. Wilson to name but a few.

One of the most satisfying sounds on the album is the delicious blending of B.B. King and John Lee Hooker influenced guitar solos and flurries, accompanied by a very fluid, rolling and jumping piano; backed with a rich creamy and powerful horn section that is very reminiscent of ‘The Tower of Power’ sound, in the seventies. Also, a deeply, soulful predatory organ menacingly prowls and growls in the background to great effect.

I thoroughly enjoyed this album, most certainly recommended it!

Brian Harman

Artist: Garry Cogdell
Title: Over the Years
Label: Self Produced

For more information go to: or

In the early nineties Garry was fronting the band ‘The Hambone Sweets’ and during that time they released a very fine album of originals and covers entitled “Bury the Bone” and sadly since then he has only sporadically released a small number of high quality CD e.p.’s. This time around his new album contains wholly original material.

The fourteen numbers on the album are in fact a retrospective of seventeen years of writing, recording, producing and ultimately performing.

A common thread running through the album is the thoughtfully intricate mixture of Mississippi hill- country, down-home and delta blues, of which Garry has over the years been playing, crafting and continuously honing with a passion. He and his music have now, finally evolved together into a rich tapestry of highly evocative acoustic, electric and steel picking for the twenty-first century; whether the message in the music focuses on everyday humdrum activities or political and ecological issues, the music is always fresh and invigorating.

With the passing of years Garry’s voice has slowly evolved into a warmly rich and extremely mellow timbre; which perfectly compliments his exquisitely inventive playing.

Whilst still in his teens Garry watched transfixed a performance given by the legendary ‘Sleep ‘John Estes and after that performance Garry hoped that with practice, one day he might be as good. Well, I think that one can now say that he is definitely on his way.

A very fine album indeed.

Brian Harman

This review has been complimentary written for your newsletter by Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro, a contributing writer for BLUESWAX, BluesART and the Blues Editor at
where you can read many more CD and live show reviews, view lots of blues photographs and find an abundance of blues material.
I can be reached at

Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans
"Stuck With The Blues"
Man Hat Tone 1060 Records

"Stuck With The Blues" is the second release for Brad Vickers and his Vestapolitans (hmmmmm, just what heck is a vestapolitan?).  The disc contains nearly an hour of interesting music which covers several styles, and as many eras, of music.  With the exception of a few covers of some of his inspirations, most of the tracks are band originals.

Those responsible for this pleasurable listening experience are: Brad Vickers on electric & acoustic guitars and vocals; Arne Englund on piano, electric guitar and vocals; Jim Davis on tenor sax and clarinet; Matt Cowan on baritone sax; Margey Peters on electric bass, fiddle and vocals; Bill Rankin on drums; Dave Gross on upright bass and vocals; V.D. King on acoustic guitar, maracas and vocals; and special guest Bobby Radcliff on electric guitar.

The disc opens with the title track - "Stuck With The Blues".  An absolutely great vocal duet 'tween Brad and Margey, and several sharp guitar and tenor leads, are just a part of this tracks highlights.  However, it's the rhythm makers that fuel this fire.  Margey, Bill, Arne and Matt are outstanding together on bass, drums, piano and that bottomless baritone.  Good tappin' and snappin' stuff.

    The two instrumental interludes that take place during the vocal breaks on "Cold Fish" are both extraordinary.  The first one sounds like it may have captured Jim at disc's best during an extended tenor sax highlight, and the second features Bobby mastering his guitar on a similarly lengthy solo.

   "What About Me?" is all about that baby they say the blues had - rock & roll.  This one is - no pun intended - a great ball of fire.  On this original track Brad's nailing it on vocals and guitar, Arne's got ya thinking Jerry Lee on piano and Margey's smokin' up the bass.  By far the hottest track on the disc and with no exaggeration, possibly the hottest track I've heard all year.  Several......make that many....replays were in order here.

You'll surely hear a resemblance on "Jaguar And The Thunderbird" as Brad covers this Chuck Berry song.  As the title would have you think, the track is about a race - not just lyrically, but musically as well.

"I Want To Tell You Right Now", that if you play this track in a room full of baby boomers, don't be surprised if you see two parallel lines form with couples taking turns strolling down the middle.  Man, talk about music painting a picture....this one sure did.  This is a classic.

This track finds the band paying tribute to some of the elder states people of the blues because, after all, "They Gave Us The Blues".  It contains a little commentary, good vocal harmony from Brad and the tracks writer Margey, excellent stand up bass from Dave, and great boogie woogie piano playing from Arne.

The disc closes out with a style of song that's been predominant throughout - an all out jam called "I'm A Love You".  On this one, it's Brad on top of his game with the guitar.

Other tracks on "Stuck With The Blues" include: "I'm Betting On You", "Can't Stand To See You Go", "Deep Elem", "Vestapol Rag", "Winding Boy", "Coming And Going" and "Hobo Jungle".

Ya know, now that I think about it - being "Stuck With The Blues" isn't a bad thing.  As a matter of fact, after hearing this disc, I actually think it's a good thing.  I highly recommend you contact Brad Vickers at, or look him on Facebook, and tell him you want to get "Stuck With The Blues"  too.  Of course you'll tell him the Blewzzman sent ya, but besides that, you may just want to ask him what the heck a vestapolitan is.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @

This review has been complimentary written for your newsletter by Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro, a contributing writer for BLUESWAX, BluesART and the Blues Editor at
where you can read many more CD and live show reviews, view lots of blues photographs and find an abundance of blues material.
I can be reached at

John D'Amato
"Ain't No Big Deal"
Beetleboy Music

As blues lore goes, many a blues man was born with the blues.  However, few can testify to that, and one of those few is blues man John D'Amato.  You see, due to a congenital heart defect which caused a lack of breath at birth, John was actually born blue.  He spent his childhood paying his dues.  And now, with the grace of God and some wonderful medical help, John's doing something he's earned the right to do, and that's play the blues.

On his debut release - "Ain't No Big Deal" - John D'Amato, on electric guitar and vocals, is joined by: Lauren Cook D'Amato on background vocals; Kim Shrum on acoustic guitar, background vocals & keyboards; Dennis Taylor on saxophone; Keith Kenyon on bass; Ray Gonzales and Nick Lauritano on drums; and Jay Vern on keyboards.

Knowing about his early life's problems, I can't help wondering if John D"Amato picked this song for his opening track as a way of letting people know he really has his "Mojo Working".....and man is it working.  Granted, this song's been done by everyone, but I don't recall anyone ever doing it quite this fast.  Ray's lightening fast rhythm lead has everyone in super high gear and there are several blistering guitar leads culminated by a ninety second accelerated romp to end the track.  This one's hot stuff.

At one point during that last track I thought I may have been listening to some of the discs best guitar work - I was wrong!  Not thinking it possible, John actually takes it up a few notches on "Got No Shame".  At this moment I'm in an absolute state of awe.  Keith and Ray help this one out with some solid, and at times a bit funky, rhythm.  Another smoker.

The first of several originals is titled "What's Up?"  Of course the guitar riffs are as intense as ever, but this track had me focused more on John's vocal talents.  A nice pitch and just the right amount of rasp, combine for a natural voice for singing the blues.  More great rhythm with some extra help from Jay on piano.

"Black Orpheus" is nearly six minutes of perfect instrumental work.  With Keith and Jay adding tremendous rhythm on bass and organ, Ray is at discs' best with the percussion.  And John......he's being the usual guitar God I've come to know him as. This one rated several replays.

Now I'm sure there are many bar bands around the world that have butchered this song, but I seem to like it by anyone I ever hear do it.  I think this particular version of "Folsom Prison" would even have Johnny smiling.

"Double Stop Me".  The musicians reading this will understand what I mean, the rest of you will just have to hear it.   On this instrumental, John D'Amato gives new meaning to the term "double stop".  Let me just say it's double stopping on steroids and leave it at that.  I can understand this one being less than three minutes - I was out of breath just listening.

Other tracks on "Ain't No Big Deal"  include: "Stormy Monday", "Walk With Me", "Lift Me Up", and "Ain't No Big Deal".

If you haven't done so yet, you need to stop reading right now and get over to  And instead of suggesting you pick up the disc while you're there, I'm going to do something a bit more stringent.....I'm going to insist you do so.  Don't worry about it, you'll be thanking me later.  BTW, please tell that Bluezzman this Blewzzman says "thanks, and great job".

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @

Stuck With The Blues

ManHatOne 1060

Brad and his excellent little group follow up the well-received ‘Le Blues Hot’ with another generous helping of older blues styles. Brad’s voice is fine and relaxed, and Margey Peters displays her vaudeville-blues voice on Jelly Roll Morton’s ‘Winding Boy’ and the educational ‘They Gave Us The Blues’, as well as supplying harmonies, playing bass and playing fine fiddle which adds to the good-time Memphis-out-of-the-country feel of several numbers. Once again sax and clarinet player Jim Davis adds a jazz or rhythm & blues feel, and respected producer Dave Gross provides stand-up bass to several tracks. Nice to see guitarist Bobby Radcliff guesting too, he has been away for far too long! – and be sure to listen to ‘Coming And Going’. Jimmy Reed is also a big influence on Brad and crew, as witnessed by ‘Can’t Stand To See You Go’ and ‘I’m A Love You’, and the group pays homage to Chuck Berry on a further couple off numbers  Elsewhere there are nods to Tampa Red and Fats Domino, and the Chicago blues.
The whole set is an admirable, totally enjoyable release and will hopefully help these guys become better-known. They deserve it. 

Norman Darwen

La P'tite Ceinture
Frémeaux Et Associés FA525

The veteran French guitarist and singer Patrick Verbeke is joined here by his son, harmonica player and singer Steve (who also plays electric guitar), and just to keep it in the family, another son, Vincent Perier-Verbeke is one of the two sound engineers.  Hopefully, they all get on better together than did Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, who came to mind a few times, though these guys' tougher sound is perhaps midway between that famous duo and the rather grittier Satan & Adam. Often tracks are performed one way by one man, and then segue into a rather different treatment from the other. It is effective and a little different, and though Patrick's gruff vocals take more than a bit of getting used to, this will interest fans of the European blues sound.

Norman Darwen

Copain Django
Frémeaux Et Associés FA526

An understanding of and familiarity with French ‘gipsy-jazz’ is certainly an advantage for any would-be swing (or swing-blues) guitarist, and this CD – basically Marcel and his guitarist son Chriss with fellow guitar player Romane and a subtle rhythm section is a masterpiece of control. The string arrangements on some numbers can sometimes be a little too intrusive, though they do add shading and variety, and the programme is a strong one – the title track is an original, a strong piece of first-class Django Reinhardt flavoured playing, whilst many of the others are “immortal melodies associated with the funfair”, which seems strange until the likes of Charlie Chaplin’s ‘Limelight’ make it obvious! Those looking for Blues connections have to dig deep – ‘September Song’ has been covered by James Brown and at least a couple of R&B saxmen  that I am aware of, and ‘’Confessin’ (I’m Confessin’ That I Love You’) was popular with the likes of Count Basie and Lionel Hampton. Basically though, this is a fine album of highly accomplished jazz guitar that stands in its own right.

Norman Darwen

Red Snakes & Cave Bats
Shelter Home Studio
(no issue number)

This Greek four-piece is inspired by the sounds of the Chicago blues and the later blues booms in Britain, but has added some individual flavours that make them unique. The boogying 'Mr. Jack' makes a fine opener, and is followed by a southern rock inflected 'The Sky Will Always Be Blue - heavy guitar and wailing harp, with intimate vocals , but overall, Small Blues Trap really do not sound like anyone else around, whilst remaining recognisably a Blues band, with an approach best described as "brooding". If you are looking for influences, try 'Roy B.', an excellent homage to the late Roy Buchanan's style, Mind you, 'Seven Plus' sounds very much like early Dire Straits! Singer Paul Karapiperis has an intimate-sounding voice and a wailing harmonica style, which again is slightly different from the norm.

Europe is producing many acts who are doing something new and exciting with the blues, and Small Blues Trap certainly fits that description.

Norman Darwen

Number 5
(Own label) LD2010

Canadian guitarist Lou DeAdder has a strongly blues-based style and a highly varied approach (a previous release was tellingly entitled 'Mr Eclectic'), and both are given free rein on this release, his fifth CD. It is split between four vocal tracks and four instrumentals. You want metal? You'll find it here. Soundtrack for a seventies gritty urban television show - yep, all present and correct. Some jazzy, funky stuff - you can strut along with this CD. Blues? Of course! 'Tight...Eh?' is described by Lou himself as "insanity at its best", which is as good and accurate a description as any I can provide. Lovely playing throughout, and noteworthy contributions from the horns.....

Norman Darwen

This review has been complimentary written for your newsletter by Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro, a contributing writer for BLUESWAX, BluesART and the Blues Editor at
where you can read many more CD and live show reviews, view lots of blues photographs and find an abundance of blues material.
I can be reached at

Blues Buddha
"I Like It A Lot"
Stoopid Daddy Records

At his live shows, I'm sure the introduction might sound something like this... "Ladies and Gentlemen, please put your hands together and welcome to the stage Mr. Tommy Dudley, the Blues Buddha .  However, looking at this strapping, statuesque being, I can't help but think it should sound something like this......"Ladies and Gentlemen, in this corner, standing 6'6" an weighing in at a very muscular 297 lbs, the reigning World Wrestling champion, Tommy 'The Blues Buddha" Dudley".  However, that's not how it goes, and thankfully it's his fans he's giving the blues - not his opponents.

The musicians appearing on "I Like It A Lot", which I indeed did, are nearly enough to fill a Zip Code.  Being a firm believer of giving credit where it's due, I'll now do my best to mention them all.  Joe Piteo, Eddie "Sticky" Crucy, Howie Lucero, Larry Alexander and Alan Childs, although never simultaneously - all play drums;  Likewise for Al Payson, Mike Garner, Jeff Ganz and Scott Stanton on bass, and Gil Parris, Chip Larison, Denny Leroux, John "Johnny Feds" Federico, Scott Stanton, Ronnie Mirro and Matt Rae on guitar.  Slide guitar is played by Stefan Wildman , Keyboards are played by Scott Stanton, Sax and harmonica are played by Hank Logan, and the background vocals are sung by Scott Stanton, Nicole Hart, Gail Newman, Susan McMahon and the Blues Buddha Band.

Because of the wonderfully written lyrics, and the intensity at which they're sung, Blues Buddha just runs away with this one.  Who would have figured that "Better At Hello", a melancholy ballad, would be his strong suit.  This is my interpretation of what "songs of the year" sound like.

Sometimes all you gotta do is just say the name of a song.  "Buddha Boogie" - need I say more?  Now I know that got ya thinking swiftly sung vocals, frantic rhythm, rocking piano, and lots of hip shaking, right?  There ya go!

I'm having fun just thinking of the fun it sounded like they were having while recording this one.  There's a party going on in the background with lot's of very melodic, in time, hand clapping and the musicians are nailing a groove.  I'm probably on my eight or ninth replay right now with several more very likely coming up.  With the help of strong background vocals, the big guy sings his heart out on this one.  Add several smoking sax interludes and some frolicking at the keyboards and you've got the disc's best track right here.  "Don't Worry", once you listen, you'll have a good time as well.

I had no "Trouble" liking this track, a duet featuring Tommy and Scott.  It reminded me of a place I strolled by on Bourbon Street about 25 years ago.  It was midday and I heard some great barrelhouse piano being played inside.  I walked in and wound up spending the day there.  That piano player happened to be none other than the great Allen Toussaint and on this track, Scott Stanton sounds just as great.

I doubt anyone could listen to this track and not want to say "I Like It A Lot".  This one's a virtual runaway train fueled by some of the disc's best - and fastest - rhythm provided by Alan & Jeff.  With Denny, John and Scott wailing on guitars and keyboard and the background babes giving Tommy a push on vocals, the train just gets faster and faster.  This one's gotta pack the dance floor at live shows.

Other tracks on "I Like It A Lot" include: "Like I Do", "Break My Heart", "Give And Take", "Morning Song" and "Low Cotton".

For more on the Blues Buddha, and to pick up a copy of the disc, check him out at  While you're there, tell him that if he ever needs a tag team partner that the Blewzzman is available.  I can hear it now......"In this corner weighing in at a combined weight of 650 lbs, the "Bearers Of The Blues".

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @

Artist: Rocky Jackson
Label: High Life Records17151

For more information go to:

Born in nineteen forty-seven in Austin, Texas; Ernest “Rocky” Jackson certainly qualifies for the title veteran of the blues, for after forty or so years of paying and playing his dues in the twentieth century it is now in the twenty-first that we get to see and hear the fine, fine amalgamation of influences that emanate from three of the cornerstones of the blues; The Mississippi Delta, Texas, The Lone Star state and the windy city Chicago.

After watching Hound Dog Taylor in the sixties, Rocky was enthused enough to start playing bottleneck and lap steel guitar; completely self taught, he, over the years mastered many aspects of the electric guitar.

Soon after moving to Los Angeles in the seventies he found that there was a greater opportunity to play the harder edged straight ahead style of blues which he favours and most certainly excels at.

In the eighties he spent eight years playing in the Magic Blues Band who over the years backed many artists such as; George “Harmonica ”Smith, Paul Butterfield and Coco Montoya.

Rocky has in the past previously released two albums “Blue Streak and “”Squeeze Here,” now, four years later Rocky has delivered his latest offering.

Opening the proceedings is Willie Dixon’s “I Want to Make Love to You,” it punches out of the speakers with the classic drawlin’ hard thumping Chicago backbeat while over the top is the diamond edged weeping and wailing guitar flurries, matched with equally hoarse and mean vocals.

As with the other twelve numbers on this album the skill, timing and peerless musicianship from Rocky; guitar and vocals, Eliot Witherspoon; drums, Joel T.Johnson, Hank Van Sickle; bass and Michael Fell; Harmonica is simply stunningly spot-on, whether it is a low, slow guitar driven laconic Texas shuffle accompanied by a sticky lip-smackin’ groovin’ harmonica riff or a hard gritty, ploughing Chicago heart-stopping guitar, the high standard never falters.

Fast, slow or simply footapping, the ability of Rocky to meld and entwine the three styles he knows so well, is, without a doubt a well deserved treat to the ears. Jimmy Reed’s “Don’t Say Nothin’” is an example the Chicago sharp harp combined with a lazy drawlin’ Texas beat.

One for the collection!

Brian Harman

Artist: Jimmy Warren Band
No More Promises
Electro Glide Records

For more information go to:

There are two distinctly different facets to Jimmy’s approach; firstly, he did not start to play the guitar until he was aged twenty-five and then he stopped playing for ten years to concentrate on his family, secondly, Jimmy released a live album “Live at Last” on the Vision Records Entertainment Label in two thousand and nine as his debut. In his previous short career before “resting” he had played with artists such as; Junior Wells, Koko Taylor, Lonnie Mack and Buddy Miles.

There are on this album, twelve original numbers, penned by Jimmy himself, with most of them containing a country blues edge, which are on offer here for your delectation. They cover all of life’s highs, lows, and loves, hopes and woes.

The band is indeed a very tight unit, extremely satisfyingly melodic and soulful, yet at the same time they possess an air of restrained expectation which threatens to burst out at any moment on the more urgent numbers. Jimmy’s vocals are somewhat heavy and mournful but with an encouraging edge of hopefulness. His guitar playing is an interesting hybrid which is firmly entwined somewhere between Eric Clapton’s 461 Ocean Boulevard period, and George Benson’s seventies smooth and highly evocative Jazz fills and trills, backed for good measure with the edginess of Jimi Hendrix.

Jimmy takes lead vocals and lead guitar, the rest of the band is John Digregorio; rhythm guitar, Mike Boyle; bass, together they provide excellent backing. And although Charles Price is the drummer, on this album all drums have been programmed by Jimmy.

Providing some excellent slide on “It aint Fair,” is guest guitar player Bob Margolin.

Now, with this album Jimmy should begin to establish him and the band in the blues world.

Brian Harman

Artist: Kings Go Forth
The Outsiders Are Back
Luaka Bop

For more information go to:

The KGF is a Milwaukee based soul band who in the past six years has only released a number of seven inch singles, now they have recorded an album for David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label. The album consists of ten original compositions which in style and texture encompass a wide ranging number of influences, these include; Curtis Mayfield’s early sixties tight urban R&B grooves; which seems to form the backbone of the album. Calypso rhythms and late seventies reggae join other notable echoes such as; the Philly Sound, Barry White and snatches of Motown to create a hybrid sound which is underpinned and fuelled by a ferocious, driving full tilt brass and percussion Funk machine.

A mesmerising and buoyant falsetto lead vocal relentlessly urges the music forwards but, seemingly appears to be in a constant duel with the highly energetic drummer.

Whilst all of the differing influences when put together pleasingly mesh so well, it is a pity that the band and their music have yet to find and firmly stamp their own singular identity upon the music they play.

A worthy effort!

Brian Harman

Artist: Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings
I Learned The Hard Way
Daptones Records DAP-019

For more information go to:

The standard bearers for original hardcore soul music are back with a new album; leading commandingly from the front is Sharon with her all powerful, scorching and edgily sensitive voice, which easily contains the capacity to both wobble your spine and water-fill your eyes at the same time, while the vice tight Dap-Kings continue to amaze and delight with their uniquely ever evolving ability to deftly seek out new slants and edges in the classic soul of the sixties and the self assured strutting of seventies funk.

All twelve numbers are original compositions and they zip and zing along in less than forty minutes in the same manner as all good toe-tapping soul burners should.

As with all Sharon and the Dap-Kings previous albums this has been recorded on analogue equipment which gives the music its indefinable and timeless quality.

“The Reason,” is a marvellously smooth/sharp /punchy irresistible funky instrumental from the band which is just irresistible. “I Learned the Hard Way,” is a beautiful little groover whilst the two delectable slowburners “Better Things” and “Give It Back.” are simply breathtaking. The most heartfelt and true to life statement is the short and oh, so sweet “Mama Don’t like My Man,” which is, without doubt the standout number of the album.

Some people may say that all we are hearing are overtired retreads of music that is now only fit for the nostalgic and over fifties market. I say that they are so, so wrong, for the spirit and invention of artists such as Lorraine Ellison, Laura lee, Sam Carr, Major Lance, Baby Washington and Linda Jones should never be forgotten and records like this celebrate these artists and their music. This album, in turn invites you to find these artists which possibly, could soon become lost gems.


Brian Harman

This review has been complimentary written for your newsletter by Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro, a contributing writer for BLUESWAX, BluesART and the Blues Editor at
where you can read many more CD and live show reviews, view lots of blues photographs and find an abundance of blues material.
I can be reached at

Kevin Selfe And The Tornadoes
"Playing The Game"

What's going on up there in the Pacific North West?  Is it the cold air coming down from Canada?  Is there something in the water they're drinking? Or, is there a finger of the Mississippi River that flows into that part of the country that I don't know about?  Whatever it is, something up there's giving them the blues - and that's a good thing.  Lately, it seems that most of the new blues talent that I'm finding exciting is coming from that area.  First there was Karen Lovely, then Cee Cee James, and now Kevin Selfe and the Tornadoes.  Keep it coming.

Kevin Selfe And The Tornadoes are a strong three piece ensemble consisting of Kevin Selfe on guitar, vocals and harmonica, Allen Markel on bass and backing vocals, and Don Shultz on drums and backing vocals.  Their debut disc - "Playing The Game" - impressively consists of ten Selfe penned originals.  Let's go hear some.........

"How Much Longer?" is my kind of stuff - eight wonderful minutes of slow, scorching blues.  Yeah!  With Allen and Don supplying the very mellow rhythm behind him, this one's all Kevin.  Emotional, soulfully sung lyrics accompanied by low down, dirty guitar riffs, with both perfectly performed.  This is the blues at it's best.

Just as the guys did no holding back whatsoever with their performance of this track, there'll be no holding back with the clichés to describe it.  "Walking Funny" is a rockin', jumpin', hell raisin', ass kickin', smokin', no holds barred, roof raisin', all out jam.  Simple as that, nothing more needs to be said - ya just gotta listen.

"The Way She Moves" will remind you of how Muddy sang about that 19 year old.  It's got that beat, similar type lyrics, and above all, that killer harp playin' you heard from many of the greats that blew for him.

Every one of us, at one time in our lives, has had a "Long Greasy Night", right?  "What's that" you say wondering, as I also did, what the heck a long greasy night is?  Well, once you hear Kevin explain it, you'll agree you've had one.  What won't need explaining is the amazing guitar work.  Your ears will quickly tell you it's some of the best on the disc.  The same could be said for the harp and rhythm, obviously making this another of the discs best tracks.

With a name like "Pulled Pork", you might think this is some Memphis sounding blues song which - as many of these types of songs do - sings about BBQ, hot sauce or some other types of spicy, deliciously edible products.  Quite the contrary.  It's actually a soft, jazzy instrumental with Kevin, Allen and Don displaying a mastery over their instruments.

Other tracks on "Playing The Game" include: "Just Like Pulling Teeth", "Blues Don't Take A Day Off", "Playing The Game", "Lay it On The Table", and "Good Dog To Kick".

You can check out Kevin Selfe And The Tornadoes at  While you're there, pick up a copy of - what I'm thinking just might be a "Best New Artist Debut" nominated disc at the 2011 Blues Music Awards - "Playing The Game".  And please, tell Kevin the Blewzzman said "Good Job".

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @

Blues In The Pot/ That's How You Got Killed Before

Jamaican Errol Dixon was a long-time resident of Britain and though in the early sixties he recorded not only blues but also bluebeat and ska, his heart was really in the sophisticated American rhythm & blues of the forties and fifties. That is the sound he offers on this double CD reissue of two albums he recorded in the British blues boom of the late sixties. On the first, he is backed by a restrained Chicken Shack and horn players, whilst on the second the sound is equally refined though there is perhaps a tiny bit more of a focus on Bruce Langsman’s guitar playing. Added to the original albums are four tracks that first appeared on Decca singles – they present Errol in more of a soul mode, and also a further four titles that appeared on a Mike Vernon produced Decca EP of Fats Domino songs. Due to his sophistication, Errol was largely overlooked when these albums were originally released, but this is a timely reminder of the man's undoubted talents.

Norman Darwen

Tower Sessions
Manhaton HATMAN 202

British singer and guitarist Aynsley Lister is one of the brightest hopes of the younger generation of the UK Blues scene, and this CD, recorded live (though not in front of an audience) at the Tower in Winchester at the end of a 45 date European tour, will only enhance his already formidable reputation even further. The careful listener may detect traces of Clapton, Peter Green, Jimi Hendrix and Paul Kossoff – plus Albert Collins and Freddy King too - but these are all absorbed into Aynsley's muscular blues-rock. His song-writing goes from strength to strength, though his stunning version of Prince's 'Purple Rain', a crowd-pleaser for the last couple of years, is perhaps the album's tour-de-force, running just a few seconds short of ten minutes. Aynsley's singing is fine too – oddly enough though, he reminds me of superstar Elton John in several places! Note too that the band behind the leader is as tight and sharp as a tack.

No overdubs, no studio trickery - these guys don't need them. If you don't believe me, take a listen to this – or just take a listen anyway!

Norman Darwen

Have Blues, Will Travel
Alligator ALCD 4937

Now this is old-school Alligator! Even though this duo have, over the last couple of decades, recorded albums for Bullseye Blues, Double Trouble and Blind Pig and have only one Alligator CD before this set (2008's “Blood Brothers”), their Texas-based, twin guitar laden, hard-driving sound is the kind of sound Bruce Iglauer and co thrive on. Smokin' Joe handles the slide work when needed or is content to just lay down hot Texas guitar licks whilst Louisiana-born B'Nois supplies soulful singing and equally hot playing, as the rhythm section of John Morris on bass and Adrian Marchi on drums kick the whole proceedings along. There are some very clever, very contemporary songs (try 'RU 4 Real?' or 'My Space Or Yours?'), and a number like 'One Step At A Time' is a solid blues that somehow manages to evoke Van Halen too!
As it used to be called back in the eighties, high-energy blues – and with plenty of class too.....

Norman Darwen

West Coast Connection/ Steel And Fire
Beat Goes On BGOCD899

Formerly of sixties blues-boomers Killing Floor and seventies hard-rockers SALT, singer/ guitarist Mick Clarke achieved the rare honour for a Brit of having blues recordings released in America – both of the late eighties albums on this CD enjoyed this distinction. West Coast Connection was recorded in Portland, Oregon and includes the former Rory Gallagher drummer Rod DeAth alongside some local musicians (the criminally under-rated Curtis Salgado guests too); Steel And Fire was recorded in Britain under the watchful eye of Mike Vernon of Blue Horizon fame.
Mick details the background to both releases in the excellent booklet notes, and his assertion that both are largely in the vein of the American bar-blues is spot-on. This is the boogying, house-rocking blues sound, designed to get the dancers up on the floor, with plenty of loud and proud guitar work, though ‘Closing Line’ is a good a slow blues performance as ever came out of the sixties boom.

Norman Darwen

This review has been complimentary written for your newsletter by Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro, a contributing writer for BLUESWAX, BluesART and the Blues Editor at
where you can read many more CD and live show reviews, view lots of blues photographs and find an abundance of blues material.
I can be reached at

Forrest McDonald
"Certified Blue"
World Talent Records

It amazes me that as talented as this man is, with as many releases that he's had, and the number of great artists he's worked with, that the name Forrest McDonald isn't a household name in the blues community.  Although he's not all that young, let's all hope - for the good of the music - that he doesn't have to pay another 20 - 30 years of dues before enjoying a more widespread recognition.  After all, this is the blues, and as the song goes........."It Be's That Way Sometimes".

To be exact, "Certified Blue" is Forrest's eleventh release on his own World Talent Records.  On this project, besides playing guitar and organ, Forrest steps in front of the microphone for the very first time.  That's right, after all these years, for the first time on a record, he actually sings a song.  There'll be more on that when I get to the song.  The rest of the ensemble on the disc are: Kaylon (Mrs.) McDonald on vocals; Lee Gammon on bass; Roddy Barnes on piano and organ; Rich Ianucci on organ; Terry Garland and Barry Richman on guitar; John McKnight and Roy Saydlowski on drums; John Lieberman on harp & vocals; "Little Ronnie" Owens on harp; and Chuck Williams on tenor & alto sax.

On the opener, Forrest and Barry have a good time trading off guitar leads as Lee and John are maintaining the fierce pace with rippin' rhythm behind them.  All while Kaylon belts out about driving down 95 "Keeping The Blues Alive" - something we are all hoping gets achieved.  This is the first of nine McDonald originals.

Just as mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce make the turkey better, the saxophone, harp and organ do the same thing for a blues song.  Chuck, Ronnie and Rich do just that on the swinging "Till The Morning Light", which is surely a fast dancer's delight.

"Rock & Roll Bye, Bye, Bye" is one of two tracks that feature Jon Liebman on both vocal and harp, and he's all over both of them.  Along with that, the groove that Lee, John and Rich are in on bass, drums and organ, make this one hell of a track.

"You Keep Telling Me" is the kind of stuff that attracted me to Forrest way back in '99 when he released "Spirit Of the Blues".  That disc was full of straight up scorching guitar riffs, one track right after another, and that's what I'm hearing right now.  This is what I call the blues.

Although he won't give much competition to Darrell Nulisch as my all time favorite male blues vocalist, Forrest does a heck of a good job on "Double Back" - his debut as a singer.  As a matter of fact, part of the lyrics have Forrest singing "..........I'm just a guitar player..........".  Well Forrest, that's no longer true.

The discs, and maybe the decades, best drum work can be heard right here on "Piney Brown".  I've got to tell you, John McKnight is about to take off on this one.  With Forrest and Jon chasing him on guitar and harp, this one's a total rush.

The title track's been "Blewzz approved" which definitely means it's "Certified Blue".  All it takes for that to happen is burning blues guitar work, soulful and passionate vocals, great rhythm and some sharp harpin'....which are all right here.

Other tracks on "Certified Blue" include: "Mess Around With Love", "Danced Our Last Dance", "Double Dipping Man", "Trying To Get By", "Gas Pump Blues Revisited", and "Chicken Scratch Boogie".

You can visit Forrest at
Once you're impressed with what you read, pick up a few of his discs and be impressed with what you hear.  Of course you'll tell him the Blewzzman sent ya, right?

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @

Artist: Phil Gates
Addicted to the Blues
Label: Setag Music (Distributed by CD Baby) CDBBY5

For more information go to:

Phil has created an album that has an extremely laidback Jazzy tinged goodtime atmosphere, which permeates throughout the twelve highly original numbers gathered here. Apart from guest contributions from; Mark Justin, Byron Gaither and Larry Houston; keyboards, Nucci Solazzo; bass and Eddie Baytos; second line snare, washboard and accordion; this is virtually a solo effort from Phil who takes; lead vocals and plays on; all guitars, keyboards, bass and drum editing.

His gentle smoky/husky vocals are well suited to the musical honey that he produces; as it pours languorously and warmly out from the speakers, it clings and lingers upon the ears and mind like the memory of a warm summer Sunday afternoon.

Phil was born in the windy city of Chicago in nineteen sixty-two; his family life was an extremely musical one and his natural interest in music spurred him on to learn on whatever musical instrument he could and by the age of twelve he was more than capable of playing the violin, clarinet and drums. After his older brother made him aware of the guitar his interest in other instruments lessened and the guitar became his instrument of choice. The influences that had the greatest affect on him were Buddy Guy, Albert King Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana, his interest in Jazz shines through in the very evident soulful, mellowness of his playing.

Whilst serving in the USAir force between the years nineteen eighty and eighty-five he spent his time working in electronics and playing guitar in the U.S.A.F.Band “Tops in Blue.” Afterwards he spent time as a sound engineer and began producing artists and performing as a session man. Also he has recorded three albums, a film soundtrack and has written an instructional guitar manual.

There are no fizzing, crashing and banging firework type solo guitar displays here merely intricate and tightly woven funky guitar passages that unobtrusively feed into the listeners’ subconscious like a slow morphine drip that eventually satiates mind and body. The sublime understated slidework that Phil effortlessly constructs creeps up upon you with the stealth like movement of a stalking tiger.

A very fine album indeed!

Brian Harman

Artist: Andy Just
Smokin’ Tracks ‘Live at Muddy Waters’
Label: Feelin’ Good Records 012

For more information go to

Here we have a no-nonsense heads down riveting live blues performance from Andy, who entertains all, with his thrills and spills virtuosity on his trusty harmonica. The live set is spread over two albums and contains eighteen numbers; it was recorded at the Muddy Waters blues club in Calvari, Italy on the twenty-sixth of February 2010.

Andy has been thrilling audiences on the harmonica now for over forty years, although, his first instrument was a nineteen sixty-one Stratocaster, which, by the way he became quite proficient with but, the lure of the harmonica was too great and he switched instruments. During his early days in the seventies, he was greatly influenced by the blues artists that thrived in the San Francisco Bay area. It was here that he met the ford Brothers; Robben, Mark and Patrick who were part of The Charles Ford Band with Stan Poplin. He started his first band with his good friend Chris Cain; as he progressed through the eighties he went onto front his own bands.

Andy, throughout his long career has also performed with many other talented artists, such as; John Lee Hooker, Fenton Robinson, Lowell Fulson, Larry Williams and Albert King to name but a few; but, it was in nineteen eighthly-nine that he was approached to replace frontman Mark Ford in the Ford blues band, and it is the position he still holds to this day.

Backing Andy, who is on harmonica and vocals, is the superb, thundering powerhouse trio of Donnie Romano; guitars and vocals, Charles Romagnoli; bass and “John Lee” Emanuel Zamperini; drums, their timing and cohesive abilities are more than reflected in the music. They comfortably emphasise the subtle nuances of each number; injecting the music here and there with the right amount of vibrancy, colour and depth, as needed. The energy and obvious joy that Andy has for his music is confirmed by his expressive and creative playing; the limitless phrasing which contains many James Cotton influences is truly a treat for the ears.

Whether the numbers are blasters, shuffles or simply exquisite slowburners; the music is of the highest quality and effortlessly pours out of the speakers.

Well worth a listen!

Brian Harman

Shake For Me

Delta Groove DGPCD137

Celebrating five years of Delta Groove (the label, I mean, though the comment is apt in other ways too!), and not uncoincidentally perhaps, their fifth album, the loose collective that works under the name The Mannish Boys has come up with yet another winner.
That is, as long as you like the no-nonsense blues of the fifties and sixties, sung by such authentic singers as Bobby Jones, Finis Tasby, Johnny Dyer and Arthur Adams, backed by great musicians such as Kirk Fletcher, Fred Kaplan, Jimi Bott, Frank 'Paris Slim' Goldwasser, Rod Piazza, Lynwood Slim, Mitch Kashmar and others. For the repertoire, the guys began to seek out lesser-known items from the canons of Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf (I'd long since given up hope of ever hearing again someone take a fragmentary vocal like Wolf's 'You Can't Be Beat' and making it sound convincing – but Bobby Jones does just that!), Johnny 'Guitar' Watson and more of a similar ilk, and then wrote a few of their own in the classic vein.
Wonderful stuff – one for all the real blues lovers in the house.

Norman Darwen

My Turn
Eclecto-Groove EGRCD511

I was a little surprised to see this on the wider-ranging Eclecto-Groove rather than parent label Delta Groove – California-born guitarist Kirk is well-known to blues lovers for his two previous solo albums and for his work with the likes of Charlie Musselwhite, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, The Mannish Boys, The Hollywood Blue Flames, Janiva Magness and others. There are straight blues items here which would not be amiss on Delta Groove - try 'Blues For Antone' or the powerful opening instrumental which is in a Stevie Ray Vaughn style – traditional enough these days, I guess – and the Jimmy Reed composition 'Found Love', which receives a curious treatment with an almost Memphis Jug Band flavoured backing behind Kirk's best vocal of the set and some equally fine guitar-work. But then there is the always beautifully wistful – and this version is no exception - 'Way Back Home', the old Jazz Crusaders classic, though I also know it from Junior Parker's version. The title track has some fine sax playing by Paulie Cerras  on a number that flits between funk and jazz, whilst Jesse Ed Davis's 'Natural Anthem' merits a similar description and boasts a fierce guitar break from Kirk before Dave Melton contributes some excellent slide playing. There is some out-and-out funk too – give Sly Stone's 'Let Me Have It All' a listen for a good example, but again, this is one that shouldn't upset contemporary blues lovers too much. They may have a little more difficulty though with the far more experimental 'Continents End', which Kirk describes in the notes as “sort of my idea of Hendrix meets Sonic Youth' – and that's pretty accurate. Kirk also sings on several tracks on this set, revealing a fine voice within its limits.

From previous experience, I was expecting something impressive from Kirk when this CD arrived. And don't you know, I got it! 

Norman Darwen

Livingston Sessions
Groanbox GBR-004

Groanbox is the name of this North American world–roots trio with a distinct and highly individual approach to their music. Groanbox flout conventions, alternating between an accordion sound that conjures up Parisian cafes one moment and Clifton Chenier at his bluesiest the next, utilising a pre civil war banjo or using a tree-log as a drum, flitting between reggae and atonal sounds, American folk music and Tuvan throat singing, and sometimes with very conscious, stylised vocals or at other times unadorned backwoods singing. Totally intriguing and with lots of energy.
Groanbox deserve to be better known.....

Norman Darwen

This review has been complimentary written for your newsletter by Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro, a contributing writer for BLUESWAX, BluesART and the Blues Editor at
where you can read many more CD and live show reviews, view lots of blues photographs and find an abundance of blues material.
I can be reached at

Pete Anderson
"Even Things Up"

Little Dog Records

While offering my opinion on any particular CD, I generally prefer not get into too much detail about the artist's history and accomplishments.  If desired, readers can find all that out with a simple search on the Internet.  On the other hand, sometimes - and this is one of them -  those merits are worthy of a some brouhaha.

Pete Anderson is a Multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning Producer/Guitarist who is most widely known as the musical partner to Dwight Yoakam, whose records he produced/arranged/and played on from 1986-2003 resulting in sales of 25 Million and counting.  He's also a renowned bandleader who has appeared on Saturday Night Live, David Letterman, and The Tonight Show nineteen times.  All that - and that's not actually all of it - now has me wondering what the heck am I going to say about Pete that hasn't already been said.  Oh well, here goes.....

On this project Pete returns to the music he fell in love with as a teenager while attending the Ann Arbor Blues Festival - the blues!  "Even Things Up" consists of a dozen tracks, of which most are written or co-written by Pete, that are a perfect blend of blues, jazz, R&B and swing.  Joining Pete Anderson, on vocals, guitar, harmonica, drums and percussion are: Michael Murphy on Hammond organ, electric piano, accordion, bass and lead vocals; Herman Matthews and Jeff Donovan on drums; Lee Thornburg and David Woodford on horns; Maxine Waters on background vocals.

Although it might sound like a country title, "Honky Tonk Girl" might just be more for the swing, rather than the line dancers.  This smokin' shuffle, fueled by the steady rhythm of Michael on organ and Jeff on drums, features very impressive work from Pete on guitar.

The assortment of rhythmic sounds you'll here on "Even Thing Up" is endless.  From Mike's mastery of the Hammond, to the beat Herman's got going on the drums, to the percussion and guitar work of Pete and right down to the tone of his harp, all make this one a complete listening pleasure.

Whoa! Speaking about rhythm and percussion, "Wes' Sid Blues" nails it.  I can see the dance floor filling and the hips shaking when this one starts.  Get ready to cha-cha-cha.  Due to sheer music perfection, this one had to be an instrumental.  Pete on guitar and Michael on piano are both at discs best right here.

Since you're already dancin', don't stop now....just change speeds.  Stop shakin' and start swingin' to the rippin' beat of the "Dogbone Shuffle".  Lee and David do a great job of jazzin' this one up with their horns.  This one's real hot stuff.

This next track is all Pete.  It features some of his best blues guitar work and some very soulful vocals. It's a very slow, very bluesy ballad which has him singing to someone he's sadly, yet very "Still In Love" with.  Although I'm out of touch with the songs that win Grammy's, I do know that this is the kind of a song that wins Blues Music Awards.

"Prophet For Profit" is an acoustic solo effort with Pete singin', pickin' and harpin'.  And if you think, that with a title like this, the song might be cynical and sarcastic, of course you're right.  That's what makes it fun.

Other tracks on "Even Things Up" include: "Booker Twine", "That's How Trouble Starts", "One And Only Lonely Fool", "Stop Me", "Room With A Few" and "Blue Guitar".

More stuff like this from Pete Anderson just might "Even Things Up" by winning him some BMA's to go along with those Grammy's.  Welcome back to the blues Pete.

For more on Pete Anderson, and to purchase the disc as well, just go to  And as usual, make sure you say the Blewzzman sent ya.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @

This review has been complimentary written for your newsletter by Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro, a contributing writer for BLUESWAX, BluesART and the Blues Editor at
where you can read many more CD and live show reviews, view lots of blues photographs and find an abundance of blues material.
I can be reached at

The Kid & Nic Show
"Goin' Downtown"

Although they'll answer to Mr. and Mrs. Tracy or Kirk and Nicole, these two swingers are better known as "Kid & Nic".  Having had successful individual careers before meeting, things still seem to be on the up "swing" for this sax and singer duo.  With "Goin' Downtown" being their fourth release, it's obvious that the family that sings, dances and parties together is the family that's successful together.

The Kid & Nic Show perform regularly as a five piece band and on this project, a compilation of songs from their previous three releases, they are joined by a tremendous - in quality as well as quantity - supporting cast.  Joining Kid on saxophones, harmonica and vocals, and Nic on vocals are: Kevin Slagg, Bill Wiseman and Jay Carney on guitars; Josh Becker, Matt Meneged and David Wilson on bass;

Jim Xavier, Jeff Stridde and Vince Brooks on drums; Tracy Longstreth on drums & keyboards.

The disc opens with what I'm sure Kid & Nic - and their audiences - often have..... "Nothin' But A Good Time".  The lyrics make it obvious that it's their introductory number and it makes a hell of a first impression.  The Kids' wailing away on sax, David and Vince - on bass and drums - have me already thinking they're going to be a tough act to follow on rhythm, and Nic's just havin' a ball with the vocals.

On "Rollin' Into Reno", one of the rhythm players has changed - and I'm still impressed - but the frantic pace hasn't .  This is a quick three and a half minute track with Jeff at full throttle on drums from start to finish.   With some harmony help from Nic, Kid excels on lead vocals.

This track could not have had a better name.  "Mystify" is one of those slow sultry ballads which immediately paints a picture of a dark, cobblestone street on a foggy, rainy night in a mystery movie.  This one's highlighted by Kid's equally sultry vocals and sax with slow, sullen rhythm and perfectly soft, smooth guitar coming from Tracy, Josh and Jay.  The so called "icing on the cake" in this track was from a really good vibraphone patch on a keyboard that was very well done by Tracy.  This is one incredible track, an original at that.

OK amateurs, now get off the dance floor and make room for the pros.  "Motorhead Baby" is all out, full blown boogie at it's best.  This one rips from open to close with Kid, Bill, Matt & Jim creating musical mayhem, while Nic - singing with lots of sass-itude, kicks it on vocals.  Real good stuff right here.

There may be "Nothin' Romantic About L. A." but there's certainly something romantic with the way this track is done.  With Dave and Vince setting the mood with a warm rhythm,  Kevin's titillating guitar, Kid's provocative sax sounds and Nic's sensual vocals, this is one hell of a sexy sound.

Other tracks on "Goin' Downtown" include: "Come To Me", "The Chicken And The Hawk", "Hwy. 60", "Pull Through" and "Who Would Love This Car But Me?".

 Check out The Kid & Nic Show by visiting them at  That's where you'll be able to pick up a copy of "Goin' Downtown" so that just like Kid, Nic and their audiences do, you'll be able to have nothin' but a good time as well.  And please, tell them the Blewzzman sent ya.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @

Artist: The Bluesmasters (featuring Mickey Thomas)
The Bluesmasters (featuring Mickey Thomas)
Label: Direct Music Distribution

For more information go to: or

Prior to moving into the mainstream hard rock world of ‘Jefferson Starship in the late eighties; John Michael “Mickey” Thomas was originally the lead vocalist in Elvin Bishops’ blues band and in nineteen seventy-six they had a major crossover hit with “Fooled Around and Fell in Love.”  Now, at the tender age of sixty he has teamed up with a crack group of blues players to deliver not only a sublime version of that original number but, we are also treated to hear and appreciate some of the most satisfying hard rocking blues and soul you are ever likely to hear today.

Joining him are; Tim Tucker; guitars, Doug Lyn; harmonica, Danny Miranda; bass, Aynsley Dunbar; drums and Ric Ulsky; b3 organ.

Now, these gentlemen together create a powerhouse of sound yet, they deftly and skilfully immerse their instruments on beautifully woven slowburners such as Willie Dixons’ epic “Third Degree,” which has guitarist; John Wedemeyer complimenting Tim Tuckers’ stunning guitar work, together, they delicately create fine gossamer light images around some excellent b3 organ tinkling.

Albert Collins’ “Get Your Business Straight” and Elmore James “Over Yonder Wall,” are wonderful heads down no-nonsense stonking, storming straight ahead blasters, while Big Joe Turners’ “Cherry Red” is turned into a toetapping mover and B.B.Kings’ “Rock Me Baby” shines as a slow striding shuffle.

Throughout the album there is a refreshing and tantalising three–way duel between Mickey’s commanding vocals, Doug’s ever sharp harp and Tim’s sparking guitar work.

These superb numbers have had the cobwebs dusted off them and had the sweat, spit and dare put back in them; their abrasive grooving verve and vigour is wholly retained. Modern day blues at its’ best!

One for the collection, I feel!

Brian Harman

Artist: Various
Title: Rounder Records 40TH Anniversary Concert
Label: Rounder Records (cat. No. t.b.c.)

For more information go to or

On the twelfth of October two thousand and nine the Grand ole Opry played host to the Fortieth Anniversary celebrations of Rounder Records; for it was in Boston way back in Nineteen seventy that Ken Irwin, Marian Leighton levy and Bill Nowlin created a small independent roots music label with little or no realisation of how it would go on to become one of the most influential and nurturing homes to some the most eclectic, edifying and electrifying musical artists that have been recorded to date.

During that time the artists featured in the concert have between them been awarded over fifty-three Grammy’s for their musical achievements.

Taking part in the proceedings were such gifted artists as; Irma Thomas, Alison Krauss, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Bela Fleck and Madeline Peyroux, also featured are Minnie Driver (who also hosted the event) Nathan & The Zydeco Cha Chas, pianist, Henry Butler  and a very surprising addition of footage of Steve Martin playing some excellent banjo pickin.’ Also featured was a recently filmed duet between Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.

The eighteen numbers on the album reflect the wide musical wealth, breadth and emotional depth of the label from the restful country inflection’s of Alison Krauss and the roots and Americana of Mary Chapin Carpenter, Bela Fleck and Madeline Peyroux to the earthy, bluesy and heartfelt soulful rhythms of Irma Thomas and Nathan & The Zydeco Cha Chas.

You couldn’t ask for a more satisfying mixture of real down to earth music, also the performances are a blast!

The actual concert itself lasted for four hours; so, whilst the album may only be seventy-five minutes long it gives the listener more than a flavour of what rounder is all about; ethnicity, longevity and last, but not least top class quality music!

Brian Harman

Artist: Rice Moorehead
Title: You Make Me Feel
Label: Self Produced

For more information go to

Rice is originally from Tennessee, but now he currently resides in Austin, Texas, he is very busy man for he maintains not only a solo career but is also the bass player for the band The Hickiods. On this album we hear Rice mixing bluesy power chords with an unmistakeable Texan country influence that starts your fingers tapping.

The ten numbers on the album are all Rice originals he himself takes lead vocals and guitars, helping him are; Jill Csekitz and Nuje Battel; drums with Cindy Toth and Patrick Flangen on bass. Together they create a raw, but interesting collection of ballads, country blues, brooding power shuffles and one blues/punk rocker entitled “Tex Pants” with a ‘Cow Punk’ lady, exotically named Texacala Jones who is spitting out what appears to be, angry lyrics at breakneck speed. The pace certainly slows down with the calming instrumental “Honky Soul,” which highlights the rather good saxophone work of Kaz Kazanoff.

This is a rather eclectic collection of numbers especially for the world of blues; I found it interesting, most certainly different and it holds your attention for quite awhile.


Brian Harman

Artist: Granada Blues Band featuring Otis Grand
Title: The Grand Sessions
Label: Riff Producciones

For more information go to:

The Granada Blues Band was formed in Andalusia, Spain in nineteen eighty-six and although there have been one or two line-up changes over the years, they are still going strong. Otis first met the GBB in two thousand and six when they marked their twenty year career with a box set DVD / CD release and a celebratory concert in which he was a special guest. From this meeting the seeds of collaboration were sown and early in two thousand and nine the results of this musical merging were realised, later that year the album was released.

The overall sound of GBB is a rather pleasant mixture of the bands Blood, Sweat and Tears and Chicago.

With Otis not only playing but, also sitting in the arrangers / producers chair we have a classic no- nonsense Chicago sound, that is wrapped up in a warm gentle forties swinging groove which accompanies well the soft, gruff, gravelly vocals of Pecos Beck. The brass section seamlessly and generously oozes warm fluid caressing tones on the more emotive moving slowburners. A harsher, barking brass tone backs the footappers. Otis’s fluidly lyrical guitarwork is evident throughout; he is backed by some rather tasty piano, keyboard and percussion work.

The rich, mellow relaxing touches that Otis adds to the music gives it an original invigorating pace and sound that encapsulates that signature enveloping period feel for which Otis is famous for.

GBB are Pecos Beck; vocals, Antonio Valero; drums. Estanis Peinado; piano and b3 Hammond, Pepe Castro; bass, Jose Luis Pizzaro; electric and acoustic guitars, Nardy Castellini; tenor and alto saxophone, Rafa Martinez; trombone and Gregorio Buendia; trumpet. Guest guitarist is Otis Grand.

A very fine album!

Brian Harman

The Devil Is An Angel Too
Alligator ALCD4935

It is strange to think that this is Janiva's ninth album – she has been around along time, but still comes across as fresh as a debutante, even if her powerful vocals do betray a lot of living. The title track sets the stage for some sassy vocalizing, and then take a listen to her version of Ann Peebles' 'Tear Your Playhouse Down' and 'Slipped , Tripped Fell In Love' for a couple of big, big blues performances, and Zach Zunis on guitar also makes mighty contributions – mind you, as an Ann Peebles fan, I have to admire both Janiva's soulfulness and her taste. After these stormers, she turns her hand to Nina Simone, a lovely accappella intro to 'I'm Feelin' Good', which has another big arrangement though the subtlety is perhaps best evident in the prominent and delicate acoustic guitar work. 'Weeds Like Us' is a moving, minimalist number written by Jeff Turmes, Janiva's husband and multi-instrumentalist. 'End Of Our Road' is a bluesy rendition of the Gladys Knight/ Marvin Gaye number and contrasts with the string-laden ballad 'Save Me'.

It is good to hear Joe Tex's 'I Want To Do Everything For You' given such a fine, fine treatment; 'Your Love Made A U-Turn' gets the funk/ blues treatment with raw, distorted guitar work, and Nick Lowe's 'Homewrecker' is a brooding, slow-burn piece before things end with a torchy ballad. All of which should convince you to check out Janiva Magness if you have not already done so!

Norman Darwen

American Patchwork
Alligator ALCD4936

Alligator's latest signing is not a blues artist, but plays various forms of Americana, which of course is itself quite firmly rooted in the blues and related traditions. Singer and guitarist Anders originates from Sweden and spent a while in various locations before finally settling in New Orleans – and the city's influence can certainly be heard on the funky 'Got Your Heart'. However, Alligator releases often seem to falll into either a purist blues bag (think Hound Dog Taylor, Lil' Ed) or crossover (Johnny Winter for example). Anders veers way over into rock territory at times – I certainly don't hear the blues in 'Meet Me In New Mexico', laced with a little country perhaps, and some Bob Dylan influence. As such, the purists can quite happily ignore this but those who have a taste for, let's say, Anders' new label-mate Eric Lindell, should definitely check this out.

Norman Darwen


Rice ‘N’ Gravy (RIC 517)

It is only fitting and proper that Bobby Charles’ final album be dedicated to Fats Domino and by extension to New Orleans because it was this legend and the R&B music of the Crescent City that first seduced him during his formative years, serving as an inspiration and, much to his working class parents’ chagrin, leading him into a life of singing and composing. So in essence, Bobby Charles, who died this past January 14, had come full circle, again fully embracing and paying homage to the timeless melodies and rhythms of Big Easy which had sustained him until the very end.

Timeless has New Orleans written all over it, framed, like bookends, by the opening track, “Happy Birthday Fats Domino,” and the closing, “Happy Halloween,” each with its rollicking, infectious second line beat, inviting the reader to partake of the party atmosphere for which this city is most renowned. But in fact, as if to reinforce this Leitmotif or central idea, almost every cut of this CD, regardless of tempo, is a variation of New Orleans’ signature rhythm, courtesy of the most sympathetic accompaniment on keyboards by none other than Dr. John (Mac Rebbenack), who co-produced this project. But other New Orleans references abound, like Bobby Charles’ inclusion of a chart maker he penned especially for Fats, “Before I Grow Too Old.”

Nonetheless, Timeless is much more than just a paean to New Orleans and its music. It refers to enduring themes, particularly those viewed from a very mature perspective, from someone who senses that his time on earth is about up. There is a preponderance of compositions dealing with broken relationships of the past—“Where Did All The Love Go,” “Nickles, Dimes and Dollars,” “Nobody’s Fault But My Own,” “When Love Turns To Hate,” and the achingly emotive, “You’ll Always Live Inside Of Me,” bittersweet ballads all, expressing universal experiences of loss, regret, and longing. And Bobby dreams about some inaccessible, idyllic retreat south of the border in the mariachi flavored, “Old Mexico,” where he can leave his cares behind and finally lay his burden down. Later, confronting his own mortality, he hopes to from the Great Beyond, if God grants him the ability, rectify society’s entrenched ills—poverty, hunger, and homelessness--- in the Gospel infused “Rollin’ Round Heaven.” The late, great Swedish filmmaker, Ingmar Bergman, likened growing old to the metaphor of climbing a mountain---as one ages, the breath gets shorter. But as one advances, the compensation is that each vista becomes infinitely more vast. Let’s just say that in Timeless, Bobby Charles had reached that pinnacle of his perceptions.

Over the years, Bobby Charles had become more and more politically aware and politically active, a transformation that first began while touring with black musicians in the 50s and then was fully realized by his association with the disenfranchised, counter culture artists based in Woodstock, NY, in the 70s. While often clashing with global oil companies, Charles especially espoused ecological causes, eventually creating a musical program, “The Solution to Pollution,” to teach Louisiana school children the absolute necessity of having clean water to drink and, in fact, contributed to Dr. John’s 2008 Grammy winning release, City That Care Forgot, no less than four numbers addressing this urgent issue. In that same package, he wrote “Time for a Change,” which could have easily become a campaign anthem for the Democrats in that same year. So, it should not come as a great surprise that Charles had seen fit to include a couple of songs of a topical political nature in this CD, such as “Take Back My Country,” a song in support of Barack Obama’s presidential bid, wherein Bobby inveighs against the “politics, money, and power” of the former regime. In another, “Clash of Cultures,” Charles is disillusioned with both the partisanship in Congress and ever increasing polarization of the nation. But despite the gloom and doom scenarios often depicted in such socially conscious compositions, Charles, always the eternal optimist, held out hope for an eventual resolution.

And enough can’t be said for Timeless as a whole, be it the content, the technical merit, or the musicianship. First, Charles, as a perfectionist, would not ever tolerate releasing to the public anything less than a flawless production and for the last two decades had availed himself (as does Dr. John) of the services of a relatively obscure gem of a studio, the state-of-the-art Dockside, on the Vermilion Bayou in Maurice, LA, and engineer David Farrell, who had distinguished himself in the same capacity for Ultrasonic and Black Top records in New Orleans. Over the years, out of respect for Charles’ genius, many a celebrated performer—Delbert McClinton, Willie Nelson, Ben Keith, Maria Muldaur, Neil Young, Tracy Nelson, Frogman Henry, and Fats Domino, just to name a few---have at the drop of a hat come to his aid, happy to lend a hand in any of his undertakings, grand or small. And Timeless in this regard is no exception. As usual, Charles surrounded himself with the crème de la creme, a veritable all star cast of supporting characters, to see this project through to its fruition. Aside from Dr. John, there is his old standby slide player nonpareil, Sonny Landreth, the redoubtable Jon Smith, ex-tenor of the fabled Boogie Kings, keyboardist Dave Egan of Cajun rock fusion band, File, and Willie Nelson harp man extraordinaire, Mickey Raphael. Also making cameos are stalwart pianist Jon Cleary of New Orleans and the equally gifted blues guitarist, Derek Trucks.

On a less serious note, for those that knew Bobby Charles well, he had his sense of humor and a playful side. Being a bird lover, he kept many of these pets, especially at his former abode not far from Dockside. But in Abbeville, where he had moved after being suddenly displaced by Hurricane Rita, he retained just one, a canary. And when this creature first heard the demos from Timeless, he chirruped all day. Well, Charles insisted that this songbird make an appearance on the cover of the CD, as if to give the entire endeavor his seal of approval. And, as far as I’m concerned, Domino has rendered an unimpeachable verdict.

Larry Benicewicz, Baltimore Blues Society

Deer In The Night
Po’Girl Music PG004

Not a blues set, I must state at the outset, but a first class example of ‘Americana’, the mix of North American roots musics with contemporary sounds that is popular with many blues lovers. Po’ Girl draw on blues, country, folk, some jazz and klezmer, little hints of gospel, rock, plus modern singer-songwriter traditions. Allison Russell and Awna Teixeira are quite simply beautiful vocalists, both individually and together, whilst the backing – which includes guitar, clarinet, banjo, glockenspiel, washboard, keyboards, bass, drums and bicycle bells (though nothing is ever gratuitous) creates a unique setting that is never quite easy to categorise; other than, as previously stated, first class Americana.

Norman Darwen

This review has been complimentary written for your newsletter by Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro, a contributing writer for BLUESWAX, BluesART and the Blues Editor at
where you can read many more CD and live show reviews, view lots of blues photographs and find an abundance of blues material.
I can be reached at

Kansas City Blues Band
"Danger Zone"
Serenity Hill Records

Over the past few weeks, I've received way too many discs from local bands, from various areas of the country, containing nothing but overdone cover songs.  After listening to all of them, and realizing that most of them sounded the same, I decided I wouldn't be reviewing any of them........except for one.  True, "Danger Zone" doesn't contain any original music, but since these ten covers are being performed by one of the best new bands I've heard in a long time - the Kansas City Blues Band - I felt I just had to say something about it.

The group, which has extremely impressed me, consists of: Tom Bark on bass and vocals, Rick Hendricks on guitar, Mike O'Neil on drums and tambourine, and Larry Van Loom on Hammond Organ.  Joining them are special guests Steve Glassmeyer on piano, Matt Glassmeyer on sax, Tim Gonzalez on harp and Craig Kew on bass.

As soon as Tom Bark opened his mouth - exactly 34 seconds into the opening track of "Going To Chicago" - he had me hooked.  With a style and sound so similar to one of my all time favorite vocalists - Barkin' Bill, I knew I'd be lovin' this disc.  Then Tim and Larry came in with some serious harp and Hammond highlights, all while the rhythm guys were locked in real tight and I was in my listening glory.

With some intermittent soft, yet sharp, guitar and organ leads thrown in by Rick and Larry, "Room With A View" is highlighted by some of the discs best rhythm.  Tom and Mike are just too sharp on the bass and drums.This one is so unbelievably smooth.

I found myself really looking forward to hearing this next track - since it is one of my all time favorite jazz songs.  Written by Gene McDaniels - a fellow Missourian, and made very popular by two jazz giants - Les McCann & Eddie Harris, I was anxious to find out if the Kansas City Blues Band did justice to "Compared To What".  On that particular version, Less on Vocals & piano and Eddie on tenor sax, with some wicked percussion backing them up, were flawless as well as relentless.  On this particular version, Mike and Larry provided the percussion heat on the Hammond and drums, Matt covered the tenor work nicely and Tom nailed the vocals.  I don't think I'll ever hear a version better than the one on "Swiss Movement", but these guys did one hell of a job.  For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the song, give this a look....

Speaking of which versions of songs are best, right now I'm hearing the best version of "Born In Chicago" I'll ever hear.  Well into the opening, I thought I may have been listening to an instrumental version, and with the rhythm I was hearing behind some great harp and guitar leads that would have suited me just fine.  Then Tom started doing that barkin' thing and I knew I was listening to the discs best track......that is until I heard "I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water".  Man I'm loving this disc.

"Two Years of Torture" would surely be enough to give you the blues and this is one of the more low down and dirty blues tracks.  It's eight minute length, allows time for several well done organ and guitar lead changes.

Other tracks on this outstanding release include: "Danger Zone", "Laundromat Blues", "Jealous Kind" and "Better Off With The Blues".

The guys in the Kansas City Blues Band have told me they are already working on a new project that's going to include a lot of original songs and when it's out, you can bet you'll be reading my thoughts on it. I'm already excited.

In the meantime, check them out at, pick up a copy of "Danger Zone", and tell them the Blewzzman sends his regards.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @


Provogue PRD 7307

Once rock and roll became popular in the fifties, it was always odds on that it would evolve; the sixties saw people examining the Blues roots, and by the end of the decade musicians were taking the form far beyond its original confines, into areas where the blues influence might still have been there, but the audience would rather hear Led Zeppelin basing their heavy riffing rock on the likes of 'You Need Love' than listen to the Muddy Waters version or prefer Jimi Hendrix's acid-fuelled improvisations to Guitar Shorty or Johnny Jones. As this audience has aged, attitudes have changed, and this kind of music has come to be classed as 'blues'. Fair enough, I guess; the definition has never been set in stone – and now along comes someone like Phillip Sayce, born in Wales, brought up in Canada, a former member of Jeff Healey's band, and playing what was called rock around 1970 and blues now.

This CD could almost pass as a very early seventies release – I say 'almost' because the production and indeed the technique would have astounded at that time, but both the vocal and guitar styles recall Zeppelin and Hendrix more than anything. This is loud and heavy – and if you enjoy blues-rock right at the uttermost rock end of the spectrum, this is definitely for you.

Norman Darwen

Sweet Paradise

MIM 0006

Canadian vocalist Rita Chiarelli is one of those under-rated blues performers who deserves to be far better known than she actually is. This CD – her eighth - might just be the one to do it, too; if there is any justice, it should be!

You want to hear good old-fashioned deep soul? Then lend an ear to 'Home'. For deep, dark Americana, try 'Rest My Bones'. 'French Kiss' is a lovely, very amusing bi-lingual take on Professor Longhair's New Orleans R&B, and keeping with the Crescent City theme, 'Going Down To New Orleans' is a wonderful slab of swamp-rock with some fine very fine and bluesy fiddle- you can feel the mud oozing through your toes! Still down in Louisiana, 'Back To Blue' treads a fine line between swamp-pop and country. The waltz-time 'Cowboy's Lullabye' is further over into the western side of country and western, of course, but a couple of numbers evoke Otis Redding or maybe James Carr, and even the country-tinges from the pedal steel guitar are perfectly apt. In short, this set is a real winner!

Norman Darwen

A Basie Vocal Celebration
(Frémeaux Et Associés FA 518)

This is one for the jazzers of course, but Count Basie always had one of the bluesiest of the big swing bands and that is certainly reflected on this set. Claude Tissendier leads an excellent French swing octet – in a blind-fold test, it would be identified at the Count Basie Orchestra every time! - and vocalists Marc Thomas and Michele Hendricks (daughter of Jon Hendricks, who first did vocal reinterpretations of Basie in 1957) - scat, sing, swing and harmonise their way through some of the classics of the Count's repertoire. For me, the more up tempo material works best, but the slower ballads occasionally brought Charles Brown to mind. This is not all blues material but as I said, if you have leanings towards jazz, this release is sure to please.

Norman Darwen


Singer, songwriter, and guitarist Davy Sicard hails from the island of La Réunion (politically part of mainland France; little known fact of the day – the first Euros were spent here!), east of Madagascar, and this set, though not blues, has a profoundly 'blue' feeling. The predominantly melancholy mood brings Cape Verde to mind, some of the musicianship recalls West African techniques, and of course the French element is present – café accordion is mixed with a reggae tinge on the relatively upbeat ‘Papillon’. There is also a little jazz, and even a mariachi-inflected sound on ‘Ola’. Davy has an intimate voice that does occasionally also burst forth with a surprising power; he sings in both French and Réunion kréol (mostly the latter), and the rhythms often reflect the 6/8 time of the Mascarene Islands’ maloya music. The set is acoustic based, with traditional instruments plus an electric bass in places and wonderful use of backing singers.

Norman Darwen

Artist; The Brew
Title: A Million Dead Stars
Label: Jazzhaus Records JHR031

For more information go to: or

The Brew are a three piece English band that have been steadily raising their profile over the last four years or so by extensively touring across Europe, giving performances (especially at festivals) that have left their audiences dazed, happily confused and exhausted but, also filled with a feeling of euphoria that has led critics to state that their stage presence and musical ability is monumental, awesome and sensational.
While that may well be the case in a live situation, where the band feeds off the anticipation and adrenaline of the audience how well does the energy of the live performances transfer to the confines and obvious restrictions of a studio situation?
Well, for guitarist Jason Barwick, Kurt Smith; drums and Tim Smith; bass, the indications are more than favourable, for with this their third album the atmosphere created by them oozes confidence, control and an overriding telepathic sense ( to the listener ) that the  music is of top notch quality and substance.
The musical patterns and textures that they so deftly weave together has undoubtedly obvious nods and leanings towards the influences of Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Judas Priest; though in the more lyrical and bluesy passages Wishbone Ash and Rory Gallagher come to mind.

Whilst the influences are clearly obvious to all, the band has within this genre created their own identity and sound. They have managed to find a fissure in the cliff face of Rock and have subsequently filled it with their own particular ideas and variations on old themes and riffs.

The production and overall sound is clean, crisp, clear and polished.

Although Hard Rock / Classic Rock is undoubtedly their natural habitat there are enough Blues influences to keep most people happily entertained.

Well worth a listen!

Brian Harman

Artist: Bernard Allison Group
The Otherside
Jazzhaus Records JHR029

For more information go to

This, is Bernard’s latest album and with it he continues to widen his horizons away from the perimeters of classic twelve bar blues, he happily embraces many other forms, expanding his knowledge and musical horizons by risk taking on the edges of the genre; equally, he hopes his audience gains a greater understanding of the music he is trying to make, which, he believes extends in all directions the influences of the blues. which he loves so much.

There is not a shadow of a doubt that his playing is bursting with energy and inventiveness, he certainly prefers a style that takes no prisoners. He is refreshingly backed by crisp, punching horns which are demanding to be heard in tandem with a brash, bristling and snappily insistent percussive backbeat. The towering saxophone performances definitely give the music extra depth. Undoubtedly the icing on the cake is the hugely enjoyable guitarwork  from Bernard, who gives a performance featuring highly charged deliveries of machine-gun like flurries, which are balanced by neat and stimulating guitar picking on the upbeat foottappin’ shuffles.

Seven of the thirteen numbers are Bernard originals, also featured are; Luther Allison’s “Let’s Try Again“ and Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire.”

Backing Bernard, who plays guitars and takes lead vocals, are; Erick Ballard; drums, Jose Ned James; saxophones and percussion, Bruce B. McCabe; keyboards and accordion, Jassen Wilber; bass,  Michael Goldsmith; guitar, and special guest Lonnie Brooks on “Leavin’ the Bayou.”

Whilst, this album is firmly rooted in the blues the flexibility of slightly differing styles and types subtly bring an extra frisson of delight and pleasure to all, but, at the same time perhaps reaching a lesser inclined audience and yet, maintaining a sufficiently high enough level of interest for the more discerning listener.

Well worth the shilling!

Brian Harman

Artist: Warm Gun
Blues Virus
Buffalo Bounce  BB RONE03

For more information go to:

This is the third album from Warm Gun a duo who are to be found residing in Caserta, which is situated north of Naples, Italy. They are Freddy Ghidelli; acoustic, electric and pedal steel guitar and Max Pieri; bass, stomp box and vocals, together they create some of the most amazingly esoteric music you are ever likely to hear; a raw, rough hewn, low down dirty sound which is accentuated by the infectious Italian accent of Max. Their earthy, primal style forces you to wonder if they have been dragged-up from the bowels of some long forgotten pit Yet strangely enough the ten numbers on this album are very alluring to the ears; Max’s use of his stomp box and other percussive sounds fuels your imagination to conjure-up in your mind visions of  what might possibly inhabit their own particular world.

To add yet more interesting atmospheric sound images special guest artists  such as; Mario Insenga;  provides additional percussion, also, Lino Muoio  dazzles all with his irresistible Mandolin picking and creating wonderful aural images is Edo Notarloberti on the Fiddle.

The guitar work from Freddy at first appears to be  simple, mundane and generally of no apparent distinction; but if you listen  carefully he is actually building a framework of fills, flurries and solos around Max’s eerie larger than life renditions. On their version of George Gershwin’s classic “Summertime,” Freddy’s relaxed and unhurried jazz tinged playing is absolutely stunning you can actually feel yourself swaying to and fro’ in the cool, cool breeze.

This album is somewhat dark and different but, definitely addictive and highly enjoyable, worth seeking out!

Brian Harman

Artist: Christian Dozzler & Robin Banks
Livin’ Life
Label: Blueswave Records CD-2009

For more information go to or

Christian and Robin are both artists who have found the musical lure of the lone star state irresistible, for Canadian Robin made her home there in nineteen ninety-nine and Christian, who originates from Austria settled in two thousand and two, although Robin left in two thousand and six to spend time in Jamaica she, ultimately, couldn’t resist the lure and has recently returned to Texas.

Over a period of time the musical paths of Christian and Robin eventually crossed and when they did the pair found that they had an abiding love of the blues, which has led to them sharing the stage on a number of occasions.

Strictly speaking, this is not the first time that they have recorded together for, Christian first recorded with Robin when he was the featured pianist on Robins’ “Live After Dark” album.

The only instruments featured here are Robin’s own lazily smoky and alluring  jazz intoned vocals, which are complimented by Christian’s own emotive bluesy voice which he supports with his consummate keyboard and accordion skills, these ensure that any other Instrumentation is completely and utterly redundant.

Of the fourteen original compositions here, the writing and singing credits are shared equally, enabling each artist to perform and present the numbers in the best possible light and manner. Included in the warmly inviting set is a very fine mixture of differing styles which include; Jazz, Blues, R&B, Country, Creole and Boogie Woogie.

They are all played with a great deal of zest and panache, the authority and spot–on authenticity of Christian’s keyboard skills gives each number a life of it’s own, which in turn reaches out to the listener from the comforting cones of the speakers, entwining and involving you more with each note played.

A very fine album from a pair of very fine artists!

Brian Harman

Artist: Steve Howell
Since I Saw You Last
Label: Out of the Past Music OOTP5

For more information go to: or

Steve’s naturally relaxed front porch approach to his music is carried on through to this, his third album. The clean crisp arrangements and pin sharp production found on the album simply enhances the pleasantly unhurried ringing tones of Steve’s steel guitar work, which ranges from measured and cohesive pieces to highly emotive picking contrasts well with his mellow yet gravelly  vocals.

Whether it be a slice of Rural Roots, Blues or Americana, his choice of material is quite exquisite, skilfully placing old, rarely recorded  gems alongside new numbers that sound as if they have been with us for years, such examples of this are; Jim Mize’s “Acadian Lullaby” sandwiched between Frank Stokes’s “Downtown Blues”  and the old Warren Smith tune “Red Cadillac and A Black Moustache” The blues are equally highlighted by the hugely enjoyable renditions of; Blind Lemon Jefferson’s “Easy Rider Blues,” Mance Lipscombs “Charlie James” and Taj Mahall’s “ Little Red Hen.”

These, are just a few examples of the twelve stunning numbers that await to caress and stroke your musical tastebuds!

Helping Steve, who takes lead vocals and plays acoustic, electric and bottleneck guitars are; Joe Osborn; bass and twelve string guitar, Arnie Cottrell; acoustic, bottleneck guitars and mandolin, Darren Osborn; drums and percussion, Chris Michaels; guitars and bass, Dave Hoffpauir; drums and Brian Basco; keyboards.

One interesting fact is that although Steve has known and been good friends with the British musician Arnie Cotterell for over thirty years, it is the first time they have ever recorded an album together.

They first met while Steve was serving in the U.S. Navy in nineteen seventy-three; he was based in South Wales and for the next three and a half years they toured Wales and the South of England as a folk duo. 

With this album, these gentlemen together have combined to elevate the music of this genre to a higher level of quality and aural satisfaction. I have to say it is one of the finest acoustic led albums that I have heard in quite awhile.

Brian Harman

Artist: Jason King
Title: Blue Skies and Black Shoes
Label: Hip-Rox Music

For more information, go to:

Jason King Roxas (to use his full name) was born in the Philippines in nineteen seventy-three to a Japanese - Castilian family; a family that were involved in music in one form or another, consequently Jason was drawn to music himself although it was not until the family moved to Los Angeles in nineteen-eighty when an uncle introduced a young eleven year old Jason to the use of chords that he could begin to expand his musical skills. As he was growing up he showed a greater appreciation of all the rich and varied influences that which surrounded him and he duly soaked-up all that he could.

Whilst at high school he displayed his acoustic and electric guitar skills in the church choir also he also drenched himself in other musical forms such as; the blues, soul, funk, rock, country and folk whilst playing in a number of bar bands in his college days. Jason formed his own band in the late nineties, Now, the musicians that make up the band today are; Wilbert Banks; bass, Michael Moore; drums, Tommy Stiles; weisborn/lap steel guitar and Jason himself, takes lead vocals, Lead and Rhythm guitar.

The eleven numbers on the album are all original compositions by Jason; they encompass the whole of the blues spectrum from rumbustious all out shufflers and blasters to slow heartfelt pleaders. Jason possesses and delivers a refreshingly open, clean clear, crisp and sparkling guitar style which shines throughout. The obvious influences range from Freddie King through to Jimi Hendrix.

Guest drummer Pat Dotson and Jason Stanton; Hammond b3 and keyboards ensure additional tightness in the engine room; the harking, barking tenor sax of Rick Metz and the wailing, driving harp of Freddie Mills enjoyably compete with Jason’s electrifying solos for centre stage.

Without doubt an excellent debut.

Brian Harman

Bare Knuckle
Alligator ALCD 4934

Strange that the first sound you hear on this CD is an acoustic guitar – not  that it lasts long but anyway… Shorty has been playing since the fifties but he has lost none of his energy – and after all, this is the guy who was Jimi Hendrix’s brother-in-law. This is what Alligator made its reputation with – sweaty, no-nonsense, modern, high energy blues, and Shorty does it so well. This is his third release for the label and finds him on top form, with lots of power-chording, and powerful, soulful vocals. Quite a few numbers are rock-inflected, but ‘Slow Burn’ is an outstanding blues about soldiers returning to society set to a smouldering accompaniment that suits the title, whilst 'Too Late' would have brought a smile to Albert King's face. 'Neverland' is perhaps the most straight-forward blues of the album, with its vaguely Latin touches in the backing, whilst 'Get Off' rocks like crazy. Really though, the whole album is a real winner and maybe Shorty's best for Alligator – so far.

Norman Darwen

Feed My Soul
Alligator ALCD 4933

The Holmes Brothers are not easy to categorise, other than to say that they always make music that is worth hearing. This is their tenth album, and comes after singer/ guitarist/ pianist Wendell Holmes has fought and beaten cancer. This has obviously left its mark – try the achingly soulful title track, for one example. Elsewhere there are gospel items – the closing, impassioned ‘Take Me Away’ - the blues with an impressive remake of Johnny Ace’s ‘Pledging My Love’, rollicking R&B with the socially conscious ‘Dark Cloud’, a country tinged groover with ‘Edge Of The Ledge’, the strutting ‘You’re The Kind Of Trouble’, and the affirmative ‘Living Well Is The Best Revenge’ and the simply beautiful Impressions-influenced ‘I Saw Your Face’ (with lead vocal by Sherman Holmes).

How to sum this up? Well, it’s elementary – every track should appeal to those who already appreciate The Holmes Brothers, whilst those coming new to their music have a real treat in store.

Norman Darwen

Live In Istanbul Turkey
Jazzhaus JHR 032

John Lee Hooker Jr. is a fine bluesman with a relatively traditional approach; like his father, he sometimes employs rock-tinged guitarists – here his dad’s old sideman John Garcia Jr. sometimes helps out, but the sound is far, far broader than that of Hooker Senior. There are plenty of big, stomping, frequently brassy, blues on this set, and a variety of arrangements, plus a couple of the old man’s songs – ‘Boom Boom’ and ‘Maudie’ – which are both worthy tributes but also indicate that here is a man not content to live off his father’s legend. Indeed, the real glory of this thoroughly enjoyable set is John Lee Hooker Junior – his big, rich vocals are beautifully showcased, and his songs are topical and urban (references to golfer Tiger Woods, P. Diddy, identity theft and crack cocaine). He might not ever completely escape from his father’s shadow, but neither can anyone ever accuse him of simply copying. It’s just obviously in the genes…..

Norman Darwen

The Session Years 1956 - 1966
SuperBird SBIRD 0013 CD

The late Johnny Jones – he died in October 2009 – only started to gain the acclaim his talent deserved towards the end of his life. Generally regarded as a Nashville blues artist, before he settled there he had already spent considerable time in both Memphis and Chicago (which is presumably where he picked up Jody Williams’ ‘Lucky Lou’, which he covers here). These recordings feature him in The Jimmy Beck Orchestra and The Imperial Seven, playing behind the likes of Larry Birdsong, Gene Allison, Earl Gaines, Charles Walker, Christine Kittrell and others. The material is blues and early R&B, and once Johnny hits his stride, his swinging, smoking style or his slower accompaniments (with a marked T-Bone Walker influence) really hit the peaks. Blues lovers should waste no time picking this up, whilst rock fans may be interested to learn that Johnny tutored a young friend of his bass player Billy Cox around about 1963; that friend’s name was Jimi Hendrix!

Norman Darwen

Reform School Girl
Eclecto Groove EGR CD 509

Nick’s backing band is called The Low Lifes, which together with the title of this CD gives a good idea of his music. It is fast, furious, greasy and great fun, based on early sixties pop (think of the girl group sound), the tougher side of the Beat boom, the raucous rock and roll of Little Richard in his prime (with Esquerita in there too), some driving rockabilly, more than a hint of psychobilly, the patented weirdness of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, and the blues of Guitar Slim. This heady brew is spiced with frenetic vocals and cranked-right-up amps, distorting the guitar work beyond any reasonable level, whilst his backing musicians play flat out. The Blasters’ Phil Alvin guests on one track, so too does harp maestro Jason Ricci. Don’t expect subtlety, but do expect a tough retro sound with contemporary attitude, and that might prepare you for the rollercoaster ride you get from this CD.

Norman Darwen


The Roots Of Nick Cave
The Roots Of The White Stripes
The Roots Of The Black Crowes
The Roots Of The Doors
The Roots Of The Byrds


In the past it has generally been the sixties and seventies superstar acts such as Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones who have received this kind of treatment. There have been examinations of the ‘roots’ of all of them, picking out older tracks which they have covered. Of course, all these were strongly blues-influenced which helped; The Doors and The Byrds were both of a not too dissimilar background whilst the nineties saw the rise of a new breed of musicians influenced by a wider range of American folk musics – and those earlier blues/ folk/ country revivalists too.
As these sets concentrate on music that these acts have either covered or been inspired by - and the generally, but not always, correct sleeve notes justify each inclusion, detailing whether it was issued, unissued, a live staple or even merely a vehicle for sound-checking - another question these compilations raise is how direct a track has to be in order to be classed as an influence; many sixties bands covered vintage material and which version have these later acts drawn inspiration from? Also the focus has shifted slightly, as the Nick Cave set neatly illustrates, containing material that would appeal to an artist’s darker side and a couple of items such as Harry Belafonte’s ‘Mourning Song’ and Roy Rogers’ ‘Streets Of Laredo’ that qualify as ‘kitsch’.
The Black Crowes' release is virtually all straight blues, whilst The White Stripes’ CD stretches from the apocalyptic Mississippi bluesman Son House to er, James Cagney. Similarly The Doors' release stretches from blues veterans Leadbelly and Sarah Martin to jazz sophisticate Billie Holiday and playwright Bertholt Brecht. The Byrds' set has a notable omission – no licensing deal for Dylan material, I guess – and is the most folk and country orientated. All these sets contain some truly fascinating music and there is plenty of 'weird America' to be found throughout. Fans of any and all can buy with confidence.

Norman Darwen

Sugar & Spice

The north German duo of pianist/ singer Georg and harmonica master Marc recorded this music over the last seven years and the CD is accurately described as “a cocktail of the best recordings out of many different sessions we had at Űberschall Tonstudio in Kiel and analoghaus (sic) in Karben”. Many, many musicians were involved, but the result is a nicely coherent whole of blues, soul, rock and roll, and songs such as the moving ‘Palace Of The King’, not a blues as such but mostly associated with Freddie King – there is even a little country-rock in the closing version of John Fogerty’s ‘Who’ll Stop The Rain’. Try ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Queenie’ (nice sax too by Albie Donnelly) or ‘Shake Your Boogie’ for a couple of really pulsating performances, for a straight-ahead(ish) blues try ‘Blue Bird Blues’, and the live recording of ‘I Just Want To Make Love To You’ from 2002 for a very original and different take on this Willie Dixon number. Well worth investigating all round, this one.

Norman Darwen

Provogue PRD 7297 2

This Time Around
Provogue PRD 7298 2

Don’t Say A Word
Provogue PRD 7299 2

Black Rock
Provogue PRD 7300 2

Four more CDs from the label where the Blues meets Rock – and that reputation is still totally intact after this fine quartet of releases.

British youngster Scott’s debut album ‘Can’t Take No More’ was released in 2007 and he is now just 23 years old. The blues is certainly part of his style, though he is certainly in the vein of loud, screaming, muscular blues-rock, for the most part (there are some quieter, more reflective numbers) – though he has a younger and more individual approach than most, whilst ‘Giving Me The Blues’ could almost rank as a vintage Albert King out-take. In short, his music should appeal to the majority of those who love the classic sound of British blues-rock.

Mitch Laddie is even younger, having been born in England in 1990. Walter Trout introduced him to Provogue and it is easy to hear what hooked Walter. There are shades of Led Zeppelin, Stevie Ray Vaughn, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix and maybe even Prince too, on a very entertaining and original-sounding release that is more varied than you might expect. The closing track is a live duet between Mitch and Walter Trout, tearing their way through ‘Rock Me Baby’.

The Dutch singer/ guitarist/ songwriter Stefan Schill has a big, meaty sound too, allied to a lazy, loping style that flits and flirts between (a healthy helping of) blues, funk, rock, modern rhythm and blues and hip-hop, Prince’s approach, maybe a little of the modern/ retro sound of the likes of Amy Winehouse, and even a little jazz. Most of the joins are seamless too. It is fair to say that if pop music still sounded like this generally, we’d probably all be a lot happier!

Joe Bonamassa is already being hailed in some quarters as the new king of the blues. Here he duets with real royalty – an instantly recognisable BB King no less – on 'Night Life'. Elsewhere his playing is heavier and veers way over into rock stylings in places (try the cover of Jeff Beck's 'Spanish Boots', for example) and he even strays into world music territory in places – the title refers to Black Rock Studios in Santorini in Greece, where this set was recorded by producer Kevin Shirley (maybe that's why the Led Zeppelin influence is marked on two or three songs?) and some Greek musicians add an interesting local flavour to several numbers (most successfully integrated into Joe's heavy blues-rock on 'Blue And Evil'). Joe moves effortlessly between styles - even closing with a jazzy, acoustic cover of Blind Boy Fuller to keep his blues roots more or less intact - but easily satisfying a wider audience with what is a very impressive set.

Norman Darwen

Neon City
(Own label)

New Jersey based guitarist and bandleader Billy has taken the sound of the blues-rock of Eric Clapton and Led Zeppelin and other similar acts and combined it with the New Jersey rock and pop sound (think South Side Johnny & The Asbury Dukes – with whom Billy also plays) and elements of modern southern rock. Some of the tracks here are out-and-out  modern rock (like the suitably haunting ‘Jersey Devil’), other tracks such as the fine version of  Roy Head’s 1965 hit ‘Treat Her Right’, the Hendrix influenced ‘Spreading The Blues’ and the excellent rendition of Motown hit ‘Papa Was A Rolling Stone’ are best described as riffing rhythm ‘n’ blues-rock.

Norman Darwen

Various Artists

BlueStone 3CD 587406

If you ever need proof of just how popular – and international – the blues is these days, look no further than this 3-CD release. Split into “Something Traditional”, “Something Different”, and “Something New”, it presents forty live performances by forty Croatian bands. “Over 2 and 1/2 hours of good music!” says the sleeve, and that is the truth.

The only acts with which I was previously familiar were Nebo & The Downstrokes and Tomislav Goluban, both of whom I rate highly. Nebo is an excellent guitarist, Tomislav a fine harmonica player with an experimental bent. They are not alone, it seems, as this CD conrttains plenty of other accomplished blues acts. The material does split reasonably well into the three categories, although there is plenty of overlap between them. The first CD runs the whole range from acoustic blues to jazzy blues a la Duke Ellington to heavy vintage Fleetwood Mac inspired blues-rock. The latter is more the domain of Disc 2, which shows the variety of blues-rock, from Bob Dylan, Hendrix and Cream to The Rolling Stones, Doctor Feelgood, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Stevie Wonder – the latter probably through Jeff Beck’s version of ‘Superstition’. CD 3 runs the gamut from Bob Dylan-flavoured solo folk to out-and-out rock with a blues tinge, with the last track tending towards the more experimental side of rock, and there is little here that qualifies as straight blues. As opposed to the tracks on the other two discs, many songs here are sung in Croat (I presume) rather than English.

This really is overall quite an astonishing release. With lots of fine music, it also presents an excellent introduction to one European country’s blues scene, and an insight into the way the blues can adapt and be adopted.

Norman Darwen

Breaking The Spell
Houserockin' Records HRR04

The label name is very apt for the fourth album from this Swedish trio – this is indeed the good-rockin', good-timin' blues. They have a loud, brash sound, with echoes of Hound Dog Taylor, JB Hutto, Elmore James, and something of the wilder side of Tarheel Slim. Even Ivory Joe Hunter's usually lilting love song 'Since I Met You Baby' becomes a down-home stomp. Mind you, it is not just a strong choice of borrowed material that this band offers; four songs are originals – and good ones too (the instrumental 'Goofer Dust' is a wonderfully infectious performance). As the list of artists just mentioned implies, there is plenty of slashing slide guitar from leader Jacob Steinwall, and his vocals (he sings in English, in case you were wondering) have just the right sound for this kind of music. Some variety is introduced with special guests on harp, saxes, piano and a rhythm guitarist; I hesitate to say they are needed, but they do fatten out an already big sound. Is this recommended? You bet it is!!!

Norman Darwen

Too Hot
Feelin' Good 011

Hot on the heels of Oklahoma-born, Texas-based guitarist Shawn's 'Movin' & Groovin'' album, released last year by the same label, comes this Italian recorded album, laid down in the studio with backing from three local musicians in November 2009, during a rare day off from a busy touring schedule. Sometimes these kind of sets work, sometimes they don't. This one is a complete success – plus.....

The track listing includes both standards and lesser-known numbers, and though it may be loud, noisy and lots of fun, it is also a BLUES set. Let's face it, anyone who's a Jerry McCain fan is in my good books already – and here Shawn covers two of McCain's numbers, the title track and 'Geronimo Rock'. Shawn obviously appreciates the Louisiana swamp-blues and his raw vocals fit his enthusiastic, energetic Dallas Saturday-night bar-blues to a 't'. Fine notes from Blues Art's own Brian Harman complete a wonderful modern blues CD.

Norman Darwen

Southbound Train
(own label)

Cherry is a young British singer in her twenties with a silly name and a fine, bluesy singing style who is rapidly and deservedly becoming a major attraction on the UK blues scene. She is a contemporary artist, though one that tackles vintage blues in an authentic-sounding voice, jazzy items either sweet, sultry or sassy, and rocking material, sometimes with more than a hint of the rockabilly sound of her near-, and far older, namesake. There are some beautiful folk-flavoured numbers too - try the haunting closer ‘Something You Can’t Have – or better still take a listen to the whole album.

Norman Darwen

Everything Has Changed
Hypertension HYP 10271

'Americana' is a pretty wide term but one that will be familiar to many blues lovers. It signifies music that has a healthy dose of southern American styles – blues, country, old-timey, gospel maybe – along with vintage rock and roll and rockabilly, fifties and sixties rhythm & blues, sixties soul, perhaps some blues-rock, often a Woody Guthrie influence, and a smidgin of modern rock and singer-songwriter material.
To hear what it sounds like take a listen to this exemplary set by this California singer and guitarist who recorded with Precious Metal and has worked with Fleetwood Mac's Lindsey Buckingham. It was also produced by John Carter Cash, son of Johnny Cash and June Carter; and that fits perfectly.
Just in case you didn't get the message from the album, there is also a entertaining video clip, detailing the recording of the album in Hendersonville, Tennessee.

Norman Darwen

Blues Express, Inc.

Looking For A Party/ What’s Come Over You/ Beggar Man/ Looking For My Baby/ I Know A Man/Apple Of My Eye/ You Say You Want A Caddy/You Are My World/It’s Hard To Please A Woman/ Me And Phil

This CD is a delight to listen to. A master of entertainment and story telling, Long John Hunter is still going strong in his late seventies.

He sticks to his Texas-style music of blues, R&B, and soul which is very refreshing. He has entertained audiences for over fifty years with his singing and guitar playing, Everything about this CD is great. He is a pleasure to listen to. Some of his talented band members have been with him for over twenty years. The arrangements are creative and  exciting. The song selection is varied and a pleasure to hear. Even the extensive liner notes are informative.

The title track, “Looking For A Party,” is the first song and it is a happy-go-lucky type of bouncy song. Wheras, “Apple Of My Eye” is more of a jump blues. Among the more danceable blues shuffle numbers are “Looking For My Baby,” and “What’s Come Over You.” The latter has some catchy, tinkly piano music by Jim Pugh, which is a nice contrast to the lyrics. His blues include a low-down one, “Beggar Man,” and a mellow blues in “Greener Pastures.” Many of the songs are about relationships. Nine out of the eleven tracks were co-written by  some of the band members and Dennis Walker, the producer of the album.The horn section adds a fine dimension to the R&B songs. Two of the most soulful, heartfelt tracks, the gospel number,”I Know A Man,” and the everlasting love song, “You Are My World,” are the first songs that Hunter’s wife,Gayle, wrote.

Long John Hunter and his band are dynamite on all the tunes. I highly recommend this CD. It is the real deal!!!

Maria Bainer

Keeping It Real
Boogie With The Hook Records

Zakiya is of course the daughter of the late, all-time blues great John Lee Hooker, who can be heard on this recording, Zakiya's fourth album. She has a strong and passionate voice, though she can often also be cool and jazzy, and on this set, recorded largely in Argentina with some excellent local musicians she offers both side of her talents – hard blues items ('Desconfio' sung in Spanish) including a fine revision of dad's 'Hug U Kiss U' and 'One Bourbon One Scotch' which was also closely associated with latter-day JLH, plus an opening rendition of 'Crossroads' that owes much more to Cream's 1968 guitar-fest than it does to Robert Johnson – which only goes to show that besides being her own woman, she is also a very contemporary blues artist  The title number, in contrast, brought vintage Stevie Wonder to mind, and there is an occasional hint of George Benson elsewhere. It all adds up to another intriguing and excellent release.

Norman Darwen

I’m The One

SuperBird SBIRD0001CD

Sweet Home Tennessee & Live In Europe
SuperBird SBIRD0002CD

Del Taylor of the much-missed SPV/ Blues label is thankfully back in business again, with the new SuperBird label. SPV/ Blue released some always interesting and frequently excellent material thanks to its association with Nashville’s Fred James, and SuperBird continues with this link.

Drummer Sam Lay has played with so many legends over the years – Howling Wolf, Little Walter, Magic Sam, Otis Rush, Bob Dylan – and now, with his patented shuffle rhythm, he has become one himself. He has in fact been a band-leader since the late sixties and his experience (and his strong singing voice) shows on this set, which features Billy C. Farlow on harmonica, Nashville’s Fred James - who organised the session - on guitar, Mike Doster on bas and Moe Denham on piano and organ. The material consists of blues classics (though not the over-worked standards), and originals by Sam himself or by Fred James. The sound is that of the Chicago clubs of the late fifties and sixties and although some of the material has been issued before, this release includes six previously unissued numbers. It is well worth checking out.

Homesick James should need no introduction, an electric slide guitarist in the tradition of Elmore James, though with less of an adherence to formal bar structures than his cousin. By the time of these recordings (1991 for the studio album, 1998 for the live set) he was an elder statesman of the blues, and although these tracks may not his best, they are still well worth hearing. The ‘Live In Europe’ half of the double CD has not been released before.

Norman Darwen

Speak No Evil
Alligator ALCD 4932

Tinsley’s ninth album for Alligator – his first since 2007’s ‘Moment Of Truth’ – is an awesome blues-rock extravaganza right from the outset, a late sixties Hendrix/ Cream styled opus entitled “Sunlight Of Love”. With the second number, a powerful strutter entitled “Slip And Fall”, I was thinking just how good Tinsley’s vocals are. Up next is the title track, with all the intensity of Buddy Guy at his best. You may be getting the impression that I rate this release very highly – well, you’re right! When an artist is this far into his career (and don’t forget Tinsley has also had spells with Telarc and Capricorn) it is unusual to find him producing some of his best music, but that is the case here.
Many years ago I witnessed Tinsley tear the house down at several locations in London as he backed the late Nappy Brown; over the intervening years he has refined his talent and although he is always worth a listen, he has not always hit the spot quite as accurately as he does here. Blues, blues-rock, southern-rock, hints of Cream, Fleetwood Mac, The Allman Brothers, the closing, slashing slide guitar instrumental – Tinsley does it all here and the result is one of Alligator’s best releases of the last few years.

Norman Darwen

Artist: Sean Costello
Title: Sean’s Blues
Label: Landslide LDCD-1038

For more information go to:

It is always terribly sad when a young talented and vibrant individual only comes to widespread notice through the release of a retrospective that is due to their untimely and premature death, as is the case with Sean who died on the eve of his twenty-ninth birthday on the fifteenth of April, two-thousand and eight.

He was born in Philadelphia, but spent his formative years in Atlanta; he attended the North Atlanta School of Performing Arts and by the age fifteen his emerging guitar skills had been recognised by the Beale Street Blues Society. Two years later he had released his first album entitled “Call The Cops,” in which he demonstrated his natural ease and ability with the guitar to play nineteen fifties’ blues. Shortly afterwards he played and toured with Susan Tedeschi for approximately two years.  He released two solo albums for Landslide Records, the first was “Cuttin’ in ,” in the year two-thousand and  “Moanin’ and Molasses,” in two-thousand and two. His live performances were of such a high calibre that, in a very short space of time he was appearing at concerts which were headlined by such luminaries as B.B.King, Bo Diddley, Buddy Guy, Pinetop Perkins and James Cotton.

To emphasise his ever growing individualism and yearnings to do something different  in the world of the blues he recorded a self titled album of covers by differing artists such as; Dylan and Tommy Johnson, which he released in two-thousand and five.

The album that became his last release was “We Can Get it Together,” on the Delta Groove label in February two-thousand and five, two months before his death.

On this retrospective we can hear highlights of Sean’s unique talent, a mixture of past glories from his earlier albums and previously unreleased recordings both live and recorded. After listening to this album, one is struck by Sean’s’ dexterous six string guitarwork creating warm rich comforting tones, some fat and juicy, others deep and gently resonating; he also displays a dazzling array of musical fireworks on the, shall we say, more up-tempo numbers; he also managed to achieve a level of playing  that was far more mature and expressive than anyone his age seems to have yet produced.

Of the twenty numbers on this album twelve are previously unreleased and three of them are live recordings, it is on these unreleased numbers that we are fully exposed to Sean’s far sighted and savage intensity of play, they represent a glimpse of a captivating live performer coupled with a wealth of  magical numbers. A fierce vocal talent was also emerging from Sean to match his boundary pushing and imaginative playing.

He will be missed!

Brian Harman

This review has been complimentary written for your newsletter by Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro, a contributing writer for BLUESWAX, BluesART and the Blues Editor at
where you can read many more CD and live show reviews, view lots of blues photographs and find an abundance of blues material.
I can be reached at

Big Papa And The TCB
"12 Gauge Insurance Plan"
Dream Pickle Music

Most likely, this will be the first review I have ever done where almost everyone in the country has already heard the band.  Not you, you say?  Well, think again.  If you've ever seen the TV commercial where the owner of Papa John's Pizza knocks on someone's door and says "How about some Papa John's Pizza?", then you've heard Big Papa And The TCB.  That's them playing "Go Big Papa" in the background.

Big Papa And The TCB are Chris "Big Papa" Thayer on vocals & guitars, Quinton "Dr. Q" Hufferd on keyboards & vocals, Steve "Ice Cream Man" Brown on bass & vocals and Ray "Mr. Pittz" Wilson on drums & vocals.  Special guests on "12 Gauge Insurance Plan" include "Jumpin' Jack" Benny Cortez on harmonica, Gabe Hartman on tenor sax and Marianne Keith & Kelly McGuire on vocals.  The disc features sixteen original tracks, totaling well over an hour of music.  Let's go hear some......

In addition to the musical highlights, which include some great guitar work, outstanding organ, and wonderful vocal harmony between Chris & Kelly, this track also offers some sound advice... you'll definitely be playing with your life when you love "Another Man's Wife".  Take heed!

I'm only a few tracks into the disc and I believe I may have already found my favorite - "The Fool You Left Behind".  This is one of those tracks that totally transforms you to a different place and time.  Close your eyes, listen carefully and enjoy the nostalgic trip back to wherever it may take you.  This wonderful ballad is highlighted by absolutely beautiful work from Chris on the vocals, Quinton on the piano and Gabe on the saxophone.  Replays are in order for this one.

"Another Ride" is going it be a 'wild ride' as well.  This is one of only three tracks that feature "Jumpin Jack" on harp, and he certainly lives up to his nickname - you will be jumpin' to this one.  The race between Quinton and Ray on the organ and drums sets the smoking rhythm pace.

You'd better be ready, 'cause your thangs gonna start shakin' when "Ain't No Thang" starts spinning.  It's gotta happen, this one's an all out smoker.  Everyone's in a total jam led by the frantic rhythm coming from the bass and drums.  Steve and Ray are at discs best right here.

The tile of this track - "Dirty Bird Blues" - might indicate you're about to hear some low down dirty blues, and for the next ten minutes, that's exactly what your going to get.  This one's got it all going on - slow and scorching vocals, very slow, smooth and down the alley piano leads, smoking blues guitar riffs and it's all held together with perfectly mellow rhythm lead by steady organ work.  Real good stuff right here.

As I'm listening to the lyrics, it's easy to understand how "Go Big Papa" became the anthem for the pizza delivery chain.  Of course it's the name of the song, but I'm thinking the part about doing 90 miles an hour in a 20 mile per hr zone had something to do with as well.....doesn't that sound exactly like a pizza delivery guy?  As it's been throughout the disc, Quinton's piano playing is again a highlight on this one.

Other tracks on "12 Gauge Insurance Plan" include: "Who's Yo Daddy?", "Money", "Hey There Charlie", "All I Need", "Slow Down", "Saved By You", "Easy Does It", "Little Miss Mischief", "It Wasn't Me", and "Lovin' Man".

While you go to to check out the band, buy the disc and tell them the Blewzzman sent ya, I'm going back for another listen of "The Fool You Left Behind".

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @

This review has been complimentary written for your newsletter by Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro, a contributing writer for BLUESWAX, BluesART and the Blues Editor at
where you can read many more CD and live show reviews, view lots of blues photographs and find an abundance of blues material.
I can be reached at

Danny Brooks & The Rockin' Revelators
"Soulsville III - Live At The Palais Royale"
HIS House Records

To those of you who over the years have followed my reviews, this artists name should be quite familiar.  During the past half a dozen years, this is the fourth release from Danny Brooks that I've had the pleasure of working on, and listening to as well. "Soulsville III" was recorded on May 27, 2009, "Live At the Palais Royale" in Toronto, Canada".  The disc is distinctive Danny Brooks - a classic mix of smokin' blues, old school R&B, soul and Gospel music that consists of spiritual and uplifting lyrics based on true life experiences.

Saying that the majority of the music on "Soulsville III" is 'original' just doesn't cut it - the word 'original' just isn't descriptive enough.  Writing music about your life growing up in a poor neighborhood, about how you lived on the streets, about your addictions, incarcerations, rehabilitation and ultimately your redemption, needs to be called 'real original' music.  As the saying goes, Danny Brooks has been there, done that.

On this project, The Rockin' Revelators consist of Lance Anderson on the B3 organ & piano, Bucky Berger on drums, Jerome Godboo on harmonica, "Papa" John King on guitar & slide guitar, Amoy and Ceceal Levy on vocals, Dennis Pinhorn on bass, John "Rocky" Verweel on trumpet, Ed Zankowski on saxophone and, of course, their leader - Danny Brooks on vocals, harmonica, acoustic & slide guitar.

The opening track is a story about a trip that Danny took to "Carolina", some 40 years ago.  Danny sheds a whole new light on why "Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina".   For him, it was the smell of the sweet magnolias that filled the air and the sound of the sweet soul music that could be heard everywhere.  Danny's vocals, the tandem slide guitar work between him and "Papa" John, the hot rhythm & piano and very melodic background vocals all highlight this one.

 With it's sermon worthy lyrics and the enthusiastically soulful way in which it was sung, this track had me felling as if I should be listening from "Down On My Knees".  Danny, Amoy and Ceceal are inspiring on the vocals, while Danny and John add a heavenly feel on guitar and trumpet.

With the way he tells it, Danny makes it sound so easy to understand.  Sometimes when there are dark clouds all around, just remember.....the sun is always shining on the "Other Side of the Clouds".  The smokin' harp, sax, piano and guitar highlights will have you shakin', and this rocker may very well move you in more ways than one.

"Hold On", is a song about the many things that Danny, of course, wants to hold on to.  In addition to the very obvious, such as the love his life, Danny puts an emphasis on memories of the past.  Using old songs as a reference, he pays tribute to some of his apparent musical inspirations......Sam Cooke, Bobby Blue Bland, Joe Tex, Gladys Knight and several others.  John, Ed and Vance, on the horns and organ, highlight this foot tappin' sing along.

"Soulsville III" closes out with a bonus acoustic track titled "The Holy Ghost Highway".  It's a duet between Danny - who sings the moving vocals and plays the harp & acoustic guitar - and his Lord - who provides the inspiration and wisdom.

Other tracks on this wonderful disc include: "Hold Your Head Up", "Somebody On Your Bond", "Righteous Highway", "Carry Me", "Still Got This Thing For You", "No Turnin Back" and "Homestead Boogie".

Although so called "Spiritual" or "Gospel" music are generally limited to a niche following, Danny Brooks should be considered the crossover.  By no stretch of the imagination do I consider myself to be self righteous and/or spiritual, yet I find his music moving.  I truly believe that fans of Blues, Soul, Gospel, R&B, and even Country Music, will love this disc.  Check it out for yourself by going to -, and when you're there, please tell Danny the Blewzzman sent ya.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @

Electric Journeyman
Armadillo ARMD 00028

UK guitarist Micky has a long history as a blues-rocker, an out and out hard rock guitarist, and as a much sought-after session man. This almost completely instrumental release brings these facets of the man's talent together, its dozen numbers ranging from straight blues ('Hookerized', draws, naturally enough, on John Lee Hooker for its inspiration) to expansive space-rock, with a huge variety of styles in between. It may be a little too eclectic for some tastes, but guitar lovers will find plenty to enjoy.

Norman Darwen

Picking Up The Pieces

Armadillo ARMD 00027

There is a very definite taste of Cream about the opening track, ‘All Because Of You’, not only in the heavy Claptonesque guitar riffing, but also in the Jack Bruce-ish vocals. Of course, The Nimmo Brothers (Stevie and Alan, who share guitar and vocal duties) do this so well – they have been recording as such since 1998, though even before that The Blackwater Blues Band made an album, when Alan was 19. The rhythm section of Mat Beable on bass and Wayne Proctor on drums offers strong if functional support.

The Cream reference is not coincidental; these Glasgow, Scotland, guys list their influences as Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac and John Mayall’s Blues Breakers. In the latter case, I suspect the inspiration comes more from the famed guitarists of the golden age of British blues-rock rather than the leader’s purist aspirations.

The slashing ‘Bring It On Home’ brings to mind Peter Green, Buddy Guy and Stevie Ray Vaughn, though one or two numbers do recall American southern rockers. Overall though, if blues-rock is your bag, these guys do the business.

Norman Darwen

Live In San Antonio
Armadillo ARMD 00029

Louisiana-born Eugene learned from his blues guitarist father and settled in Texas at age 16; since then he has more or less travelled the world, and he has quietly become one of the most soulful singers around on the contemporary blues scene. He is also a fine guitar player and a strong songwriter.

This set finds him working his home crowd (more or less) and is a fine introduction to the man for those who may be unfamiliar with him, whilst those of us already fans will be pleased to hear him in this setting. Backed by a cooking little band (including the excellent Seth Kibel on sax – check him out), Eugene treats the audience – and us – to hard blues, jump-blues, contemporary compositions and material from his back catalogue, plus two Sam Cooke numbers. I'm a sucker for Sam, and Eugene does him so well. Just another reason to check out this first-class set......

Norman Darwen

I'm Coming Home
Swing Suit

This formerly South Californiai but now Portland, Oregon based five piece outfit know a thing or two about the slightly more sophisticated blues than most – take a list to the version of Muddy Waters' 'Nineteen Years Old', which is just how Bobby Bland would have done it when he was recording for Don Robey, with horns (a four-piece horn section that really cooks), a fine and concise guitar break and soul inflections behind a very fine vocal. Jeff can certainly sing, and he can turn in excellent guitar blues (a Freddy King influenced 'She's Evil'), classic jump-blues – 'Good Morning Judge' from Wynonie Harris is an excellent example – and meaningful original compositions (several numbers here), as well as further imaginative covers in 'Worried Life Blues' and the BB King borrowing 'Ask Me No Questions'. Think maybe the soulfulness of early Robert Cray with a contemporary, hungry California blues band and backed by the Stax horns. These guys are good.....

Norman Darwen

Neon Blue CD7272

James Harman knows a thing or two about blues harp, so when he produces a set, supplies some backing vocals, writes the liner notes, and co-authors a couple of songs, and his guitarist Nathan James engineers and plays on it, chances are it's gonna be worth a listen - at the very least. Firecracker does not disappoint - it certainly lives up to its exciting title.

James Day was born in Georgia in 1961, learned to play guitar, and eventually ended up in Philadelphia, where he began playing harmonica, forming his own jump and swing-blues band in 2003. He has a big, big tone and a sly, humorous vocal delivery, as well as a slightly different approach to arrangements - thoroughly blues-rooted, but often with a little twist to them. He is helped out on this set by many of California's finest: Buddy Clark on bass (his last recordings), Marty Dodson on drums, Carl Sonny Leyland on piano, plus the driving horn section of Tony Matoian and Jonny Viau. The results range from big forties styled blasters via New Orleans and on to a jug band sound, from a down-home 'fish-tale' to a rollicking boogie. Mind you, the one consistency is that you will want to hear them all again as soon as the CD finishes!

Norman Darwen

The Hind Wheels Of Bad Luck
No-Fi NEU018

Not a blues act, but this Anglo-American husband and wife duo draw from the deepest depths of the well of American folk music. Cath is well-known for her sacred harp singing, and her voice is strong and very rural sounding, which suits the spooky, venerable songs she sings, seemingly originating from a remote cabin high up in the Appalachians, where traditions change slowly, if at all. The musical accompaniments are sparse; Phil plays guitar and banjo (some lovely banjo playing!) and Cath fiddle, and there are some exquisite instrumentals included.

Norman Darwen

This review has been complimentary written for your newsletter by Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro, a contributing writer for BLUESWAX, BluesART and the Blues Editor at
where you can read many more CD and live show reviews, view lots of blues photographs and find an abundance of blues material.
I can be reached at

Tommy Lee Cook
"Cemetery Road" & "Buckingham Peace Of Mind"
Buckingham Blues

When faced with the dilemma of receiving two CDs from Tommy Lee Cook, that were released at the same time, with a request from Tommy for me to review whichever disc I wanted to, it should already be quite obvious that the decision was just too tough to make.  Therefore, I'm going to have a little fun and do my first ever "rereview" (yeah, yeah, I know that's not a word).

Except for one guitar player, the differences between the performers on the two discs are basically nil.  Each disc contains eleven tracks of which five are originals.  Joining Tommy Lee Cook, on lead vocals and rhythm, dobro & acoustic guitars are: Ted Scott and Bill Canty on drums, Harry Cassano and Pat Hayes on keyboards, Rex Bongo, Duke Danger and Danny Shepard on lead guitar, Justin Richey and Rastus Kane on slide guitar, August Zona on bass, Scott "Big Daddy" Johnson and Pat Hayes on harp, Terry Gable on horn and The Skin'er Back Quartet of Harry, Pat, Daddy and Tommy on background vocals and claps.

The "Cemetery Road" disc opens with an impressive version of my favorite tribute song - "Six Strings Down".  As with the original, the guitar work is fabulous.  Also highlighting this track are the outstanding lead and harmony vocals.

"Cemetery Road", the title track, is a heavyhearted ballad that, in spite of very nice slide and rhythm work, is all Tommy.  On this original track, his mournful and soul filled vocals are chilling.  This is the kind country blues song that if performed by someone with the popularity of Trace Adkins would become a number one country hit.

Like all men, Tommy gets so easily led when that "Little Head" does the thinkin'.  The rhythm guys take the spotlight on this one.  Ted, August and Harry get the drums, bass and piano locked into one of those foot tappin', head bobbin' grooves and never let it go.

Everyone gets in some highlights on "Porta Rican Woman" (sic) - the discs hottest blues track.  The guitars, the keyboards and the harp at one time or another - and often simultaneously - are smoking, and the vocals and rhythm are outstanding throughout.

The "Buckingham Peace Of Mind" disc opens with a very funky and well done version of Dylan's "Serve Somebody".  As a matter of fact, this could very well be the best version I've ever heard.  Ted, August and Terry got that funky feeling down pat on rhythm, Big Daddy's blowin' heat out of the harp, Justin's beside himself on slide, and Tommy - sounding like a Gospel singer - is awesome on vocals.  Replays took me nearly thirty minutes to listen to this six minute track.

"Consequences" is another slow, blues filled ballad on which Tommy sings his heart out.  That, and some serious guitar licks split between Rex and Duke, clearly make this one of this discs best.

"Buckingham Peace Of Mind", the title track, is another excellent country blues track.  This one features some of the discs best drum work from Billy and lots of good guitar playin' - some of which comes from Tommy, on acoustic guitar.

Everyone's showin' off their stuff on "Too Much Stuff".  This one's an all out kick ass jam.  Who ever's on it, and whatever they're playin' is being played fast and hot.  I'm winded just listening.  What a perfect song to close on.

Other tracks on "Cemetery Road" include: "Big Boss Man", "Bending Like A Willow Tree", "Late Night Drive", "Nothing Lasts Forever", "Blues As Blues Can Get", "Too Drunk To Boogie", and "Little Sister".

Other tracks on "Buckingham Peace Of Mind" include: "Monkey Around", "Down Home Girl", "Cross To Bear", "Country Song", "Lie No Better", "Get Right", and "Late Last Night".

You can check Tommy Lee Cook out at several places. The first one is his web site which is  That's where you'll be able to pick up both of these discs.

The second is at his blues club.  If you happen to live in the area of Southwest Florida, stop in and see him at the Buckingham Blues Bar. Once you're there, tell Tommy the Blewzzman told you all about him.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ 

Artist: Cassandra Mathews & the San Francisco Gospel Divas
Let’s Praise the Lord
Label: Feelin’ Good Records 010

For More information go to

Gospel has over the years not only been one of the most unchanging forms of spreading the word of God it is also undoubtedly a uniquely uplifting form of music, whether from the point of view of the more seriously spiritual, who are vocally re-affirming and displaying their faith or simply garnering interest and attracting attention from the casual listener to gain a greater understanding that religion is not all misery, pious piety and self denial.

To timely demonstrate that fact Cassandra Mathews and the San Francisco Gospel Divas have released their second album on the Feelin’ Good record label. For this album Cassandra has gathered together yet another outstanding group of individuals, who are; Elisa Anderson; soprano, Bernetta Dunham; alto and last but by no means least Karen DeVone; tenor, together these ladies make up the latest incarnation of the SFGD, Cassandra provides vocals, piano and organ accompaniment.

These four formidable ladies provide us with fifteen heart warming numbers, some of them have inflections of popular secular tunes such as; ”Jesus is Wonderful” which is reminiscent of Stevie Wonders’ “Isn’t She Lovely” and ” Talkin’ About Jesus,“ a hugely enjoyable fast paced piano- pounding mover and shaker which certainly blows away the cobwebs, is extremely similar to Ike and Tina Turners’ “Nutbush City Limits,” but within each of them they contain a sparkling strident message of faith and belief.

There are also two splendidly moving re-workings, of firstly, The Edwin Hawkins Singers “O Happy Day” and Curtis Mayfield/The Impressions “People Get Ready.” 

Each of the ladies in turn provides lead vocals, enabling each of the numbers to be performed, displayed and appreciated to their greatest possible effect, which results in some of the most stunning, refreshing and satisfying music you will hear today. All the performances have, as one might expect; a crystal clear clarity of voice matched only by their enormous enthusiasm and strength of character.


Brian Harman

This review has been complimentary written for your newsletter by Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro, a contributing writer for BLUESWAX, BluesART and the Blues Editor at
where you can read many more CD and live show reviews, view lots of blues photographs and find an abundance of blues material.
I can be reached at

The Porkroll Project
"Shake It Twice"

Although it's been some time since we've heard from them, members of The Porkroll Project, individually and collectively, are seasoned veterans here at
One way or another, searching our archives will find many of these fellows names, and it's certainly a pleasure to be hearing from them again.

The 2009 version of the band consists of: Paul Matecki on piano and lead vocals; Neil Taylor on guitar and lead & background vocals; Joey Stout on organ and lead & background vocals; Ed Young on bass; Chad Edstrom, J. T. Thomas and Matt DelCollo on drums; Buddy Cleveland on harp; Doc White on bass and lead vocals; and the Union Street Horns, which include: Joe Anderson and Paul Giess on trumpet; Steven Sharp on trombone; and Dave Renz and Paul Cleveland on tenor sax. 

"Shake It Twice", the bands latest effort, contains six original tracks and four familiar covers.  On the opening track, "My Daddy Was The Postman", I get the impression a lot of "male" may have been being delivered by this mailman.  This one's a smoker on which the hot rhythm, fiery guitar and keyboard leads, and rippin' harp are definitely going to have you shaking it..........a lot more than twice.

In blues songs, some very profound lyrics have been used when paying a compliment to someone, or emphasizing the love one may feel for another.  "I'd Rather Go Blind" (than to see you walk away) is one example and "I'll Drink Your Bathwater" (just to prove my love for you) is another.  Having said that, is it just me - or does the latter of those two sound worse than the first?  Oh, what the heck.....all that matters is that this track kicked some blues butt.  It's nearly eight minutes of slow scorching blues, highlighted by sharp and piercing harp from Buddy, orgasmic organ leads from Joey and scorching blues guitar leads from Neil.  And by the way, as enthusiastic and heartfelt as his vocals were, I believe he'd drink it.

 "I Can't Turn My Back" (On The Blues) is another of the discs best.  With fierce rhythm going on behind them, Paul, Joey and Neil heat it up while passing the lead around from the organ, to the piano, to the guitar and back around again.  This is some real hot stuff, especially with the heat comin' outta those Union Street Horns.

In spite of Neil tearing it up on guitar and vocals and a few nice harp leads, "Dance Monkey Dance" is highlighted by the wicked percussion.  Joey, Doc and Matt are all over the organ, bass and drums on yet another smoker. 

With so many clubs closing and festivals being canceled, I sure wish I could hear more people saying "The Blues Is My Business" (And Business Is Good).  In any event, The Porkroll Project certainly do this cover justice and obviously, from what I just heard on "Shake It Twice", the blues is their business and business is good. 

Other tracks on "Shake It Twice" include: "Evil Woman Blues", "Shake It Twice", "Walking The Dog", "Two Weeks Notice" and "Vehicle".

You can check out The Porkroll Project by going to  Once you're there, I suggest you: wish the band good luck at the 2010 IBC's as the Diamond States representatives; buy the CD, of course; and tell them the Blewzzman sent ya.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @  

Artist: Billy Lavender
Title: Memphis Livin’
Label: 155 Productions 155-0200

For more information go to

Upon hearing this debut from Billy I was struck by the overall feel of the music, a floating ephemeral atmosphere that initially leads you up and down a good many blind avenues but with little or no assistance or answer to the absorbing and perplexing question of its irresistible and alluring ‘goodtime feel,’ then, it dawned upon me; the most singular aspect of the album is its apparent Englishness a seemingly courteous almost reverential and respectful approach to the music, rocking yet good mannerly. For this, we can thank Billy’s English influences on the music The Beatles, Eric Clapton and that unofficial anglophile Jimi Hendrix. All have enabled an insider such as Billy is, to view and present the music from the perspective of the outsider.

Billy is a native of Memphis and has been living and working in the city for a good number of years, he possess a very good understanding and perspective of the music that goes beyond the realms of a talented local bluesman, this ability allows him to visualise the music from more than one point alone. Also, a very good example of his tenacity towards his craft is displayed by the fact that despite being a natural left-hander he plays standard right-handed guitars with ease, he merely straps it on and plays it upside down without the strings being re-positioned. With this attitude and natural talent Billy has become one of the most sought after players in Memphis today.

Joining him on this album, which pays serious respect to the many contrasting types and styles that have percolated, permeated and inhabited that melting pot that is Memphis and the many great musicians that have played since Beale Street first existed; are; Brad Web; rhythm and slide guitars and dobro sitar, Tony Adams; drums, Dan Cochran, Mike Stoker; bass, Russell Wheeler; B3 organ and keyboards, Blind Mississippi Morris, Vince Johnson; harmonica. Lead vocals are shared by Billy Lavender, Tony Adams, Reba Russell, Ken Dinkins and Vince Johnson.

  That which makes this album so enjoyable is the sparing and much understated attention to detail, the economic and restrained guitar work that is always threatening to explode when you least expect it, yet Billy delivers all that the music promises. He conjures up sparkling guitar runs and enticingly fizzy solos that cajole and caress you into submission rather than viciously grabbing you by the throat and trying to throttle you into liking the music. Teasing references to artists abound throughout the album there are obvious ones to artists such as; B.B. King, The Beatles and any number of Memphis legends.

All fourteen of the performances have a mellow and grooving Jazzy tinge to them, apart from when soulful harpman Blind Mississippi Morris and the powerhouse vocalist Reba Russell aren’t blasting and belting out some serious rootsy rockin’ blues.

A Fine, Fine Album!

Brian Harman

Artist: Tas Cru
Title: Grizzle n’ Bone
Label: Crustee Tees Records

For more information go to:

If you like to have for your listening pleasure, music that has a goodtime gloopy and gravelly textured mix, which then is gradually infused with equal  portions of simmering blues and soul, that has influences from the likes of; classic Stax and Hi labels which are also, in turn, completely saturated in a darkly rich thick and  juicy  rockin’ sauce. Then this album is for you, a very fine collection of thirteen numbers which bar one are all Tas originals. The cover is the last number on the album and is a reworking of the Jackie Wilson classic “Higher and Higher (Your Love Has Lifted Me),” Tas gives the number a country blues ’n’ gospel feel and by all accounts this version has been thoroughly road tested and has gone down a storm as a show closer, on the two thousand and eight Tornado Alley Tour, a veritable hit with all the audiences.

The numbers range from a very appealing and irresistible Tas solo acappella which builds from a slow softly spoken beginning to a full throttle vocal blaster sending out heartfelt emotions to all, an inventive and inspiring number. On the more mellow acoustic numbers Tas  uses the combination of a  low level growling voice coupled with highly engaging slide guitar, together they make a perfect pairing.

Throughout the whole album there are various cracking musical detours which sparkle in many different ways whether they are gospel, country rockin’ movers and groovers, blasters n shouters or heartfelt pleaders, they make for a fine set of tunes.

Assisting Tas who takes lead vocals and guitar are his usual splendid backing musicians; Chip Lamson, keyboards, The Slow Happy Boys; who include; Jeremy Walz;  guitars, Chris Wroblewski; bass and Andy Hearn; drums.

A very fine album indeed!


Brian Harman

This review has been complimentary written for your newsletter by Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro, a contributing writer for BLUESWAX, BluesART and the Blues Editor at
where you can read many more CD and live show reviews, view lots of blues photographs and find an abundance of blues material.
I can be reached at

The Michael Terry Group
"Bighead Baby"

"Bighead Baby" is The Michael Terry Group's debut CD.  The band, from St. Louis, MO, consists of Michael Terry on vocals and guitars, Jan "Jan-Jan" Cameron on bass, Michael Schmidt on drums, and Steve "Weepin' One Take" Wamser on keyboards.  The CD features eleven original and well done tracks.

The disc opens with the catchy title track "Bighead Baby".  Now I could be wrong, but I'm thinkin' that telling your baby she has a big head has to be right up there -  on the things not to say list - with telling her she has a big butt.  With it's humorous lyrics, this foot tappin' / knee slappin' / head bobbin' shuffle is highlighted by real tight and steady rhythm and great guitar and piano leads.

 "Why You Wanna Scream On Me?" could very well be the discs best track.  The groove that Jan-Jan, Michael and Steve have themselves locked into is as awesome as Michael's scorching guitar leads and vocals.  This three and a half minute track should have been at least six or seven minutes longer, but several replays took care of that.  Real good stuff right here.

One of the discs more progressive tracks is "Mama Raised A Fool".  This one's an all out free for all with everyone wailin' away.  The mix of hot funk coming from the rhythm section, along with the wild guitar chords and psychedelic sounds created by the piano, had me thinking Sly and the Family Stone on steroids.  Whoa!

In spite of some great musical support, "What Would I Do?" is one of those tracks where the intensity of the lyrics, and the emotional way in which they are sung, absolutely steal the song.  This melancholy ballad has Michael wondering about the same things everyone who loves someone might wonder about - should that loved one all of a sudden be gone.  It's songs like this that would get my "song of the year" vote.  Great work, Michael! 

On this all out jam, the band's kickin' ass and "Takin' Names".   Depending on where your speakers are located, you just might want to be concerned with your smoke alarms going off when this one gets going.  The scorching guitar licks, the fiery rhythm and the blazing piano are all throwing out some serious heat.

Other rockin', funky and blues filled tracks on "Bighead Baby" include: "Here to Stay", "Muddy World", "Too Bad:, "Whooped", "She's My Baby", and "Hard To Find My Way".

Although The Michael Terry Group doesn't have a web site, you can easily contact them on myspace by clicking right here  Once you're there, become their friend, buy the disc and as always - tell them the Blewzzman sent ya.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @

BLUESART-Journal - is a free electronic publication. Worldcopyright © 1998-2010 BluesArtStudio,
BluesLife, USA - AUSTRIA. All rights reserved. Made with Macintosh