06 / 2006

Artist: Colin Linden
Title: Easin’ Back To Tennessee
Label: Crosscut Records CCD 11091

After meeting Howlin’ Wolf at the tender age of eleven in his home town of Toronto during a 1971 Canadian tour. Colin went on to enjoy a lifelong friendship with the Wolf, The effects of this life changing meeting led Colin to pursue a career in the blues. Although known more widely in North America as an award winning producer and composer; he has also found time over the years to record a number of albums, this, being his ninth though most of these are not widely available
Only with this release are we fully able to enjoy Colin’s talents, the choice of material is truly inspiring, from the Sleepy John Estes title track, to “Go Back Ole Devil,” from Bo Carter, continued with Blind Willie McTell’s “Broken Down Engine,” and “Trouble Soon Over,” from the pen of Blind Willie Johnson, these are but a few of the finely judged down-home atmospheric pieces being played.

This captivating, engrossing evocative acoustic album manages to create images of a richly golden auburn brown autumn with shafts of flickering sunlight glancing through the trees. The clean crisp playing resonates upon the senses especially on the more stark solo numbers.
A genuine feeling of rural roots Americana is generated and soaks into the senses layer by layer listening after listening.
Helping Colin, who plays guitars and takes lead vocal throughout, are Larry Taylor; upright bass and Stephen Hodges; drums.
FAB! An acoustic Blaster!
 Brian Harman

For more information go to: www.colinlinden.com or www.crosscut.de

Artist: Eddie Turner
Title: The Turner Diaries
Label: Northern Blues Music NBM0036

Well, here it is! Eddies’ finely tuned, hand prepared second album. A ‘take no prisoners,’ blitzkrieg of thundering, vibrant guitar play that some will mistake for flashy sub Hendrix pyrotechnics bordering on heavy rock. Well! You / they are wrong for Eddie is the man that has finally found the plectrum that Jimi laid down all those years ago A blues album for the twenty first century without having to resort to desperate covers or thinly disguised re-workings. He has taken chunky resonating, entwining guitar play and accompanied it with a bursting bubbling rhythm section and created an infectiously foot stomping percussion which combined together has the capability, menace and atmosphere of a pack of desperate, dangerous ravenous hyenas preparing for the kill.
Whilst on other more mellow numbers he shows the magnificence of his deftly and delicately plucked strings as if playing on a heavenly harp for the golden curled angels.

Joining Eddie, who plays guitar and takes lead vocals; are Mark Clarke and Daniel Barnett; drums, percussion Kenny Passarelli; bass, B3 Wurlitzer & Rhodes and James Trujillo; bass.
One does not! ” boogie on down!” To this refreshing, all encompassing piece; you simply swagger stridently onward!
Blitzkrieg Blues for All! Great! FAB!
 Brian Harman

For more information go to: www.northernblues.com or www.eddieturnermusic.com

New Guitar Summit Live at the Stoneham Theatre 
Stony Plain SPDVD 1302

Recorded live, this DVD is a follow-up to the highly praised New Guitar Summit studio CD. Three-part stability is this guitar super group’s signature sound. Featuring guitarists from multiple disciplines, together they glorify the years when blues and jazz had not yet become individual silos. Having founded Roomful of Blues in 1967, Duke Robillard is no stranger to the blues. He’s known best for replacing Jimmie Vaughan in the Fabulous Thunderbirds and leading his own bands. Since joining Stony Plain, Robillard has released close to a dozen CDs and has produced (and played on) almost as many for other artists. Jay Geils began his career as a trumpet player, but is known best as a member and founder of The J. Geils Band. After the popular group broke up in 1984, he spent time restoring classic sports cars and performing briefly with Bluestime. Jazz guitarist Gerry Beaudoin has had stints with Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson and David Grisman. Beaudoin is a jazz educator and has the strongest jazz credentials. His rhythm section – John Turner and Gordon Grottenthaler – can be seen and heard on bass and drums. Beaudoin contributes the sole original song among six covers of Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, and Charlie Christian.

Robillard is quoted as saying his favorite sound is “jazz-steeped musicians playing the blues.” Viewers with a similar musical interest will best enjoy this swinging crossbreed of nostalgic jazz, bop, and blues. The sounds of Bill Jennings, Herb Ellis, Freddie Green, and Kenny Burrel come to mind when you watch this elegant concert. To get a feel for the smooth music on this disc, picture an uptown wine bar where the guests are dressed to the nines. The seven posh songs are based in theory. Four of them appeared on the trio’s CD. Using vintage guitars (Gibson ES250, 1939 L5 cutaway), each guitarist solos on every song. Each is laid back with a focus on mellow guitar and three part harmony. This formula doesn’t diminish the improvisations. Broadway, made famous by Count Basie, is a showcase for the band as everyone gets a chance to solo. Beaudoin adds apathetic vocals to Ain’t Nobody’s Business, made famous by Billie Holliday, while picking and plucking his strings. Bonus material includes biographies, a retrospective photo gallery of each guitarist, and a 23-minute band interview that shows them relaxed and having fun talking. Here they practically look like they are dressed for the beach as opposed to the stuffy banker suits they wear onstage.

These guys aren’t your modern day guitar soloing madmen. They are classy, have mutual respect for each other, and play melodic solos with plenty of. For close to an hour these guitarist’s guitarists lay down sophisticated swings and rumbles. Due to the style of calm music played, artists who sit throughout the performance, and a well behaved audience, this concert is more like a recital. Yet, New Guitar Summit Live has the carefree mood of a vacation. This classy guitar DVD, recorded in stereo audio only, makes you feel good due to five lighthearted instrumentals. The music returns you to a bygone era. You’ll walk away with a finer appreciation of fabled American music.
Tim Holek

The Desperate Kingdom of Love

C.J. Cheniers neue CD offenbart eine ganz neue Seite des Zydecoprinzen..

Geprägt und selbst betroffen durch die Auswirkungen von Katrina und Rita, hat C.J. eine sehr emotionale Scheibe mit zahlreichen wunderschönen Blues & Balladen aufgenommen.
Aber auch seine unbändige Lebensfreude und Energie kommt bei einigen flotten Stücken zur Geltung, wie zum Beispiel Bogalusa Boogie, dass dem Texanischen Musikgenie Clarence "Gatemouth" Browm gewidmet ist.
Unterstützt wird er von The Tarbox Ramblers und Pianist Joe Deleault.
Es endstand ein sehr erdiger und "simpler" Sound, der zum größten Teil live im Studio aufgenommen wurde mit minimalen "Overdubs" ganz im Stil seines Vaters.

Neben Akkordeon (diesmal "unamplified"), bedient er die Tasten eines Fender Rhodes ("Livin' To Learn"), Hammond- B3 ("Lost On The River") und auch das Waschbrett wird diesmal von ihm selbst gespielt.

C.J. bringt, wie gewohnt, Stücke seines Vaters, wie zum Beispiel "Black Snake Blues"und"Ain't No Need In Cryin´", aber überrascht auch mit sehr eigenwilligen Coverversionen von Alternative-Queen P.J. Harveys "The Desperate Kingdom of Love" und Van Morrisons "Comfort You".

Eine sehr gelungene CD für die ruhigen und besinnlichen Momente des Lebens und sicher auch etwas für sonst nicht "Zydecobegeisterte" Musikfreunde.  Jan Eckerl

OTIS RUSH & FRIENDS featuring Eric Clapton and Luther Allison 
Live At Montreux 1986
Eagle Eye EE39114-9

With innovative guitar playing, Mississippi-born Otis Rush led the pack in creating West Side Chicago Blues. Now, Eagle Vision’s Live at Montreux DVD series brings you a consummate concert by this American marvel. As has come to be expected this Live At Montreux DVD is a high quality production with professional editing and film work. Some camera angles give you a photo pit view. Although the stage lights create an annoying glare, and the stage’s backdrop is busy, there are plenty of close-ups of Rush’s fingers molding his strings. Filmed July 9, 1986 at the Montreux Casino, Rush – dressed in a three-piece suit and cowboy hat – frequently smiles. That is as charismatic as he gets. He is not into stage flamboyance. With him it’s all about the music and making a connection between the musicians and the audience. Rush is backed by Professor Eddie Lusk’s band – all prized Chicago blues veterans.

As if beginning their second or third set of the night, the band ignites with the smoking instrumental Tops. Keyboardist/bandleader Lusk gives his upper registry a workout on Mean Old World while guitarist Anthony Palmer takes a stinging solo. No matter how many times you’ve heard Otis Rush and his songs, each time you hear them is as awe striking as the first time. The tone expressed by Rush’s moaning strings on the instrumental I Wonder Why defines Chicago Blues guitar. Here, Rush performs an extended guitar solo which is full of feeling. It isn’t one of those fast, long, and hard solos now too common in contemporary blues. Listen to and watch Rush intoxicate you into a trance on Gambler’s Blues. Natural Ball is jazzed up via a synthesized and energized version. For many, the main attraction will be the appearance of Eric Clapton, who cuts heads with Rush on four songs. This is an incomparable experience to see Clapton performing with Rush since Clapton has been recording Rush’s songs since his days with John Mayall. During Crosscut Saw, Slowhand takes his fair share of lead breaks, but respectfully knows when to provide rhythm fills. They vocally perform Double Trouble as a duet. Ironically, neither this song or All Your Love (I Miss Loving) are essential versions since both lack substance. That is not the case the moment Luther Allison takes the stage on Every Day I Have The Blues. With dignity, Allison acknowledges Rush as a mentor and Clapton as someone he adores before delivering electrifying signature guitar. Seeing Allison creates delight. He is expressive and says as much with his eyes as his hands.

Otis Rush & Friends is also available on CD, but it only contains nine songs – including the four with Clapton. The DVD contains far more Otis Rush blues guitar. Rush’s guitar playing, and that of his friends, is spellbinding but, at times, the band  barrels over the soothing by playing as a powerhouse rock band instead of a well oiled blues machine. The set list is not unlike other live recordings from the same era, e.g., Tops, and this recording isn’t as raw as the recently released live All Your Love I Miss Loving on Delmark. Still, this Montreux concert is a timeless treasure for fans of Chicago Blues guitar.    Tim Holek

Artist: Janiva Magness
Title: Do I Move You?
Label: Northern Blues Music NBM0033

The late great Ian Dury once sang the timeless phrase “Sex, Drugs & Rock’n’Roll, is all my mind and body need!” well, it would appear that Janiva managed to (with a slight musical alteration) adhere rather too enthusiastically to this legendary motto during her teenage years; which sadly culminated in drug dependency and adoption.
After leaving Detroit Janiva subsequently wandered the U.S. she eventually found herself in Minneapolis; Here! salvation was at hand in the musical shape and form of an Otis Rush performance on a cold, cold midwinter’s night. Although already a fan of artists such as; Etta James and Billie Holiday; she found this event to be a life reinforcing revelation. A young teenage Janiva could see her possible future before her.
Staying on in Minneapolis, searching for other blues artists to see and hear; she had now found herself a new drug, The Blues!
Firstly she started singing blues for fun; then for a living, as a back-up singer; often working with Joanne Hollis, (Sounds of Blackness.)

Whilst living in Phoenix, Arizona; Janiva had the good fortune to meet Bob Tate; the late, great, Sam Cookes’ musical director who became her mentor; consequently the first band she put together became the town’s best blues band!
Now, nearly twenty years on, a new home in Los Angeles; Janiva has a new album and what an album it is!
Her second for NBM; is soaked in the wisdom of her experiences and the evident warmth of her personality. Janivas’ strong energetic, vocals bring to mind artists such as; Maggie Bell, Bonnie Bramlett and Elkie Brooks. The eleven numbers here are a mixture of; Funky, Country Blues, Swampy soul, Rootsy Americana and Downhome heartfelt Blues. Assisting Janiva who also plays Ruboard, are; Colin Linden; Rick Holmstrom and Jeff Turmes; guitar, Jeff Turmes and Gary Davenport; bass, Richard Bell and John Whynot; keyboards, Jeff Turmes; baritone and tenor saxophone, Stephen Taylor Hodges;drums.

Considering that Janiva has been in the business for a good number of years she has not lost the love and zest for life which enables an artist to produce albums such as this; vibrant, sexy and above all a serious toe-tapper of merit!
Highly commendable! FAB!
 Brian Harman
For more information go to: www.northernblues.com or www.janivamagness.com

Artist: The J.W. Jones Blues Band
Title: Kissing in 29 Days
Label: Northern Blues Music NBM0035
For more information go to: www.northernblues.com or www.jw-jones.com

It is nearly two years ago since the rather impressive toe-tapping “My Kind of Evil,” from J.W and his band was released. Now, with this energetic fast paced no time wasting, dance floor burning fourth album; he will without doubt gain a wider audience.
This collection is garnered from the timeless fifties; the ego struttin’n’strollin’ musical melting pot that is; The Blues, R’n’B, Jump’n’Jive & Blues Shoutin’.

The tracks are played with gusto verve, vim and vigour! The professionalism on display here is second to none; the bands infectious tunes and dexterously changing styles is backed up with a relentlessly lifting, razor sharp horn section that has the legendary tenor sax player David “Fathead” Newman lending a helping hand.
The fourteen breath denying numbers have influences and authors as diverse as; B.B.King, Jimmy Reed, Ike Turner, Little Milton, Johnny Otis and Ray Charles to name but a few.
J.W. displays with each new album how well he is harnessing his guitar skills and the bands ever increasing talents, which will in time ensure that they become one of the more outstanding and accepted bands on the blues scene.

The musicians helping J.W.(vocals and guitar,) to create this serious toe-tapper are; Nathan Morris; electric and upright bass, Artie Makris; drums, and Geoff Daye; piano and organ, Brian “James” Asselin; tenor sax, Frank Scanga; baritone sax and harmonica, Michael Dalrymple; baritone sax, Brady Leafloor; alto sax, Patrick Camire; lead trumpet, Rick Rangno; second trumpet, Mannie Makris; acoustic guitar.
This blaster! Will have you howlin’ at the moon!
 Brian Harman

BILLY ‘HARP’ HAMILTON and The Lowriders
Billy ‘Harp’ Hamilton & The Lowriders
(CD – no issue number)
Billy ‘Harp’ Hamilton & The Lowriders Live!
(CD - no issue number)
Campesino Blues
(CD – no issue number)

Now these guys are good! Based in the Cincinnati/ Dayton, Ohio area, leader Bill Coleman (or Hamilton if you prefer – they are the same person) has a fine voice and plays sharp, tight harmonica, his breaks concentrating on content rather than flash, and he writes some excellent material with pointed and/ or humorous lyrics – try ‘Latex Love’ from ‘Campesino Blues’ for a good example – and the originals are in the majority on these three releases, though there are also some intriguing borrowings. His band too is sympathetic and cool, providing a subtle but often driving backdrop (based around Mike McGuire’s Hammond B-3 or piano a lot of the time), and their work tends to avoid the obvious; the version of Chuck Berry’s ‘Nadine’ off their first eponymous release is a good example, slower than Chuck’s and with a slyly sophisticated groove – a real surprise!

Those who remember War’s big hit ‘Low Rider’ (covered in the first CD) will find it no surprise that these guys can also get funky. Their influences, on the evidence of these three CDs, seem to range from vintage Buddy Guy, Ray Charles and Chuck Berry through Professor Longhair and the boundary leaping organ grooves of the likes of Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff and Brother Jack MacDuff on to the likes of the funky R&B of Lee Dorsey and Robert Parker, the Stax sound and as previously stated, seventies funk. The originals tend to fit into these categories too.

The live set was recorded in June 2005 at the Oxford Music Festival in Ohio and gives presumably a fine example of how they sound on stage – not too different! They never stray into self-indulgent rock territory, preferring instead to maintain the groove, and solos are still kept short and sharp. Particularly worth noting, as it is such a rarity these days, is the excellent straight-ahead, no frills guitar playing.

The Campesino’ CD contains many tight, focused, self-written blues (and one Country and Western number as closer) and is again an excellent, relaxed set. These guys may be ‘only’ a local bar band but I wish they would play my local. They can show a lot of so-called blues bands just how it should be done. Norman Darwen

Live On Interstate 75
Magnolia Records

Around 15 years ago there was a real buzz about Larry McCray – I witnessed him turn in a storming set at a gig in a small London club to mark the release of his first Pointblank album, and for the whole of the second set he jammed with none other than Albert Collins; backstage afterwards I bumped into a very impressed Lonnie Mack! The blues has changed a lot over the last decade and a half, but Larry still has the powerful high energy style he had back then, though on this set it is occasionally tempered by a ballad such as ‘Gone For Good’ or the slightly jazz-fusion inflected stylings of the instrumental ‘Blue River’ and Larry is an original – you won’t find any ‘Sweet Home Chicago’ retreads here (but you will find an unclassifiable like the gospel/ reggae/ blues rock of ‘Somebody’s Watching’). It is worth remarking too that the backing band of brother Steve McCray on drums, Johnny B. Gayden on bass, and Mike Lynch on keyboards are right in the pocket throughout. Larry has also always been an excellent singer, and this facet is certainly highlighted on the southern soul flavoured ‘Secret Lover’, the lilting old school soul of ‘Believe It’ (which has curiously changed places in the track listing with ‘Nobody Never Hurt Nobody With The Blues’) and the anthemic closer ‘Soul Shine’. That muscular guitar work is still strongly in evidence of course – try the opener ‘Delta Hurricane’ or the Hendrix influenced ‘Man On Bended Knees’.

Better still, put the whole lot together in a live album from Detroit, call it ‘Live On Interstate 75’, and you have an excellent example of a first rate blues talent, who deserves more acclaim than he has so far received. Check it out! Norman Darwen

MIKE SPONZA & The Central Europe Blues Convention
Kakanic Blues
(own label HCB69-007)

....and I quote: “No Fender Stratocasters have been used on the making of this recording” – though that should perhaps read “this intriguing recording”. Guitarist, leader, and co-producer Mike Sponza has assembled a mixed multitude of artists from the Italian, Slovenian, Austrian, Croatian, Slovakian and Hungarian blues scenes to come up with a set that is truly original and different – a lot of thought and preparation has gone into this recording.

Lend an ear, for example, to the reworking of that old Muddy Waters staple ’19 Years Old” – have you ever really listened to the words? I guarantee you will with this version, set to a sophisticated, jazzy blues arrangement more reminiscent of the late seventies than the fifties. Or what about that long, long-time associate of Alexis Korner, vocalist Herbie Goins tackling a number from pop star Sting and transforming it into a cool, gospel-flavoured contemporary jazz-blues? Or ‘Five Long Years’ being the only track with electric bass out of a dozen band performances? Or ‘Little Girl’ from the classic ‘John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton’ album – with a flute and an almost bossa-nova beat, but still remaining instantly recognisable!? Or ‘It Hurts Me Too’ as a funky Hammond organ-led workout with a break for vibraphone?

No, this is not your usual blues album. It works, it’s blues - as if to emphasise that point, the penultimate track ‘I Didn’t Know’ is a fine straight blues with excellent harmonica and guitar –  that apart, it doesn’t sound quite like anything else around, and it’s much more than “well worth a listen”.  Norman Darwen

He Came To Play
Crosscut ccd 11087

American harmonica player, singer and bandleader R.J. has always been worth a listen ever since he burst on to the scene back in the nineties. He has a big sound and wonderful tone control, tends to write a lot of his own (interesting) material and generally has a nice, old-fashioned approach to recording. This CD was recorded live in the studio and he fronts a hot rocking little band including Frank ‘Paris Slim’ Goldwasser on guitar, Sid Morris on real piano and an excellent rhythm section – plus a booting sax player on several tracks.

Some of the material, like the fifties sci-fi sleeve, is a little quirky, but totally in keeping with the music. For example, whilst opener ‘The Train’ is a joyous, sub BB King romp, instrumental ‘The Switch’ has, believe it or not, vintage psychedelic inflections (!), whilst ‘Jokerhead’ is a very curious blues with flute – but all work equally well. There are covers from the pens of JB Hutto (two!), Jimmy Dawkins, Mr. Bo and Sonny Boy Williamson No.1, which also serve to give notice of the rough-house direction of this set. It is a delight from start to finish; long-time fans can buy with confidence, as can everyone else.  Norman Darwen

Guitar Man - Live
Crosscut ccd 11090

Originally issued last year by British company MovinMusic and reviewed as such in the first Blues Art of 2006, this excellent CD, recorded at the Kwadendamme Blues Festival in Holland on May 14th 2005, is now much more easily available across Europe since Crosscut have leased it. It presents Sherman very close to his best form, with British band Bluesmove offering wonderful support (they have worked with Sherman a lot, and it shows), and whether you want to hear blues sung powerfully and soulfully, are anxious to find out if Sherman can still play that superlative Texas/ Louisiana style of guitar (yes, he can!), or just want to listen to one of the best of the modern blues artists that there is, this is the place to come.
Norman Darwen

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