2009, Vol.4
NOVEMBER, DECEMBER





































This review has been complimentary written for your newsletter by Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro, a contributing writer for BLUESWAX, BluesART and the Blues Editor at
www.Mary4Music.com
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
Blewzzman@aol.com

Don Ray Band
"On Top Of The Heap"

Margdon Records

The Don Ray Band's mission statement is "Music with a blues feel that tells a country story and throws in a big rock and roll hell yeah!"  Now don't go thinking this is "Country Blues", 'cause it isn't.  Musically, this is good old raunchy and rockin' blues at it's best, it's the all original lyrics that tell the country stories.

Since he usually does his singing through a mic behind the drum set, "On Top Of The Heap" is Don Ray's first undertaking on which he's left the sticks behind and performs as the up front vocalist.  Joining him are: Curt Ryle on acoustic guitar, electric guitar solos and lap steel guitar; Gary Smith on piano and keyboards; Steve Bryant on bass; Steve Brewster on drums and percussion; Troy Lancaster and Mike Durham on electric guitar; Annette Donald, Wanda Johnson-Barnertt and Terra Allen on background vocals.

On the opening track, the bands not just taking 'The High Road", but they're taking it in high gear, with the petal to the metal, as well.  This smoker features some red hot rhythm, led by savage drum work from Steve.  It's quite obvious that since Don was vacating the position, he wasn't turning the kit over to just anyone.

Blues purists are going to be in their glory - as I was - while listening to "I Might Just Say Goodbye".  With the rest of the band locked into one of those grooves that puts you into a trance, this one is all about the scorching guitar riffs and the intense and soulful vocals.  Ron and Curt are absolutely amazing on this one.  If this isn't the discs best track, then I can't wait to find the one that is.

Once again, it's the rhythm section that's impressing me here.  Both Steve's are at discs best on drums and bass, and together with Gary's work on the organ and the wonderful work of the background singers, they're all just "So Wicked" together.  This one may very well put a spell on you.

"Good Bad Boy" is one of those rockin' sing-a-long type songs which contain the lyrics that live audience's love and that country hits are made from.  There's no question in my mind that when he plays this one at his live shows, Don's got most of the audience up on their feet, shaking their bodies and simultaneously shouting out the chorus line along with him.

Obviously telling a true story, with very real and warm lyrics, Don pays tribute to his wife first, then his daughter, all while using the same words.  Although he actually knows the answer, it seems he's still speculative as to "How a man at 200 pounds and over six feet tall, could be "Wrapped Around A Finger" that small"  Don's enthusiastic vocals, and very well written lyrics steal this one.

You are a "Perfect Ten".  Now that's not just the title of the song, it's Dons answer to that question that every man in a relationship has been asked.... "Do you like what you see or does my butt look big in these jeans".  This track is the bands mission statement in full swing.  Don and the background singers are singin' their hearts out while the band is kickin' out some rockin' blues.

"How Much Of This Is Love" is a catchy retro tune on which Don Ray and his Rayettes will have you thinking of your favorite sixties singing groups. Once again, as it has been on pretty much most of the tracks, the vocals - lead and backup - along with the percussion, are profound.

Other tracks on "On Top Of The Heap" include:  'I Can't Find My Angel", "Boom Chika Wah Wah", "Barbecue And Beans", and "On Top Of The Heap".

"On Top Of The Heap" could possibly be one of the most well rounded discs I've listened to in some time.  Right from the first to the last track, it had it going on vocally, musically  and lyrically.

You've really got to get over to www.donrayband.com and check them out.  Once you give a few of the tracks a listen, I'm sure you'll want to hear more.  And one more thing, after you buy the disc, make sure you tell Don that the Blewzzman sent ya.

----- Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com



























Artist: Victor Wainwright and The WildRoots
Title:
Beale Street to The Bayou
Label: WildRoots Records CD2009

For more information go to:
www.wildrootsrecords.com
or info@wildrootsrecords.com

Although this is the debut album for the band it is in fact a second collaboration between the young and infectiously enthusiastic pianist/singer Victor Wainwright and bass player/producer Stephen Dees (who, during his career has played with Todd Rundgren, Pat Travers and Foghat).  For, at a chance meeting six years ago at a benefit concert at Ormond Beach, Florida, they were so impressed with each others performances, they agreed to work together at some point in the future; this resulted in the solo album from Victor, “Piana’ From Savannah”  in two thousand and five.

Now, they have formed a band to express their love and deep affection for the many musical forms that entwine together to create the ‘Memphis Sound,’ Victor is the charismatic front man while Stephen holds it all together with his solid Willie Dixon influenced bass lines and also captures the bands unique sound from the producers chair. Joining these two to create The WildRoots, are Greg Gumpel; guitar, mandolin and banjo with Brian Kelly on drums and percussion. Twelve of the fourteen numbers here are band originals, the two covers are; “What I’d Say,” by Ray Charles and “School of Hard Knocks,” by Stephen Dees and Pat Travers.

The most striking aspect of this album is that the conglomeration of styles and types literally  meld and fuse together so well, also even more surprising is that none of them sound awkward or out of place. The overall symmetry of rock & roll, southern gospel, bluegrass and the hint of hill country music sits well with soulful blues. A touch of country is combined with the winding thread of New Orleans second line strut footappingly led by the rollickingly jaunty and energetic goodtime piano of victor.

A fine acappella chorus of backing voices indicates and adds a pleasing mixture of the travelling medicine show with the solemnity of a Sunday morning church gathering or a fervent revivalist meeting.

This album has a wonderfully goodtime atmosphere juxtaposing and rolling all the emotions!

Most certainly one for the collection!

----- Brian Harman







ANGELO DEBARRE QUARTET
Live In Le Quecumbar London

Frémeaux FA 513

www.fremeaux.com


Gipsy jazz may seem a long way from the blues, particularly in the violin and guitar format employed on this live set – but the genre’s greatest exponent, Django Reinhardt, was a big influence on BB King and many others, and listening to the fluidity of the single note runs on every number here, it is not difficult to see what attracted the young Blues Boy to the style. French gipsy guitarist Debarre is a master of his craft, and this programme is all about Reinhardt’s music, swinging, impressive, always making for enjoyable listening. That sword “swinging” does not really communicate half of the style of this CD, but it does also indicate another good reason to listen to this sometimes astonishing set – swing-guitar has become an accepted part of the blues repertoire these days, but it does not come much more swinging than this.

----- Norman Darwen









IAN SIEGAL
Broadside
Nugene NUG902

www.nugenerecords.com


Born in England in 1971, Ian is one of the gems of the current UK blues scene. A singer and guitarist who can sound a little like Eric Clapton with his playing on ‘Hard-Pressed’, he is actually far more versatile than that. That song has a funky arrangement and some excellent lyrics (in fact, and unusually for a blues album, that can be said of every track here), and follows on from the commercially appealing opener with its soul veneer, before leading on to the rock and roll influenced ‘Quarantine’. ‘Kingdom Come’ could be described as blues-rock as it rides a hard, heavy riff, with a touch of Howling Wolf to it, ‘The Bleeding Cowboy’s Lament’ is unsurprisingly country-tinged, though filtered through an early sixties pop sensibility and delivered in a whiskey-soaked voice.
This kind of variety continues through all ten tracks, and I enjoyed the odd, fleeting references to Ian’s influences that can be detected in many of the tracks – an odd riff here, a snatch of lyric there, just a hint in the arrangement. It all makes for one of the best UK Blues releases of 2009.

----- 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
www.Mary4Music.com
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
Blewzzman@aol.com

Shaun Murphy
"Livin' The Blues"

Vision Wall Records

When doing a review, I generally don't get into bio's too much.  It's what I'm listening to that needs to impress me.  On the other hand, there aren't very many bio's that have awed me as much as the one I just read.  Trust me, if you ever hear Shaun Murphy say "been there - done that", bet on it that she has.

As if working in bands of such greats as Bob Seger, Bruce Hornsby, Glen Frey, and Joe Walsh, and recording with other greats like Phil Collins, Leon Russell, Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper and many others too numerous to name weren't enough - Shaun's also appeared in several well known hit productions on Broadway.  Oh, and let's not forget the opportunities - yes, more than one - of a lifetime that came when she was asked to record and tour with Eric Clapton and later on become a fifteen year member of Little Feat.  Very impressive.  And by the way, the disc is as well.

On "Livin' The Blues", vocalist Shaun Murphy's band consists of Randy Coleman on bass and vocals, Larry Van Loon on keyboards and vocals, Kenne Cramer on guitar and vocals, and Mike Caputy on drums, with special guests Piero Mariani on percussion and Tim Gonzalez on Harmonica.

Several of Shaun's vocal talents - her soulful style, voice strength and range - are quickly introduced on "Ocean Of Tears", the discs opening track.  Besides the great vocals, this one features some very nice keyboard highlights.

Although it was written by Bob Dylan, the way Shaun sings "It Takes A Lot To Laugh It Takes A Train To Cry", the song should have been re-titled "Blues Belting 101".  It should also be required listening for any aspiring female blues artists.  Being the slow blues burner that it is, the track also features some great lead guitar and piano highlights.

Even with the cool background jive talkin', "That's A Pretty Good Love" is all about the rhythm.  Randy, Kenne, Mike and Piero are at discs best right here.  If this one doesn't get your foot tapping, you might want to check your pulse.

"Love To Burn" is another one that should get some......oh make that all.....of your body parts moving.  This one features the whole band in a very tight and quite funky groove.  The three minutes this track lasted was not nearly enough for this listener....thank goodness for replay buttons.

I'm finding it difficult to express how "I Still Believe In The Blues" just made me feel.  The song was so smoothly and so perfectly sung and performed.  I'm just going to say that you've got to hear this one for yourself, and leave it at that.  Excuse me while I go listen a few more times.

It's fitting that one of the best songs on the disc - "It Feels Like Rain" - be the longest.  Every second of it's six and a half minutes was a pleasure to listen to.  The soft, yet piercing guitar riffs, the ever present sound of the keyboards, the relaxing rhythm and the intense and sensitive vocals all bring this one perfectly together.  If you thought Buddy did it good, ya gotta hear this version.

Other tracks on "Livin' The Blues" include: "Someone Else Is Steppin' In" , "Livin' The Blues", "Come To Mama", "Taking Up Another Man's Place", "Can't No Grave Hold My Body Down", "Hound Dog", and "Rock And Roll Everynight".

To get yourself a copy of "Livin' The Blues" - and I highly recommend that you do, and to learn more about the incredible career of Shaun Murphy, just go to:
www.shaunmurphyband.com.  And please, make sure you tell her the Blewzzman sent ya.

----- Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com












13TH FLOOR ELEVATORS
Psychedelic Circus

Retroworld FLOATM6027

www.fwrecords.co.uk

With so much popular music nowadays either falling into a dance or hip-hop inflected style, this is a welcome reminder of the days when most music was blues-influenced – and this went far beyond the likes of just Elvis Presley or The Rolling Stones. The 13th Floor Elevators are generally recognised as one of the leaders of the psychedelic rock scene of the mid- to late sixties, but the repertoire of this Texas band includes – on this CD collection of live material from 1966 and ‘67 – Bo Diddley’s ‘Before You Accuse Me’ and Solomon Burke’s ‘Everybody Needs Somebody To love’. There is a wailing harmonica to be heard from time to time, and perhaps even more revealing, a jug – electrified and certainly not as Will Shade might recognise it, but a jug nonetheless. Some of the group’s own numbers, lauded as classics of psychedelia, are also rightly referred to in the notes as being based on simple blues progressions.

I admit that not this will not be everyone’s cup of tea (not even herbal tea or perhaps spiked with something stronger), but if you are interested in just how far-reaching the blues influence can be, this is certainly one to investigate.

----- Norman Darwen





































BOO BOO DAVIS
Ain’t Gotta Dime
Black & Tan B&T034

www.black-and-tanrecords.com


Mississippi-born and nowadays Saint Louis based blues singer/ harpman (and drummer, though there is none of that here) Boo Boo Davis has become a very popular draw on the European blues scene over the last decade are so, thanks to his own impeccable blues credentials, his willingness to try something a little different, and the constant promotion of Black & Tan label boss/ producer/ guitarist Jan Mittendoorp. ‘Ain’t Gotta Dime’ is Boo Boo’s sixth album for the label and find him backed solely by Jan and on drums John Gerritse, a format that has attracted some excellent reviews already.

Boo Boo’s vocals often reflect the influence of Howling Wolf, and that trend continues here, underlined by his own simple but effective blues harp blowing. Stylistically this set ranges across blues-rock, southern soul, sixties rhythm & blues and down-home sounds. There’s no nonsense about this entertaining and honest release, and it is all the better for it. Wonderfully authentic material, in a fashion that is becoming something of a dying art. Buy this and keep it alive a little longer.

----- Norman Darwen

BOO BOO DAVIS / AIN’T GOTTA DIME TOUR

Oct 12, official release AIN’T GOTTA DIME
Oct 16, Rübigen (CH), Mühle Hunziken
Oct 17, Queven (F), CC Les Arcs
Oct 18, Carnoet (F), le Bacardi
Oct 21, Cournon d’Auvergne, la Baie des Singes
Oct 22, Besançon (F), Le Cylindre
Oct 23, Poitiers (F), MJC Aliénor d'Aquitaine
Oct 24, Castres (F), Le Bolegason
Oct 29, Rotterdam (NL), Live uit Lloyd / RTV Rijnmond
Oct 30, Viersen (D), Tommy’s Workshop
Oct 31, Auerbach/Vogtland (D), Göltzschtalgalerie Nicolaikirche
Nov 01, Hoogeveen (NL), Café de Lijst
Nov 02, Bucharest (RO), Hard Rock Cafe
Nov 06, Fleurus (B), South Blues Night @ Salle du Vieux-Campinaire
Nov 07, Wendelstein (D), Jegelscheune
Nov 08, Bergen (NL), Taverne
Nov 09, Leverkusen (D), Leverkusener Jazztage @ Scala
Nov 10, Linz (A), AK Veranstaltungssaal
Nov 11, Chemnitz (D), Eventkantine Schonherrfabrik
Nov 12, Leipzig (D), Geyserhaus
Nov 13, Follenslev (DK), Kulturhus Gimle
Nov 14, Naestved (DK), Vershuset
Nov 15, Groningen (NL), Cafe Koster
Nov 20, Deventer (NL), Bluesrock Cafe Crossroads
Nov 21, (afternoon), Hilversum (NL), Shouting Boots/Radio 6 (national radio)
Nov 21, Ottersum (NL), CC Roepaen
Nov 22, Amen (NL), Café de Amer

Website and MySpace





























This review has been complimentary written for your newsletter by Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro, a contributing writer for BLUESWAX, BluesART and the Blues Editor at
www.Mary4Music.com
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
Blewzzman@aol.com

Marty Stokes and the Captiva Band
"Hear You Callin"
Useppa Records

Captiva, FL is on a tiny Gulf Coast Island about as wide as my waist.  Unlike the Keys, where everyone heads when they want to go nuts, Captiva is a place where everyone heads when they want to get sane.  The place is renowned for vegging out, searching for seashells and possibly searching for your soul as well.  Yes, it does have a music festival, but part of that festival's mission statement claims ".......the festival is to present classical music of the highest standard..........".  Have I made my point yet?  Not exactly the place you'd want to go to in hopes of hearing a smokin' blues band, right?  Not quite, Marty Stokes and the Captiva Band may have something to say about that.

The band consists of Marty Stokes on vocals and guitar, Lisa George on vocals and percussion, Todd haut on bass, Jim Burns on drums and percussion, and Donovan Christenson on guitar.  Additional musicians joining the band on the bands debut CD, are Summer Kilgore on vocals, John McLane on piano, keyboards and B-3 organ, Harry Drew on saxophone and Richie Iannuzzi on congas and percussion.  The disc contains thirteen tracks, of which eight are very well done originals.

The opening and title track, "Hear You Callin", immediately impresses.  Marty wastes no time establishing his guitar prowess, Todd, Jim and Richie are rhythmically awesome, John's got all the keyboards lit up and Summer provides great back up to Marty's melodic vocals.  Great start!

When this track comes on, the dance floor's not gonna have to "Wait For Me Baby".  Led by smokin' slide guitar, fierce rhythm, wicked hot piano and perfect harmony from Lisa and Summer, this one's full throttle all the way.  Replays are in order here.

If it's low down scorching blues you're looking for - and I always am - then you can just stop right here.  As he pleads for his hurting to "Stop", the pain Marty's feeling is equally expressed through his emotional vocals and burning guitar licks.  The only thing that can make a song like this better is an intense sax, and Harry did just that.  Absolutely great stuff right here.

Another of the discs best is "Heartbreak School".  In spite of Marty and Summer teaming up for some absolutely beautiful harmony on vocals, it's the guests that highlight this one.  The relentless percussion and smokin' sax from Richie and Harry is awesome.

Your house will start rockin' "When The House Is A Rockin" comes on.  This one's a total free for all.  With everyone wailin' in jam mode, it doesn't get any faster and hotter than this.  Turn up the volume and let your body join the party.

Contrary to the title of the song, you'll easily want to let go when "Can't Let Go" comes on.  If this one doesn't get you moving, don't even wait for the track to end - call a doctor immediately.  This rockin', country blues track features hot slide guitar, honky-tonk piano and Summer singing her heart out.  Another of the discs best.

Other tracks on "Hear You Callin" include: "Don't Kill The Party", "Little By Little", "Hindsite", "Gotta Get to Work (On The Thing)", "The Thrill Is Gone", "On My Own" and "Captiva Bone".

You can check out Marty Stokes and the Captiva Band by going to www.captivaband.com.  Of course while you're there, buy the disc and tell him Pete the Blewzzman sent ya.  And one more thing....If you ever happen to make it to Captiva, FL, after you find some sea shells - and your sanity - find where the band is playing.

----- Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com








GOV’T MULE
By A Thread
Provogue PRD 7294 2

www.provoguerecords.com


Gov’t Mule are a rock band under the leadership of guitarist/ vocalist Warren Haynes, who also works with The Allman Brothers, and much of this set certainly falls into the firmly blues-rooted southern rock category. Why, even Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top makes a guest appearance on the blistering opener. Some of the other tracks have shades of vintage Led Zeppelin (the folk-tinged ’Railroad Boy’ could have come from Led Zeppelin III), and is followed by a psychedelic/ dubby ‘Monday Mourning Meltdown’. There is a classic heavy riff-ridden blues-rocker in ‘Any Open Window’, an Allmans-ish ‘Frozen Fear’, the big rock-ballad ‘Forevermore’, and a Hendrix-inspired freak-out on the nine minutes long ‘Inside Outside Woman Blues #3’.
This is the kind of music that drew many people to the blues in the first place and it seems likely that a classy act such as Gov’t Mule is still bringing the sound to new listeners.

----- Norman Darwen











MIKE ZITO
Pearl River
Eclecto Groove EGR CD 508

www.eclectogroove.com


This is the second album for the label – its predecessor, ‘Today’, was extremely well-received - by singer and guitarist Mike Zito. Aided and abetted by a bunch of guys well-known to the modern-day blues and roots lover – people like Cyrille Neville, Anders Osborne, Reese Wynans, Lynwood Slim and Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone (on accordion, no less), among others - he goes for an Americana approach, not quite the blues per se but pretty close. Some of it approaches blues-rock – try the opener - with lashings of guitar which always remains relevant however. The title track is a slow, moody blues-based piece but the mood soon lightens noticeably with a funky ‘Big Mouth’. There is a Professor Longhair flavoured version of Rice Miller’s ‘Eyesight To The Blind’, but some of the other numbers are more difficult to categorise, containing hints of soul, funk, rock and blues. There is even a little seventies-styled country-rock on the duet with Osborne on the latter’s composition ‘One Step At A Time’. Throughout the CD Mike’s guitar playing impresses but do listen closer and it is his expressive vocals that are the real surprise – lend an ear to the southern-soul flavoured closer ‘C’Mon Baby’. If there is any justice in the music business, then Mike should certainly be on his way up!

----- Norman Darwen
































Artist: Irma Thomas
Title: The Soul Queen of New Orleans, 50th Anniversary Celebration
Label: Rounder 11661-2214-2 (American reference number)

For more information go to:
http://www.irmathomas.com or
http://www.rounderrecords.com

When Irma Thomas was asked in the eighties what she would like to be doing at the age of sixty. Her answer was that she would like to think that some fancy hotel would employ her as a singer in their cocktail lounge. Well, for a woman who during her teenage years not only brought-up three children but also then saw her musical career virtually disappear during the late sixties and early seventies, due to poor management and the fact some people didn’t believe that numbers such as the classic “Time Is On My Side” was actually recorded by Irma herself in the first place, and not The Rolling Stones as some people believed, you would begin to understand that it was a fair and reasonable statement following such serious blows, But, she would not let herself disappear into the musical mist and her resilient response, was for her and her husband Emile to open a club named The Lion’s Den, which they did in nineteen seventy-four.

Over the following years her career slowly but surely began to gain momentum. As time progressed various record companies showed some interest by releasing the odd single album, but in nineteen eighty-six Rounder put their money where there mouth was and released Irma’s debut album entitled “The New Rules” this album firmly established Irma as the undeniable Soul Queen of New Orleans; now, eleven albums later and also marking her fifty years as a very singular soul artist, Rounder have released an album of fifteen numbers which contain a very fine mixture of soul satisfying firm favourites and three stunning unreleased numbers; “ Got To Bring it With You,” “Let it Be Me” and “Your Ship Has Sailed.”

As the music effortlessly pours out from the speakers washing and caressing you like a breeze on a warm summer’s day, Irma’s emotion laden voice is filled with a knowing vulnerability that is coupled with the strength, confidence and power to make a grown man cry.

Even having her club destroyed by hurricane Katrina could not put Irma off her stride for shortly afterwards in two thousand and seven at the age of sixty-six she recorded the restrained and impeccable but highly emotive Grammy winning “After the Rain” which was followed by the equally stunning “Simply Grand.”  Now with this excellently chosen collection of sublime New Orleans soul you can either enjoy discovering a living legend or simply catch up on what you have recently missed.

I think any fancy hotel would now be begging and pleading Irma to play in their cocktail lounge!

This album is the proof of the statement “Soul Transfusion”

Don’t ponder, purchase and let your soul float away!

----- Brian Harman.













CURTIS LAWSON
SITTING IN A LOVE ZONE

SONGS: 1) Sitting in A Love Zone; 2) Out Of Control; 3) MyWife; 4) I’m Your Rooster; 5) City Hall Blues

IN IT TO WIN IT
SONGS: 1) In It to Win It; 2) Tell Me What Happen; 3) Broken Heart Blues; 4) I’ll Come Running; 5) Bound By Love

These two latest CDs of Curtis Lawson are reviewed here, since they were issued within ten months of each other. They are on his own label, La Quanta Music. They both have lots of good R&B and blues, a rarity these days. Lawson wrote, sang, arranged and produced all of the songs on the albums. He has been singing for over fifty years in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as playing various festivals and gigs elsewhere. His vocals are positive and direct and say it like it is. He is a master showman, charming the audiences with his fine, dramatic vocals and his many capes as well.

The bands are the same for each CD and add a great dimension with their catchy rhythm patterns. Herman Eberitzsch plays all the instruments, including some fancy keyboard work, except for the guitar. That is left to Ian Lamson, who also does a good job. There are some great, long instrumental tracks on both albums.

Many of the songs are about love relationships. His most heart-melting, soulful blues is “My Wife,” a true story, on the first album. “Broken Heart Blues,”on the second CD, is also very moving. The tempo picks up in other tunes, including the energizing “City Hall Blues,” on the first album as well as the fast, cool shuffle in “Bound By Love,” on the second one.

Curtis is a very talented musician with his unique style of vocals and songs. Any of his five enjoyable albums can be purchased directly from Curtis by emailing him at:
curtislawson0132@sbcglobal.net or phoning him at: 415-289-0541.
They are also listed at: http://www.cdbaby.com/artist/curtislawson.
For further information, his website is:
www.curtislawson.net. Curtis is a treat to listen to, so check him out!!!

----- Maria Bainer













TOMMY CASTRO
HARD BELIEVER
Alligator Records ALCD 4931


SONGS:
Definition of Insanity; It Is What It Is; Hard Believer: Monkey’s Paradise; Ninety-Nine And One Half; Backup Plan; Gotta Serve Somebody; Trimmin’ Fat; Make It Back to Memphis; Victims Of The Darkness; My Babe; The Trouble With Soul

Tommy Castro has become internationally famous since he picked up his first guitar at the age of 10, and started his own band eighteen years ago. It is easy to see why since he pours his heart and soul into his powerful, dramatic vocals and passionate, lengthy guitar solos. He is a talented songwriter too, and co-wrote six of the twelve songs on this album.
The ten performers, including some guest artists, play together so well that it sounds like one unit.

This album, “Hard Believer,” is Tommy’s twelfth and his first one on the Alligator label. It is an exciting CD that covers a variety of tunes from blues to catchy, danceable funk, Memphis soul, to R&B, and even to rock ‘n’ roll, Chuck Berry style. Sometimes his vocals are like Otis Redding’s and his guitar playing can remind one of Jimmy Hendrix, but with his own unique style. Most of his songs have ballad-like messages that make  strong statements and work into climatic endings. This album deserves a few gold stars and is enjoyable and well-worth listening to!!!

----- Maria Bainer     



































This review has been complimentary written for your newsletter by Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro, a contributing writer for BLUESWAX, BluesART and the Blues Editor at
www.Mary4Music.com
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
Blewzzman@aol.com

Ernie Southern & the Deltaholics
"Every Day Is A Fight"

Florida's version of the Mississippi River is the Intracoastal Waterway.  Similar to that muddy river that runs through the center of the country, the Intracoastal Waterway runs through many states as well.  Just as the state of Mississippi comes to mind when you think of the mighty Mississippi, the state of Florida comes to mind when you think of the relaxing Intracoastal.

Another similarity of sorts, is that many of the cites that border the Mississippi - Clarksdale, Tunica, Indianola, Vicksburg and Memphis, TN - just to name a few - are all great cities famous for their juke joints and their great delta blues men.  On the other hand, cities along the Intracoastal - such as Hollywood, Ft. Lauderdale, Jupiter, Stuart, Sebastian, Melbourne and many more - all the way up to Jacksonville - are famous for their tiki-bars and a great delta blues man as well - Ernie Southern.

Ernie Southern and the Deltaholics are the real deal when it comes to original and progressive delta blues.  The band consists of: Ernie Southern on vocals and National Reso-Phonics guitars; Pompano Pete De Stefano on harp and backup vocals; Gary Jr. Waldo on bass; Steve Thorpe on Dobro guitars; Bobby Day on bass, percussion and backup vocals; Randy crouch on drums; Mike Della Cioppa on piano; and Tara & Kiley Howe on backup vocals.

Ernie's latest release consists of eleven original tracks that pretty much reflect his outlook - and possibly that of many others, as well - on the struggles of modern day life.  The discs title - and opening track, "Every Day Is A Fight", sums it up quite well.

Ernie makes no bones about voicing his frustrations as he candidly proclaims "I Wanna Kill Somebody".  Of course he doesn't mean it, but the situations he sings about can surely make someone want to think that way.  This one's good old down home Delta Blues at it's best.  Vocally, Ernie's so intense that you can't help but feel his sincerity, and musically it's an all out jam.  The rhythm is hot and tight, the harp playing is dynamic and the connection between Ernie and Steve on the Resonator and Dobro is profound.  This could very well be the discs best track.

Although things slow down a bit on "Goin' Insane", the only thing that really changes is the beat.  Ernie and Steve continue to display the musically creative bond they have between them and there's lots of serious pickin' on this one.

If you're a fan of "Red Hot Delta Blues", then this one's for you.  Although the Resonator and Dobro get their share of pickin in, this one features Pete and Randy at discs best.  There are lots of very sharp harp leads and the drum work is absolutely phenomenal  throughout.  Vocally, Ernie's right on as usual while he sings about his experiences in one of those great Delta cities, Memphis, TN.

Like a lot of other people, Ernie's looking for "Someone With Brains".  Well, not really Ernie, because I'm sure he's singing this song about someone else.  Ya see, I know his wife Franni, and he's already found someone with brains.  Another cleverly written track which is highlighted by harmonically sound background vocals and percussion.

On "Atheist Funeral", Ernie may rot in hell for saying it, but that's apparently OK with him.  You see, after her departs from this life of sin and disgrace, he doesn't want to go to heaven 'cause it sounds like hell.  This one features absolutely great guitar work - from Ernie on the resonator and from Gary on the bass.  This is another of the discs many highlights.

Other tracks on this excellent disc include:  "Every Day Is A Fight", "Into The Wind", "Island Earth", "Anytime Valentine", "Franni's Again", and "Blame it On the Moon".

Hard core blues fans, especially those of the Delta style, need to check out this disc.  You can pick one up, and read a lot about Ernie's very interesting and long spanning musical career by visiting his web site - www.erniesouthern.com.  While there, please let him know his buddy the Blewzzman sends his regards.

----- Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com


































This review has been complimentary written for your newsletter by Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro, a contributing writer for BLUESWAX, BluesART and the Blues Editor at
www.Mary4Music.com
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
Blewzzman@aol.com

Jack Edery & UltraSuede
"Fried Chicken & Whiskey"

I'm definitely not talking about a breakfast of champions, yet I could be talking about a blues musicians dinner, however, what I'm really referring to when I say "Fried Chicken & Whiskey" is the new CD from Jack Edery & UltraSuede.

The band consists of Jack Edery on guitars and vocals, Susan Pierce on Keyboards and vocals, Jason McCollum on bass, and Robert Smith on drums.  Special guests on the project include: Jimbo Mathis on guitars, piano and background vocals; Justin Showah on background vocals; Eric Carlson on keyboards; Gin Gin Abraham on Background vocals; and Ken Turner on scrub board and strings.  "Fried Chicken & Whiskey" contains eleven tracks of which ten are band originals.  UltraSuede likes to refer to themselves as a band that plays "a gumbo of styles with blues as the roux".  Let's go taste some.

Hailing from Beaumont, Texas, it's kind of natural that the first ingredient in their brand of gumbo is some rockin' Texas Blues.  "Blues Outside My Window" starts things off with the whole band tearin' it up and kickin' some ass.  Just how good this gumbo is has yet to be determined, but I do know this - it's going to be hot!

The funk is added with the title track, "Fried Chicken & Whiskey".  With the lyrics pretty much being the band jive talkin' 'tween themselves and fried chicken and whisky being the main words, this one is all about the music.  It's full of some very serious rhythm grooves, and heavy on the funk.

"Mr. Ervin" is a song dedicated to the late Beaumont blues man, Ervin Charles.  This one's all about Jack - and, of  course - his mentor.  You can't help but feel the sincerity in his vocals as Jack sings about missing his friend.  This one has all the ingredients of a perfect ballad - real and heartfelt lyrics, soulful vocals, slow and steady rhythm, and scorching guitar riffs.  This was one awesome track.  Well done UltraSuede!

Man, this band knows how to "Throw A Boogie Woogie".  Whoa!  A good bowl of gumbo is nothing without lots of spice, and this two minute barn burner provides some heaping doses.  This total free for all is worth a few hits of the replay button.

A pissed off woman with a gun in her hand is never a good thing.  However, it sounds even scarier when she's a "Blind Woman With A Gun".   Susan steals the show on this one. She wrote the song, sings her heart out on it, and kicks ass on the keyboards.  Unfortunately, that's not all she's kickin' ass on.  Ya see, although she's blind, she's still able to hear her man, with another women, in her bed.....and then there's that gun.  This is some good old dirty blues as it's best.

"Memphis" is an absolutely beautiful piece of work.  The harmony between Jack and Gin Gin is a pleasure to listen to, the precise way the slide, lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars meld together is commendable and the rhythm is profound.  Another extremely well done track.

It's a proven theory that using good ingredients, is synonymous with making a good product.  From what I've just heard, UltraSuede has every right to call themselves a band that plays "a gumbo of styles with blues as the roux".  They actually may want to expand on that and say "a delicious gumbo of styles with real good blues as the roux".

Other tracks on "Fried Chicken & Whiskey" include: "Ballad Of Yvonne & Angel", "Cajun Queenie", "Good At Being Bad", Turn Me Loose In Your Kitchen", and "Knucklebuster".

You can check out Jack Edery & UltraSuede by going to
www.myspace.com/UltraSuede409.  
Tell him you heard Blewzzman raving about it, so you just had to come and get some "Fried Chicken & Whiskey".

----- Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com



































This review has been complimentary written for your newsletter by Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro, a contributing writer for BLUESWAX, BluesART and the Blues Editor at
www.Mary4Music.com
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
Blewzzman@aol.com

Pat Pepin
"In It For The Long Haul"

"In It For the Long Haul" is not just the name of Pat Pepin's latest release.  They are the very words that she lives by and it's a phrase she confidently uses to describe her career in the music business.  In a business that's short on longevity, those are some tough words.  On the other hand, Pat's a tough gal.  Just ask her where she's from and she'll proudly say "I'm from Maine, where the men are men and the women are too."  With an attitude like that, along with having a mastery over the tenor sax, outstanding vocal talents and a great songwriting ability, I believe Pat Pepin may just live up to her motto.

On "In It For the Long Haul" Pat Pepin on vocals, tenor sax, acoustic guitar, soprano sax and trombone, is joined by: Bob Colwell on piano, organ, bass and clarinet; Steve Jones on guitar, bass, dobro, banjo and tambourine; Dave Thibodeau on bass; Richard Hollis on drums, conga and tambourine; Pat Colwell on lead guitar; Angela Plato on trumpet.  The disc features a dozen tracks, of which nine are Pat Pepin originals.  Showcasing her versatility, the songs cover many styles of blues.

One of her originals, "Don't Call Me Baby, Baby", features Pat doing two of the things she does best.....  telling off a man and blowin' the hell out of her sax, and she may be at discs best on the latter.  This one also features a great rhythm groove and several hot piano highlights.

You'll feel like you're strollin' down Bourbon Street when "Can't Take it With You" comes on.  This is a nice  mix of Cajun Blues and Dixieland Jazz and showcases Pat's sense of humor in her writing.  The lyrics are a hoot and the horns are hot on this party style sing-a-long.

Be careful if you're driving when this one comes on.  This smokin' Texas style blues will make you feel like a "Long Haul Trucker", speeding along on I-10 in a rush to get to San Antonio.  This one's a no holds barred jam with everyone's pedal to the metal.  Great lead guitar, fiery rhythm and flame throwin' sax all highlight this one.

This track has Pat wondering what a lot of us are wondering these days...."Why Me?".  I don't know the answer to that, but I do know that Pat's got this jazz lounge, singer thing down pat.  This one's all her.  With the band in a smooth and tight jazz groove behind her, she shines on vocals and sax.

It wouldn't be a Pat Pepin disc without a song written, or made famous by, the great Etta James.  This time she chose the very beautiful "Sunday Kind Of Love". Once again, it's her vocals and sultry sax riffs that highlight this soft, slow and very sexy ballad.  The slow dancers are going to just love this one.

Before I tell you about the closing track, the one referred to as the "bonus novelty track", let me set it up a bit.  Ya see, like many blues musicians, Pat Pepin travels the country in a van.  Hers is a mini RV with a vanity license plate affectionately displaying it's name - PATIBGO (pictured on the back of the CD cover).  Having - on many occasions - taken advantage of a major national retailers very relaxed policy towards RVer's, she was inspired to write "Living At Wal-Mart".  It's an incredibly clever and extremely humorous "jingle" about spending nights at what she calls "America's free campground".  You're just gonna have to hear it to appreciate it.

Other tracks on "In It For the Long Haul" include: "Can't Be Satisfied", "Can't Take It With You", "Till Death Do Us Part", "This Dress", "Left Me Lonely" and "Ain't What You Got" .

Now that Deanna Bogart has made women saxophone players winning Blues Music Awards a common thing, could it be long before another one does?  Pat Pepin doesn't think so.  If you want to hear why, check her out at www.patpepin.com.  Hopefully you'll tell her how and why you're visiting.....the Blewzzman sent you and you want to buy a copy of "In It For the Long Haul".

----- Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com


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