Artist: The San Francisco Gospel Singers
Title: Walk in the Light
Label: Feelin’ Good Records 005

For more information go to: www.feelingoodproductions.com

The SFGS are a very unique vocal acappella group who consist of; Sharon M. Jones; Cassandra Mathews; Barbara Gilton; Cynthia Padilla; Katrina Staples; and Elizabeth McCurtis-Bell. All six ladies are also members of the renowned Gospel Music Workshop of America. The SFGS have, over a period of time garnered a highly prized collection of awards and tributes from across the world for their consummate performances which effortlessly lifts the spirits and enriches the souls of their audiences whilst at the same time bringing joy and comfort to them.

SFGS’s magnificent vocal talents and musical skills are exuberantly displayed here on this album; when they come together to perform the numbers, each one of them takes it in turn to provide the lead vocals for a specific number, so each singer can eloquently emphasise and  focus on the differing meanings of each individual number.

The fourteen numbers on the album are a fascinating mixture of original compositions, standards and gospel classics, Cassandra Mathews has not only created an intriguing and highly irresistible set of arrangements, but she also provides a solo piano accompaniment platform that is so resolute and stridently passionate that it urges on all of the performers to give suitably joyous performances to extol their strong beliefs and feelings.

It is only after hearing an album such as this that you begin to appreciate and understand not only the messages contained within, but also the immersed spiritual convictions and beliefs that are held by SFGS..

Finally, if only the vitality, force and majesty generated by such powerfully unaccompanied voices, doesn’t move you I’m afraid nothing will!

----- 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
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
[email protected]

BLUEHOUSE BAND
"WHO'S IN THE HOUSE"?
BEKAM RECORDS


Lead Guitar, Bass and Drums - it just doesn't get any more basic than that -there you have your fundamental three piece blues band.  However, when that three piece blues band is the BLUEHOUSE BAND, the words basic and fundamental seem to take on whole new meanings.

The BLUEHOUSE BAND consists of ROBBIE ALTAR on Lead Guitar and Vocals, RICHIE GOLDMAN on Bass Guitar, Bass Fiddle and Vocals and BOBBY "BBG" GOLDMAN on Drums and Spoons.  Special guests on individual tracks of "WHO'S IN THE HOUSE?" are: HOLLY DOHERTY on Vocals, BRYAN BASSETT on Slide Guitar, MICHAEL MARCIANO on Harp and the MOUNT BETHEL MUSIC MINISTRY CHOIR.

Local three piece bands, especially those who's members all have successful day jobs - as ALTAR, RICHIE and BBG do - are usually content with playing covers from the slew of artists available.  Not these guys.  On "WHO'S IN THE HOUSE?", their debut release, all thirteen tracks, except for the 40 seconds of "Over the Rainbow" used as the intro on "BLUESMAN TIM", are band originals.

 "WHO'S IN THE HOUSE" opens with a dynamite track appropriately titled "DYNOMITE".  It's a total all out, no holds barred jam, in which the guys waste no time letting you know they can kick some musical ass. It's pretty much what you should expect to hear lots more of on the next dozen tracks - and that's a good thing.

BLUEHOUSE gets into more of a traditional mode on "MAYBE SOMEDAY".  With RICHIE and BBG locked into a smooth groove on bass and drums, ALTAR (as he likes to be called) cuts it loose with lots of sharp blues guitar highlights and excellent vocal work.

To say that "BANG, BANG, BANG" totally rips is extremely understating it.  This one's like "Helter Skelter" taking a ride in a "Hot Rod Lincoln".  It features some of the best, and certainly the most furious rhythm on the track, it's got MICHAEL blowing some ferocious wind into the harp and ALTAR at his discs best on vocals.  WARNING: Listening to this track while driving may result in speeding citations - do so at your own risk!

The title says it all on "JUMPIN", and unless you're in a coma, that's exactly what this track will have you doin'.  No further explanation necessary for this one.

If you've ever traveled Highway I-95, there's absolutely no doubt in my mind that you've been in some type of horrific situation that made you think "There's got to be a blues song in here somewhere".  Well, BLUEHOUSE wrote it - "I-95" - and the lyrics could not have been more perfect.

Some of the discs best harmony can be heard on "GIMME THE NEWS", which features HOLLY DOHERTY on vocals and backup vocals.  Unfortunately, the song is short and it's HOLLY'S only appearance.  However, if she impresses you as much as she did me, you'll hit replay at least 4-5 times.  HOLLY'S, sharp, strong and sure vocals highlight this one.

Having known the person that the next song is dedicated to - "BLUESMAN TIM" - makes it a bit special.  Before moving on to that Big Blues Club in the sky, TIM pretty much never missed a live BLUEHOUSE show . And, if ALTAR, RICHIE and BBG have anything to say about it, he never will.  The guys wrote this song in his memory and play it at every gig making sure, that even if it's in spirit only, TIM will always be at their shows.  This hot Gospel Blues track is highlighted by ALTAR'S vocals and guitar, the back up vocals of the MOUNT BETHEL MUSIC MINISTRY CHOIR and smokin' rhythm that I'm sure will have you throwin' your hands in the air for TIM.

Over the last few years I have had the pleasure of being at many of this bands live performances.  From experience, let me tell you that the BLUEHOUSE BAND is a powerhouse trio that will rock your house.

Stop by www.bluehouseband.com and tell the guys that their friend the Blewzzman sent you.  Of course, while your there, I'd recommend you add a copy of "WHO'S IN THE HOUSE?" to your CD collection.

----- Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
























Artist: Lou DeAdder
Title: Altered Reality (The Insturmentals)
Label: Start It Up Records LDECD07

For more information go to: www.loudeadder.com 

Lou has been continuously perfecting his guitar style and approach to the music that he loves from the moment that he decided to take up the guitar and play at the very youthful age of twelve in 1964; his career started when he began performing in small sized gigs at the age of fifteen in his hometown of Brampton, Ontario; subsequently, Lou has over the years played his way across the length and breadth of Canada; either as solo artist or as part of  what seemed to be an endless number of band line-ups.

Now in 2007 with this his third release for Start-Up Records we find Lou pushing out the boundaries and leaving behind secure and accepted comfort zones which many other guitarists would cling to with desperation; his inquisitive and experimental nature causes him to venture into areas of sound and musical vision that many have yet to embrace. His musical explorations delve into various musical forms ranging from Blues through Rock and on to Heavy Metal, using the flexible genre of Jazz Fusion to meld all the differing styles into one continuous rollercoaster ride, which delivers an eyebrow raising, jaw dropping Catherine wheel of sound.

The electric, eclectic kinetic effect of Lou’s guitar playing entwined with the dexterously jagged horn section led by one Leo Sullivan not only results in pleasant surprises but also causes an addictive desire to hear the album again and again, to seek out further hidden gems.

In many ways this album reminds one, of the album “Wired” released by Jeff Beck in the seventies where his Jazz Rock/Fusion interpretations gave the numbers a stark and highly emotive edge. This album contains the same clean crisp searching edge; which also elevates it to another level.

Lou has written all nine highly original numbers; Lou; guitar, has a core band of three players; Brett Piekarz; bass and Enrique Loyola; drums,  joining them on this album are; Leo Sullivan; tenor, alto & baritone saxophone, Steve McDade; trumpet, flugelhorn, Bryden  Baird; trumpet, Marty Kolesnyk; Martin Aucoin; John Marmora; Steve O’Connor; Lance Anderson; organ, & Gary Craig; Franko Woodcock; drums.

This is a trip where you don’t need the acid!

----- 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
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
[email protected]

CHARLES "BIG DADDY" STALLINGS
"BLUES EVOLUTION"
TAI JERIA RECORD COMPANY


CHARLES "BIG DADDY" STALLINGS is one heck of an interesting musician.  Although there's no questioning his musical talent, nor his ability to sing and play the blues, his eccentric style seems to create a genre of it's own.  I discovered this charismatic character back in 2005, when he blew me away with his first release, "ONE NIGHT LOVER".  Now he's back, doing the same non-concentric work on fifteen songs with equally as many different styles.

Once again, CHARLES is surrounded by quite an entourage of talent on "BLUES EVOLUTION".  On guitar and vocals, and having written, produced and arranged all the tracks, CHARLES "BIG DADDY" STALLINGS is joined by: BILL PRATT on drums, keyboards, organ, strings and background vocals; TOMMY GUN & RON JENKINS on drums; GLENN WORKMAN on piano and organ; RONALD BLAND on bass and guitar solo; GAIL PARRISH on bass; JOE "E FLAT" THOMAS on sax; KELVIN ONEAL on trumpet and background vocals; MARK WENNER, RICH SAMPSON & STEVE LEVINE on harp; STERLING PETTERSON on guitar solo; JOE THOMAS, ALEYSHIA STALLINGS & QUESSE STALLINGS on background vocals; DEBORAH BROWN & MILVIA BRUNEL as the "female voices".  Gee, that's about as many people as you'll see at Camden Yards for an Orioles home game.

    "BLUES EVOLUTION", as eluded to earlier, contains fifteen original tracks that range from full blown horn blowin' boogie to good ol' harp blowin' down home blues, from the sounds of Soul Train to the sounds of futuristic funk, from disco dance songs to cowboy dance songs and from instrumental concertos to booty slappin' rap.  You think I'm kiddin?  Come along and listen..........

After a short intro, the blues party kicks off with "LET'S BOOGIE".  This is a smokin', four and a half minute instrumental that eventually gets around to featuring each and every instrument in the band.  And as you'd expect, everyone's peaking.  An absolutely perfect way to start things off.

"GOING DOWN SOUTH" also goes down a few decibels......quite a few.  It's a bluesy track which features some sharp harp work by MARK WENNER and great rhythm by GAIL & RON.  The lyrics on this one, aside from being very well sung, are totally bizarre....I'm not even going to attempt to explain them.

"HARD TIMES / GOOD TIMES" is pretty much the best down home blues track on the disc.  Once again, along with some smooth piano by GLENN, MARK'S harp is the highlight on this one.

All of us who have been working hard at keeping the blues alive will be happy to know that it's survived to the year "2999".  The very clever lyrics on this one are about some very disappointed Martians who greet a bunch of earthlings arriving on their planet - but they didn't bring any blues music with them.  It seems these Martians are blues fans and were hoping to hear Jimmy Reed, B B King and others.  Great song!

"CHA CHA 3000" is an outstanding instrumental.  The contrast, or dare I say the clashing of instruments on this track is amazing.  At times, the piano and organ playing of GLENN and BILL make you think you're listening to the soundtrack of a 1940's Oscar winning movie, then the harp of STEVE LEVINE blatantly takes over and completely changes the sound, but yet things remain constant.  This all happens while the rhythm section of GAIL and RON make you feel like you're watching Ricky Ricardo at the Copa Cabana.  If none of that made sense to you, you need to hear this track.

Some of CHARLES' best vocals and guitar work can be heard on "STRANGE THINGS".  This one is good ol' straight up, in your face, it don't get any better than this, Chicago Blues.

Other tracks, which you'll no doubt enjoy but I just don't have the space to cover are: "BLUES TRAIN EXPRESS", "BLUES LINE DANCE", "BLUES COWBOY", "HOBBSVILLE # 2", "BOOTY SLAPPIN", "HAND DANCIN", "HOLA SENIORITA" and "THANK-YOU BOOGIE".

If you've yet to discover CHARLES "BIG DADDY" STALLINGS, it's time you have.  This cat is a little bizarre, a little humorous, a little delirious, a little facetious, a little farcical, but when you get right down to it, CHARLES "BIG DADDY" STALLINGS is a lot entertaining.

Check him out at www.bigdaddystallings.com.  While you're there, tell him you heard the Blewzzman talkin' 'bout him and grab yourself a few CD's as well.

----- Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro











































































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
[email protected]

NATIONAL WOMEN IN BLUES
VOLUME 1
JOMAR RECORDS

This project has had me excited from the very first minute I was asked to be involved with it.  Working with MICHELE SEIDMAN at "THE NATIONAL WOMEN IN BLUES FESTIVAL" and SCOTT THORNTON at JOMAR RECORDS, has been an absolute pleasure.  Being asked to write the liner notes for the "NATIONAL WOMEN IN BLUES" CD was one of the biggest thrills that the blues has bestowed upon me.  Now I get to savor the thrill even further, by sharing my thoughts about the music with all of you.  Man, it just doesn't get any better than this for this over zealous blues fan.

 "NATIONAL WOMEN IN BLUES" is a compilation CD that includes sixteen original tracks by sixteen different, astounding, women in blues.  These women are talented singers, talented songwriters, talented musicians and on top of that, they all have looks as well.  I guess this is what it means to have it all goin' on.

In order to be fair to all of these lovely ladies, and more importantly - because each and every track certainly rates recognition, I'm going to say something about all the songs.  Having said that, let's start talking about the  "NATIONAL WOMEN IN BLUES".

The disc opens with SANDY ATKINSON sexily telling someone to "LET YOUR HAIR DOWN BABY".....and fool around with me.  Typically, words a man does not need to be told twice.  This one features great vocals and guitar by SANDY and lots of rockin' by a great rhythm section.

On the next track, PATTY BENSON sings about how it took "2,666 MILES" to get over him.  Hmmm, ya can't help but wonder if the 666 mile part of the trip is any indication as to how devilish this character really was.  Lots of great horns and a hot organ backing up PATTY and her vibrant vocals.

JULIE BLACK sings about what it takes to "LOVE THIS MOMMA", and the sultriness with which it's sung makes you want to do just that.  This beautifully delivered track is highlighted by a constant and soft organ in the background with very smooth and precise piano playing.  Good stuff right here.

The funksters and the dancers will absolutely love "ON MY WAY", by KELLY DEES.  This one's got a totally frantic and funkified jam thing going on.  Let the party begin.

NICOLE HART belts out some seriously soulful and very bluesy vocals on "THINK ABOUT LOVE".  She really gets to show her broad and versatile range on this lovely ballad.  This one's also highlighted by more great organ and guitar work.

"ASK YOUR MAN", by PAT HUNTER is a great rhythm and blues number that's nice and heavy on the blues.  PAT'S strong vocals are nicely supported by several very good back up singers.  The blues guitar on this one is some of the best on the disc.

If you've ever strolled the side streets of the French Quarter and wandered into one of those obscure joints that didn't have a sign out front but did have a bar and a piano inside, then one listen to "MIDNIGHT HOUR BLUES", by SOPHIE KAY, will bring you right back to that joint.  Great Nawlin's style vocals and piano on this one.

"WATCH ME WORK IT", is ANDREA MARR'S contribution to the project.  Having already had the pleasure of reviewing her disc of the same title, I knew what I was in for here.  ANDREA displays lots of attitude on this strong vocal effort backed up by great organ and guitar work.

OCTAVIA belts out the blues from the gut on "SERVICE CALL".  This one is good old raunchy blues at it's best.  Hot, rippin' raw guitar, harmonica and vocals highlight one of the discs real smokers.

As LARA PRICE gets driven "CRAZY", she tells about it in this slow and soulful ballad.  Exceptional vocals and outstanding low down and dirty blues guitar make this one the best.  Eight minutes in length also makes it that much more pleasurable 'cause this is the kinda stuff you can listen to for hours on end.

PEGGY RATUSZ musically and vocally paints a very soothing, passionate and sensual picture as she sings about being on a "SEXUAL HIGH".  Trust me on this one, this sultry mood setting music is not intended to be listened to while typing a review.

"CHEATING ON ME",  by SUZANNE THOMAS, is a nice blend of soul, R&B and funk.  It features some of the discs best rhythm and has possibly one of the discs best guitar solos.

"THAT'S A PRETY GOOD LOVE" is a jumpin' jazzed up tune done by someone who's name you just may hear mentioned at this years Blues Music Awards - GINA SICILIA.  Great baritone sax and percussion work highlight this track.

SARAH LEMIEUX is cooking up a "BLUES STEW".  Just a few of the ingredients she's using are sass, soul and sultry - all in abundant amounts.  Great vocals, guitar and possibly the discs best drum work highlight this one.

MICHELE SEIDMAN, The "WOMEN IN BLUES FESTIVAL" organizer herself, sings about something I am all too familiar with and easily relate to - "MIDDLE AGED BONES".  As MICHELE points out, "they may look good on the outside, but it feels so bad inside".  And I can't agree more with her claim that they "creek and they moan".  This one's good ol' rockin' blues.

MICHELE LUNDEEN, or to those of us who know her better - the "QUEEN OF STEAM", seems to be "STARTING ALL OVER AGAIN".  Simply said, this track kicks ass.  MICHELE has one of the most powerful voices in the blues today and she's got the confidence to back it up.  Having already done a review of her CD titled "SONG INSIDE ME", I was looking forward to hearing this one.  Top notch accompanying musicians add to the quality of this one.

MICHELE SEIDMAN and SCOTT THORNTON should be very proud of themselves and deserve tremendous recognition for there efforts.  MICHELE for being THE woman in THE WOMEN IN BLUES FESTIVAL and SCOTT @ JOMAR RECORDS for putting out - which more than likely will be this years best compilation CD - "NATIONAL WOMEN IN BLUES". 

Below are the links to everyone involved with this project.  Please stop by and check them out.  While your there, pick up some of their products and don't be shy - tell them Pete the Blewzzman sent ya'.
www.jomarrecords.com                                         www.myspace.com/theblueschurch
www.sandyatkinson.net                                        www.myspace.com/pattybenson
www.angelforblues.com                                        www.kellydees.com
www.thenrgband.com                                           www.misbhavin.com
www.myspace.com/misssophieherbluesboyz         www.saralemieux.com
www.michelelundeen.com                                     www.myspace.com/andreamarrband
www.octaviablues.com                                         www.laraprice.com
www.peggyratusz.com                                          www.micheleandthemidnightblues.com
www.ginasicilia.com

----- Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro



























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
[email protected]

KENNY ACOSTA
"FULL MOON ON BLUES STREET"

ROCKIN' CAMEL MUSIC


Down in Louisiana, along the banks of the Mississippi River, there's a very soulful and charismatic blues man who's currently paying his dues, while quickly working his way up to becoming a household name in the blues community.  No, I don't mean that Delta Blues Man, he's already a household name.  However if you did take the legendary Dr. John, dispatched him of his voodoo and elixirs, made him a bit more articulate and stood him behind a guitar rather than sat him in front of a piano - you'd now have the blues man I'm talkin' about -KENNY ACOSTA.

On "FULL MOON ON BLUES STREET", his third release, KENNY ACOSTA on guitar and vocals, is joined by: SHAWN MANGUNO and BILL STEWART on drums; MIGUEL HERNANDEZ on bass; N C THURMAN on Hammond B3 organ and piano; and KEVIN MC KENDREE on Hammond B3 organ.

The disc opens with an original - which at a recent live show, KENNY announced that he had written for his lovely wife SUE - titled "NOBODY'S BETTER THAN YOU".  KENNY seems very happy to announce that as a result of nobody being better than her, that nobody has it better than him.  The song is slow but funky and features good soulful vocals by KENNY, backed up by a mellow yet funky rhythm section.

Some of KENNY'S best vocals can be heard on the slow and soulful Ray Charles ballad called "HARD TIMES".  It's stuff like this that is quickly making KENNY ACOSTA one of my favorite blues vocalists.

KENNY does an absolutely masterful version of one of my personal all time favorite blues songs - "I STILL HAVE THE BLUES FOR YOU" by Gary Moore.  This ballad is all about Kenny.  With the band in a real soft groove behind him, KENNY just tears it up on the vocals and his precise picking on the piercing guitar notes.  This one is by far the best track on the disc.  While writing this paragraph, I may have hit the replay button on the media player more than I did the keypad.

Hearing the sorrow in KENNY'S voice, as he sings about the great flood of 1927 on a track called "LOUISIANA", would make one think he was singing about something he had lived through.  Thankfully he hadn't.  But then again, this Baton Rouge native does have Katrina - which offered some horrible similarities - fresh in his mind.  More great vocals on this one.

This disc, which was rich with slow and soulful ballads, appropriately ends with one of the best slow and soulful ballads of all time - "HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN".  Interestingly enough though, KENNY'S version, about halfway through, picks it up a notch.  Great rhythm by BILL and MIGUEL on drum and bass on this one.

Other tracks on "FULL MOON ON BLUES STREET" include "BOOGIE CHILLEN", "MR. CHARLIE", "JUST TO HAVE THE BLUES", "POLK SALAD" and "THE THRILL IS GONE".

If KENNY ACOSTA should ever decide to take a trip to the Crossroads, there would be "no way in hell" the devil could afford his soul - there's just way to much of it.

Visit KENNY at www.kennyacosta.com and while you're there, tell KENNY you stopped by to see what the Blewzzman had to say about his last disc - "SPANISH TOWN MARDI GRAS".  Then do yourself a real favor - buy them both.

----- Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro



















Artist: Roomful of Blues
Title:
Raisin’ a Ruckus’
Label: Alligator ALCD 4919

For more information go to www.alligator.com

Would you credit it! Forty years on, even with bubbling and percolating personnel changes; Roomful are still happily boogieing on and now  have their nineteenth album unleashed upon an expectant, ever growing, excited and anticipating band of followers; which, I feel, will certainly not be disappointed with this album. For here we have a glittering collection of fourteen numbers, some old and some new; which ooze out of the speakers with a  sparkling, brash, confident sound that is full of that Forties vim, vigour and swing.

For those of you who are not familiar with the sound of RoB, they are (especially on this album,) musically in the same vein as Bill Wymans’ Rhythm Kings.

The new RoB line up is; Dave Howard; vocals & harmonica, Chris Vachon; guitar, Rich Lataille; tenor& alto saxophone, Bob Enos; trumpet, Mark Earley; tenor & baritone saxophone, Travis Colby; piano & organ, Dimitry Gorodetsky; upright and electric bass and Ephraim Lowell; drums.

Daves’ vocals are an extremely satisfying mixture of wrap around coarse emery cloth and sweet, delicious honey; inviting yet warning of something not quite nice. Chris’s richly textured, deep guitar work fuses well with Rich Latailles’ extremely mellow but, at times rampant horn section; that is brimming over with serious jump and jive enthusiasm.

Whether it be hard driving bluesy swing, sax & piano led jazz shuffles, pitiful pleading or good, old fashioned piano-led foot stompers; RoB are still pumping out first class Jivers!

Something for the weekend, I think!

----- Brian Harman






BIG GEORGE BROCK
Live At Seventy Five

Cat Head CH1004


www.cathead.biz

At 75 years old, Big George Brock is finally beginning to reap the rewards his talent deserves. As this CD, his third for Cat Head, proves, he plays the no-frills blues, raw and uncompromising, his gruff voice bearing traces of Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf, his harmonica playing pared-down and functional – and he demands (and gets) the same qualities from his accompanists.
The result is southern down-home blues as good as it gets, recorded on its home turf at Clarksdale’s Ground Zero Blues Club (co-owned by movie star Morgan Freeman) in May 2007. Why, Big George even has veteran King Biscuit Time announcer Sonny Payne (56 years and still going strong!) to introduce him. The blues in its natural habitat – or as near as you are going to get it these days Highly recommended of course.


----- 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
[email protected]

DANNY BROOKS
"NO EASY WAY OUT"
ROCKIN' CAMEL MUSIC

Although this is his first release for Rockin' Camel Music, "NO EASY WAY OUT" by DANNY BROOKS, is the third disc of his to be reviewed here at Mary4Music.com.  Congratulations Danny, on being the first musician to "three-peat" with us.

As usual, when DANNY goes to work recording, he likes to bring his friends - lots of them.  While employing nearly as many people as a General Motors Plant on each of his discs, he simultaneously creates havoc for writers like myself - those of us who feel that if a person was responsible for any kind of noise coming off the disc, they should be credited for that noise.  Having said that, let me now introduce you to DANNY'S musical assembly line.  Joining DANNY, who sings all of the vocals, plays acoustic guitar, slide dobro, harp, and who wrote most of the discs tracks are: BILL STEWART & ROGER HAWKINS on drums; DAVID HOOD on bass; KELVIN HOLLY on electric, acoustic, baritone and lap steel guitars and electric sitar; KEVIN MCKENDREE & SPOONER OLDHAM on piano and Hammond B3 organ; N. C. THURMAN on piano; CHARLES ROSE on trombone; HARVEY THOMPSON on tenor and baritone sax; VINCE CIELESKI & KEN WATERS on trumpet; JAMES PENNEBAKER on acoustic and steel guitar; JOHNNIE SANDLIN on trombone, percussion, tambourine, and hand claps; SCOTT BOYER on electric guitar and background vocals; BONNIE BRAMLETT, CARLA RUSSELL, TINA SWINDELL & JAY WILSON on background vocals;  ANN SANDLIN & JEFF COPPAGE on hand claps.

"AIN'T THAT THE TRUTH" is DANNY'S response to his own statement of "it just don't get much better than that".  These are a few of the phrases DANNY uses as he testifies about several influential blues concerts he's attended, the first being at the age of fifteen.  It seems that bearing witness to Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Taj Mahal, Jessie Edward Davis, Ry Cooder, the Five Blind Boys of Alabama and Susan Tedeschi was an awakening of sorts for young DANNY - apparently, his blues torch was lit.  "Ain't that the truth" could very well be my response to this being the runaway track on the disc.  On top of DANNY tearing it up on the vocals, this one's also highlighted by his harp, the smokin' horn section and KEVIN rippin' away on the piano.  "Song of the Year" are words that should be used in conjunction with this track title.

"NO EASY WAY OUT" is another of DANNY'S tracks - and I'm sure there will be others - that, once again, "Ain't that the truth" can be said to.  As DANNY points out with these very truthful lyrics. "there are many easy ways down, but there are no easy ways out".  Amen!  The outstanding and realistic vocals are so perfectly sung by DANNY and BONNIE with great support from CARLA and SCOTT.  Great rhythm's provided by BILL and DAVID on this one.

Fans of Gospel, Soul, Country and Blues are all going to notice their genre represented on "KEYS TO MY HEART".  This soulful ballad is - as all tracks are - highlighted by more amazing vocals by DANNY and smooth steel guitar by JAMES.

"MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE" is a smoker that has CHARLES, HARVEY and VINNIE in full throttle on their horns, the rhythm section doing double time, and rest of the band in an all out jam.  Everyone's working it out on this hot one.

Other tracks on "NO EASY WAY OUT" are: "ALL GOD'S CHILDREN", "BAMA BOUND", "MIRACLES FOR BREAKFAST", "LONESOME ROAD", "WHERE SINNERS AND SAINTS COLLIDE", "I BELIEVE IN LOVE" and "CARRY ME JESUS".

In a recent correspondence from Danny complimenting me on a review of mine that he had just read, he states that "If I ever run for an office, I'll be calling you to write my speeches".  To that I say "DANNY, if you are even remotely the kind of person your music suggests you are - and I believe you are, the world would be a better place with a person like you in office.  Keep up the good work my friend.

Check DANNY BROOKS out at www.dannybrooksmusic.com.  While you're there, tell him Pete the Blewzzman sent ya and I recommended you buy all three of his last releases.

----- Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro






















Artist: Eric Lindell
Title:
Low on Cash, Rich in Love
Label: Alligator ALCD 4918

For more information go to www.alligator.com

Eric was born in San Mateo, California in 1969; when the state was at its flowering heights and as a consequence of his fortunate happenstance of a birthplace he was, subsequently, musically and culturally ‘atmospherically soaked’ with all the widely differing influences that San Francisco had to offer. During, his formative years after performing alone and in various band line-ups in clubs up and down the West coast; he finally formed his own band in 1993.

Eric garnered such a positive reputation for his live performances that many well-known blues players such as; Charlie Musselwhite and Tom Waits came to see just what people were talking about. He then went to New York in 1998 but only stayed in the city for a year and subsequently decamped to New Orleans, he soon found his musical niche in bars in and around the Louisiana, West Bank area of Gretna and Algiers. Playing alongside and befriending such artists as Harold Brown and Johnny Vidacovich which in turn led to further introductions and friendships with the likes of; Branford Marsalis and The Neville Brothers.

With this, the always tricky ‘second album’ for Alligator Records, I feel that Eric has successfully navigated the pitfalls that would normally bury most solo artists with his unique ability to merge the swampy soul filled harmonica and piano led New Orleans sounds with hard edged, sweaty brass and horn, all of which are entwined with Jazz tinged guitar runs that are all wrapped up in a sometimes sun drenched, laid back seventies Californian ‘cool as a cucumber’ attitude.

All bar one of the twelve numbers on this album are Eric originals and to say that they are understated and enticing is an understatement.

Joining Eric; vocals, guitar and harmonica, are; Chris Mule; guitar, Aaron Wilkinson; bass, Chris Pluant; drums, Blake Nolte; tenor & alto saxophone, Mark Adams; piano, organ, and Jimmy Carter; tenor saxophone.

What more can I say; other than, “pass me that sunshade and a long, iced cool drink”.

----- Brian Harman











DOUG JAY
Under The Radar

Crosscut CCD 11094

www.crosscut.de

Harmonica player and singer Doug is a native of Washington DC and a veteran of the East and West Coast blues scenes. He now works largely in Europe, leading his band The Blue Jays, which comprises two Germans and a Dutchman – but that preamble certainly does not prepare you for the musical delights on this CD, his second for Crosscut.

Whether Doug and fellows are musically down in the Crescent City, out in California deputising for the great George Smith, in 1940s Chicago or in Europe right now, it does not really matter. They are accomplished in all these styles, and Doug has a warm, flexible voice that adapts to whatever is required, whilst his compositions are unfailingly interesting and memorable. His guitarist Christoph ‘Jimmy’ Reiter is similarly skilled and often gets almost as much acclaim as the leader, whilst the rhythm section is one of the best on the continent. The renowned German pianist Christian Rannenberg also guests, as do saxmen Gordon Beadle and Tino Barker.

The results are admirable, unfailingly entertaining and very distinctive, a varied selection of top-notch modern day blues. Recommended of course.

----- Norman Darwen








































CATHY  PONTON  KING
UNDERTOW

LONG GONE RECORDS 1002

It’s hard enough to create a new album even when you’ve got all the time in the world. For Vienna, VA-based singer/guitarist Cathy Ponton King, it’s been particularly a struggle, actually a labor of love five years in the making wherein she’s had to make time nearly each night for this endeavor while juggling the roles of working mother and career woman—not to mention frequent entertainer. “It was like giving birth,” she says. But knowing Cathy, it’s always been a matter of quality rather than quantity. It’s hard to believe that her last such undertaking, Lovin’ You Right, is already fourteen years behind her, a sterling calling card which served her in good stead for many years as her “message in a bottle,” being constantly “discovered” anew both here and abroad. And there is no reason to doubt that Undertow won’t further cement her reputation as one, if not the premier female blues interpreter of the Mid-Atlantic region.

Some listeners, if they are expecting the usual 12-bar blues format, might be disappointed, but as its title suggests, all the songs contained therein have a basic blues “undertow.” “It has bedrock blues elements. Why limit myself?  Why should I be shackled to any such formula?” says Cathy in explaining her approach to these recordings which, by the way, are all well crafted, refreshingly original compositions written by either her or her producer/husband Jeff King. And anyone who has ever witnessed any of her performances can attest to the fact that she has always straddled multiple musical genres from folk to jazz to hillbilly to gut bucket blues. In fact, onstage she’s likely to pull anything out of her hat.

I guess I’m prone to hyberbole, but I have to admit that this CD is the genuine article, one of the best packages to come down the pike in years, and aside from a cameo harp appearance by her late father Tommy, “Pop Harpin’,” all of the tracks can stand on their own merits, and indeed are superb. At least a good half dozen are every bit as memorable as anything being proffered to the public today, including the C&W flavored, sassy “Little Bridge,” (which kicks off the album) with its punchy, funky horn section of Bruce Swain (sax), John Jensen (trombone), and Chris Battisone (trumpet). Nashville, are you listening? Then there’s the jazzy and breezy “Since You’ve Gone,” wherein Cathy is ably backed by members of her own stage band—Bob Berberich on drums, Jim Robeson on bass, and the great Bill Starks on piano, who provides an absolutely scintillating solo. The following cut, “Comfort & Blessings,” finds Cathy chugging along in a catchy, Willie Mitchell/ Al Greene groove. And the last three tracks are all solid winners, including the rollicking, Otis Redding-like “Soul Touch” and two plaintive, introspective ballads—the wistful “Soft Sound” and achingly bittersweet “Undertow,” both expressing intensely personal feelings of regret and longing.

Cathy’s voice, too, over the years has become quite refined, evolving into a mellow, rich, and subtly shaded instrument which both complements and reinforces the mature themes expressed in most of the songs. From a perspective of over three decades as a performer, it’s obvious that she has grown commensurately as an artist and now is confidently in complete control of her material.

Kudos also go out to Jim Robeson (a two time Grammy winner—Mary Chapin Carpenter and Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer) who wore many hats in this affair, including producer, engineer, editor, mixer, and even background singer and who has patiently been onboard this project from the outset, ensuring that its technical sound quality is second to none. And it also doesn’t hurt in the least that it was recorded at perhaps the best facility in the area—Bias Studios in Springfield, VA. 

Undertow is undoubtedly the magnum opus of Cathy Ponton King, a magnificent achievement well worth the wait. And most certainly will prove to be a breakthrough. Believe me, Undertow will not go unnoticed.

PS: Undertow can be obtained through www.cdbaby.com or through Long Gone Records at P.O. Box 3463, Merrifield, VA, 22116. Cathy King’s extensive biography can be found at:  www.bluesart.at/NeueSeiten/Arch03.html

----- Larry Benicewicz





VARIOUS ARTISTS
Let’s Have A Ball
SPV/ Blue 50992 CD

www.SPV.de

This is a 24 track collection of vocal groups who recorded in New York and Chicago in the fifties, many of them for Bobby Robinson up in Harlem or for the Vee-Jay label further west. Some, such as the Spaniels, The Du-Droppers, The Dells and The El-Doradoes, are well-known, whilst others are virtual unknowns. Some, such as the Channels, present classic doo-wop, whilst others offer more jumping group R&B sounds.
What this CD does have consistently is fine music and noteworthy performances from a variety of acts that made significant contributions to fifties Rhythm & Blues.


----- Norman Darwen














DION
The Road I’m On – A Retrospective

SPV/ Yellow 42312 2CD


www.SPV.de

Dion DiMucci has received quite a lot of attention for his two recent blues releases, 2006’s ‘Bronx In Blue’ and 2007’s ‘Son Of Skip James’, both available via SPV/ Blue. This double CD, an overview of the singer’s time at Columbia Records between 1962 and 1968, demonstrates that this interest in the blues is certainly nothing new for the rock and roll star.

Indeed, Dion’s rock and roll style is extremely bluesy in itself - try his hit remake of the 1956 Drifters song ‘Ruby Baby’ for a good example – and sticking with the groups, he also exhibits an in-depth knowledge of doo-wop with a couple of excellent versions of Cleftones’ numbers among other things. The blues itself certainly became obvious within a year or two of Dion’s inking with the label. He famously discovered Robert Johnson via John Hammond Sr., who was of course working at Columbia, and here he sings the blues his own way – and his sources include Sleepy John Estes, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and Big Joe Williams. It is important to note that these recordings pre-date the ‘British invasion’ which was supposed to have reintroduced all these kinds of sounds to America! Moving on, Dion shows an interest in Bob Dylan – acoustic and electric – and on to folk-rock and late sixties styled sounds.

This may not be a set for the blues purists, but it is extremely interesting and enjoyable in its entirety. Well worth checking out if you enjoyed Dion first time around or if you have just discovered him from those blues albums.

----- Norman Darwen













BILLY C. FARLOW
Billy C And The Sunshine / The Lost 70s Tapes
SPV/ Blue 50942 2CD


www.SPV.de

Billy C Farlow has appeared in Europe quite frequently over the last few years, but many blues fans may well still be unaware of him. He is probably best known for his role with seventies ‘cosmic cowboy’ band Commander Cody & The Lost Planet Airmen (though SPV has done much to help in justifiably redefining the band as pioneers of ‘Americana’ and ‘roots’ music) but these days he is perhaps more often to be seen as a blues harmonica player.
This double CD presents two distinct phases of Billy’s career: the first consists of demos and live recordings and though the sound may be less than perfect, there is enough here to validate Billy’s claim that by the mid-sixties Billy C And The Sunshine was the first white blues band of any significance in Detroit (and there are four titles with Chicago drummer Sam Lay). This material may not be ground-breaking musically but it is certainly interesting to hear the band developing from the raw jug band sound of the opener into a full electric band on which the influence of Rice Miller aka Sonny Boy Williamson No. 2 is quite marked.
The second CD gathers together post Commander Cody studio and live recordings and is much more country oriented, though those at all familiar with Billy’s projects will know that the band would take great delight in mangling such a statement – there is plenty of country boogie, rock and roll and even country-funk.

Well worth a listen and I look forward to reading Billy’s forthcoming autobiography!

----- Norman Darwen
















Artist: Ricky Gene Hall & the Good Guys
Title:
Ricky Gene Hall & the Good Guys
Label: Yard Dog Records

For more information go to: www.rghgoods.com

Well dear reader, this is the debut album from Ricky Gene Hall; lead vocals, guitar and harmonica and his good friends Tom Martin; bass and Rocky Evans; drums, who as you will have guessed are the Good Guys. First impressions are that we thankfully are not entering into a riff laden dirge-like power boogie black hole, as some trios sadly produce to compensate for a lack of skill and  invention; but a highly articulate and colourful piece of music littered with bright, sparkling elements of musical light and shade, which are deftly placed throughout the album.

Influences on this band seem to be like sweets in a sweetshop ‘all around us and almost too many to choose from.’  Although some of you may disagree with me; I feel that the bands overall sound is a loose amalgam of ‘Free,’ and Three Dog Night’ peppered with elements of contemplative bluesy Jazz, Rock and goodtime Country rockin’.

Ricky, Tom and Rocky have pursued separate careers over the years taking them into various musical avenues but eventually came together in the summer of 2007 in Ohio (Ricky’s hometown) to form this trio. Five of the thirteen numbers here are sparkling and intriguing Ricky originals, the other eight covers are also treated to refreshingly interesting and respectful interpretations; I must add though that they are not dissimilar to the originals they just feel slightly different.

This album is very satisfying and enjoyable on many levels; soothing, rocking, bluesy and as they say round here, Smashing!

----- Brian Harman

































Artist: Ellis Hooks
Title:
Another Saturday Morning
Label: Evidence Music ECD 26134 2 (American catalogue numbers)

For more information go to: www.evidencemusic.com

This is the fifth album from Ellis, created in partnership with his producer and band leader Jon Tiven; who he was introduced to by a friend in New York in 2000. Ellis; being one of a family of sixteen children in Mobile Alabama, found his young life was not one that was particularly luxurious or fun filled. Added to which the strict Baptist family rules that his parents followed virtually excluded a young Ellis from the rest of the local known world; so at the age of fourteen after found listening to the local radio station rather than taking a greater interest in the church choir, that which he was part of; his parents strangely, took the seriously drastic decision of throwing him out of his house and home.

As a consequence of this action he, by one means or another travelled across America, taking on casual work to fund his roaming lifestyle. Eventually, he found himself at the age of eighteen in New York and took to busking for a living. His taste for busking and the open road subsequently led to a seven year busking tour of the world, this included residing in Paris and Amsterdam for a brief respite from his travels. He returned to New York at the age of twenty five with intentions of putting a band together, but, despite his best efforts it was to no avail. So with a great change of mind and heart he seriously contemplated returning to his hometown after turning to the cloth and becoming a preacher.

It was at this point that the chance meeting with Jon Tiven occurred and series of life changing events over a short period took place for Ellis.

The consequences of which, brings us to the here and now.

Ellis has managed over time to merge a good deal of influences together without necessarily short changing the listener, who may savour, not only deep southern soul infused numbers but examples of the harder biting northern staccato edged movers that people groove to whilst yet still retaining a twenty first century approach to the music. Ellis’s voice has a combination of Sam Cooke’s sweet suaveness and the rasping harshness of James Brown, which is used to great effect on the more rock underpinned selections on the album.

Writing credits go to Ellis Hooks, John and Sally Tiven, who together wrote the sixteen numbers on the album. The musicians playing on the album are; Ellis; Lead vocals, Jon Tiven; guitars, sitar, piano, organ, alto and tenor saxophone, harmonica and drums. Sally Tiven; bass. Mason Casey; harmonica,  The drums are played by Mat Reale; Chester Thompson; Todd Snare; Billy Block; Craig Krampf, Simon Kirke, and Greg Morrow.

This album contains elements of the old, the new and quite possibly what might be the future; rock driven blues and soul?  Only time will tell.

Despite its lurking rock elements the album is well worth a spin! 

----- Brian Harman

Please, send your blues CD's - DVD's with promo-photos and bio to:
BluesArtStudio, c/o F. SVACINA, A-1223 Vienna, P.O.Box 54
Worldcopyright © 1998-2007 BluesArtStudio, USA - AT