Milligan Vaughan Project….Some Satisfaction for the Soul!

MPV

It must be pretty cool to have a dad, Jimmie Vaughan, who is a legendary blues man and an uncle, Stevie Ray Vaughan, that helped define the rockin’ blues genre but I can’t imagine the amount of pressure that goes with following in their footsteps and playin a guitar!  Tyrone Vaughan has done just that and acquitted himself well.  Combining forces with a well known and respected Texas blues and soul singer, Malford Milligan, they have produced a fine album called the Milligan Vaughan Project.

The album was recorded in Austin in between tour dates throughout Texas and produced by David Grissom.  It features original tunes written by Milligan, Vaughan, and Grissom and songs penned by Davey Knowles and Gene McDaneils. There is also  one fantastic cover of Buddy Guy’s Leave My Girl Alone.  Tyrone does a fine job of emulating Stevie Ray on the recording and I just know his uncle must be grinnin’ from ear to ear up there with the rest of the giants of the blues.

The music on the album is a creative mix of blues, rock, and soul.  My favorite track is a hot upbeat number entitled Soul Satisfaction. Malford has a voice similar to another favorite artist of mine, Joe Louis Walker, and his gritty delivery works well on the blues rockin song Dangerous Eyes. I also enjoyed Tyrone’s guitar licks amid the social commentary of Compared to What and on the tune Driving You.

Tyrone has an exciting future in front of him and it will be interesting to see how things work out for the Milligan Vaughan Project as time goes on.  But rest assured that Tyrone is not “trading on the family name”; he is very very good and deserves to be listened to….even if his last name was Jones!

 

s

Advertisements

Al Basile counts that Quiet Money as he Swings the Blues!

Al-Basile-Quiet-Money-Hi-Res-Cover-150x150

To me, Al Basile is the Randy Newman of the blues.  A talented song writer, as well as cornet player who has been playin’  for over forty years, Al has a nice vocal delivery similar to Randy’s and a penchant for songs that paint vivid images. His last recording, Mid-Century Modern, was nominated for 2016 Contemporary Blues Album of the year and his new album, Quiet Money, delivers some great forties and fifties style R&B and swing with the backing of Duke Robillard (who also produced the album) and several members of his former band, Roomful of Blues.  If you like your blues smooth and primarily upbeat, you are gonna love it!

I enjoyed Put Some Salt on It and Simple Ain’t Easy It which feature some nice guitar playin by the Duke.  On Time Is Now, Al lays down a cornet solo that is great. And my favorite song on the CD is You Got Two…..give it a listen and you tell me if he doesn’t channel a bit of Randy Newman… blues style!

Another song that really struck me on the album was Who’s Gonna Close My Eyes?  It is a story of a lonely man who has outlived his family and is contemplating who will be there for his last days.  It’s a pretty slow song set to an R&B beat with plenty of the horns that Al loves so much.

In an age when flash and shock value seems to count for more than they should, here’s my bet on Quiet Money…..Tasteful and thought provoking blues can still deliver!!

Al Basile – Quiet Money     Sweetspot Records 2017

 

 

Continuing to Innovate….Dennis Johnson finds the Rhythm!

Dennis Johnson

Guitars have been widely available in America since back in 1894 when Sears & Roebuck began to sell them in their catalogs.  For $4 to $26 dollars, you could live on a remote ranch in Wyoming or in a shotgun shack in the Mississippi delta, and Sears would mail you an instrument to while the nights…and the blues away.  Certainly the most famous practitioner of the blues on guitar back in the early days of recorded music was Robert Johnson.  Playing throughout the twenties in the deep American south and finally recording in the mid 1930’s, he was an innovator on the guitar blending rhythm and slide phrases that are still marveled at by the likes of Eric Clapton and Buddy Guy. 

Today, we also have blues innovators on the guitar and one of them is Dennis Johnson from San Francisco. The sounds he produces playing slide are a joy to listen to. And on his third studio album, Rhythmland, he continues to explore new and interesting ways to deliver the blues.  The first cut of the album, Walkin Blues, is his interpretation of a classic blues tune that was first recorded by Son House and then adapted by Robert Johnson. Dennis has the perfect voice for this song and uses a 12 string dobro with a tone that leaps out at you as it begins….it is simply bad ass upbeat contemporary blues based on a song that is almost 90 years old!!!

Accompanied by his band the Mississippi Ramblers that consists of Tim Metz (drums), Jonathan Stoyanoff (bass) and Craig Long (keyboards and backing vocals), Dennis delivers a number of other great songs (all originals) that will make my DJ playlists and be featured on my 24 hour blues stream, Ben Vee Roadhouse Blues.  I particularly enjoyed Valley of Love for the slide work and High Heel Shoes and Fillmore Street are great upbeat dancin’ blues tunes.  The recreation of the sounds of a moving train on an acoustic guitar are just part of delightful song, Southbound Train, that always features some nice keyboard work.  The most interesting cut was Timbale featuring a latin cascara beat and some more innovative slide work that I just know my blues listeners and readers will love.

Blues folks all owe a debt to Sears & Roebuck for the innovation of the “home shopping” catalog way back in the day and our grateful thanks to blues slide guitar innovators like Dennis Johnson for his continuing and entertaining pursuit of the best possible contemporary blues while never losing sight of the debt we owe to the early blues men and women.  Download and listen to this CD……you will enjoy it!

Dennis Johnson & the Mississippi Ramblers – Root Tone Records 2017

Makin it Loud and Clear…..Steve Krase Aces the Harpin’ Blues

Steve Krase

It’s summertime and a perfect time for a backyard barbecue with friends, cold beer, and of course some bad ass harpin’ blues.  I suggest you buy Steve Krase‘s new CD, Should’ve Seen It Coming, and let the good times roll.  Steve is a Houston based harmonica stud with a penchant for loud and upbeat tunes and on his fourth album for the Connor Ray Music label does he ever deliver!

The first tune on the CD, Brand New Thang, is a great party tune featuring some virtuoso guitar playing by label mate Mark May. On the second song, Crazy For My Baby, Steve puts himself in the league with Little Walter, James Cotton, and Charlie Musselwhite with an excellent harmonica rendition of a Willie Dixon tune.  This song should receive serious consideration in the harmonica artist category of next year’s blues awards in Memphis.

I have a particular love  for “down the bayou” blues and Steve’s cover of Fat Domino’s Let the Four Winds Blow is a great addition to that playlist for my DJ sets.  I also enjoyed the Texas blues shuffle Make You Love Me Baby.  And my vote for the Just Crank It up and Dance tune of the album is Shot of Rhythm and Blues which features label mates Trudy Lynn and Bob Lanza.

The title cut (written by his brother David) is an interesting jazzy blues jam with some great saxophone playing by Alisha Pattillo, nice keyboard work by Randy Wall, and Steve’s harmonica work is stellar. Rock Romano (bass and the studio owner), David Carter (guitars), and Richard Cholakian (drums) round out a solid backing band for Steve.

Well, if you are ever in the Houston area and see Steve Krase on the club or concert bill, strap on your dancin’ shoes, grab yer Baby, and go have a damn good time!  And a quick look at his tour schedule shows he’ll be in New Jersey on my birthday, September 9th, along with Bob Lanza……hmmmm….that’s pretty close…maybe time for a short road trip to celebrate another year on the upside of the grass!

On The MARK….The Nighthawks new recording is fantastic Roadhouse Blues

Nighthawks

I’ve been a fan of the Washington DC based Nighthawks for a long time and they simply have out done themselves on their new CD, All You Gotta Do.  I count a gospel blues nomination, a harp instrumental nomination, and a Blues Song of the Year among the tracks on this 12 track masterpiece!!  Mark Wenner has fronted and guided the band for 43 years and it shows in the both the selection and performance of some badass roadhouse blues tunes. On their previous albums they have performed primarily original songs but on this one they expand their horizons to give several great classic blues tunes the Nighthawk touch including songs by Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, and RL Burnside.

The highlight of the album has to be a slow beautiful soul blues ballad Three Times Your Fool.  Mark Stutso, who wrote the song, puts his heart and soul into the performance and it should earn the band a sure fired nomination for song of the year.  And if there is a nomination for “Just Plain Bad Ass Rockin Blues” it has to be their reworking of RL Burnside’s Snake Drive. This trance blues tune has a infectious beat with great harmonica and guitar work.  They also kick out a jammin version of Sonny Boy Williamson’s Ninety Nine Dollars and a great version of Muddy Waters Baby I Want to Be Loved.

The Nighthawks also add some down the bayou spice to the recording with Voodoo Doll and Isn’t That So and take a side trip back to the sounds of the  fifties and sixties with a great reworked version of the original Standell’s song Dirty Water and Brenda Lee’s That’s All You Gotta Do.

And if that is not enough, Blues For Brother John, is a simple but great blues harmonica instrumental that deserves a nod for Mark Wenner in the harmonica category.  And to top it off Mark Stutso does a heart warming version of Levon Helm’s When I Go Away that is gospel blues at its finest.

The current lineup for the Nighthawks is Mark Wenner (vocals and harmonica), Mark Stutso (vocals and drums), Johnny Castle (vocals and bass) and Paul Bell (guitars).  The chemistry of the group is undeniable and the fact they are havin a damn good time comes through clearly on the recordings. Here’s to hoping they stay together for a long long time!

Ellersoul Records 2017

PS…if you feel like listenin’ to some roadhouse blues after reading this review….check out my 24 hour stream at http://www.s1.nexuscast.com:8043 .

The I-580 off ramp to the Summer Time 2017 Blues….with the Delta Wires

Delta-Wires-Photo-1-by-Dana-Davis

Delta Wires photo by Dana Davis

There is a great crisp upbeat blues sound emanating out of Oakland, California in the music of the Delta Wires!  A seven piece band with a 30 year vintage, the Delta Wires seventh album, Born in Oakland, is a magical mix of the West Coast blues that is fresh and relevant.  I couldn’t help envisioning Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi and the Blues Brothers just hollerin’ and cheerin’ as I listened to the new CD.  Their “mission from God to spread the blues” definitely reached the off ramps from I-580 to the bright side of the bay!! Band leader and on lead vocals and harmonica, Ernie Pinata started the band as a college project back in the day and the Delta Wires have matured into an exciting and original purveyor of the modern blues.

I absolutely love the song Vacation on the CD. It is the perfect tune released at the perfect time for me….and I bet for YOU!  Tom Gerrits (bass) and Tony Huszar (drums) lay down a steady rockin blues beat, Richard Healey rips it up on guitar, and the horn section consisting of Gerry Jonutz, David Bowman, and John Christensen give the song some unique spice that I think makes it a sure fired hit!  Wanna feel good, different, get outside, or get on the road to somewhere new…..just play this tune and the bags will almost pack themselves!

The album also features a great funky blues instrumental number, In the Middle, that showcases the talents of the horn section. Sunny Day and Fun Time are great little hip swayin’ chillin’ blues tunes, Your Eyes is some fine badass blues, and Devil’s In My Headset features some guitar licks and a sax solo I really enjoyed.

Kudos to acclaimed master engineer Bob Olhsson for marshaling the talents of the Delta Wires and transforming them into a powerful set of ten original cutting edge modern blues tunes!  This is the defining sound and album of the blues for the summer of 2017!

__________________

Have any comments or thoughts on the modern rockin’ blues or recommendations of groups I should listen to, drop me an email at benvee@yahoo.com.  And don’t forget to check out my 24 hr Roadhouse blues stream at http://s1.nexuscast.com:8043 !

 

Layin’ Down the Night Owl Blues with the Tucci Band

Tucci Olivia

The new Tucci Band album Olivia (2017 Hideaway Records) is a first rate rockin’ blues CD featuring the twin influences of the Chicago blues and the Allman Brothers Band sound that Steve Tucci has been associated with for a long time. “Doc” Tucci (yes.. he is a real doctor!) assembled a stellar cast of singers and guitar players to assist him (on guitar) and his brother Michael (on drums) including Larry McCray (vocals, guitar), Shawn Murphy (vocals, sax), Al Owen (vocals), Harry DeBusk (bass), Ira Stanley (slide guitar), Bob Dielman (guitar), Donnie Richards (organ) and Dan Ryan (keyboards). And on one very special cut, Play By the Rules, you get to hear one of the last recordings of the incredible Dan Toler on guitar. (Dan was with the Allman Brothers Band for three albums, the Greg Allman band on their hit records, and with Dickey Betts Great Southern band.)

Larry McCray is a fabulous bluesman in his own right with over a half dozen previous albums. He is featured on my favorite cut from the CD, High Roller, as well as on I Don’t Need It,  and the grindin’ blues tunes You Hurt Me and Without You.  I also enjoyed the title cut Olivia which is a funky blues song sung by Shawn Murphy and featuring some great slide guitar work by Ira Stanley. Additionally, Train Blues is a nice southern rockin’ blues jam that has some fantastic dueling guitar riffs from Steve and Larry.

This album does a great job of furthering the vision that Steve and Dan Toler had established on the first and only Toler Tucci Band album, Doc’s Hideaway.  Dan was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease during the recording of that album and passed away shortly after it was completed in early 2013.  The two of them wanted to write and record in an atmosphere of friendship and comradery.  With Olivia, that vision has been actualized among a group of friends who just happen to be some of the finest blues men on the planet. The CD demonstrates that the blues brotherhood they desired is alive and well and turnin’ out some bad ass tunes…Dan Toler would be proud!!