Some Badass 2017 Blues for a Sunday Night!

blues notes

My Sunday Night playlist for my Nov 26th blues set at 6 pm PST…….. the blues is doin’ just fine in 2017!!  Startin’ to think about my best of 2017 blues list…..stay tuned!!

Hope you listen to several or all of them over the next week and buy or gift them to your family & friends for the holidays!!  Support the Blues!!

 

ARTIST TITLE
Sugar Ray & The Bluetones You Know I Love You
Derrick Procell Why I Choose To Sing The Blues
Jack Mack & The Heart Attack Good Man Gone
Trudy Lynn Alright Baby
Dave Fields Doin’ Hard Time (feat. Joe Louis Walker)
Mississippi Heat The Last Go Round
Biscuit Miller She Likes to Boogie
Eliza Neals Another Lifetime
Beth Hart Love Gangster
Sugar Ray & the Bluetones Blind Date
Big Head Blues Club Hidden Charms
John Mayall Blue Midnight
Colin James Watch Out
JW-Jones Who I Am
John Ginty And Aster Pheonyx Captain Hook
Derrick Procell Trouble Me No More
Knickerbocker All-Stars Reap What You Sow
Thornetta Davis I Gotta Sang the Blues (ft Kim Wilson)
Elvin Bishop That’s What I’m Talkin’ About
Billy Price What Have I Done Wrong
Sean Chambers Bottle Keeps Staring at Me
Gregg Allman I Love The Life I Live
Hurricane Ruth Let Me Be the One
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Workin that Big Brass Mojo with the Original Blues Brothers Band

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The band began as part of a whimsical skit on NBC’s Saturday Night Live back in 1978. Fronted by Dan Akroyd and Jim Belushi as Jake and Elwood, the Original Blues Brothers band generated a renewed interest in big brass rhythm and blues that literally swept the world spawning concerts, movies, and huge increases in the sales of rhythm & blues and soul music.  With the release of The Last Shade of Blue Before Black, they remind us again of just what all the hub bub was about.

The Original Blues Brothers Band featuring Steve Cropper and “Blue Lou” Marini are a talent laden group of musicians that, according to Lou,  like to spread the news about the blues, drink, party, and have fun (in no particular order).  The party atmosphere comes through loud and clear on the new album and they invite former band leader Paul Shaffer, Dr. John, Joe Louis Walker, Eddie Floyd, Matt “Guitar” Murphy, and Joe Morton along for the good times as special guests.

I really enjoyed their rendition of the Jimmy Reed‘s tune Baby What You Want Me To DoBlues in My Feet, Itch and Scratch, Sex Machine, and Don’t Forget about Jame Brown are some badass funk.  Joe Louis Walker aces Don’t Go No Further and the band ‘s cranks out a great cover of Got My Mojo Working. I also loved You Left the Water the Running.

With the holiday season upon us, this album makes a great stocking stuffer! And if you have a party, I can’t think of a better ice breaker to get the good times rollin’!!

The Original Blues Brothers Band – The Last Shade of Blue Before Black – Severn Records 2017

 

 

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!

 

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

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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 .