Crystal Shawanda singin’ the CHURCH HOUSE BLUES

Crystal Shawanda is an indigenous Canadian who grew up on the Wikwemikong reserve on an island in Ontario, Canada. Blessed with a stellar voice that has catapulted her to the forefront of the contemporary blues scene, Crystal now lives in Nashville with her record producer and co-writer husband Dewayne Strobel. The new album CHURCH HOUSE BLUES is her second for True North Records and an incredible followup to Voodoo Woman that I reviewed back in 2018. (The link in blue is to the album on Spotify.)

Church House Blues is part of her continuing evolution from country music to the blues. She initially came to Nashville as a country singer back in 2007 for RCA Records and recorded a Billboard top 20 country hit for them. But, as you can clearly hear when you listen to her, her forte and her heart belong to the blues. She left RCA a couple of years after the hit single and has been focused primarily on the blues ever since.

The first single from the new album is WHEN IT COMES TO LOVE, a pretty ballad that highlights that awesome voice which has both elements of Koko Taylor and Janis Joplin as well as a delicious hint of Patsy Cline. The emotion she invokes as she sings will draw you in and then grab your soul. And there is no better showcase for that than BIGGER THAN THE BLUES and EVIL MEMORY. Another favorite of mine is NEW ORLEANS IS SINKING with its driving clap rhythm and some haunting harmonica. Additionally I enjoyed MOVE ME. HEY LOVE, BLAME IT ON THE SUGAR, and the title cut. Crystal sings my favorite sensual love song of the year so far with I CAN’T TAKE IT….ya gotta give it a listen!!

Crystal draws on her life and the blues as inspiration and gives back to the community both as a singer and a motivational speaker. I wouldn’t mind gettin’ up on a Sunday morning and pokin’ my head into any church in Canada or Nashville that gave the pulpit and stage to Crystal Shawanda for her CHURCH HOUSE BLUES!!

Crystal Shawanda – Church House Blues (True North Records 2020)


Ben Vee is an internet DJ and writer from New Orleans that now lives in Connecticut with his wife Annette. He started spinning records back in the 1970’s and has been writing about the roadhouse blues since 2011. He does two roadhouse blues shows each week on http://www.bluesmusicfan.com and he writes about the blues when the urge strikes on http://www.benveeblues.com.

BMFR Roadhouse Blues set 3-5 pm EST Thur. Feb 7 2019

If you enjoy upbeat blues….log on today for my Roadhouse Blues set at 3 pm EST on http://www.bluesmusicfan.com.   Hope you can join us!

Below is my intended playlist….

ARTIST TITLE
Widow Blue Pow Wow Blues
Chris Rea Cool Cool Blue
George Thorogood Help Me
Guthrie Trapp New Walkin Blues (Feat. Jimmy Hall)
Eric Lindell I Got A Girl
Angel Forrest Hold on Tight… Mr. I’m Alright
Koko Taylor Trying To Make A Living
Creedence Clearwater Revival Before You Accuse Me
ZZ Top Just Got Back From Baby’s
Taj Mahal Don’t Leave Me Here
Romi Mayes Bee Sting
JJ Grey & Mofro Mississippi
Geoff Achison I’m Gonna Ride
Julian Sas My Love Is Tumblin’ Down
Ron Hacker And The Hacksaws Bad Boy
Rita Chiarelli Drivin’ Wheel
The Steve Miller Band Can’t Be Satisfied
Steven Van Zant (Little Steven) Soulfire
24Pesos Rise Up
Joe Bonamassa You’ve Got To Love Her With A Feeling (Live)
Lewis Hamilton And The Boogie Brothers Empty Roads
Gary Moore Evil
Larry Tillery If You’re Here Who’s Running Hell
R.J. & the Houndogs My Baby’s Down in Louisiana
Harrison Brown Spirit in the Sky
Bare Bones Boogie Band Sittin’ Here Sewin’
Nick Moss Band Been Gone So Long

Ben’s IN THE BIN Blues Reviews – September 14, 2018

Here’s a trio of albums I really enjoyed listening to this summer……

Ally Venable Band – Puppet Show  (Connor Ray Music 2018)

Ally Venabl

A blues rocker who looks like a super model and plays a guitar like a super star, this nineteen year old from Texas does a great job on her second album, Puppet Show.  She gets some contributions from Lance Lopez, Steve Krase, Gary Hoey, and Eric Steckel….all blues stars in their own right and a sure sign of what they think of her talent. Loved the slow blues grinder, Comfort in my Sorrows, and enjoyed Backwater Blues, Survive, and the title cut Puppet Show.

Crystal Shawanda – Voodoo Woman (New Sun Records 2017)

crystal shawanda

Born and raised in Canada and now based in Nashville, this native American has an incredible voice that encompasses the best of Koko Taylor, Etta James, and Janis Joplin.  The song, Bluetrain (Slight Return)/ Smokestack Lightning Revisited, is a powerful original tune that I really love.  And she does a great job on covers of Ball & Chain, Hound Dog, Voodoo Woman, I’d Rather Go Blind, and Wang Dang Doodle.

The Lucky Losers – Blind Spot (Dirty Cat Records 2018)

lucky losers

Though they are San Francisco based and recorded the album in San Jose, California, I could have sworn Cathy Lemons and Phil Berkowitz took a pirogue down some black water bayou in southern Louisiana and recorded their third album, Blind Spot, under the shade of a moss covered oak tree next to the water.  She and Phil seem to bring out the best in each other as they take a joyful romp through what I call the “down the bayou” blues….music that is blues infused with a healthy dose of R&B, soul, and a bit of funk. I loved Alligator Baptism, It’s Never Too Early, Love Is Blind, and Supernatural Blues.  And The River is a fantastic showcase for Cathy’s voice.  This album has my early nod for nomination as one of the five best albums of 2018.  It also features some great guitar work by special guests Laura Chavez and Kid Andersen as well as some bad ass guest sax by Nancy Wright and even some violin by Annie Staninec.