Ben’s Monday Blues Bin (7/15/19)

It’s summertime in Connecticut.  I am sittin’ out in my man cave enjoying the heat, smokin’ a cigar, and listening to some new albums.

Zac HarmonMississippi BarBQ (Catfood Records 2019)

Zac Harmon

A great mix of soul, Chicago blues, and a touch of blues rock, the new Zac Harmon album Mississippi BarBQ was produced by Jim Gaines (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Santana).  It also features a stellar group of studio musicians known as the Rays: Bob Trenchard (bass), Richy Puga (drums), Johnny McGee (guitars), Dan Ferguson (keyboards), Mike Middleton (trumpet), Andy Roman (alto sax), Nick Flood (tenor and baritone sax), and Drake Dominigue (trombone & tuba).

Zac has been recording since 2003 and with this CD, he steps it up to a new level. The voice is fabulous, his guitar playing is first class, and the song writing conveys images that give witness to his Jackson, Mississippi roots.  The songs are all originals except for a great rendition of Dylan’s Knocking on Heaven’s Door.  I enjoyed Make a Dollar Out of Fifteen Cents, Gypsy Road, Honey Pleez, Smoke and Mirrors, and So Cold.

A gifted artist, a world renown producer, and some fantastic studio musicians meld together for a first rate recording that also features cuts by his current touring band. Make sure to give the title cut Mississippi BarBQ a listen….with some barbeque, cornbread, mustard greens, black eyed peas and, of course a cold beer at the ready!!

The Texas HornsGet Here Quick (Severn Records 2019)

Texas Horns

 

Three of the most bad ass horn blowers on the planet got together down in Texas, invited some gifted friends, and created a delightful RnB recording entitled Get Here Quick. Mark ‘Kaz’ Kazanoff (tenor sax), John Mills (baritone sax), and Al Gomez (trumpet) can truly be judged by the company they keep with the likes of Carolyn Wonderland, Curtis Salgado, Guy Forsyth, Gary Nicholson, John Nemeth, Ronnie Earl,  and Anson Funderburgh steppin’ into the studio to assist; they got the rhythm and they damn sure got the blues!  This is an awesome CD!

A long time favorite of mine, Carolyn belts it out on I’m Doin’ Alright At Least For Tonight. And Curtis lends his soulful voice to Sundown Talkin’. My favorite tune on the album is Guitar Town that is sung by Guy Forsyth with backing vocals by Carolyn and lead guitar work by Anson. Gary Nicholson contributes two of his songs, Soulshine  & Fix Your Face, and both recordings are mighty fine. Anson does the lead guitar on Soulshine and another of my favorites, Ronnie Earl, does the honors on Fix Your Face.

There are also several tasty instrumentals on the album that showcase the talent of this horn blowin trio. My favorite is Truckload of Trouble written by John Mills and I also enjoyed the title cut contributed by Kaz Kazanoff.

I have to say when I opened the CD I was thinkin’ “now who are these guys?”.  Man…was I pleasantly surprised after listening to the entire recording. Download and give this a listen…hope you are pleased too!

The Duke Robillard BandEar Worms (2019 Stony Plain Records)

Duke Robillard

The new album, Ear Worms, has a fifties and sixties feel to it and is a pleasant listen.  Duke Robillard has been playing and recording for over fifty years and is a superlative guitar player.  I particularly loved the instrumental You Belong to Me that I first heard sung by Patsy Cline many years ago. It was one of my mother’s favorites and Duke shows it the love and tenderness it deserves.

I also enjoyed Don’t Bother Trying to Steal Her Love with Dave Howard on vocals and the song Yellow Moon which is sung by drummer Mark Teixeira.  The rest of the band is Bruce Bears (keyboards & vocals) and Brad Hallen on bass and they are a very tight knit group of artists.  The album features a number of guest vocalists including Sunny Crownover, Chris Cote, Mark Cutler, and Klem Klimek.  This is definitely a recording to relax with on warm summer evening.

 


Send along a comment if you would like! Love to hear what your thoughts are on these albums and blues music in general!!

 

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Roadhouse Blues Bin for Mid April 2019

It’s spring time, well almost in New England, and here is what I am listening to as I await freakin’ warmer weather …..

Manx Marriner MainlineHell Bound for Heaven (2019)

Manx Marriner

Harry Manx is a blues original.  His primary musical instrument is the Mohan Veena,  often associated with classical music from India, which gives Harry’s music a surreal sound that is perfect for the blues. His partner for the album is Steve Marriner, a gifted harmonica and guitar player who also performs on the drums, organ, and bass.  Both have great voices and contribute songs for Hell Bound for Heaven, released by Stony Plain Records.

The recording has a mix of what I call roots blues and gospel tunes.  I particularly enjoyed their rendition of the legendary Charlie Patton’s Rattlesnake.  And the songs Hell Bound for Heaven, Nothing, and Everybody Knows will get a lot of spins on my personal stream (http://s1.nexuscast.com:8043) and during my upcoming sets on Blues Music Fan Radio.  Great tunes from a duo of Canadian artists!!!

Stony Plain Records 2019


Harpdog Brown – For Love & Money (2019)

Harpdog brown

To be officially released on April 26th, Harpdog Brown’s For Love & Money recording is a great throwback to the swing and jazzy feel of the blues in the late 1940’s.  If I didn’t know better I would swear this Canadian from British Columbia had grown up in New Orleans.  With a heavy emphasis on piano and horns on the album, Harpdog reminds me alot of the best of Dr. John….gravely voice, gritty lyrics, and fantastic musicianship.

I particularly enjoyed Thinkin’ and Drinkin’, Blue Light Boogie, Buzzard Luck, and Vicious Vodka.  An album best enjoyed with your woman and a martini and cigar in hand for sure!

Dog House Records 2019


Brandon Santini – The Longshot (2019)

Brandon Santini

Brandon Santini turns up the amplifier (and I’d say it’s about time!) on his new album, The Longshot.  An up and coming harmonica player and vocalist who has already been nominated for the BMA blues harmonica player of the year award (2014), his future is bright to say the least! I always have felt that Brandon, who I became aware of in 2012, had the ideal voice and harmonica skills to lay down some badass blues rock……and now he has.

He is backed on this outing by a solid group of musicians; Timo Arthur and Jed Potts on guitars, one of my favorite keyboard players John Ginty, Chuck Combs on bass, and Reid Muchow on drums.  Ginty, Santini, and Ben Elliot produced the album.

I loved Somebody’s Gotta Go, Back to You, Beggin’ Baby, Going Home, and Drive You Off My Mind.  All of them are now in rotation for my DJ sets.

I certainly think this album deserves early consideration as a nominee for Blues Rock album of 2019!  Keep crankin out dem roadhouse blues Brian!!!

American Showplace Music (2019)


Mark Wenner’s Blues Warriors (2018)

Mark Wenner

A side project for long time Nighthawk Mark Wenner, this album is a refreshing celebration of tunes by Muddy Water, B.B. King, Sonny Boy Williamson, Fats Domino, Big Joe Turner, Elmore James, and Slim Harpo.  Mark is a gifted singer and harmonica player and his brilliance carries this upbeat bluzin’ album.  Fellow Nighthawk, Mark Stutso joins him on drums, along with talented guitarist Zach Sweeney, singer and guitarist Clarence “The Bluesman” Turner, and features the double bass of Steve Wolf.

I loved every cut on this CD including King Bee, Trust My Baby, Rock A While, Hello Josephine, (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear, It’s My Own Fault,  and Dust My Broom. The album includes a really nice cover of a relatively unknown tune by Muddy Waters Diamonds at Your Feet that I have worked into my blues sets al ot over the years and the only original song, written by Mark, is an instrumental tribute to the legendary Jimmy Reed entitled Just Like Jimmy.

If you want to spend some time listening to straight up rockin’ blues from the fifties, you can’t do better than downloading and listening to this album!

Ellersoul Records 2018


 

Ben Vee’s Roadhouse Blues Bin for Nov 12 2018

A selection of albums I have been listening to lately:

Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne – Inspired by the Blues (Stony Plain Records 2018)

Kenny Blies Boss Wayne

Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne is the Chicago Boogie Woogie Blues Boss!  On his latest recording, Inspired By the Blues, he goes full tilt classic style boogie and blues with help from Duke Robillard (guitar) , Billy Branch (harmonica), and B.B. King’s long time bass player Russell Jackson. Kenny can pound those ivories and was named the “Most Outstanding Musician (Keyboards)” by the prestigious Living Blues Magazine in 2015. He has also won Juno and Maple Leaf blues awards in Canada and the new album is a great addition to my collection of roadhouse blues tunes.

Kenny makes the sounds of the late forties and fifties relevant for modern audiences with superb songs like Old Brick Wall, Start Rockin’, Make Up Your Mind, and Jimmy & Johnny.  I particularly enjoyed the tune That Raggedy Shack. Primarily upbeat and featuring great musicians, I think you will enjoy listening to this as much as I did!

The Bob Lanza Blues Band – Kids, Dogs, and Krazy Women  (ConnorRayMusic 2018)

Bob Lanza

Bob Lanza‘s new album Kids, Dogs, and Krazy Women is some fine roadhouse blues.  Up tempo for the most part, it features some particularly great musicianship from band members Vin Mott (harmonica), John Ginty (keyboards), Anthony Krizan (guitars, vocals, drums) and David Lockhart (bass) as well as Bob himself who has a great voice and plays some badass guitar. I have followed the solo careers of Vin Mott and John Ginty for some time and Bob brings out the best of their talents on this recording.

I loved Hey Baby, the title cut, Let Me In, Little Momma, and Problems.  Bob does a nice cover of Patsy Cline‘s Walking After Midnight and the grindin’ blues tune I’m Not the Man I Used to Be is absolutely fantastic.

Overall, I think this album merits a nomination for Contemporary Blues album of the year!

Cary Morin – When I Rise (Cary Morin Music 2018)

Cary Morin

Cary Morin is a native American who is a member of the Crow tribe. He was born and raised in Montana and is now based in Colorado.  He has long been known for his accomplishments on the acoustic guitar and his style of music would be equally at home in the juke joints of the Mississippi delta or in the folks clubs of Greenwich Village.  On his latest album, he includes a number of electric guitar and pedal steel guitar tunes that are well worth a listen.

The album has an electric and an acoustic version of Jug in the Water that I really enjoyed. I also liked the roadhouse sound of Carmela Marie. The acoustic tune and title cut of the album, When I Rise, features some great harmonica work by Dexter Payne and has both delta and native american influences..interesting tune to say the least.

All the songs are originals except for a delightful cover of Duane Allman’s Little Martha and a nice rendition of the Grateful Dead’s Dire Wolf. Generally, I would classify the album as Americana or roots music with some great blues influences.  And if he ever gets up into the northeastern part of the United States, I would drive a good ways to see one of his performances!

Ben’s Bin Full of Blues Reviews for Oct 30 2018

 

My thoughts go out to the people of the Jewish community in Pittsburgh as they mourn the senseless and hateful act of violence in their midst. I think I can speak for the blues community when I say that we share your grief and stand next to you arm in arm in the battle against bigotry and hate.

With that stated,   I move on to quick reviews of some albums I have listened to recently.

Eric Bibb – Global Griot (Stony Plain Records, 2018)

Eric Bibb

The term griot (gree-oh) refers to a class of traditional West African musicians and storytellers that carried on the oral traditions of their people.  Eric Bibb certainly merits inclusion given his roots and his artistry on the acoustic and electric guitars and his easy story telling voice.  Reflecting a truly global perspective with recordings for the album done in France, Sweden, Jamaica, Ghana, England, and the United States, this two CD set was an enjoyable listen.

I particularly liked Gathering of the Tribes, All Because, Grateful, Remember Family, and Race & Equality. And the song, Michael…Row Da Boat Ashore, brought back memories of long road trips with my parents and five kids in a Chevy station wagon. My mother would lead us in singing old gospel and traditional tunes. I thank Eric for reawakening memories that bring both sadness and joy; it is the truly the power of music in the fingers and voice of a master!

John Akapo – Paradise Blues (Mensch House Records, 2018)

john akapo

Hawaiian born and Samoan blooded, Big John Akapo is a talented acoustic guitarist with the perfect voice for the style of delta and mellow blues that he plays on his debut recording, Paradise Blues.  I loved his renditions of the blues classics, I Can’t Be Satisfied, and Ramblin’ On My Mind.  I also enjoyed his original songs Little Lani, Don’t Believe Her, and Maui Drive.

John has stated that “I think my music is like a tree rooted in traditional blues but sprinkled with Pacific salt water.”  Here’s to hopin’ that the tree continues to flourish and that we hear much more from him as the years go by!

Anthony Geraci – Why Did You Have To Go (Shining Stone Records 2018)

anthony geraci

Anthony Geraci is a gifted blues pianist  His career spans over 40 years and he is an original member of both Sugar Ray and the Bluetones and Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters. His blues pedigree attracted the likes of Ronnie Earl, Sugar Ray Norcia, Monster Mike Welch, Kid Ramos, Dennis Brennan, Jimi Bott, Sugaray Rayford, Willie J. Campbell, and Michelle “Evil Gal” Willson to contribute to his newest recording, Why Did You Have To Go.

The album features 13 all original tunes and showcases the blues, R&B, and even a bit of jazz. Though based in Massachusetts, he spent sometime in Clarksdale, Mississippi, the epicenter of the delta blues, as he wrote songs for the album and the influence shines through on the song, Baptized in the River Yazoo.  My favorite on the album is the title cut, a great soulful R&B tune. I also loved Fly On the Wall, Don’t the Grass Look Greener, and the down the bayou feel of Long Way Home. And if all that wasn’t enough, the song My Last Good Bye is some great deep down grindin’ blues.

Overall, this is an joyous celebration of the blues….a worthy addition to my collection and hopefully yours!

 

 

Colin James – Miles To Go

Colin James 1

Colin James got his start back in the eighties sharing a stage with Stevie Ray Vaughan. In the ensuing years, this Canadian artist has released nineteen albums and assembled a presentation case full of JUNO and MAPLE BLUES awards.  With the release of his new album, Miles To Go, he is certain to add to the collection.

On the latest recording, he pays his respects to some of the greats of the blues (Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Arthur Crudup, Blind Willie Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Walter Davis) by bringing their songs a renewed liveliness. For some, they are almost note for note homages; on others he reworks the originals with a flair that is uniquely Colin.  His respect and love of the blues shines through in all cases.  He also includes two songs that he wrote, 40 Light Years and I Will Remain. The latter is a beautiful tune that should get a lot of airplay as time goes by.

Colin James 2

I enjoyed the smooth blues funk of One More Mile and the upbeat delta sound of Dig Myself a Hole and Soul of a Man.  Colin is truly a master of the grindin blues on I Need Your Love So Bad and a song by Jesse Mae Robinson (a popular and prolific songwriter of the 1940’s and 50’s) entitled Black Night.  My favorite roadhouse tunes on the CD are Still A Fool, Ooh Baby Hold Me, and Tears Came Rolling Down; all are perfect platforms for Colin’s voice and artistry on the guitar.

I went back and listened to some of Colin’s prior work and on this album and his previous one, Blue Highways, he seems to be settling in as a serious blues man. Here’s to hoping that in the many miles he has left to travel that he continues to bring us his unique and insightful rendering of the blues.

Colin James – Miles To Go (Stony Plain Records 2018)