Saturday, February 24, 2018

#321 : Rockin’ Johnny Burgin - Neoprene Fedora



2017 – West Tone Records

By Phillip Smith; Feb. 24, 2018


Rockin’ Johnny Burgin has been putting out righteous blues music for at least twenty years, and his latest release Neoprene Fedora is no exception.  On this sixteen track record, Burgin further explores the blues, taps into some California surf guitar, and steps into the world of zydeco for a few songs.  Again, recording at the Greaseland Studios in San Jose, California, Burgin enlists a super group of notable musicians to join him: Kid Andersen (guitar/bass/piano), Aki Kumar (harp/percussion/vocals), Bob Welsh (guitar/piano), Alabama Mike (vocals), Vance Ehlers (bass), June Core (drums/percussion), Stephen Dougherty (drums), Nancy Wright (sax.), Steve Willis (accordion), Billy Wilson (rub board), and Chris Matheos (bass).

Title track, Neoprene Fedora is one smokin’ cool tune.  This is California surf at its best.  With Nancy Wright on sax, and Kid Andersen joining in on guitar, the song pretty much soars skyward with its over seven minute instrumental jam.  I love how Burgin’s cover of “Give Me an Hour in Your Garden” drips with authenticity.  Originally recorded by Papa John Creech on his 1972 album Filthy, Burgin wails this one with heart and soul as Anderson joins in on piano.  Alabama Mike steps in on vocals and Aki Kumar on harp, as Burgin breaks the funk out on “Smoke and Mirrors”. This juicy track is soaked in the raw grit of the mid-Seventies, and I dig every bit of it.  Burgin connects right in to the essence of the average blue-collar worker in “I Ain’t Gonna Be a Working Man No More”.  Featuring a driving rhythm from Ehlers and Dougherty and the guitar prowess of the great Bob Welsh, the song buries in deep.  With a Smokestack Lightnin riff, Burgin bids a personal adieu to the Windy City in “Goodbye Chicago” and sets his scope on the Sunkist State, where he now resides.  It’s a wonderful homage.      


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Click on the link below to purchase this terrific album from the PhillyCheeze Amazon store.     





Saturday, February 17, 2018

#320 : Jane Lee Hooker - Spiritus


2017 – Ruf Records

By Phillip Smith; Feb. 17, 2018


There is no other band quite like New York City’s Jane Lee Hooker.  Much like the Rolling Stones, this rockin’ quintet, comprised of Dana “Danger” Athens on lead vocals/keys, guitarists Tracy “High Top” Almazan and Tina “T-Bone” Gorin, drummer Melissa “Cool Whip” Houston, and bassist “Hail Mary” Zadroga, has deep roots in the Blues.  Spiritus, their sophomore album is a ten-song mix of high-voltage rock and roll and blues deliciously delivered with a captivating and unbridled approach.  

An energetic shout-out to the famous Knucklehead Saloon in Kansas City nicely kicks things off in a southern rocker fashion for the opener “How Ya Doin’?”  “Gimme That” sweetly follows.  The swagger in Athens’ vocals is undeniable and that Stonesy riff sounds so good.  Living life to its fullest, taking charge and taking chances takes precedence in the passionately sung “Mama Said”. The dual guitars are terrific.   

Cool Whip and Hail Mary take no prisoners as they forge a raw and intense groove on Big Mama Thornton’s “Black Rat”.  This one is best served loud.  The energy of the band radiates through their ripping performance on Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland’s 1961 jewel “Turn On Your Love Light”.  It is a pure delight indeed.  To wrap things up, Jane Lee Hooker beautifully winds Spiritus down with a wonderful ten minute dose of relaxing slow-cooked blues in “The Breeze” which certainly hits the spot.  I love every bit of it.

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In September of 2017, I caught Jane Lee Hooker at the Bowlful of Blues Festival in Newton, Iowa.  It was a terrific show.  The lineup was The Norman Jackson Band, Rob Lumbard, Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers, Mato Nanji & Indiginous, with Jane Lee Hooker headlining.  I am so glad I took my camera and captured the event for my blog.  Here’s a link to the photos I took that day …  




Take a listen to the album on Apple Music, and if you decide to purchase it, use my special link.  This helps keep the PhillyCheeze site going.  



Click on the link below to purchase this terrific album from the PhillyCheeze Amazon store.     


Saturday, February 10, 2018

#319 : Jim Shaneberger Band - Above and Below


2017 – Jim Shaneberger

By Phillip Smith; Feb. 10, 2018


Above and Below, the second release from the Jim Shaneberger Band is an immensely invigorating blues-rock album.  This West Michigan trio comprised of Shaneberger on lead guitar and vocals, bassist Jeffrey Baldus, and drummer Steve Harris are a powerhouse band with deep Zeppelin and Hendrix roots.     

In a flash, they instantly tear out the gate with the magnificent “My Way”.  Shaneberger pulls me tightly in with his massive funky riffs and psychedelic guitar licks.  On the thought-provoking rocker “Indifference” a song inspired by the 2016 shootings of Philandro Castile and Alton Sterling, Shaneberger sings “How many lives must be lost before we set things right?”.  Shaneberger’s guitar mastery is duly noted as Harris tears off a tremendous performance on drums sending this edgy rocker of a track past ten, and right to eleven. The momentum only grows as adrenalin continues to freely flow through the veins of Texas-style blues rocker “Above and Below”. 

I love the slow-paced Black Crowes/Aerosmith vibe running through the beautifully played “Bright Side”.  Shaneberger’s vocals are smooth and cool.  With a SRV influence at its epicenter and a downright funky groove, “I Can’t Sleep” brings a big smile to my face.  I’m also a huge fan of the funky instrumental jam “Just Sayin’ Bro”.  Baldus’ bass is simply amazing on this.

It’s impossible to avoid the trance-inducing hill country blues rhythm threaded through “Way Down South”.  It holds the door open quite nicely for Shaneberger’s shredding guitar solo. It’s plumb terrific.

From start to finish, Jim Shaneberger Band is tight as a drum and solid as titanium.  It doesn’t get much better than Above and Below for fans of blues-rock.  

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Take a listen to the album on Apple Music, and if you decide to purchase it, use my special link.  This helps keep the PhillyCheeze site going.  




Click on the link below to purchase this terrific album from the PhillyCheeze Amazon store.     


Sunday, February 4, 2018

#318 : Muddy Gurdy


Muddy Gurdy
2017 – Vizztone
Release Date : 2/2/18

By Phillip Smith; Feb. 3, 2018


Muddy Gurdy is absolutely one of the most interesting blues albums I’ve heard in recent years.  Hypnotic Wheels, a trio of French musicians, Tia Gouttebel (guitar/vocals) Gilles Chabenat (hurdy-gurdy) and Marc Glomeau (percussion) embarked on a journey to the hills of North Mississippi to record with local blues artists who are tightly connected to the fabulous music of their elders.  The recordings were made using a hurdy-gurdy as a second guitar and captured with an eight-microphone preamp and computer in someone’s house, porch, front yard, or historic landmark such as Dockery Farms or B.B. King’s Club Ebony.  From Mississippi, the contributing artists are Cedric Burnside, Shardé Thomas, Cameron Kimbrough, and Pat Thomas.

I love the homage to R.L Burnside, with the wonderfully hypnotic cover of “Goin’ Down South” and the driving beat of “See My Jumper Hanging on the Line”.  It’s in these two tracks that the wonder of the hurdy-gurdy is revealed.  Its swampy slide-like sound magically lends itself to trance blues music in a very fitting fashion.  Cedric Burnside, grandson to R.L appears with acoustic guitar in hand and mic for a beautiful performance.  He pays a wonderful tribute to his late brother Cody Burnside on “That Girl is Bad”, and hangs around for a tantalizing cover of Muddy Waters’ “Rollin’ and Tumblin’”.

Muddy Gurdy explores fife and drum music with Shardé Thomas.  Thomas gives a delicate vocal and fife performance on “Station Blues”, a song by her grandfather and fife-master Otha Thomas.  Her delivery of the traditional “Glory Glory Hallelujah” is stunning.   


It’s a real treat to hear Cameron Kimbrough, tearing it up on guitar while singing his grandfather Junior’s “Leave Her Alone”.  The rolling rhythm pulls me right in to its vortex of sound.  Cameron inherently keeps the swirling melodic framework in place for his own original tune, “Gonna Love You”.  Pat Thomas’ “Dream” is downright extraordinary.  Sung and strummed by the son of James “Son” Thomas at the Highway 61 Museum in Leland, Mississippi, this folk-country blues song is a prime example of the inner-beauty of music.
         
At Dockery Farms, Gouttebel takes the vocal reins on Hypnotic Wheels’ rendition of Mississippi Fred McDowell’s classic “Shake ‘em on Down” which is followed up with a mesmerizing cover of Charles Singleton’s “Help the Poor”, first recorded by B.B King in 1964.   

I highly recommend this album, especially for fans of the North Mississippi Hill Country Blues. 

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Take a listen to the album on Apple Music, and if you decide to purchase it, use my special link.  This helps keep the PhillyCheeze site going.  




Click on the link below to purchase this terrific album from the PhillyCheeze Amazon store.     




Sunday, January 28, 2018

#317 : Hamilton Loomis - Basics


2017 – Ham-Bone Music

By Phillip Smith; Jan. 28, 2018


Listening to Hamilton Loomis always puts me in a fantastic mood.  His latest release, Basics, is no exception.  Ditching the double-entendres he’s been known for in the past, Loomis states he wants to get back to the basics on this album, taking on more direct and personal lyrics with more stripped down instrumentation and simpler melodies.  With that being said, this album is jam-packed with a truckload full of bluesy guitar riffs and rich funky grooves.  Joined in the studio by Armando Aussenac on drums, Fabian Hernandez on saxophone, and Sabrina LaField on bass, Loomis takes on just about everything else instrumentally on this thirteen track album: guitars, bass, harmonica, and keys. 

From the beginning, Loomis has me bouncing off the walls with the highly infectious rhythm on “Sugar Baby”.  LaField sings this with a lot of soul, as Loomis’ sweet guitar riffs are nicely topped with dabs of blues harmonica.  Loomis dedicated this track to Congenital Hyperinsulinism International, an organization whose purpose is researching and supporting families affected by this rare disease his three year old son was diagnosed with.  

The groove keeps going strong through “If I Would’ve” as Loomis reflects upon his past decisions with second thoughts.  “Candles and Wine” has a bit of Stevie Wonder influence.  Its rich R&B melody and Loomis’ silky smooth vocals stand out front.  The funk that pumps through “Cloudy Day” instantly puts a smile on my face.  It is counter-balanced by the pining lyrics of long-distance love.  Hernandez kicks it into high gear on sax.  I love every bit of it.  Welcome to the roadhouse when Chris Eger steps in with slide guitar on the monster blues-rocker “Ain’t What it Ain’t”.  It sounds great alongside Loomis’ wailing harmonica.

Loomis certainly achieved what he was trying to do with this album, bringing things back to the basics.  I like this new direction a lot.   

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In 2012, I reviewed Hamilton Loomis' DVD Live at the Hub for Blues Review Magazine's online presence BluesWax, which no longer existsIn 2015,  I archived the review on my blog.  You can read that review by clicking on the following link. 


        

Take a listen to the album on Apple Music, and if you decide to purchase it, use my special link.  This helps keep the PhillyCheeze site going.  



Click on the link below to purchase this terrific album from the PhillyCheeze Amazon store.     

Saturday, January 27, 2018

#316 : Eric Gales / Craig Erickson live @ The Redstone Room 1-26-18


Eric Gales w/ opening act Craig Erickson
Live @ The Redstone Room
Jan 26, 2018
Davenport, Iowa
By Phillip Smith; Jan. 27, 2018


The Redstone Room in Davenport, Iowa was the place to be for guitar aficionados Friday, January 26thThe Craig Erickson Band, with John Hall on bass and Rob Haskell on drums, delivered a powerful six-song set before The Eric Gales Band took the stage.  The Eric Gales Band consists of Eric on guitar, Byron Carter on bass, his wife LaDonna on drums and percussion, and Nick Hayes on drums.  

For a perfect start, Erickson kicked the evening off with the wonderfully funky “Space Rooster” from the Cosmic Farm album.  He delivered one my favorites, “Mojo in Memphis” in powerhouse fashion and broke out a groovy new track, “Love Land”  which rolled right into a fantastic cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Baby”.  Singer Alicia Strong joined The Craig Erickson Band for the final two songs, “Mercy” from Sky Train Galaxy, and “Overtime” off the Roadhouse Stomp album, ending the set with a room full of smiles and cheers.


Eric Gales was in top form as he greeted a near-capacity crowd to a couple of killer tracks, “Change in Me (the Rebirth)” and a sweet cover of Freddy King’s “Boogie Man” both off his brand new record, Middle of the Road”.  I loved his searing instrumental take on “Don’t Fear the Reaper”.  I immensely enjoyed being swept away by the rolling blues on “Swamp”.  That’s such a terrific song.  Gales brought the evening to a close, dishing out an incredible performance with a “Voodoo Chile / Back in Black” medley. It was absolutely wonderful.

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all photos by Phillip Smith


Craig Erickson Band




















Eric Gales Band




























all photos by Phillip Smith

Saturday, January 20, 2018

#315 : Michelle Malone - Slings & Arrows


2018 –SBS Records
Release Date : March 02, 2018

By Phillip Smith; Jan 20, 2018

Three decades after recording her first album New Experience in 1988, Georgia songstress/guitarist Michelle Malone is releasing her fifteenth studio album, Slings & Arrows.  This bodacious record, smothered in southern rock and hard-edged blues, is loaded with lyrics so sharp, they cut to the bone.  I’m captivated right from the start.  With Malone on vocals, guitars, harmonica, and mandolin, her band consists of Doug Kees on electric guitar, bassist Robby Handley (Larkin Poe), drummer Christopher Burroughs, and percussionist Trish Land.  The album contains nine original songs and a fascinating cover of Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” which was performed as a duet with Shawn Mullins.          

I happily soak up the wonderful Sixties soul doused over “Sugar on My Tongue”.  Malone’s vocals are smooth as glass, and take on a Motown persona, while the band is holding court in a Memphis Stax fashion.  It sounds great.  The foot-stomping, hill country blues of “Beast’s Boogie” cradles me in its dancing hypnotic rhythm.  Malone tops this favorite with a big juicy scoop of harmonica and a delicious side of slide.  I love how “Civil War” begins so delicately and magnificently evolves into a full-fledge southern rock head-banger.  A feeling of melancholy washes over as Malone beautifully sings from the bottom of a broken heart in “The Flame”.  It’s an amazing song indeed.  In fact, the whole album is plumb terrific.



Take a listen to the album on Apple Music, and if you decide to purchase it, use my special link.  This helps keep the PhillyCheeze site going.  


Click on the link below to purchase this terrific album from the PhillyCheeze Amazon store.

           
           



Sunday, January 14, 2018

#314 : Bob Dorr and the Blue Band - “The Last Goodbye” Tour


Bob Dorr and the Blue Band - “The Last Goodbye” Tour
w/ opening act Duke Tumatoe
Live @ Riverside Casino & Resort Show Lounge
Jan 13, 2018
Riverside, Iowa
By Phillip Smith; Jan. 14, 2018


Saturday, January 13th, Bob Dorr and the Blue Band performed their “Last Goodbye” show at Riverside Casino.  Following a couple of terrific sets from the wonderful Duke Tumatoe, who captivated the crowd with “Give Me Back My Wig”, “You Don’t Drink Enough” and “Tie You Up”, Bob Door and the Blue Band tore through three exhilarating sets of music to the largest audience I have ever seen at the Show Lounge. 

Bob Dorr kicked the first set off with the swinging “Don’t Sting, Bite or Bug Me” which was followed by slough of sweet tunes of which included “3 AM Backdoor Baby” and “Bottle in the Kitchen”.  To commemorate Bob’s sixty-sixth birthday which fell on January 12, the band played “Happy Birthday Blues” before working their way down the set list to hammer out splendid covers of Sam and Dave’s “Soul Man”, and Van Morrison’s “Domino”.

The second set broke open with a fabulous jam on “Not Fade Away”.  Cathy Henry gave a captivating performance singing Etta James’s “Blues is My Business”. One of the biggest highlights for me was hearing “Elvis in Paraguay”.  It was fabulous.  Ralph Stephens joined in on washboard and Bob broke out the zydeco tie for a rousing jamboree on “They All Asked For You”, which melted quite nicely into a medley of “Iko Iko” and “Jambalya”.  The set closed out with a riveting delivery of “Mustang Sally”. It was an instant crowd pleaser.


Set number three included fun songs like “Drugs Drugs Drugs” and the high energy horn-heavy ska tune “Arc Welded”.  It was absolutely wonderful.  Also included in this final set was “Nadine”, which was immediately followed by “The Last Goodbye”.  The performance was outstanding.   Bob Dorr and the Blue Band kept the electricity going through the night, winding down with “Bobby’s Blues”, and landing on “Mojo and the Say So” for a grand ending.  For the encore, they returned to play “Any Ordinary Man”, which brought the show to its final close.  It was a magical evening indeed.

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all photos by Phillip Smith


Duke Tumatoe

Duke Tumatoe

Duke Tumatoe


Bob Dorr and the Blue Band

Bob Dorr

Jeff Petersen

Cathy Henry, Doug Norton

Jeff Petersen

Jeff Petersen

Bob Dorr

Doug Norton

Doug Norton

Bob, Cathy, Doug, Jeff

Bob, Cathy, Doug

Nolan Schroeder, Bob Dorr

Bob Dorr, Doug Norton

Jeff Petersen

John Rohlf

Bob Dorr

Jeff Petersen

Bob Dorr

Bob Dorr

Ralph Stephens



Ralph Stephens