Sunday, April 21, 2024

#675 : Cryin' Out Loud - Play Loud & Smoke Often (


2024 – Cryin’ Out Loud

By Phillip Smith; April 21, 2024


Original source :


Play Loud & Smoke Often, the brand-new release from the Maine bluesters Cryin’ Out Loud is a smokin’ ten-track album of blues. It certainly grabbed my attention quickly and by surprise. The band, fronted by Brandon Stallard on lead vocals and guitar, is also comprised of Ben Chute on guitar and slide, Jim Fratini on bass, Erik Lawrence on saxophone, Mark “Bluesboy” Kanter on harmonica, Brooks Milgate on keys, Jeff Glidden on drums, and Amy Telllier on backing vocals.  With Grammy award winning guitarist/songwriter/producer Paul Nelson* at the helm as producer and additional guitarist, the record has a great sound.  

Cryin Out Loud ignites the fuse and lifts off with a burst of high-energy blues on “I Smoke Cigars and I Play the Blues”. Once I hear this song, I know I’m in good hands for a enjoyable listen. The electricity in the air remains strong as the life of a bluesman continues on in song with “I’m Gonna Drink My Way to Memphis”. Stallard’s whiskey-soaked vocals are perfectly suited for this ripping track where the band absolutely nails the performance. I love the Allman-esque jam on “Instead”. Nelson’s guitar performance is simply amazing.  “Tell Her” is sweetly steeped in a soul rock and masterfully takes an approach to the song which seemingly blends the sounds of Bob Seger with the Allman Brothers. As Stallard’s vocals kick in on “Moonshine Lover”, immediately following Lawrence’s big brassy blasts on sax, I’m taken back to the sounds of Bruce Springsteen with the E Street Band featuring Clarence Clemons. The big-band sound on this track surely makes for damn good time.

Crying Out Loud’s Play Loud & Smoke Often is loaded with stellar musicianship and brightly shines with glowing charisma. The album just gets better and better with every listen.




* Paul Nelson passed away March 10, 2024 from a heart attack


For more information about Cryin’ Out Loud, visit their website at

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

#674 : Wonderful Smiths - (self-titled) (

2024 – Wonderful Smiths

By Phillip Smith; April 16, 2024


Original source :


I was first introduced to the music of Wonderful Smiths in the winter of 2023 at the second annual da’Bluesapalooza in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The band played a stellar set of music, turning me into an instant fan. Wonderful Smiths are an Iowa-based blues-rock band which brings to the stage a high-energy show filled with excitement and a ripping array of songs. Fronted by Adam Springer on lead/rhythm guitar and lead vocals, the band is comprised of lead/rhythm guitarist Drew Hurn, bassist Nate Kofron, and drummer/percussionist Dustin Duwa. Their debut all-original release is a self-titled five track EP which certainly leaves me wanting more.

The record opens strong with “West Coast Turnaround”. Boasting fierce riffs and a fearless approach reminiscent of The Black Crowes, the song quickly sinks its claws in.  Emotions run deep on breakup ballad “Through the Night”. It is wonderfully melodic and boldly infectious. I love the power-pop guitar opening and soulful vocals on “Timing and Everything”. It’s a damn good jam. I dig the Seventies Rolling Stones vibe on “Getting Over”.  The EP ends with the relaxed, rootsy swagger of “Sunday Sound”. Beautifully performed and masterfully topped with slide, this acoustic track gives Springer generous space for his voice to shine. 

This is as strong as a debut recording can get. Wonderful Smiths prove they are indeed a force to be reckoned with on the music scene.


For more information about Wonderful Smiths, visit their website at 

EP available on BandCamp

Friday, April 12, 2024

#673 : Bernie Worrell - Wave From the WOOniverse (


2024 – Org Music

By Phillip Smith; April 12, 2024

Original source :


Funkadelic’s Uncle Jam Wants You was released while I was in my senior year of high school. I absolutely loved that album. It led me to record stores in search of more music by this wonderous band. Bernie Worrell (April 19, 1944 – June 14, 2016) was an integral part of the P-Funk family, and over the years his name appeared on many albums I purchased. Wave From the WOOniverse, a posthumous release produced by former Bernie Worrel Orchestra bandleader Evan Taylor is a double album set to be released on Record Store Day April 20. From unfinished works extending over twenty years old, the thirteen tracks on this album are brought to life by artists Worrell had worked with or had been friends with. 

After being lulled into the record with the piano-laced spacy “Intro (Reflections on a Bird)”, Jerry Harrison (Talking Heads) guides the listener into the beyond with a motherlode of funk on “Distant Star”. To hear the Bootsy Collins’ voice break out in “What Have They Done to My Funk” absolutely puts a smile on my face. And for the win, the song also includes Michael Moon Reuben, Bootsy’s son Ouiwey Collins , and Buckethead who absolutely tears it up on guitar. Leo Nocentelli, Fred Wesley and Stanton Moore create a wonder funky jam with “Heapin’ Bowl of Gumbo”. It’s absolutely fantastic. With an intro that sounds like a long-missing instrumental of 2001 A Space Odyssey, “Re-Enter Black Light” eventually takes a high-tech turn into a pulsating space-age rave. Sean Ono Lennon appears on bass guitar for this hypnotic groove. I was overjoyed to hear Fred Schneider on “The Big WOO”. If the B-52’s ever joined with Funkadelic, this is what it would sound like. I’d love to hear an entire album featuring this musical two-fer which also included Marco Benevento on keys and Steve Scales on percussion. My heart skipped a few beats when I first heard “Contusion” performed by Funkadelic with none other than Eddie Hazel on guitar. This previously recorded and unissued Funkadelic song is a mind-bender. Wave From the WOOniverse comes to an funky heart-warming end with its title track. For the closer, Miho Hatori lends her rapping mastery with Sarah La Puerta on lead vocals and Steve Scales on percussion.

Wave From the WOOniverse is everything I hoped it would be and a whole lot more. I’ll treasure this album for a long, long time.  


Sunday, April 7, 2024

#672 : Linwood Taylor - Two Sides (


2024 – Zavuya Music LLC

 By Phillip Smith; April 7, 2024

 Original source :


There’s a huge retro-blues appeal to the new album from Washington DC area bluesman Linwood Taylor. Taylor, whose musical influences include Muddy Waters, Albert Collins, and Luther Allison recorded Two Sides live in a couple of sessions in 2021 at two different venues. One location featured five songs from the electric set, and the other featured five songs from the acoustic set. With Taylor mastering guitars and vocals, his band is comprised of Steve Wolf on bass, Joe Wells on drums, and Sol Roots on guitars and backing vocals.

The electric side begins with some party-infused Chicago blues as they roll out a smokin’ cover of Bonnie Lee’s “I’m Good”. With a rocking soulful riff, “Safe to Say” quickly draws me in. The energy reminds me of the Black Crowes in a way. The riveting swamp blues of Slim Harpo’s “Shake Your Hip” is a treat to hear. It is fearless and raw, just like the blues should be.  

The slide on dobro puts a smile on my face as the acoustic side starts with a timeless delta blues style original “Love My Baby”. This side heats up even more as Taylor takes on the classic “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” and makes it his own. For acoustic blues, a Robert Johnson track is a must, and Taylor does an excellent job of performing “Dust My Broom”.

Fans of real-deal blues will definitely want to check Two Sides from Linwood Taylor out. It’s as solid as it gets.   



Visit Linwood Taylor's Bandcamp page to purchase the recording.


Friday, April 5, 2024

#671 : John Primer and Bob Corritore - Crawlin' Kingsnake (


2024 – Vizztone Label Group
By Phillip Smith; April 5, 2024
Release Date : .Mar. 29, 2024

Original source :

There are not many artists around who instill Chicago blues authenticity into their music as Blues Hall-of-Famer John Primer and Bob Corritore do. Paired together for the fourth time since 2013, this dynamic duo returned to the studios and cut yet another fabulous album. Crawlin’ Kingsnake is the name, and it contains a dozen ripping tracks. With Corritore on harp and Primer on guitar and vocals, they are joined by bassist Bob Stroger, Jimi “Primetime” Smith on second guitar, Anthony Geraci on piano and Wes Starr on drums.

After the smoke clears from the opening James Cotton song “Take a Message”, their title-track cover of John Lee Hooker’s “Crawlin’ Kingsnake” digs its claws in deep. Primer’s experienced vocals and precision guitar are fantastically supported by Geraci and the rhythm section. Then they roll right into Willie Dixon’s “Down in the Bottom” with Corritore keeping the song barreling down the tracks on harp. It sounds fantastic. They bring the fire to “Hiding Place”, a Primer original from his 1991 album Poor Man’s Blues. The song absolutely cooks. When they hit B.B. King’s “Chains and Things”, they play it sweet and slow. This one really brings me into my blues zone. When the big entrance of guitar and keys on Muddy Waters’ “Rosalee Blues” kick in, and I hear Primer start belting out the lyrics, I’m gob smacked for a simmering delightful listen. I absolutely love their performance of Magic Slim’s “Gravel Road”. It’s a signed, sealed, and delivered favorite.

It's hard to beat the lineup of artists on Crawlin’ Kingsnake. This album is about as real-deal blues as an album can get. I highly recommend it,


For more information about these artists, visit their websites at : and


For other PhillyCheeze review regarding John Primer and Bob Corritore, follow these links:

Saturday, March 30, 2024

#670 : Bex Marshall - Fortuna (


2024 – Dixiefrog Records

By Phillip Smith; Mar. 30, 2024

Release Date : Mar. 1, 2024


Original source :

Twelve years have passed since UK British Blues Award winner Bex Marshall released her previous record The House of Mercy. Her latest album Fortuna features nine all-original songs and one cover. Marshall’s guitar mastery combined with her wonderful raspy vocals and brilliant song-writing make for a captivating listen. The record is an absolute delight. With Marshall on lead vocals and lead guitar, her band on this album is comprised of drummer Richie Stevens (Tina Turner, Simply Red, George Clinton), keyboardist Toby Baker (B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Alexander O’Neal, Sinead O Connor), B.J Cole on dobro (Elton John, Coldplay, Sting, Shania Twain, Robbie Williams), Robert Eugene Daniels and Aurora Mannola on bass, with Queen Shola Adegoroye and Danny Bryan (Taj Mahal) on percussion.    

Riding atop a spirited funky groove, Marshall pulls me tightly in to the record with her cool-as-hell Tina Turner/Pink Floyd-ish cocktail “Preaching to the Choir”. A driving rhythm slathered with a delectable serving of swampy slide guitar and fearless vocals create a moment of pure listening perfection in “I Can’t Look You in the Eye”. Dining alone often draws a lot of wrong assumptions and unnecessary pity as Bex explains in her infectious tribute to the subject in “Table For One”. I love the jam-band appeal of the instrumental title-track “Fortuna”. Stevens keeps the song cooking on high-heat, as Marshall tears it up on guitar. In many ways, this track brings to mind a favorite band of mine Phish. Blues gushes out of every pore as she belts out “Lay Down and Die”. I love the closing track “When It’s Gone”. It brings the album to a freewheeling finish invoking the sounds of The Grateful Dead and Fleetwood Mac, creating a floaty atmosphere in a beautiful, lofty space.

Bex Marshall’s Fortuna is a top favorite of blues releases I have heard so far this year.  I highly recommend this record.


For more information about the artist, visit this website :

Friday, March 22, 2024

#669 : Altered Five Blues Band - Testifyin' (


2024 – Blind Pig Records

By Phillip Smith; Mar. 23, 2024

Release Date : Mar. 22, 2024

Original source :

I was very excited to hear there was a new release on the way from Milwaukee’s hardest working bluesmen Altered Five Blues Band. This seventh and latest release Testifyin' absolutely cooks. With five all-original tracks of smokin’ blues, this EP is hitting the scene with quite an impact. With Jeff Taylor on lead vocals, Jeff Schroedl on guitar, Mark Solveson on bass, Steve Huebler on keys, and Alan Arber on drums, A5BB plays the blues with feeling and conviction. The EP was produced, mixed and mastered by Grammy award-winner Tom Hambridge. To sweeten the pot, the super-talented, multi-award-winning Jason Ricci also appears with harp in hand on three of the five tracks.

 Testifyin’ kicks off with “Don’t Tell Me I Can’t” delivered with a funky rhythm topped with a smokin’ guitar performance from Schroedl and a sweet horn accompaniment from Max Abrams on saxophone and Julio Diaz on trumpet. They roll into “Whiskey Got Me Married” a smoldering blues track that sounds great sung by Taylor’s husky voice. Ricci totally wails on the harmonica and sounds amazing. “Brand New Bone” is an outstanding track which seems to begin in the Delta and wrap up in Chicago. With Ricci in the mix, this track is a genuine winner. They slow it down to a gentle sway to sing about hard times in “I’ve Got Scars to Prove It”. Schroedl plays every note with an emotional approach. Testifyin’ wraps up in a lively positive light with “You Can’t Win (If it Ain’t Within)”. It is upbeat, uplifting, and a sheer delight to hear.

 Every song is a keeper on Altered Five Blues Band’s Testifyin’. It’s a record that I keep on heavy-rotation for a long while. 



For more information about the artist, visit this website :


For other PhillyCheeze reviews regarding Altered Five Blues Band, follow this link:

Sunday, March 17, 2024

#668 : Wylde Nept Live at the Ideal Theater 3-16-24 (


Wylde Nept – St. Paddy’s Day Party

Ideal Theater

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

March 16, 2024


By Phillip Smith; Mar. 17, 2024

Original source :


I always have a great time when Iowa’s favorite Celtic band Wylde Nept is onstage. If one can catch them on or near St Patrick’s Day, that makes for even more of a special occasion. With four albums under their belt, and over thirty years of playing live shows, Wylde Nept has cultivated a faithful following of fans. Comprised by Westan James (lead vocals/didgeridoo), Steven James (vocals/accordion), Jon Southwood (guitars), Wayne Twombley (guitars) and Lincoln Ginsberg (cajon), the band played to an absolutely packed house of folks eager to get their Irish on.

After a traditional community shot of Jameson’s Irish Whiskey and their trademark shout of “Sligo!”, the music commenced their three high-energy sets of music with “Haul Away Joe” from their Live in 3D album. Like the whiskey behind the bar, all the favorites generously began pouring out, such as “Whiskey in the Jar”, “Mountain Dew”, “The Unicorn Song”, “Beer Beer Beer”, and “Johnny Jump Up”.

The band was on fire and the fans were enthusiastic. It truly was a special evening of music and celebration.


 ·       All photos by Phillip Smith      

* all photos by Phillip Smith

For more information about Wylde Nept, visit their website

Friday, March 15, 2024

#667 : Rocky Athas - Livin' My Best Life (


2024 – Cherryburst Records

By Phillip Smith; Mar. 16, 2024

Release Date : Mar. 10, 2024

Original source :


Rocky Athas is one of my all-time favorite blues-rock guitarists. He’s played with musical legends John Mayall, Glenn Hughes, Buddy Miles and Black Oak Arkansas and whether performing with someone else or recording his own solo work, he always manages to amaze me. Livin’ My Best Life is his latest release. It contains ten bodacious tracks of high-octane music and I absolutely love it. He puts the ‘rock’ in blues-rock. With Rocky on lead guitar, his son Rocky Athas II on bass guitar, Walter Watson on drums and lead vocals, and his son Jared Watson on guitar and vocals, the band could not be a tighter unit.

Title-track “Livin’ My Best Life” gets the album rolling with a big juicy dose of Texas-style blues with a ZZ Top vibe. Hearing Rocky shred on this one makes for a damn good listen. The fun ensues when they break out a smokin’ cover of Don Nix’s “Black Cat Moan”. I love how Rocky coaxes the most amazing tones out of his vintage 1969 Gibson Les Paul Custom Black Beauty using a vintage Vox Wah Wah to pay tribute to the late Jeff Beck on this track. From its infectious riff to its poignant lyrics, “Dark Days” is a fantastic original spawned from fatherly advice about remembering who we are regardless of the insanity surrounding us. This is indeed a favorite. It made me happy to hear John Mayall making a guest appearance on harmonica for the spectacular cover of “Long Gray Mare” originally recorded by Fleetwood Mac with Peter Green in 1968. He can sure make that harp sing. The solo guitar Rocky creates is outstanding. For an unexpected treat, I love the cover of Bob Dylan’s “Watching the River Flow”. The original was produced by Leon Russell and recorded at Blues Rock Studio in New York City at a session in 1971. From the beginning couple of bars of “Walk in My Shadow”, I am immersed in the groove created by Rocky II and Walter Watson. There is not a Free cover that ever sounded better to me. I feel as if Rocky is pouring everything he has into this performance, and it sounds terrific. First recorded by Freddie King in 1971, the cover “Palace of the King” makes for a riveting closing song. The twists and turns, Rocky takes with his guitar keeps me tightly glued to this track.

With Livin’ My Best Life, Rocky Athas wins me over once again.  This album certainly gets my highest recommendation.  



For more information about the Rocky Athas, visit this website :

For past reviews mentioning Rocky Athas on PhillyCheezeBlues :





Saturday, March 9, 2024

#666 : One Dime Band - Side Hustle (


One Dime Band

Side Hustle

2024 – Toneblanket Records

By Phillip Smith; Mar. 9, 2024

Original source :


One Dime Band from Boston, Massachusetts has caught my full attention with their third and latest album Side Hustle. In serving up thirteen all-original tracks, the band delivers a savory bowl of musical gumbo made from assorted blues sub-genres gathered along the Mississippi River from St. Louis, through Memphis, and down to the Big Easy.    

The core of the band is an acoustic duo comprised of John Brauchler on guitars, resonator, and banjo and Paul Gallucci on vocals, harmonica, percussion, and rhythm guitar. In 2022 they were winners of the Boston Blues Society Blues Challenge in the solo/duo category.  In 2023 they were winners of the Granite State Blues Society Challenge in the same category.  In 2024, they entered the International Blues Challenge in Memphis and made it to the Semi-Finals. Their backing band consists of Romeo Dubois on drums, Paul Kochanski on upright bass and electric bass, Alizon Lissance on piano, organ, and accordion, Ilana Katz Katz on fiddle, Holly Harris on percussion, Johnny Blue Horn on trumpet, Mario Perrett on saxophone, with Robin Hathaway and Tim Curry on backing vocals.

A blast of horns and a buttery Stax-fueled groove kicks the door in with a fist-full of funk on title-track “Side Hustle”. I absolutely love this one. Visions of cypress trees wading in the swampy waters of Mississippi come to my mind with each listen of “Blackfoot Sun”. Powered by Brauchler on resonator and, Gallucci on harp, this favorite is topped with a delectable fiddle performance by Katz. I’m drawn in to Kochanski’s crawling, infectious bassline on “Dr. Shine”.  It remarkably creates an ominous feeling of impending doom in this brilliant blues song about escaping reality. “Soul to Keep”, a slow-cooked blues duet with the lovely Robin Hathaway, sweeps me off my feet.  Brauchler digs his heels in deep and releases some gorgeous tones on this one. The smell of late Sixties funk wafts through the air on the instrumental “Rib Grease”.  An intoxicating rhythm, blasts of brass, and a groovy riff all adds up to a fabulous listen. 

Loaded with musical twists and turns, Side Hustle is terrific from beginning to end.




I wouldn’t say that review number 666 is a milestone, but the number does have some significance to some. In order to establish the connection to this review, I will share this story. When I first saw the cd cover featuring a pool table with red and green neon-lettered windows behind, a wave of familiarity washed over. I knew I had played on at that table before, I just wasn’t immediately sure where.  I then made it a mission to figure this out. The letters on the windows in reverse order were the first three letters of a place I have frequented occasionally on Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee called The Absinthe Room. Once I located photos of The Absinthe Room on Google, I was able to verify that the cover photo was in fact taken from the inside of that exact establishment.

This is where the synchronicity begins. A piece of blues historical trivia I know about this place is that at one time this was Hooks Brothers Photography Studio. Hooks Brothers took the only known studio photo of the legendary blues player Robert Johnson. And for those who don’t know, Johnson allegedly sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads to achieve his guitar mastery. And that’s the tie-in to review #666.



These photos featuring the Absinthe Room on Beale Street are ones I took of this location myself on two different visits to Memphis.


·       * Photos by Phillip Smith

Sunday, March 3, 2024

#665 : Cedar County Cobras - Live at CSPS 3-2-24 (

Cedar County Cobras

Live at CSPS

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

March 2, 2024


By Phillip Smith; Mar. 3, 2024

Original source :

I’ve been wanting to see Cedar County Cobras since reviewing their Homesick Blues album in December. The opportunity finally made its way last night at CSPS in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in front of full house. That’s one of the most perfect venues in town to experience live music. The Cedar County Cobras are comprised of Tom Spielbauer (guitar/vocals) and April Dirks (upright bass/mandolin/vocals).   

The Cobras played two amazing sets of music, leaning heavily into delta blues. They kicked the show off with an infectious cover of RL Burnside’s “Poor Black Mattie” followed immediately after with Son House’s “Walkin’ Blues”. The first set also included Burnside’s “Goin’ Down South” which Spielbauer remarked he picked up while playing at Red’s in Clarksdale, Mississippi. With Dirks on mandolin, they gave a wonderful performance of Bill Monroe’s “Under the Bridge” and Mississippi John Hurt’s “Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home”. 

They started their second set with “Utah” from their Homesick Blues album. Spielbauer brought out his 1929 National Steel guitar to play for several songs of which included a fantastic of Muddy Waters’ “Trouble No More”. He then switched to his gold-top Les Paul guitar to finish the show, hitting on originals which included a couple of my favorites “Gimme Lightnin’” and “Homesick Blues”. The show concluded with the mesmerizing spiritual “Get Right Church”.

It was definitely a night of music for the soul, and I enjoyed every note played. I already look forward to seeing them again.



All Photos by Phillip Smith


·       * All photos by Phillip Smith      

T Read the PhillyCheeze review of Cedar County Cobras' Homesick Blues album :