Saturday, October 13, 2018

#357 : The Boxmasters - In Stereo!



2018 –The Boxmasters

By Phillip Smith; Oct. 13, 2018

Billy Bob Thornton (aka Bud) , Teddy Andreadis and J.D. Andrew are back with In Stereo!.  This latest release from the Boxmasters captures the sounds and vibe of the early Sixties when the Beatles and Beach Boys were battling for king of the hill.  Loaded to the gills with nineteen songs similar in stylings to their previous album, it was originally referred to as Tea Surfing Too by the band before officially being titled. 

I quickly locked into “Clear Enough” a quirky poetic anthem with a garage punk attitude about respecting one another’s differences and personal space.  It’s catchy as hell, and I love the full-body sound.  Starting with a swoon-worthy melody and topped with the wonderful echo-laced sounds of surf guitar, “Rise Above Me” is a beautifully performed piece.  I also fall hard for the astral, Pink Floyd tendencies and Sgt. Pepper influences    laced in “Psychedelic”.  It’s brilliant to say the least.  The swirly organ accompaniment behind the thick twang of guitar gives the Beach Boys-infused “Best Girl” a taste of pop psychedelia.  A racing intro carries “Never Want to Leave California” into a dreamy place to land, as Thornton reflects upon The Golden State amid contemplating the termination of a failing relationship.  Recorded as a live performance in Florence, Alabama, “Emily” brings In Stereo! to conclusion in a Romantics-style ode to greasy-spoon crushes.

The Boxmasters’ ability to not be pigeonholed into any particular flavor of rock and roll as they dance around them all is uncanny and wonderful.  In Stereo! is indeed a delightful listen.      


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#356 : Savoy Brown w/ The Satterfield – Erickson Project - Oct. 7, 2018



Veterans Memorial Building  
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
By Phillip Smith; Oct 13, 2018


Sunday, October 7th, The Artisan’s Sanctuary in Marion, Iowa presented Savoy Brown live at the Veterans Memorial Building in Cedar Rapids. I’ve been a big fan of the legendary Kim Simmonds and Savoy Brown for quite a while, and was absolutely thrilled to have finally caught one of his live shows.  Playing as a trio, Simmonds was accompanied onstage by his bassist Pat DeSalvo and drummer Garnet Grimm, both of whom have been playing with the band for the past several albums and worked with Simmonds on prior solo albums as well. 

Opening for Savoy Brown was The Satterfield – Erickson Project, composed of master guitarists Billy Satterfield from Chicago, and Craig Erickson from Cedar Rapids, bassist John Hall, and drummer Tim Crumley.  I loved their fabulous tribute to the great Otis Rush (April 29, 1935 – September 29, 2018) with “I Can’t Quit You”.   It was indeed a real treat to hear.  Their performance of the classic Allman Brothers song, “Whipping Post” had me totally captivated too.  The dual guitar jam was magnificent. 

Kim Simmonds and Savoy Brown grabbed my attention quickly, opening their set with a pair of wonderfully swampy blues-rockers: “Hoodoo Me” and “Living on the Bayou”, both tracks from the recent 2017 Witchy Feelin’ album.  That is such a terrific album, and those were definitely excellent songs to lead off with.  Digging a little deeper, Simmonds delivered the goods with “Poor Girl” off the 1970 album Lookin’ In.  This was followed by the deliciously heavy electric blues of Willie Dixon’s “I Ain’t Superstitious” and Bukka White’s “Shake ‘em on Down” from the 1967 Shakedown album with Simmonds breaking out the harmonica.  It was a pleasure to hear the title track of the 1972 album Hellbound Train too.  The groove was intense and hypnotic.  Simmonds wound things to a close with “Memphis Blues”, and the cool slide boogie-induced riffs of “Tell Mama”.     

The music was superb and I walked away from the venue wearing a smile.  I would love to see more shows like this in the future for Cedar Rapids. 

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* all Photos by Phillip Smith



The Satterfield - Erickson Project



lly Satterfield , Craig Erickson

Billy Satterfield, Craig Erickson, John Hall

Craig Erickson
Billy Satterfield

Billy Satterfield
 
Tim Crumley
 
Craig Erickson, Billy Satterfield, John Hall
 
Satterfield - Erickson Project

Craig Erickson , John Hall

Craig Erickson
John Hall

Billy Satterfield

Tim Crumley




Savoy Brown


Kim Simmonds

Kim Simmonds , Pat DeSalvo

Kim Simmonds

Pat DeSalvo

Kim Simmonds

Pat DeSalvo

Garnet Grimm

Savoy Brown
 
Kim Simmonds

Savoy Brown

Kim Simmonds , Pat DeSalvo

Pat DeSalvo

Kim Simmonds

Saturday, October 6, 2018

#355 : Mark Harrison - The Panoramic View



2018 –Mark Harrison / Highway Records

By Phillip Smith; Oct. 6, 2018

I absolutely adored Mark Harrison’s 2016 album, Turpentine.  His latest release, The Panoramic View, described by Harrison himself as his magnum opus, now takes precedence.  The UK-based roots artist is one of the best songwriters around, and I especially take notice when this man tackles the Blues with a nostalgic story-telling approach.  With Harrison performing on National and 12-string guitars, the rest of the band consists of Charles Benfield on double bass, Ben Welburn on drums/percussion, Paddy Milner on piano, Paul Tkachenko on tuba, trombone, trumpet, and mandolin, and Ed Hopwood on harmonica.  For a fascinating and unique twist, Harrison enlists Scottish television personality Gail Porter to provide a spoken word introduction prior to each song.   

I love the sound of the National on “House Full of Children”.  It sounds go great paired with the horns on this upbeat homage to Detroit bluesman Eddie ‘Guitar’ Burns.  Harrison takes a deep look inside the words of Son House as he describes the meaning of life, and the Blues in “What Son House Said”.  His performance is delicate and endearing.   Harrison sings about life after death in “Meet on the Other Side”, a splendid country blues spiritual.  A timeless melody and a subject matter everyone has experienced is the heart of “Mess is Everywhere”.  With timely blurts from his tuba, Tkachenko keeps the song moving along its tracks.  While on the subject of tracks, “John the Chinaman” honors the railroad Chinese immigrant laborers who made up the majority of the transcontinental railways workforce in the 1850’s.  Harrison’s bright finger work on guitar keeps a locomotive pace on this delightful blues ditty.   

From beginning to end, The Panoramic View is an exquisite listen.  Harrison’s declaration of this being his magnum opus, certainly stands true.    

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Link to PhillyCheeze Rock & Blues Review of Mark Harrison's Turpentine album:
https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2016/09/mark-harrison-turpentine.html




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.




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Saturday, September 29, 2018

#354 : The Bennett Brothers - Not Made For Hire



2018 – American Showplace Music

By Phillip Smith; Sep. 29, 2018

New York musicians, guitarist Jimmy Bennett and bassist Peter Bennett first came to my awareness as the backbone of Alexis P. Suter Band.  Their presence on blues-rock albums from Bruce Katz, John Ginty, and Marcus Randolph captured my attention even more.  This summer, the Bennett Brothers released their debut album, Not Made For Hire, a powerful blues-rock album filled with a fistful of electric guitar and lots of groove. Drummer Lee Falco and keyboardist John Ginty bring their mojo to the band as well, forming a tight-knit outfit of musicians.

A searing blast of Texas-style electric blues greets the listener in “Junkyard Dog”.  Falco holds nothing back on drums as he drives this revving fully-loaded beast with ripping guitar from Jimmy.  The B3 sounds of Ginty is sweet icing on this cake.  The Bennett Brothers give an intoxicating performance in a wonderful, riveting way in “I Just Don’t Want the Blues Today”.  This one also features the lovely vocals of Linda Pino backing them up.  She definitely adds a layer of heartfelt emotion to the song.  The rocking contagious riffs in “What’d I Do” have a fabulous way to burrowing right inside to my core, and I love every bit of it.  The album ends in a tremendous way when the needle drops on “I Got a Woman”.  The guitar/organ intro generates a wave of excitement and captivates my attention.  Within ten seconds, the groove is set with a the funky rhythm and rides the spiraling B3 organ delightfully to its cosmic end.   

Not Made For Hire is the real deal.  This is what Blues-Rock is all about.

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Links to other PhillyCheeze Rock & Blues Reviews featuring the Bennett Brothers :

Marcus Randolph My Peeples Peeple - Transplant

John Ginty - No Filter

John Ginty - Bad News Travels Live CD/DVD

Bruce Katz Band - Homecoming

The Alexis P Suter Band - Love the Way You Roll




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Saturday, September 22, 2018

#353 : Amanda Fish - Free



2018 – Vizztone

By Phillip Smith; Sep. 22, 2018

Free, the latest album from Amanda Fish has a sense of earnest purity in both the writing and presentation.  The music, delivered with the swagger of an outlaw poet, is a heart-stopping head-turner.  Amanda not only holds court as vocalist on this terrific blues-rock record, but she also plays bass (all tracks), acoustic guitar, electric and 12-string guitar, mandolin and piano.  This artist is extremely talented to say the least.  Drummer Glen James backs her on all the tracks.   Also appearing on this disc, are guitarists Dave Hayes, Ken Valdez, Coyote Bill and Lois Nadal, Chris Hazelton on keys, and vocalist Sara Morgan.  Special guests include Alastair Greene, “Steady Rollin’” Bob Margolin, Tyler Morris, and Richard Rosenblatt    


One of the most amazing songs I’ve heard this year is the blues ballad “Anymore”.  Fish’s vocals are heartfelt and soulful.  Hayes’ contagious guitar riff, and Hazelton’s funky keys sign, seal and deliver this wonderful track.  I love the swampy southern twang of “The Ballad of Lonesome Cowboy Bill”.  Like an old Marshall Tucker record, this one sets up shop with a tale to tell and a fistful of fiery guitar licks.  Fish’s powerhouse vocals are nicely framed by Margolin and Morris.  Alastair Greene kicks the door in and takes no prisoners with a dynamite guitar performance on “Going Down”.  This is one bad-ass house-rockin’ song.  The infectious driving rhythm on “Not Again” charges along like a freight train on a mission.  Rosenblatt sweetly accompanies on harp, and Hays on guitar.  “You Could Be” is beautifully played.  It’s got such a robust sound rooted in the wonderful instrumentation of Fish on guitar and piano, Hazelton on organ, and Coyote Bill on guitar.   

Amanda Fish grabs my full attention with Free.  It is one hell of a spectacular listen.  That’s for sure.

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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.



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Saturday, September 15, 2018

#352 : RC and the MoonPie Band - All This



2018 – HoundSounds

By Phillip Smith; Sep. 15, 2018


All This, the brand new disc from RC and the MoonPie Band brings a smile to my face with every listen.  The MoonPie Band, from Green Swamp, North Carolina is fronted by Robert “RC” Christian, and consists of guitarist Robert Marlowe, drummer T Bone Betourney, bassist Mike Logiovino, and backing vocalist Russell Pleasants.  Chock-full   of funky soulful blues, All This is a delectable slice of southern Americana served with authenticity.

Title track, “All This” gets the party started with a sweet funky rhythm carved out by Logiovino and Betourney.  Marlowe’s guitar is smoking hot as he rips it up on this one.  Keyboardist extraordinaire Bruce Katz takes the helm of a 1920 Steinway baby grand as guest pianist on “5-10-15 Hours”.  RC’s vocals are suave on this fabulous cover of Ruth Brown’s 1952 hit.  Katz brings back again for a rollicking high-energy homage to one of the best bluesmen in the biz, “The Buddy Guy Up”.    

I love the jazz-soaked cover of Oscar Brown’s “Somebody Buy Me a Drink”.  Rich Moncure’s trombone accompaniment is the icing on the cake for this track.  One can’t help but be pulled in to the intoxicating blues of “Leave Me To Be”, a captivating 9 bar blues song from Christian and Marlowe.  The driving bassline sidles up quite nicely to Greg Moyers’ polyrhythmic beats.  It’s a treat to hear “Steady Rollin” Bob Margolin step in with Telecaster guitar in hand for “Big Ass Jug O’ Wine”.  Now that’s the Blues!  

Guitarist Gary Pope aka “the Pope of Shallotte” joins RC and the MoonPie Band to wonderfully bring this gem of an album to a soulful groovy close with their spectacular cover of Calvin Arnold’s 1968 “Funky Way”.   All This is one cool-as-hell album.  It is indeed “all that”.

    
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Saturday, September 8, 2018

#351 : Matty T Wall - Sidewinder



2018 – HipsterDumpster Records

By Phillip Smith; Sep. 8, 2018


Matty T Wall, the Australia-based bluesman who wowed me over two years ago with his Blue Skies album has scored again with Sidewinder. Loaded with nine original songs and four covers, this record showcases Wall’s songwriting, guitar mastery, and vocal chops.  This trifecta of skills is what makes this artist a force to be reckoned with.  Appearing with Wall on this recording, is drummer Ric Whittle, bassist Stephen Walker, organist Gordon Cant, backing vocalist Deli Rowe, Steve Searle on horns, and Jonas Petersen on strings.    

“Slideride”, a bodacious instrumental with a heavy dose of electric slide heavy guitar, surely awakens the soul.  The momentum of the opening track is further extended by the driving riff which fuels rocking title track “Sidewinder”.  Wall captures lightning in a bottle with a fierce performance on “Sophia’s Strut”, a mind-melting blues-rich instrumental.  Clocking in at just less than two minutes, I wish this jaw-dropper could have been a little longer.    

Wall beautifully takes on Sam Cook’s “Change is Gonna Come”.  His soulfully smooth vocals sound great, and his guitar sounds terrific as it lands in the pocket Walker and Whittle construct with the rhythm section.  The strings and organ accompaniment on this one is the icing on the cake. When he hits the Don Nix-penned tune “Going Down”, I have to crank up the volume.  This tremendous song, recorded in 1971 by Freddy King sounds great as Walls scorching guitar licks burn the house down.  
Matty T Wall’s brand of blues, impressively fresh and exciting, continues to push in a forward direction with Sidewinder.  It’s a terrific listen.  That’s for sure.
        


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Click the link below to read the PhillyCheeze review of : Matty T Wall - Blue Skies 





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.




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Monday, September 3, 2018

#350 : Geoff Achison - Sovereign Town



2018 – Landslide Records

By Phillip Smith; Sep. 3, 2018


Sovereign Town, the latest release from Melbourne, Australia recording artist Geoff Achison is exquisite and timeless.  Achison, who was awarded the Albert King Award at the International Blues Challenge in 1995, centers the landscape of this new album during Australian gold rush of 1850.  Recording at Pilgrimage Studio in the historic mining town of Ballarat, Victoria weaves another layer of authenticity and connection into the music.  Joining Achison on this album is Andrew Fry on stand-up bass, drummer Dave Clark, organist Liam Kealy and backing vocalist John McNamara. 

A hint of impending doom lurks as the opening bassline kicks “Skeleton Kiss” off the diving board with an ominous and catchy delivery.  Achison’s melodic, raspy vocals remind me of Mark Knopfler’s on this track.  It truly is a great song to lead the album with.  Achison sings of a man’s journey to find his golden fortune which ends with little more than bad luck and empty pockets in title-track “Sovereign Town”.   The delicate melody and lyrical cadence is very Dylan-esque and draws my attention quite swiftly.  

A beautiful new life is given to Ben Harper’s 1994 forlorn tale of lost love “Walk Away”.   Achison, taking a more rustic approach, fills the song with a ton of heart and soul.  “Misha Bella”, a smooth jazz instrumental showcases Achison’s guitar prowess and sounds so good.  “Small Time Crime” is another catchy-as-hell song.  Achicson’s funky guitar riffs have an uncanny way to burying themselves right into my subconscious.  A magnitude of empathy washes over with each listen of “World of Blue”.  It is brilliantly written, and passionately performed.  The way he makes his guitar wail is breathtaking.  
I love this album from start to finish.  Give Sovereign Town a listen.  You won’t regret it.

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Saturday, August 25, 2018

#349 : Keeshea Pratt Band - Believe



2018 – KPB

By Phillip Smith; Aug. 25, 2018


It puts a smile on my face each time I experience the soulful energy of Believe, the debut album from the Houston, Texas-based Keeshea Pratt Band.  After one listen, it’s plain to see how they took home the 1st place award for Best Band in the 2018 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee earlier this year.  Vocalist Keeshea Pratt fronts this band comprised of guitarist Brian Sowell, drummer Nick Fishman, bassist/music director Shawn Allen, trumpeter Misaki Nishidate, trumpeter James Williams III, and saxophonist Dan Carpenter. 

Pratt rolls out a red carpet of Motown-inspired, slow-cooked soul in “Make it Good”.  Her vocals, drenched with pure honest emotion nail every note amid the swirling sounds of keys and bursts of brass.  The sweet sounds of the Mississippi delta take hold in “Home to Mississippi” for some bodacious down-home blues.  Greased with slide guitar and harmonica this track drips with authenticity.  

I’m captivated by the way “I Can’t Stop Now” slowly revs up and masterfully takes off in a turbo-infused fury.  Loaded with power vocals and searing guitar, it absolutely gets the adrenalin pumping.  One of my favorite singers, the legendary late-great Sharon Jones comes to mind, when listening to Pratt fabulously bring it on in the psych-soul power funk track “Out of My Mind”.  This magnificent song grabs a Phillycheeze one-hundred percent approval rating.

Pratt’s delightful voice has no boundaries as she takes the listener on a musical journey with this remarkable record called Believe.  This album is highly recommended.        
     

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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.  



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Sunday, August 19, 2018

#348 : Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip - Twentyfive Live at Blues Baltica



2018 – Hokahey! Records

By Phillip Smith; Aug. 18, 2018


In 1991, front man Micke Bjorklof and bassist Seppo Nuolikoski formed Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip.  With over twenty-five years under their belt, and a few personnel changes this Finnish outfit is now stronger than ever and holds court as a top tier blues band with a global fanbase.  Twentyfive Live at Blues Baltica celebrates those twenty-five years of playing live music with a magnificent twenty-one track double live album recorded at Blues Baltica, the annual four-day blues festival in Eutin, Germany.  Alongside Micke and Seppo, the lineup of the band consists of guitarist Ville “Lefty” Leppänen who has been with the band since 1999, drummer Teemu Vuorela, and percussionist/MalletKAT master Timo Roiko-Jokela.

Firing smoothly on all cylinders, the band nicely starts off with “Jack the Black Hat” from their 2014 studio album, After the Flood.  With a tremendous jazzy groove, they splendidly cover the sultry title track to that album as well.  I love the hoodoo inspired “Ray Needs a Mojo Hand”.  It captivates me with every listen.  A couple of very cool blues covers land on disc one too: “5-10-15 Hours”, originally recorded by Ruth Brown, and a ripping celebration of “Honey Hush” which is loaded with lots of hot juicy harp.  “Honey Hush” was originally recorded and co-written by Lowell Fulsom as “Talkin’ Woman”. The song was later covered by the blues-master Albert Collins who recorded it as “Honey Hush” to place on his 1978 LP Ice Pickin’.  Lefty gives a smokin’ guitar performance on this final song of the first disc.  

The second disc opens with ”In Chains” a heart-wrenching blues ballad off Bjorklof’s 2015 studio album Ain’t Bad Yet.  “Gumbo Mama” is a fun and funky treat with a Red Hot Chili Peppers vibe.  Teemu nicely rolls the red carpet out for “Killer Woman” a twangy head-banger that rips it up in a classic rockabilly form.  It segues perfectly right into the next song, dedicated to the great, late Son House, “Ramblified” which is an incredible performance packed with lots of amazing slide guitar.  Twentyfive Live beautifully comes to a close with “Sweet Dream’s a Sweet Dream” a soulfully delicate tune which brings to mind the music of Tommy Bolin. 

Until I actually get to experience a Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip concert in person, I’m more than happy to have Twentyfive Live at Blues Baltica to enjoy.  It’s fabulous.        



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Follow the links below to read previous PhillyCheeze reviews for Micke Bjorklof and Blue Strip :         

Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip - Ain’t Bad Yet

Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip - After the Flood
Southpaw Steel ‘n’ Twang - Stat(u)e of Mind  (w/ Ville “Lefty” Leppänen)

Southpaw Steel ‘n’ Twang - Hale’s Pleasure Railway  (w/ Ville “Lefty” Leppänen and Micke Bjorklof)

           

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.  




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