Saturday, May 27, 2023

#615 : Boo Boo Davis - Boo Boo Boogaloo (


2023 – Blue Lotus Recordings

By Phillip Smith; May 27, 2023

Release Date : April 24, 2023


Original source :

At almost eighty years old, St. Louis bluesman James ‘Boo Boo’ Davis is still busy creating some of the most authentic blues being recorded today.  Born in Drew, Mississippi in 1943, Davis grew up being surrounded by music, playing drums in a family band.  In 1972, he landed an eighteen-year-long gig playing weekends at Tabby’s Red Room in East St. Louis.  In 1999, Davis cut his debut album called East St. Louis and he’s been busy making records since.  His twelfth and latest release Boo Boo Boogaloo features ten original tracks as real and raw as the blues can get.  It’s the kind of blues that slow-drips and settles in the gut.  I love how it feels to hear it.  Produced by Chris Millar, LA Jones, and Paul Niehaus IV, the album features Boo Boo on lead vocals and harmonica, Jones on guitar, Adrianna Marie on bass, Millar on drums, and Niehaus on keys.

“Little House by Myself” rolls and tumbles onto the scene with a sound reminiscent of Fifties Chicago Blues.  The tight-knit rhythm section creates the perfect space for Boo Boo and Jones rip it up on harp and guitar.  Davis’ voice rings out with true conviction as he sings “She Made Me Evil”.  Jones’ smoking guitar licks add brilliance to the unescapable rhythm of this gem.  “Once a Year” is a smoldering timeless treasure of thick, oozy Mississippi Delta blues.  The doors are swung wide open for a Saturday night get-down on title-track “Boo Boo Boogaloo”.  This wonderful jam adds a danceable bounce to the album.  A soulful James Brown-inspired vocal delivery from Boo Boo brings the album to a fabulous close with “Jungle Bump”.  A captivating beat from Millar keeps a driving pulse as Davis and Jones unleash a riveting, unbridled performance. 

This is an album I highly recommend for the real-deal blues fans.  It does not get much better than this. 








1.   Little House by Myself

2.   At the Red Door

3.   She Made Me Evil

4.   Blues on My Mind

5.   Make Everything Alright

6.   Hell Round Here

7.   Once a Year

8.   Boo Boo Boogaloo

9.   I Got the Crying Blues

10.  Jungle Bump


For more information about Boo Boo Davis visit




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Saturday, May 20, 2023

#614 : Lil' Jimmy Reed with Ben Levin - Back to Baton Rouge (


2023 – Nola Blue Records

By Phillip Smith; May 20, 2023

Release Date : May 19, 2023

Original source :


At eighty-five years old, Leon Atkins aka Lil’ Jimmy Reed has released a new album with twenty-three-year-old blues pianist extraordinaire Ben Levin, and it is fantastic.  The record is called Back to Baton Rouge and was recorded with guitarist Aron Levin (father of Ben Levin), bassist Walter Cash Jr., and drummers Ricky Nye and Miss Shorty Starr.  Atkins, who cut his teeth in the music world while playing the Chitlin Circuit during the Fifties, keeps the blues-torch burning from that era as he injects that essence into his writing and performances.  It was during that time, Atkins was asked to fill in for Jimmy Reed and play with Reed’s band on a show in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Reed had reportedly drunk a bit too much and was unable to perform.  Atkins covered for Reed, and the show went very well.  Soon after Atkins became known as Lil’ Jimmy Reed.    

The album starts off with an attention-grabbing cover of Jimmy Reed’s “Down in Virginia”.  Akins’ smokey vocals sound great as he plays this one bright and clean.  Levin’s piano accompaniment is a delight too.  This is one of my favorite cuts on this record.  Two other Jimmy Reed gems are covered back-to back: “I’m the Man Down There” and “A String to Your Heart”.  They surely make an honorable tribute to the blues-great.  

“Wish You Wouldn’t”, is a terrific piano-centric blues original written by Ben and Aron Levin.  The guitar licks Lil’ Jimmy perfectly injects into the song sound great as he sings about his lady drinking too much, chewing tobacco, and fighting.  A strong Howlin’ Wolf vibe woos me over with the steady-rolling original “Engine Light”.   The ominous feeling Atkins projects on this tale of a possible breakdown digs in deep to the bone.  A luscious cover of Slim Harpo’s “Mailbox Blues” brings the album to a close.

Back to Baton Rouge packs ten outstanding traditional blues tracks into one fabulous album.  I hope to hear more collaborations between Lil’ Jimmy Reed and Ben Levin in the future.





I had a special opportunity last week to see Lil’ Jimmy Reed and Ben Levin perform together in Memphis as part of the BratGirlmedia Blues Music Awards Showcase at the Rum Boogie Café.  It was a glorious night for music. Below are a couple of photos I captured of Lil’ Jimmy and Ben that evening.   


Lil' Jimmy Reed , Ben Levin

Rodd Bland, Jon Hay, Lil' Jimmy Reed




This album available on Bandcamp

Saturday, May 13, 2023

#613 : Bruce Katz Band - Connections (

Bruce Katz Band


2023 – Dancing Rooster Records

By Phillip Smith; May 13, 2023


Release Date : April 21, 2023


Original source :

There’s nothing like listening to the lush keyboard jams of Bruce Katz.  He has played with Gregg Allman’s Band, Butch Trucks’ Les Brer, and Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band.  He’s played with so many members of the Allman Brothers, he may as well be an honorary member of the band.  Recorded at the legendary Capricorn Studios in Macon, Georgia, Connections features Katz on piano, Hammond organ, and organ bass, Aaron Lieberman on guitars and vocals, and Liviu Pop on drums.  Also, Shaun Oakley, the grandson of Allman Brothers’ original bassist Barry Oakley, appears on bass guitar for three tracks.

A wave of nostalgia washes over me when the retro doo-wop vibe of “Nighttime Stroll” hits.  Lieberman’s soulful vocals and toneful guitar performance is wonderfully matched with Katz’s extraordinary talent.  I love the instrumental “Where’s My Wallet” with its’ unpredictable jazz/blues-fusion jams.  Pieces of this one remind me of Zappa.  Organ-laden Seventies prog-rocker “Down Below” takes blues-fueled psychedelic leaps securing its place as an album-favorite.  Peaceful thoughts of seeing Phish at Alpine Valley are brought to the forefront of my mind when “The Dream” struts by.  Like hummingbirds, the delicate notes from Liberman’s guitar seem to hang in mid-air as the swirling sounds of organ surf the currents of the breeze.  The glorious slow blues of “What I Feel” brings this album to a soulful end, leaving me in a mellow mood.  Liviu and Lieberman deliver a tight-as-hell performance on this instrumental for Katz to do what he does best on keys, and they sound magnificent.  

Connections is a splendid listen from beginning to end.  It is records like this which make me a fan of Bruce Katz.         


                       TRACK LISTINGS

1.         Right Here Right Now            5:20

2.         Nighttime Stroll          4:38

3.         Where's My Wallet?   4:41

4.         Morning On Basin Street        5:42

5.         Down Below   5:07

6.         Sneakin' Around         5:41

7.         The Dream      5:08

8.         All About That            5:04

9.         Gary's Jam       5:11

10.       Tides Are Turning       4:49

11.       What I Feel     4:59


For more information about Bruce Katz visit his website at :


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Sunday, May 7, 2023

#612 : Robert Connely Farr - Cherry Ball (


2023 – Robert Connely Farr

By Phillip Smith; May 7, 2023

Release Date : April 14, 2023

Original source :


Robert Connely Farr’s name is planted on my list of favorite blues artists these days.  I’ve been hooked on his music since hearing his 2019 release Dirty South Blues.  Hailing from Bolton, Mississippi and now residing in Vancouver, B.C., Farr was mentored by Grammy-nominated Jimmy ‘Duck’ Holmes, cementing his style in Bentonia Blues.  For this recording, Farr selected a baker’s dozen of his coolest tracks and taped them live at Fox Cabaret in Vancouver with bandmembers Jay Bundy Johnson and Tom Hillifer.

The set begins with a splendid, dark performance of the 1929 Charlie Patton side “Screaming & Hollering” which also appears on Farr’s 2022 Shake It album.  He delivers the hard-driving Jack Owens-penned song “Cherry Ball” with fearless abandon down a steamy groove fueled by Johnson and Hillifer.  The bassline digs deep into the marrow of my bones as he wonderfully takes on Jimmy ‘Duck’ Holmes’ “Going Away to Leave You”.  If one is playing Bentonia blues, there’s going to have to be some Skip James in the mix.  Farr pleads for just one more chance as he delivers a brilliant and unsettling rendition of James’ “Devil Got My Woman” taught to him by Holmes.            

Farr’s original songs truly resonate and are comparable to the those from the delta greats.  “Going Down South”, with its timelessness and infectious hook, pulls me right in.  “Lefty” on the other hand, clocks in with a two-and-a-quarter minute long hellacious serving of high-octane blues.  They are both great songs.

Cherry Ball is a terrific listen from beginning to end.  For those who have not listened to Farr’s work, this album is an excellent gateway recording to introduce yourself to his work. 





1. Screaming & Hollering (live) 03:22

2. Buddy Brown (live) 02:27 video

3. Cherry Ball (live) 02:40 video

4. Going Away To Leave You (live) 02:23

5. Going Down South (live) 02:46

6. Devil Got My Woman (live) 02:41

7. Go Cat Go (live) 02:48

8. Lefty (live) 02:14

9. Ain't No Other Way (live) 02:42 video

10. Trouble (live) 03:21

11. Knock On Wood (live) 02:49

12. Shake It (live) 02:57

13. Girl In The Holler (live) 02:34



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Available on Bandcamp

Saturday, April 29, 2023

#611 : Tav Falco Panther Burns - Nashville Sessions: Live at Bridgetone Arena Studios (


Tav Falco Panther Burns

Nashville Sessions: Live at Bridgetone Arena Studios

2023 – Frenzi

By Phillip Smith; April 29, 2023

Original source :


In the 1980’s, I lived about 70 miles from Memphis, and visited the Bluff City often.  This was when I was first acquainted with the music of Tav Falco.  He was often the topic of discussion at the record stores I frequented.  The Panther Burns songs were unique, and stood out from the typical music which stocked the shelves back then.  Hearing this new release Nashville Sessions: Live at Bridgetone Arena Studios brings back a lot of memories.  Recorded for Sirius XM Outlaw Country, Nashville Sessions captures the intoxicating charm of Tav during his 2022 US tour.  With Tav on lead vocals and guitars, the Panther Burns are comprised of Mario Monterosso on lead guitar, Walter Brunetti on drums, and Giuseppe Sangirardi on bass.   

In a beautiful, witchy fashion, the Nashville Sessions begins with “About Marie Laveau”, a haunting ode to the legendary nineteenth century voodoo queen.  “Sway” follows up next riding a Latin wave and perfectly captures the suave essence of Tav Falco as he sings a song about dancing.  I love the cover of Memphis Minnie’s 1941 Okeh side “Me and my Chauffeur Blues”.  Monterosso plays this with a classic Sun Records vibe in this wonderful track.  From his 1986 EP Shake Rag, the Tav-original “Cuban Rebel Girl” is still as cool as ever.  Hearing “Bangkok” again, puts a huge smile on my face.  This rockabilly-surf treasure was cowritten with Panther Burns co-founder Alex Chilton (Box Tops, Big Star).  I adore the homage to the French literary/cinematic criminal genius Fantômas, which Tav constructs in “Master of Chaos”.  This song of anguish and ecstasy is an absolute gem.

Tav Falco’s genius personality shines bright on Nashville Sessions: Live at Bridgestone Arena Studios.  I’ve never seen or heard anyone else like him.  He is truly one of a kind.         






            TRACK LISTINGS


1.     (Intro) 00:53

2.  About Marie Laveau 04:33

3.  Sway 03:04

4.  Have I The Right 03:12

5.  He'll Have To Go 02:40

6.  Born Too Late 03:04

7.  Me And My Chauffeur Blues 04:18

8.  (Band Intro) 01:57

9.  Strange 03:43

10.  Treat Me Nice 02:50

11.  Go On Home 02:24

12.  The Ballad Of The Rue De La Lune 04:49

13.  Cuban Rebel Girl 03:03

14.  (Bangkok Intro) 00:36

15.  Bangkok 02:02

16.  (Master Of Chaos Intro) 00:29

17.  Master Of Chaos 05:08

18.  Girl After Girl 02:42



Tav Falco on Bandcamp  


Saturday, April 22, 2023

#610 : Scott Weis Band Soul Krewe - Sugar Shack (


2023 – Scott Weis

By Phillip Smith; April 22, 2023

Original source :


Sugar Shack, the latest release from Scott Weis, ventures off the path of his previous album Simmer Me Down and marches into the beautiful music-scape of New Orleans.  For this album, Weis incorporates a different ensemble of musicians to take the listener on a journey through the signature music genres lurking in the Big Easy. With Weis on guitar, harmonica, and lead vocals, his band consists of Andy Pace on drums, percussion, acoustic guitars, and backing vocals, Todd Lanka on bass and backing vocals, Nate Zaur on keys, Gary Rixner on trombone, and Rob Curto on accordion.  Backing vocalists include Wrecia Ford, Carol Sylvan, and Bobby Harden

“Gotta Get Back” puts the listener on the NOLA scene, marching in like a John Boutté-led second line.  Once I hear this song kick in, I am happily onboard.  Weis’ gravelly vocals and searing guitar are perfectly centered in this horn-and-key-infused piece.  A funky rhythm takes over as they cover Gary US Bonds’ “New Orleans”.  Weis and the krewe breathe a delightful new life into the song.  I love the powerful, unescapable groove of “Nite Train” as it rolls the song down the track.  A crashing beat, fiery keys and hot guitar licks maintain the smoldering heat for this nearly six-minute jam.  Armed with his accordion, Curto keeps the party going strong, serving up a happy-go-lucky platter of zydeco on title-track “Sugar Shack”.  By the time the song ends, I have a hankering for crawfish, gumbo, and ice-cold Abita.  “Honey Land” is an absolute delight.  Weis pulls in Pace to accompany with resonator guitar on this delta blues spiritual.  The song seems to defy time itself.  Sugar Shack comes to the end of the line in true form as it rocks out with “When The Saints Go Marching In”.  Guest Marc Von Em joins Weis on vocals for a bodacious performance.

Each song flows seamlessly to the next as Weis and his Soul Krewe deliver a wonderful, feel-good bundle of music with Sugar Shack.  I am already looking forward to Volume 2.    



For more information about Scott Weis visit his website at :


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Saturday, April 15, 2023

#609 : Dean Zucchero - Electric Church For the Spiritually Misguided (


Dean Zucchero

Electric Church for the Spiritually Misguided

2023 – Pugnacious

By Phillip Smith; April 15, 2023

Release Date : April 7,2023

Original source :


Originally from New York City’s East Village, Dean Zucchero now calls New Orleans his home.  I first became aware of him through his work through the music of Ghalia Volt.  I had reviewed two of her albums, and Zucchero had made a big impression on me with his performance on bass guitar.  His debut album Electric Church for the Spiritually Misguided is quite exciting and a fabulous listen.  With Zucchero on bass guitar, he is accompanied by drummers Terrence Higgins and Doug Belote, organist Phil Breen, percussionist Alex McDonald, and guitarist Jake Eckert.   It’s great to hear him collaborate with personal favorites Ghalia Volt, Johnny Burgin, Johnny Rawls, and Jason Ricci.  Other featured guests include Dale Spalding, Jonathan “Boogie” Long, Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes, John Fohl, Joe Krown, Leslie Smith, Papa Mali, Johnny Sansone, and Jeremy Joyce.

“Big Boss Boy” the first hymn played at the Electric Church features Mississippi soul-blues legend Johnny Rawls on vocals, and Chicago blues great Johnny Burgin on guitar.  The buttery bassline, swirling organ, and backing singers sound fabulous alongside Rawls’ silky smooth vocals, and Burgin’s blues-infused licks.  “Craft Beer”, and ode to one of my favorite things, places Johnathon “Boogie” Long behind the mic for a suave-as-hell number.  Ghalia Volt sings “Last Minute Packer” a track which kicked off her 2021 album One Woman Band.  Co-written by Zucchero and Volt, this bodacious song features spirited performances by Waylon Thibodeaux on fiddle and Alex MacDonald on washboard.  I love the instrumental “DBA” which is fortified with harp from Jason Ricci and organ from Joe Krown.  The New Orleans energy flows freely through this one.  “Mortal Man” features Johnny Sansone on lead vocals and harp for a dose of real-deal blues.  It penetrates right to the bone.

The healing power is great at the Electric Church for the Spiritually Misguided.  Dean Zucchero has created a wonderful album indeed.    




Track Listing:


1.      Big Boss Boy

2.      Independence Day

3.      Craft Beer

4.      Last Minute Packer

5.      Empty Postbox

6.      La Belle Poursuite

7.      Stack It

8.      Fascist Love

9.      DBA

10.  Mortal Man

11.  American Dream



For more information about Dean Zucchero visit his website at :


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Saturday, April 8, 2023

#608 : Nick Schnebelen - What Key is Trouble In? (


What Key is Trouble In?

2023 – Vizztone

By Phillip Smith; April 8, 2023

Release Date : March 10, 2023


Original source :

I’ve been a fan of Nick Schnebelen’s work for twelve years.  His guitar mastery and song-writing make for some exciting electric blues.  Schnebelen’s fourth album for Vizztone What Key is Trouble In was co-produced by BMA winner Chris Hardwick, featuring Nick being backed by drummer Adam Hagerman, and bassist Cliff Moore.  Guest appearances from keyboardist Red Young, saxophonist Buddy Leach, and organist Aaron Mayfield lend their talent to this extraordinary thirteen-track album of all-original songs.

Title track “What Key is Trouble In?” rolls in on a funky BB-King inspired tide, and I dig it a lot.  The beauty of “Blues Night” is in the moody atmosphere Schnebelen crafts.  It’s surely a standout song.  I love how the slow buttery groove of “Hard Driving Woman” pulls me right in to the pocket with Schnebelen filling it with rich tones and smoldering licks.  I can’t help but think of SRV when “Poor Side of Town” begins.  This is a wonderful serving of slow-paced Texas Blues.  Boogying down with an infectious hill-country-blues-flavored riff, “Throw Poor Me Out” flows like moonshine from a mason jar.  It a wonderful jam.   

What Key is Trouble In? is surely an album blues fans will want to own.  Schnebelen just keeps getting better and better.    




01.  Ten Years After, Fifty Years Later

02.  What Key Is Trouble In?

03.  Love In My Heart

04.  Blues Nights

05.  Hard Driving Woman

06.  Will I Stay

07.  Pain Aside

08.  Poor Side Of Town

09.  Johnny Cheat

10.  Big Mean Dog

11.  Over The Cliff

12.  Throw Poor Me Out

13.  People Worry About Me



For more information about Nick Schnebelen visit his website at :


Check out other PhillyCheeze reviews for Nick Schnebelen at :





Available on Amazon

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