Saturday, May 25, 2019

#393 : Christone "Kingfish" Ingram - Kingfish



2019 – Alligator Records
By Phillip Smith; May 25, 2019

I first heard of Christone “Kingfish” Ingram a couple of years ago, while watching a YouTube video.  I remember being amazed at his guitar prowess and being enamored by the sheer depth he plunged himself into the Blues.  Earlier this month, I was fortunate to have witnessed a live performance of this Clarksdale, Mississippi blues prodigy at Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis, Tennessee.  It was indeed a rare treat for this blues music loving soul. 

Ingram’s debut album, simply titled Kingfish, has finally been released, and I’m absolutely loving it.  Produced and co-written by two-time Grammy winner Tom Hambridge, the album features notable guest performances from Buddy Guy, Keb’ Mo’, and Billy Branch.  With Kingfish holding court on vocals and guitar, and Hambridge behind the drums, the band is comprised of guitarist Rob McNelley, bassist Tommy MacDonald, and Marty Sammon on B3 organ/piano.     

From the beginning, I was hooked by the dynamic groove of “Outside of This Town”.  Kingfish’s fearless delivery and robust vocals stand tall in the saddle.  Buddy Guy who has stated “Kingfish is the next explosion of blues.”, appears with Keb’ Mo’ on the delightful gem of a tune “Fresh Out”.  This track about being down and out has a cool vintage quality about it.  Sammon’s piano accompaniment is terrific.  “Before I’m Old” is another great song.  It is funky, soulful, and topped with more searing guitar.  Keb’ on this one too, as well as three other smoking tracks.  One of which is “If You Love Me”.  With Billy Branch on harp and Chris Black on drums, it’s a downright jamboree.          

One of my absolute favorites on the album is, “Been Here Before”.  Kingfish plays this amazingly-reflective song on acoustic guitar and sings it with heart.  I remember being wowed and captivated by his performance of this song at Beale Street Music Festival. It really stuck with me. 

Kingfish is one of those albums, every blues fan will want in their collection. It’s that damn good.   

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For more information about the artist, visit this website.. www.christonekingfishingram.com  

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, May 19, 2019

#392 : John Clifton - In the Middle of Nowhere



2019 – Rip Cat Records

By Phillip Smith; May 19, 2019

There’s a genuine authenticity to the blues music of California singer/harmonica player John Clifton.  Whether playing one of his own terrific original songs, or tearing through one of his amazing covers, he blankets his music on In the Middle of Nowhere with a warm nostalgic vibe.  His tight-as-hell band consists of guitarist Scott Abeyta, bassist Jake Finney, drummer/percussionist Edward Fritz, and pianist Bartek Szopinski.

Clifton delivers a tasty dose of ripping harp on the instrumental original “Cool Spot in Hell”, while Szopinski hammers out an exquisite piano performance.  Another great original is “Four Years Ago”.  This instant classic, about being in the doghouse, is an undeniable treat.  “Ain’t Spending No More Money” is another hot original, that boasts more searing blues.  It makes me realize just how much I enjoy the cohesiveness of this band.  They really gel.     

I love the smoking guitar doled out by Abeyta on the cover of Charley Jordon’s 1931 recording “Keep it Clean”.  Their take on Junior Wells’ “So Tired (I Could Cry)” simmers quite nicely.  Clifton smoothly sings this with a suave delivery.  For the album closer, they delightfully nail down a rollicking version of Merle Haggard’s “Honky Tonk Night Time Man”.  It really cooks.         

In the Middle of Nowhere is as solid a blues album as one can be.  It really made an impression on me.

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For more information about the artist, visit this website.. www.johncliftonmusic.com  


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, May 11, 2019

#391 : Robert Connely Farr & the Rebeltone Boys - Dirty South Blues

2018 – self-released
By Phillip Smith; May 11, 2019

Growing up in Bolton, Mississippi (hometown of Charlie Patton and The Mississippi Sheiks) and mentored by Jimmy ‘Duck’ Holmes, puts Robert Connely Farr in a righteous spot to carry the torch for Bentonia blues.  Now a resident of Vancouver, Farr enlisted the expertise of Leeroy Stagger to produce this ten-track album featuring nine tremendous original songs, called Dirty South Blues.  Backing Farr, is the Rebeltone Boys, comprised of Evan Ushenko on lead guitar, Tyson Maiko on bass, Kyle Harmon on drums, and Michael Ayotte on keys.

The hypnotic rolling rhythm of “Ode to the Lonesome” quickly garners my attention as Farr poignantly reflects upon his fortress of solitude at the Cyprus Swamp.  Title-track “Dirty South Blues” gets real quite fast with Farr’s matter-of-fact lyrics accented by gobs of swampy slide guitar.  “Magnolia” is captivating and gut-wrenchingly dark.  Ayotte contributes a thick layer of ominous keys adding to the intensity. 

Farr pays homage to the oldest surviving juke joint in Mississippi with the wonderfully gritty original “Blue Front Café”.  The Blue Front Café, owned by Jimmy ‘Duck’ Holmes is one of the many sites on the Mississippi Blues Trail, and is still in operation today.  Holmes even shares writing credits with Farr, on “Just Jive Blues”, a ripping piano-heavy blues tune with lots of twang.  This is a fun one indeed.  The way Farr tackles Skip James’ “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues” is plumb terrific.

Dirty South Blues is one rock-solid record of blues, and Robert Connely Farr is the real deal.   


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For more information about the artist, visit this website..  https://www.robertconnelyfarr.com


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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Tuesday, May 7, 2019

#390 : Sean Pinchin - Bad Things




2019 – Sean Pinchin

By Phillip Smith; May 7, 2019

I became a fan of Sean Pinchin two years ago when I reviewed his previous record, Monkey Brain.  His latest album Bad Things is out now, and it is fantastic.  The music on this eight-song disc is soaked in the blues, and filled with captivating hooks.  Pinchin mixes it up on electric, acoustic, resonator, and laptop steel guitars.  Rob Szabo handles bass, keyboard, percussion, and guitar to boot.  Mary-Jane Luvite drops the beats on drums and percussion. 

The opening track, “If You’re Gonna Leave Me” comes across strong and fearless.  This anthem, dedicated to rocky relationships, absolutely cooks with a smoking guitar performance and a hardy vocal delivery.  Title-track “Bad Things” keeps the momentum going, with its infectious rhythm, and Pinchin’s mind-melting guitar.  It’s fabulous indeed.  Dark, ominous, and beautifully played, “Devil Got My Woman” is absolutely breathtaking.  I love the simple approach he takes when taking on Blind Willie Johnson’s “Nobody’s Fault But Mine”.  It is a pure and honest cover.  Lovely and delightful, Pinchin’s “River” is music for the soul.  

This Canadian bluesman surely has a way about him, and his music positively stands out.  Bad Things is one terrific album.

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For more information about the artist, visit this website.. https://seanpinchin.ca/





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.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.









Saturday, April 27, 2019

#389 : Ross Osteen Band - Williwaw




2019 – Ross Osteen Band

By Phillip Smith; April 27, 2019

For blues served sizzling hot, check out the latest release from the Ross Osteen Band called Williwaw.  This album packs quite a wallop.  Osteen not only deliver the goods on guitar and slide, but his vocals has that Robert Plant range and sounds magnificent.  The band also consists of drummer Patrick Gaynor, and bassist Jim Vint.  Together, this trio is an absolute force to be reckoned with.

Their cover of Muddy Waters’ “Mannish Boy” delightfully kicks off the album.  From this point on, I knew I was in for some serious blues.  “Little Rooster”, performed with the fearless attitude of George Thorogood, is another song that cooks. It’s the real deal indeed.  “Broom” is spectacular too.  If I didn’t know better, I would think I was listening to Led Zeppelin.  Osteen’s rock-star vocals take charge as he pours out some of the best slide guitar you’ll hear.  The Phish fan in me loves the closing instrumental, “Jellyfish Jam”.  Its hypnotic rhythm and playful attitude draw me right in.  It is definitely one for the jam band enthusiasts to explore.  

Williwaw certainly makes my list of favorites for the year so far.

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For more information about the artist, visit this website.. www.rossosteen.com  


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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Friday, April 19, 2019

#387 : Alexis P. Suter Band - Be Love




2019 – Hipbone Records

By Phillip Smith; April 19, 2019

Be Love, the latest album from Alexis P. Suter Band is one hot record.  Suter, who carved out her career in New York, opening for The Levon Helm Band and B.B. King, knocks another recording out of the park with her powerful and soulful voice. Her band consists of Michael Louis (guitar,vocals,bass), Vicki Bell (vocals), and Ray Grappone (drums).

Suter pines for her loved one as she pours a smooth layer of deep Sixties soul on ballad “Lips Hips and Fingertips”.  The song has a warm nostalgic essence about it.  A revving rhythm topped with some bodacious slide guitar brings some fast-paced blues to ”Little Back Rider”.  It really hits the spot.  I love the hip-swinging blues of “Sway”.  This funk-filled line dance number is an absolute favorite.  I love the slow groove and cosmic atmosphere of “Dog Eat Dog”.  There’s a definite George Clinton/Eddie Hazel influence on the front end.  When it come to the title track, “Be Love”, there’s a lot of energy flowing through.  This is a sure-fire blues-rocker that begs to be heard loud.  Filled with horns, keys, and searing guitar, the song jams indeed.

Be Love, from the Alexis P Suter Band is a hit in my book.        

















For more information about the artist, visit this website.. www.  





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.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.



#388 : Ghost Town Blues Band Shine – (sneak preview review)








By Phillip Smith; April 14, 2019



This week, I had the honor of getting a sneak preview of the new and upcoming Ghost Town Blues Band album, tentatively titled Shine.  After hearing just a few of the songs, I am very eager to hear the album in its entirety once it is released.  “Shine”, which appeared on their live album Backstage Pass last year, now has a studio version.  I’m delighted the way this song embraces the Memphis sound as it does.  GTBB injects the spirit of the Allman Brothers into new tracks “Lying To Yourself Gypsy Queen”, and “Running Out of Time”.  They wonderfully sit in that Muscle Shoals pocket.  There’s an inescapable groove on “High Again” that takes a hold of me.  This one will definitely be a fan-favorite.  “Dirty”, a very cool track, filled with psychedelic Clapton-esque guitar licks, and funky fueled rap from Suavo, is another treat indeed.  I'm liking what I 've heard and have a feeling this album is going to be spectacular. 


For more information about the artist, visit this website: www.ghosttownbluesband.com

Saturday, April 13, 2019

#386 : Sam Price & The True Believers - DragonFly




2019 – Sam Price Music

By Phillip Smith; April 13, 2019

It’s been a couple of years since Sam Price, bass player for Honey Island Swamp Band, has released an album with the True Believers.  So, the time has come for a new one.    His latest album, Dragonfly, is a superb follow-up to its predecessor.  It’s a delicious blend of blues, jazz and funk simmered in kettle of soul.  Produced by Papa Mali and written by Price, it’s such a laid-back listen, I just love it.  The True Believers is comprised of drummer Ethan Shorter, vocalist Whitney Alouisious, guitarist Alex Mallet, keyboardist Phil Breen, and percussionist Conga Mike, as Price drives the bus on bass and vocals.       

“I’ll Meet You There”, with its charming southern soul, delightfully kicks off the album.  I dig the short instrumental “Stand Up”.  With Breen behind the keys, and Conga Mike’s groovy beats keeping everything aligned, Price fills out the funk-filled rhythm with his buttery bass.  The title-track, “Dragonfly”, is a soothing, rich and amazing listen.  The accompanying percussion from Michael Skinkus is remarkable.  Guitarist Todd Duke, trumpeter Gregory Davis, and Andriu Vanovski on electric piano, join the band for “Old Jim Crow” a socially-conscious New Orleans-style blues track which is plumb great.

From dreamy to funkified, the songs of Sam Price and the True Believers run the gambit of southern Americana, and makes a striking impression.  Dragonfly is indeed a superb listen. 

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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.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.





Saturday, April 6, 2019

#385 : Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith & The House Bumpers - Drop the Hammer




2019 – Big Eye Records

By Phillip Smith; April, 6, 2019

The new disc, Drop the Hammer from Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith & the House Bumpers has really caught my attention.  The son of the late great Grammy Award-winning bluesman Willie “Big Eyes” Smith , Kenny grew up in the same Chicago house Muddy Waters once lived. With this new album Smith reserves a few songs to pay homage to traditional blues.  Then he steps out of the box and creates his own universe of sound as he explores the boundaries of contemporary blues.  Smith steers this ship from in-front of the mic and behind the drums.  The rest of his cutting-edge ensemble, The House Bumpers consists of Billy Flynn and Ari Seder on guitar, Omar Coleman on harmonica, Felton Crews on bass, and Luca Chiellini on piano.  Smith also enlists heavy-hitters Greg Guy (son of Buddy Guy), Sugar Blue, Greg Guy, and Nelson Strange, along with vocalists Kimberly Johnson, Dana Gordon, and Andrea Miologos.

“Head Pounder” kicks the album off with a slow-burning, multi-layered North Mississippi-esque rhythm.  It’s laced with blasts of harp, slide guitar, and the unique sound of sitar courtesy of Flynn.  Smith’s children, Mae, Clara, and Teddy contribute accompanying vocals to “Hey Daddy”, a happy and heartwarming original about parenthood.  Kenny drops a payload of deliciously-deep psychedelic funk on title-track “Drop the Hammer”.  The groove is so powerful, its hard to escape its gravitational force.  I also get immersed in the funky trance blues Smith and Guy create in “What in the World” with Seder, Crews and Chellini.  I love the way “Puppet on a String” opens from the kit.  This is another one that absolutely cooks, in a vintage Elvis “A Little Less Conversation” kind of way.  The enticing groove on “One Big Frown” sizzles with Strange on guitar.  Johnson’s powerful and soulful vocals take command. 

Kenny Smith has certainly created a noteworthy album with Drop the Hammer.  It is one hundred percent fresh and baptized in the blues.

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For more information about the artist, visit this website: https://beedyeyes.com  



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.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.



Saturday, March 30, 2019

#384 : The BB King Blues Band - The Soul of the King




2019 – Ruf Records
Release Date: May 10, 2019

By Phillip Smith; March 30, 2019

Even though B.B. King has been gone for four years now, his spirit and legacy lives on.  His band of over 35 years The BB King Blues Band, with the support of several guest artists have created a wonderful blues album The Soul of the King.  The band is comprised of lead vocalist/bassist Russell Jackson, guitarist Wilbert Crosby, drummers Brandon Jackson and Herman Jackson, trumpeters James Boogaloo Bolden and Lamar Boulet, lead saxophonist Eric Demmer, saxophonist Walter King, keyboardist Darrell Lavigne, and trombonist Raymond Harris.

The energy of the big band is exquisitely captured on “Irene Irene”, an original tune featuring the great Kenny Wayne Shepherd on guitar.  This smoking blues track is heavily steeped in the B.B. King sound.  Hearing Mary Griffin and Taj Mahal pair up for a duet on “Paying the Cost to be the Boss” is indeed a special treat.  Joe Louis Walker makes an appearance to perform his song “Regal Blues (A Tribute to the King)”, making sure to throw in a sweet guitar solo.  For the grand finale, the band delivers B.B.’s signature song “The Thrill is Gone” with Michael Lee on lead vocals.  Lee, from Season 15 of The Voice, absolutely does this one right.  Other special guests on the album include, Kenny Neal, Diunna Greenleaf, and John Del Toro Richardson. 

Soul of the King is an absolute gem and I highly recommend it for all blues fans.  


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Click on the link below to purchase this terrific album from the PhillyCheeze Amazon Store.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

#383 : Ghost Town Blues Band live @ Moline Viking Club - March 24, 2019



Moline, Illinois

By Phillip Smith; March 26, 2019

I was happy as a lark to see Ghost Town Blues Band return to the region on their latest Canada/Midwest tour.  They truly are one of my favorite bands.  Presented by the Mississippi Valley Blues Society, and hosted by the Moline Viking Club, the show featured two bodacious sets of riveting high-energy blues.  Fronted by Matt Isbell on lead vocals and guitars, Ghost Town Blues band is also comprised of lead guitarist Taylor Orr, bassist Matt Karner, drummer Andrew McNeil, organist/keyboardist Cedric Taylor, and trombonist Suavo Jones.

As soon as the band kicked the first set into gear with “Hate to See Her Go”, and “Memphis Blues”, I knew it was going to be a sensational show.  They broke out “Dust the Dust” and ”Big Shirley” too, the latter of which sweetly rolled right into Led Zepplin’s “Rock and Roll”.  I loved the funky two-fer including “Shine” and "Givin’ It All Away” from their latest album, Backstage Pass.  Suavo belted out such a tremendous solo on trombone.  It was absolutely amazing.  Isbell pulled out his one-of-a-kind cigar box guitar he made out of his late grandmother’s silver drawer for an enthralling performance of “Road Still Drives the Same”.    

With a Bourbon Street-style entrance, horns and drums in hand, the band marched back into the venue for the second set playing “When the Saints Go Marching In”.  That was so fun to watch.  They played “Memphis Train” and “Tip of My Hat” soon after.  When they broke into the Beatles’ “Come Together” though, it was quite magical.  Like sword-wielding knights, Suavo and Isbell squared off.  While Suavo extended the outer slide tube of his trombone skyward, Isbell held his cigar box high in the air, nailing every note as the guitar neck maneuvered about the trombone as a slide.  It’s such a unique and amazing feat to witness.  Afterward, Orr gave a smokin’ guitar solo on “One More Whiskey”, then the band wrapped up with a spectacular extended jam on “Whipping Post”.  It was such a wonderful evening of music, I can’t wait to see them again. 

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* All photos by Phillip Smith     




























Saturday, March 23, 2019

#382 : Coyote Kings - Rocket



2019 – Underworld Records
By Phillip Smith; March 23, 2019

Coyote Kings, that fiery blues band from Wala Wala, Washington which I’ve been reviewing since 2011, is back once again with yet another rockin’ album of blues.  The album is called Rocket, and it happens to be the Coyote Kings first on Tim Langford’s (Too Slim & the Taildraggers) music label Underword Records.  This is also their first album featuring their new singer, Tiphony Dames who recorded her debut self-titled album with the band in 2017.  Led by guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Robin Barrett, Coyote Kings is also comprised of bassist Kit Kuhlmann and drummer Gordon Townsend.

“Drive Me”, with its bluesy beatnik vibe scores huge, blending searing guitar licks from Barrett and Diego Romero with a fierce accompaniment from Nate Miller on sax.  Dame’s vocals are smooth as silk, and sound great.  Things get heavy with “Break Free” as Barrett throws down a riff that’s infectious and yet psychedelically ominous.  Miller shreds the sax again, as Barrett unleashes the funk in “All Tangled Up”.  The mood softens when Dame sings “Baby’s Gone”, a heartbreaking lament of lost love.  Her vocals really shine here.  The album comes to a close with a beautiful five-minute instrumental called “Song For Shaman”, featuring guest bassist Kelin Kreider. The track is absolutely stunning.

Rocket, the sixth album from the Coyote Kings is a positive step in a new direction for the band, and I look forward to hearing more from them with Tiphony. 

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For more information about the artist, visit this website.. coyotekings.com  

Take a listen to the album on Apple Music, and if you decide to purchase it, use my special link.








Saturday, March 16, 2019

#381 : Nick Schnebelen - Crazy All By Myself




2019 – Vizztone



By Phillip Smith; Mar. 16, 2019

I’ve been a fan of Nick Schnebelen since reviewing Trampled Under Foot’s 2011 release Wrong Side of the Blues for Blues Revue Magazine’s online zine BluesWax.  I remember being in such awe of great talent when I saw the band perform live at Riverside Casino in 2012.  Schnebelen’s Live in Kansas City album, released in 2017, was outstanding, and this brand-new record Crazy All By Myself is absolutely terrific.  Producer/drummer Tony Braunagel (Taj Mahal, Robert Cray), along with heavy hitters, organist/pianist Mike Finnigan and bassist Hutch Hutchinson form one hell of a rhythm section.

I love the groove Braunagel and bassist Reggie McBride pour over “It Ain’t Me”. Smooth and intoxicating, it washes over me, like a fine bourbon.  Hearing Schnebelen let loose on guitar is pure joy.  Finnigan absolutely cooks on piano for “Ain’t Got Time For the Blues”.  The song is a massive dose of adrenalized blues with more stellar guitar from Nick.  Another song that grabs my full attention is “Alter of Love” which happens to feature one my favorite harp players, Jason Ricci.  This is one positively fabulous.

Schnebelen breaks out some wonderfully delicious slide guitar as he expresses his fondness for Harley Davidsons in the double-entendre loaded bike song “I’m a Fat Boy”.  With “Soul Magic”, the lovely Heather Newman appears on backing vocals, as Nick reveals his prowess as an R&B singer.  “Holding On”, beautifully performed and featuring the great Davy Knowles on guitar, is another favorite. 

Focused and fierce, Schnebelen has taken his music up another notch. Crazy All By Myself is definitely a record for blues fans to take notice of.


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For more information about the artist, visit the website :  www.nickschnebelenkc.com .




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.   As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.