Saturday, September 24, 2022

#577 > John Primer - Hard Times (


2022 – Blues House Productions

By Phillip Smith; Sep. 24, 2022


Original source :


Hard Times, the very latest release from Chicago Blues great John Primer captures my ‘real-deal’ blues-loving heart with thirteen new originals.  With Steve Bell on harmonica, Lenny Media on drums, and David Forte on bass, this recording also features special guests Rick Kreher on 2nd guitar, Johnny Iguana on piano and organ, and John’s seventeen-year-old daughter Aliya Primer on vocals.  Primer states: “The name of my new CD reflects the world we’re living in today.  I recorded this CD to help us get through these really hard times.”.

I’m drawn right in to Primer’s churning delta-blues riffs on title-track “Hard Times”.  The slide guitar is absolutely wonderful as it sits in front of the spectacular piano and harp accompaniment.  Immediately following is the intoxicating and soul-warming homage to the genre “Blues-Blues-Blues”.  It’s one of my favorites.  With daughter Aliya on lead vocals for her debut recording session, “Tough Times” is an endearing track about sticking together.  The chemistry John and Aliya share brings to mind the Mississippi Delta Blues father/daughter duo Bill ‘Howl-N-Madd’ Perry and Shy Perry.  Filled with attention-grabbing guitar runs, waves of organ sounds, and doses of searing harp, “Trying To Make You Mine” is a hands-down fabulous track which I immensely enjoy.  With his great talent of painting pictures with words, Primer piles healthy scoops of certifiable blues on “Hot Meal”.  It doesn’t get much better than this.

As usual, John Primer and his Real Deal Blues Band perform the blues as it should be heard.  Hard Times is as authentic as it gets.



For more information about John Primer, visit this website :



This terrific album is available in the PhillyCheeze Amazon Store. 

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

Saturday, September 17, 2022

#576 > Too Slim and the Taildraggers - Brace Yourself (


2022 – Vizztone Records

By Phillip Smith; Sep. 17, 2022

Original source :


I’ve only seen Too Slim and the Taildraggers perform one time.  That was August of 2018 at Harley Corin’s in Bettendorf, Iowa.  The memory of that show still hangs on tight.  The band has a take-no-prisoners approach as it slams open the gate for a fantastic rocking show.   Brace Yourself, the latest album from Too Slim, captures that potent live energy from a performance at Ohme Gardens in Wenatchee, Washington.  With Tim “Too Slim” Langford front-and-center on lead vocals and guitar, The Taildraggers are bassist Zach Kasik, and drummer Jeff “Shakey” Fowlkes.

They get the show started with the hard-driving rocker Mississippi Moon from their 2003 album Tales of Sin and Redemption.  The pulsing rhythm from Fowlkes and Kasik clear the way for Too Slim’s ferocious guitar, and slightly-gravelly vocals.  This homage to Robert Johnson’s “Cross Road Blues” lands a familiar punch like that from one of my favorite bands The Cult.  From the 2009 album Free Your Mind, the power-trios breaks out the fabulously-sinister and infectious “Devil in a Double Wide”.  Too Slims guitar licks are downright amazing as he absolutely rips it up.  From that same, album, they also unpack title-track “Free Your Mind”.  This Jimi Hendrix – meets – Black Oak Arkansas southern-rocker is slow-steeped in moonshine, and topped with a jaw dropping performance.  Too Slim releases his inner Neil Young on “Givers and Takers” from The Fortune Teller album, and it sounds magnificent.  I’m quite drawn to the three-fer of songs from the Blood Moon album as well.  “The Body”, a beautifully-dark song of death and the hereafter leads the pack.  Next up is title-track “Blood Moon” which Too Slim loads up with a tractor trailer full of scorching blues.  And lastly, there is “Twisted Rails” which features more Hendrix-fueled, hard-driving, sixties-era, psychedelic blues-rock.  It’s a sheer delight.

 Too Slim and the Taildraggers fill this twelve-track live recording with a dozen of his best originals, and nail every performance to the wall.  Brace Yourself is a damn good, must-hear album. 





For more information about Too Slim and the Taildraggers, visit this website :



This terrific album is available in the PhillyCheeze Amazon Store. 

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

Saturday, September 10, 2022

#575 > Sir Rod & The Blues Doctors - Keeping it in the Family (


2022 – Adam Gussaw and Roderick Patterson

By Phillip Smith; Sep. 10, 2022

Original source :


I was quite enamored with Come Together the debut album from Sir Rod & The Blues Doctors when I reviewed it a couple of years ago.  I have the same opinion regarding their latest album Keeping it in the Family.  It’s a live thirteen track delight featuring new original songs, fresh covers, and past favorites.  Front-man and vocalist Sir Rod is Roderick Patterson.  He is the nephew of New York blues legend Sterling Magee aka Mr. Satan from the critically-acclaimed blues duo Satan & Adam.  University of Mississippi professors Adam Gussaw and Alan Gross form the Blues Doctors.  Gussaw (Satan & Adam) brings his amazing harmonica playing to the trio and Mississippi bluesman/cigar box guitar luthier Alan Gross (Terry “Harmonica” Bean) brings his guitar mastery.

Kicking the record off, in a feel-good style, is Big Joe Turner’s classic “Shake, Rattle, and Roll”.  It rolls right into an exuberant performance of the Satan & Adam song “Seventh Avenue”.  Sir Rod’s smokey vocals sound fabulous as Gussaw ignites the flame on this funky blues track with his harp.  It’s an absolute favorite.  Spirits remain elevated as they skillfully perform a blues transfusion on James Brown’s “I Got You (I Feel Good)”.  A heart-felt tribute is paid to Mr. Satan on a Sir Rod original called “Brother Sterling”.  Afterward, Gussaw and Gross break into a smokin’ funky performance on instrumental “Thunky Fing Rides Again”.  It made me happy that they added a live version of the title track to their debut album, “Come Together”.  This song about peace and love is a song everyone should give a listen to.  The listener is transported to the Mississippi Delta for a soulful remake of Bobby Gentry’s “Ode to Billy Joe”.  It’s outstanding.  Bringing the album to its close in full-on-party mode, they cover Clifton Chenier’s 1977 release “Hot Tamale Baby”.  This zydeco-turned-blues side is a certified shindig.   

Sir Rod and the Blues Doctors have captured lightning in a bottle once again with Keeping it in the Family.  With a chemistry which stretches beyond the music, this band puts a smile on my face with every listen.  




PhillyCheeze’s review for Sir Rod & The Blues Doctors – Come Together



For more information about Sir Rod & The Blues Doctors, visit this website :



This terrific album is available in the PhillyCheeze Amazon Store. 

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


Monday, September 5, 2022

#574 > Bowlful of Blues Festival - 2022 (


Bowlful of Blues Festival – Sep 4, 2022

Fred Maytag Bowl

Newton, Iowa


By Phillip Smith; Sep. 5, 2022


Original source :


Enjoying the Blues in Newton, Iowa at the Bowlful of Blues Festival is at the top of my list of things to do on Labor Day weekend.  There’s s not many better ways to spend the holiday.  The clouds dissipated and the sun came out, making for beautiful day to listen to music in Newton’s historic Maytag Park.


Presented by The South Skunk Blues Society, the Bowlful of Blues Festival celebrated its thirtieth year.  The lineup was absolutely terrific and featured Muddy Walter Band, Matt Woods Band, Ghost Town Blues Band, Kent Burnside, and Popa Chubby.  Playing between sets, were local blues artists Rob Lumbard, Bob Dorr and Jeff Peterson, Buckmiller Schwager, and The Jury.


I arrived just in time to catch local blue legends Bob Dorr and Jeff Petersen, aka The Blue Two.  I was so glad to be able to hear them again.  On a side note, they also performed at the very first Bowlful of Blues Festival.  Following Bob and Jeff, The Ghost Town Blues Band took the stage.  This was my fifth time this year to see this six-piece ensemble from Memphis.  Their Stax-meets-Muscle Shoals approach always means a fantastic show.  They are truly one of my favorites.     

I had reviewed Buckmiller Schwager’s debut album To Memphis and Back earlier this year, and was quite taken by it.  Meeting Brian Schwager and Tom Buckmiller in person and hearing them play live really made my day.  I was very excited to see Kent Burnside.  Bringing a big batch of real-deal Mississippi blues with him, he absolutely commandeered the stage.  I’ve been a fan of Burnside since reviewing his 2013 debut album My World is So Cold.  

The Jury, a band who I was not familiar with, stepped up next to play a thirty-minute set of all-original songs.  They were tight and sounded good.  New York bluesman Poppa Chubby headlined the show, filling in for Carolyn Wonderland who had to cancel due to health reasons.  I had seen him several times over the years, and he’s such a phenomenal guitarist. 

Special thanks go out to The South Skunk Blues Society and all the volunteers who makes this wonderful event happen every year. 



  * All photos by Phillip Smith

Bob Dorr and Jeff Petersen

Ghost Town Blues Band

Buckmiller Schwager

Kent Burnside

The Jury

Popa Chubby

   * All Photos by Phillip Smitb

Saturday, September 3, 2022

#573 > The B. Christopher Band - Snapshots from the Second Floor (


2022 – Guitar One Records

 By Phillip Smith; Sep. 3, 2022

 Original source :


Snapshot From the Second Floor is the brand-new album from The B. Christopher Band.  I’ve been grooving to it all week long and savoring the sounds of its smokin’ guitar blues.  The B. Christopher Band is a five-piece ensemble with Christopher on lead guitar, Ellard James “Moose” Boles on vocals, Anton Fig on drums, Studebaker John on harmonica, and Nick Douglas on bass. 

Christopher wastes no time getting this album fueled up and launched as he lights the fuse to the instrumental “All Twisted Up”.  Accented by a healthy dose of hot harp, he gives a downright dazzling performance topped with a side of slide guitar.  “Where You At” steps up to the plate next, bringing the heat of the Mississippi delta with it.  Moose’s gravelly vocals secure the authenticity of this killer swampy tune.  It’s a superb feeling to get lost in the hypnotic rhythm of “Take it Home’ as it effortlessly transports me to a funky, sweaty juke joint somewhere in the hills of North Mississippi.  This band is so unbelievably tight and versed in the blues, it pours out on “Late Night Crying”.  The song drips with pure emotion slathered on every note.  B. Christopher Band brings this all-original thirteen-track record to its end with a beautifully haunting slide-blues instrumental called “Smoke”.  This one begs to be listened to over and over.  I absolutely love it.

As a guitar aficionado and blues fan, I totally embrace this album.  Snapshot From the Second Floor has certainly put The B. Christopher Band on my radar.



For more information about The B. Christopher Band, visit this website : .

This terrific album is available in the PhillyCheeze Amazon Store. 

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


Saturday, August 27, 2022

#572 > GA-20 - Crackdown (




2022 – Karma Chief Records

By Phillip Smith; Aug. 27, 2022

Original source :


Last year, I heard GA-20’s attention-snatching tribute to the legendary bluesman Hound Dog Taylor, and I’ve been a fan of theirs ever since.  Consisting of guitarist Matt Stubbs, a fourteen-year veteran of Charlie Musselwhite’s touring band, guitarist/vocalist Pat Faherty, and drummer Tim Carman, GA-20 has been a force in the blues arena since 2018.  The trio’s latest record, Crackdown consists of ten all-original tracks seared to perfection with their raw, unbridled approach to the blues, and I absolutely love it.

From the beginning, I’m captivated by the blanket of fuzz and heavy bass forming the ominous landscape of “Fairweather Friend”.  Fueled by a driving rhythm and cast with a vintage sound, the song grabs ahold of me with a tight grip.  GA-20 calls back to the days of Howlin’ Wolf with “Easy on the Eyes”.  Steeped in swampy juke-joint blues and loaded with feral howls, the song is definitely one of my favorites.  The spirit of James Brown is summoned and cast into the funky title-track “Crackdown”.  If one can’t get down to this one, they’ve surely passed on to another plane of existence.  Short, sweet, and clocking in at just a bit over two minutes, “Double Getting”, is another cool-as-hell tune.  With a lively beat, it dances its way through rockabilly, surf-rock, and blues, culminating in retro-rock experience.

GA-20 continues to push the envelope with blues, all-while maintaining a high level of authenticity.  This is a band I really want to catch live.  I know it would be a great experience.    



For more information about GA-20, visit this website :

This terrific album is available in the PhillyCheeze Amazon Store. 

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



Wednesday, August 24, 2022

#571 > Bourbon and Blues Festival - 2022 (


McGrath Amphitheater

Cedar Rapids, Iowa


By Phillip Smith; Aug. 23, 2022


Original source :


Battling a forecast filled with rain and a last-minute lineup change, the first annual Bourbon & Blues Festival co-presented by Linn County Blues Society and Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery hit the ground running.  The temperamental weather fizzled out early and blues fans were rewarded with a whopping dose of outstanding music.  Molly Nova and the Hawk featuring Bryce Janey took the stage first and gave a riveting performance.  Next up was bluesman Davy Knowles, a musician who Peter Frampton declared “gunslinger/guitarist of the 21st Century”.  He was an awe-inspiring treat to say the least.  Danielle Nicole Band followed and pretty much set the stage on fire with a searing performance highlighted with a guest appearance from Kevin Burt who accompanied on vocals.  Headliner Carolyn Wonderland with Shelly King closed the show in a high-energy fashion with blazing guitars and a slathering of lap steel.  It really was a great festival, and I’m already looking forward to next year.

* All Photos by Phillip Smith

Kevin Burt

Molly Nova and the Hawk

featuring Bryce Janey

Davy Knowles

Danielle Nicole Band

Carolyn Wonderland

* All photos by Phillip Smith