Saturday, January 11, 2020

#427 : Annika Chambers - Kiss My Sass



2019 – Vizztone  
By Phillip Smith; Jan. 11, 2020

Kiss My Sass, the third studio album from Houston blues artist Annika Chambers, is a dynamo of hot soulful blues.  Chambers, who was deservedly awarded the 2019 Blues Music Award for Soul Blues Female Artist of the Year, has been nominated again for 2020.  She certainly woos me over with her astonishing beautiful voice.      

Immediately, I’m lured into the record with “Let That Sass Out”, a tune written by R.B. Stone.  Powerful vocals from Chambers is topped with a buttery rhythm from drummer Greg Brown Jr., and bassist Larry Fulcher.  Searing guitar licks from The Mighty Orq seals the deal.  Ruthie Foster makes a guest appearance on “What’s Your Thing”, with The Mighty Orq on pedal steel.  This one is an absolutely fabulous cocktail of deep blues and heavy soul.  I downright love her cover of the Etta James’ classic “In the Basement”.  This party song puts such a big smile on my face with every listen.  Chambers enlists her husband, the great Paul DesLauriers with acoustic guitar in hand, to join in a spirited duet on “I Feel the Same”.  They sound wonderful together.  DesLauriers douses his guitar with gobs of delightful slide while the subtle booming thunder from percussionist Sam Harrison injects an unmistakable heaviness to the song.   

Kiss My Sass truly is an album I’ve enjoyed from beginning to end.  It’s a terrific listen.      
   
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For more information about the artist, visit this website..  https://www.annikachambers.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.



Sunday, January 5, 2020

#426 : Kevin Burt Live at Checkers Tavern



Kevin Burt Live at Checkers Tavern
Cedar Rapids, IA


January 5, 2020
By Phillip Smith

It’s been around twenty years since I first witnessed Kevin Burt’s early appearances at Checkers Tavern.  He’s always been engaging, but this show seemed more special, as Kevin reminisced about playing this venue in his early days as a solo performer. After kicking his show off with “Wake Up Baby”, an original off his Heartland and Soul album, he fabulously played through a mix of covers and original songs.  Armed with guitar and harmonica, he covered selections such as Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower”, Junior Wells’ “Messing with the Kid”, Richie Havens’ “Freedom”, Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now”, and Buddy Guy’s “Feels Like Rain”.  He also played several of my favorite originals, such as “Your Smile”, and “Day Day”.  His performance was soulful and heartfelt, and his voice, as always, superb.  I enjoyed this one immensely. 


* photo by Phillip Smith

Saturday, January 4, 2020

#425 : Joanna Connor - Rise



2019 – M.C. Records
By Phillip Smith; Jan. 4, 2020

For over thirty-five years, Joanna Connor has been wooing blues fanatics in the Windy City.  Rise represents her thirteenth album, and third for M.C. Records.  After spotlighting her 2016 release Six String Stories on my blog and being gobsmacked while watching her perform at the 2017 Czech Village Blues festival in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, it’s a great pleasure to hear new music from this fabulous musician.  Connor, on guitars and vocals, is backed by bassist Joewaun Jay Red Scott, drummers Cameron Lewis and Tyrone “TY Drums” Mitchell, Delby Littlejohn on keys and Ryan Shea on sax.

Joined by Keithen Banks on vocals and rapper Alphonso Buggz Dinero, Connor starts the record off with a delightful dose of funk-filled R&B in “Flip”.  This is where all the fun begins.  Then, with guitar in hand, Mike Zito steps in on “Bad Hand”.  This uplifting track is accented quite nicely with a beautiful keyboard performance from Littlejohn.  Lewis tears it up on the jazz instrumental “Joanna in A”.  This is one hip track that feeds the spirit.  Another great instrumental is the cover of Sly Stone’s “If You Want Me to Stay”.  I dig it when Scott pours the funk on the bass.  Listening to Connor play “My Irish Father” is an absolutely astonishing experience.  She truly is a master.  

Connor’s blend of funk and blues goes right for the jugular in “Mutha” with fierce, mind-blowing guitar licks and vocal backing from Dinero.  The album comes to a climatic end with “Dear America”, a heavy Led Zeppelin-based blend of “When the Levee Breaks” topped with Dinero’s spoken-word state-of-the-world message.

Rise elevates Joanna Connor to a brand-new level.  I highly recommend this one.   

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

PhillyCheeze’s Review of Joanna Connor’s Six String Stories : https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2017/08/joanna-connor-six-string-stories.html

PhillyCheeze’s Photo coverage of 2017 Czech Village Blues festival, featuring headliner Joanna Connor : https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2017/08/czech-village-blues-festival-aug-12-2017.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.







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, December 28, 2019

#424 : Northern Social - (self-titled)



2019 – independent

By Phillip Smith; Dec. 28, 2019

Northern Social, a mesmerizing duo from Ontario, is comprised of guitarist/vocalist Dylan Wickens and drummer/percussionist Mike Rajna.  Their debut release is this wonderful five-track EP, saturated in blues.  Wickens, a two-time winner of the Toronto Blues Society New Talent Search, and nominee for The Maple Blues AwardsBest New Artist in 2005, has been steadily touring these past twenty-two years, with either his own band, or with his Hendrix Tribute.  

The high-octane blues-rocker “Waiting” fearlessly rips this package open with fiery hot licks and a driving beat.  I’m instantly drawn to the hypnotic rhythm Wickens lays out in their cover of Keb Mo’s “Am I Wrong”.  It settles nicely in the pocket while his smooth and heavy vocals take charge.  “King of Hearts” is another one I can just get lost in.  There’s a bit of that North Mississippi moonshine poured on this one.  It’s fabulously dirty.  “Dead Neighbor Blues” is work of genius and beautifully brings this recording to a close.  Wickens definitely tapped into the blues when writing this one.

The five tracks on this EP surely packs a punch, and demands attention.  Northern Social is definitely worth taking a chance on. 

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·         Streaming formats are not available.  Purchases can be made through the website, www.dylanwickens.com

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

#423 : PhillyCheeze's 20 Favorites of 2019


 (in alphabetical order)


Vince Agwada - Light of Day




BB King Blues Band - The Soul of the King



Anthony Gomes - Peace, Love & Loud Guitars



Willie Farmer - The Man From the Hill



Robert Connely Farr - Dirty South Blues



Ghost Town Blues Band - Shine



Christone Kingfish Ingram - Kingfish



BillyLee Janey - Blues Power


John Mayall - Nobody Told Me

Biscuit Miller - Chicken Grease


Eliza Neals - Sweet or Mean


Sean Pinchin - Bad Things


Johnny Rawls - I Miss Otis Clay


Southbound Snake Charmers - To the Bone


Sugaray Rayford - Somebody Save Me



J.P. Soars - Let Go of the Reins



Kenny "Beedy Eyes" Smith and the House Bumpers - Drop the Hammer



Alexis P. Suter Band - Be Love 


Sean Taylor - The Path Into the Blue


Matty T Wall - Transpacific Blues Vol 1







Sunday, December 22, 2019

#422 : Matty T Wall - Transpacific Blues, Vol. 1




2019 – Hipsterdumpster Records
By Phillip Smith; Dec. 22, 2019

Australian bluesman Matty T Wall has been a favorite of mine since reviewing his debut album Blue Skies in 2016.  His second album, Sidewinder, which was released in 2018 was among my favorite albums that year.  Now, his third release, Transpacific Blues, Vol. 1 is out and I love it to pieces.  Wall records this colossal masterpiece with returning musicians, drummer Ric Whittle and bassist Stephen Walker to back him.  For this gem, Wall also pulls in some of the heaviest hitters in the blues arena to accompany him on this killer eight track album of classic blues.  Those guests include Walter Trout, Eric Gales, Kirk Fletcher, Dave Hole, and Kid Ramos. 

The record furiously kicks off with one of my absolute favorite songs, John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom”.  Featuring fellow Australian bluesman, slide guitarist Dave Hole, this song absolutely cooks.  The fabulous Eric Gales adds his fiery magic to the groovy cover of Tommy Tucker’s 1964 hit “High Heel Sneakers”.  It’s fun to hear Wall and Trout jam out on the “She’s Into Something”.  I love his cover of “Stormy Monday”.  Wall’s vocals are suave and soulful.  Kirk Fletcher appears on Albert King’s “Born Under a Bad Sign” for one hell of a performance.  Whittle and Walker keeps a bit of that classic Stax vibe going too.  Wall delightfully takes on “I’m Tore Down”, originally recorded by Freddy King, and follows up with a riveting rendition of Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads”.

This is definitely an album blues fans will want to pick up.  I dig every bit of it, from start to end.      

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For more information about the artist, visit this website: mattytwall.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, December 14, 2019

#421 : Jay Gordon's Blues Venom - Slide Rules!



2019 - Shuttle Music

By Phillip Smith; Dec. 14, 2019

I was first introduced to Jay Gordon’s Blue Venom when I reviewed the No Cure album for Blues Review Magazine in 2011.  It appeared on their online web-zine BluesWax.  That was one of my favorite discs that year.  Slide Rules!, Gordon’s latest release is even more spectacular, as his heels dig deep into the Mississippi delta mud for thirteen ferociously outstanding electric slide blues.  Gordon, one of the best guitarists/vocalists around fronts the band with bassist Sharon Butcher and drummer Tom Parham making up the rhythm section.

Gordon opens up with one of his originals “Dripping Blues” which definitely lives up to its name.  The slide-work on this is covered in grease and cooked to perfection.  He follows with another astonishing track “Pain”.  It is packed with more tantalizing guitar, and topped with his trademark fearless, gravelly vocals.  I positively dig it.  “Dockery’s Plantation” is an absolutely fabulous seven-and-a-half minute experience.  It’s ambrosia for the blues lover’s soul. 

The cover songs they choose for this record are brilliant.  First we get Elmore James’ “Stranger Blues” with its unavoidable driving rhythm.  They do this one just right.  Hearing Robert Johnson’s “Travelin Riverside Blues” puts a big smile on my face.  But their version of “Train Train”, that badass song released by Blackfoot in 1979, is a killer indeed.                             

So, like the first album from Jay Gorden I reviewed, Slide Rules! is definitely among my favorites from the year.  I highly recommend it.    

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



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, December 7, 2019

#420 : The Paul DesLauriers Band - Bounce

2019 – Vizztone
By Phillip Smith; December 7, 2019

Bounce, the third and latest album from The Paul DesLauriers Band is filled to the brim with hot smoldering blues topped with DesLauriers’ soulful vocals.   It’s no wonder why this Montreal-based blues group has pulled down Entertainer of the Year twice at Canada’s Maple Blues Awards, and took second place at the 2016 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee.  Guitarist/singer Paul DesLauriers leads this trio with Alec McElcheran on bass, and Sam Harrison on drums.  Bassist Greg Morency also appears on six of the thirteen tracks.    

I love the infectious guitar riff DesLauriers keeps churning on “Let Me Go Down in Flames”.  I’m easily drawn to the North Mississippi vibe emanating from it.  J.P. Soars notably appears on “Picked a Bad Day”, a killer song with a heavy-duty bass-line.  The dual guitars are searing.  PLB’s cover of Anthony ‘Duster’ Bennett’s “Jumpin’ at Shadows” is beautifully melodic.  They conjure up a big tasty helping of delta blues on “When the Darkness Comes” for another superb listen.  My favorite track on the album is “Loosy Goosy Jam #769”.  This cool-as-hell six and a half minute instrumental rides along an unstoppable driving rhythm, which DesLauriers slathers with his amazing guitar picking.  It’s absolutely fabulous.

Bounce is a must hear for blues fans.  DesLauriers and his band have set a new bar for themselves.  This really is a terrific listen.


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I reviewed PDB’s album, Relentless in 2016.  Click the following link to access it.    https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2016/07/the-paul-deslauriers-band-relentless.html


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




Tuesday, December 3, 2019

#419 : Solid Bronze - The Fruit Basket




2019 – Schnitzel Records
By Phillip Smith; Dec. 3, 2019

My appreciation for funk goes back to the late Seventies, when I first discovered Funkadelic’s One Nation Under a Groove.  Soon afterward, the rabbit hole opened wide, and I became a humongous fan of everything George Clinton had anything to do with.  Let’s just say I bought every album I could find by any of the P-Funk crew.

There’s a new funk band on the scene and the name is Solid Bronze.  Hailing from the Trenton, New Jersey area, this band forged by vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Ian Everett and drummer/percussionist George Miller, proves their passion for the genre is strong and real.  Their debut album The Fruit Basket is fabulously funky.  Produced by Mickey Melchiondio (aka Dean Ween) this ten-track recording features guests Michael “Kid Funkadelic” Hampton , Dana Colley (Morphine),  Glenn McClelland (Ween), Christopher “C-Lew” Lewis, and Chris Harford (Band of Changes).

Government secrets are the topic in “Papa’s Bug”, a delightfully jammin’ tune with that Funkadelic vibe.  Everett keeps the synth fresh and playful, while Hampton piles it high with fabulous, furry guitar.  More of Hampton’s finesse appears on “Invisible Man” creating a heavy dose of deep funk, reminiscent of Eddie Hazel.  C-Lew takes charge on vocals, fortified with auto-tune, contributing to the cosmic and spacy atmosphere.  I love the chill and airy jazz instrumental of “Bronze Magic”.  Colley’s sax performance ties it all together.  “Mumbo Jumbo”, another instrumental baptized in a jazz-funk fusion brings Melchiondio, Harford, and Hampton together on guitar with Colley on sax for a stellar six-minute jam.  I love the trance-funk selection “Like That Ol’ Saying Goes”, capping the album off.  I easily get lost in its buttery hypnotic rhythm.  

The Fruit Basket is about as authentic as one can get when it comes to funk. It’s plumb terrific.  Solid Bronze is definitely a band to keep an eye on.  I definitely want to hear more from these guys.

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




Friday, November 22, 2019

#418 : Mike Zito and Friends - Rock ‘n’ Roll : A Tribute to Chuck Berry




2019 – Ruf Records
By Phillip Smith; Nov. 22, 2019

This latest release from bluesman Mike Zito is a mighty stellar tribute to the legendary ‘Father of Rock and Roll’ Chuck Berry.  Being that both Zito and Berry are from St. Louis, Missouri, makes this a very personal project.  Zito, backed by his band, bassist Terry Dry, drummer Matthew Johnson, and pianist/organist Lewis Stephens incorporates a smashing guest list on this twenty track album, which includes some of my favorites: Joanna Conner, Walter Trout, Joe Bonamassa, Eric Gales, Luther Dickenson, Sonny Landreth, Tinsley Ellis,Tommy Castro, Albert Castiglia, and Kid Anderson.

The album begins with one of the first songs I learned to play on organ, William C. Handy’s “St. Louis Blues”.  This song which I hold close to my heart features Chuck Berry Jr.  It’s such a rocking version of the song, and ushers the album in quite nicely.  I love the cover of “Rock & Roll Music” with Joanna Connor.  She’s such a powerhouse of a guitarist, and brings a lot to the table on this one.  Walter Trout shines as he always does on “Johnny B Goode”.  Damn, this one rocks!  Robben Ford steps in to record a fantastic remake of  “You Never Can Tell”.  This one will always remind me of my favorite film, Pulp Fiction.  The legendary Eric Gales punches up another favorite “Back in the USA” with a huge dose of his ripping guitar-work.  I always appreciate what Luther Dickinson is involved in, and “Too Much Monkey Business” is no exception.  I love “No Particular Place to Go” with Jerimiah Johnson.  This one really resonates.  Sonny Landreth brings a certain smoothness to “Havana Moon”.  I could listen to this one all day long.  

Being a huge fan of Chuck Berry and Mike Zito, this album has such a hold on me.  It’s downright spectacular.


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









Track Listings


Disc: 1


  1. St - Louis Blues Charlie Berry III

  2. Rock N Roll Music - Joanna Connor

  3. Johnny B - Goode - Walter Trout

  4. Wee Wee Hours - Joe Bonamassa

  5. Memphis - Anders Osborne

  6. I Want to Be Your Driver Ryan Perry

  7. You Never Can Tell - Robben Ford

  8. Back in the USA - Eric Gales

  9. No Particular Place to Go - Jeremiah Johnson

  10. Too Much Monkey Business - Luther Dickinson

  11. Havana Moon - Sonny Landreth

  12. Promised Land - Tinsley Ellis

  13. Downbound Train - Alex Skolnick

  14. Maybelline - Richard Fortus

  15. School Days - Ally Venable

  16. Brown Eyed Handsome Man - Josh Smith/Kirk Fletcher

  17. Reeling and Rocking - Tommy Castro

  18. Let It Rock - Jimmy Vivino

  19. Thirty Days - Albert Castiglia

  20. My Ding a Ling - Kid Andersen