Saturday, December 26, 2015

Mike Zito & the Wheel - Keep Coming Back


2015 – Ruf Records
By Phillip Smith; Dec 26, 2015

 

Mike Zito is quickly becoming one of my favorite songwriters.  His lyrics have a way of connecting with the working class, and the music to which they are delivered is a splendid dose of rock, blues, and Americana. The Wheel consists of a stellar group of musicians: bassist Scot Sutherland, pianist Lewis Stephens, saxophonist Jimmy Carpenter, and drummer Rob LeeKeep Coming Back contains ten magnificently written and performed originals along with a ripping cover of Bob Seger’s “Out of Denver” and a funky take on CCR’s “Bootleg”.   

Stephens and Carpenter dole out tasty barrelhouse piano and rocking sax on title track “Keep Coming Back” as Zito kicks out the jams on guitar.  This one is one big ball of bluesy fun. 
I love easing into the day, listening to “Early in the Morning” on my way to work.  Zito’s raspy vocals remind me a lot of Rod Stewart's.

A true master at telling stories through this music, Zito delivers the goods with “Girl From Liberty”, which takes a closer look at the grim underbelly of dysfunctional family life.  This song sits atop my list of favorites.  Zito then digs deep inside his soul to share the destruction and aftermath resulting from his battles with addiction, in the heart wrenching “I Was Drunk”.  There’s an anxious energy surrounding “Cross the Border”, a chaotic tale of reckless abandon.  It surely leaves me hanging on the edge of my seat as the story unfolds.    

Whether he’s performing his own songs, or one of the covers, Zito keeps it real and keeps it interesting.  That’s what I love about his music.    

     


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Johnny I. - All Star Blues Revival


2015 – JIB Music
By Phillip Smith; Dec 19, 2015

 

Johnny I. is Connecticut-based singer/songwriter/guitarist John Ingrassia, and this guitar-slinging bluesman has enlisted a few very well-known and very well-respected friends in the music industry to join him in the recording of All Star Blues Revival, a terrific three track EP that packs a lot of punch.  

Mixed by non-other than the legendary producer, Jim Gaines, the laid back and cool “Late Night”, ventures into the realm of psychedelic blues with Johnny I’s groovy guitar licks and the lush B3 sounds of the great Bruce Katz.  But wait, there’s more: Jaimoe (Allman Brothers) delivers the beats and Tommy Shannon (SRV Double Trouble) the bass, making for a killer performance.  “Avery’s Tune” features Blind Melon’s Glen Graham on drums with Brad Smith mixing. Ingrassia plays his heart out and Graham wails on the drums. This tune truly jams. A fun and funky rhythm drives “Life is Better (2nd Time Around).  On this one, Ingrassia enlists Billy Cox (Jimi Hendrix Experience), drummer Chris Layton (SRV Double Trouble) and Reese Wynans(SRV Double Trouble) for this true all-star jam, also mixed by Gaines.   

All Star Blues Revival is a huge winner in my book.  Three songs are just not enough though. I want more.      





Jay Jesse Johnson - Set the Blues on Fire


2015 – Grooveyard Records
By Phillip Smith; Dec 19, 2015


Set the Blues on Fire, Jay Jesse Johnson’s latest album does indeed set the Blues on fire.  This album is fully-loaded with a dozen outstanding original blues songs delivered by one of the most bodacious guitar players around.  Johnson surrounds himself with great talent as well.  Joining him is bassist Reed Bogart, drummer Jeff “Smokey” Donaldson, and keyboardist Lee Evans, making one tight as hell band.     

Johnson jump-starts the ride with full force, delivering a magnificent no-holds-barred performance on “Hell or High Water”.  I get charged when the title track “Set the Blues on Fire” kicks in.  This one is red hot and flawless. “Ace in the Hole” is an intriguing boat load of fun.  Donaldson’s killer beats and Bogart’s deliciously funky bassline set a perfect environment for Johnson to let loose and jam.  Another head-turning favorite, “Don’t Mess with My Baby” is a badass song doused in Texas blues and infused with funk.  I love the rollicking and gritty “Wheelhouse Boogie”.  It’s “roadhouse blues” at its best.


Jay Jesse Johnson has surely got it going on.  Set the Blues on Fire is the real deal and I highly recommend.  



Saturday, December 12, 2015

Josh Smith - Over Your Head


2015 – Joshfrost Music BMI
By Phillip Smith; Dec 12, 2015

 

Josh Smith’s 2012 release, Don’t Give Up On Me was terrific.  His latest album, Over Your Head is even better.  The lineup of his band remains the same, with Smith dishing out copious amounts of electrified blues on guitar, alongside bassist Calvin Turner and drummer Lemar Carter.

“How Long”, a killer track about slowly being pushed over the edge, gets the show going very nicely.  Carter tears it up on drums, while Smith delivers thick bluesy hooks and a phenomenal session of shred.  There’s even more exquisite guitar on the bad-ass and catchy “Smoke and Mirrors”. The song begs to be played loud.  Another track best played loudly is “First Hand Look (at Down and Out)”.  Guitarist Chicco Gussoni lays down some delicious licks that are pure candy for my ears. 

Smith doesn’t skimp when it comes to special guests.  Joe Bonamassa sits in on the killer title track, “Over Your Head” for an outstanding performance.  Smith’s gravelly and soulful vocals sound so good on this one.  Kirk Fletcher from the Mannish Boys gets his groove on in the funky instrumental with an old school Bar-Kays vibe, “… And What”.  This one is just plain fun.  “You’ll Find Love”, features the legendary Charlie Musselwhite on harp. This is blues at its best. 


Smith inserts power and perfection into each and every song, making Over Your Head such a delightful listen from beginning to end.  Needless to say, this album is definitely going down as one of my favorites of the year.   




Saturday, December 5, 2015

Jennifer Westwood and the Handsome Devils - Greetings From This Town


2015 – Jennifer Westwood and the Handsome Devils
By Phillip Smith; Dec 5, 2015

 

I have nothing but good things to say about Detroit band, Jennifer Westwood and the Handsome Devils.  Their debut album Greetings From This Town is an intoxicating Memphis-meets-Nashville blend of rock, blues, and country.  Lead vocalist Jennifer Westwood is joined by guitarist Dylan Dunbar, bassist Jeremy Mackinder, pianist/organist Jarrod Champion, and drummer Matt Stahl.

Westwood’s sultry yet powerful vocals instantly draw me in on “Bad Luck Charm” a rockin’ track sweetened by Dunbar with luscious guitar licks.  I’m quite drawn to “Living on the Fringe”, a relatable country song about just getting through the day.  Westwood has such a pretty voice; it reminds me a lot of Linda Ronstadt, especially on this track.  “Nobody’s Business” is one cool as hell post-break-up song.  Champion lays down some ominous chords on the organ while Dunbar serves up a funky dose of cowboy surf guitar.  

Westwood and the Handsome Devils put their own spin on R.L. Burnside’s “Skinny Woman” with “Redneck Man”.  Westwood and Dunbar nail this duet to the tree as they belt the song out with conviction and true grit.  Dunbar dishes out a magnificent guitar performance on this one too.   Other stand-out covers include Eddie Rabbit’s “Driving My Life Away” and the Stones bluesy classic from their Exile on Main Street album “Ventilator Blues”.

There’s something magical about Greetings From This Town.  It is an absolutely wonderful listen and music for the rustic soul.

...



Badluck Charm 
Live @ Ann Arbor Summerfest 2015
Video by Jeremy Klann



Saturday, November 21, 2015

Stolen Hearts - Dirty Southern Soul


2015 – Stolen Hearts
By Phillip Smith; Nov 21, 2015


In 2014, Pam Taylor and Robert Johnson Jr. came together to forge a new musical dynamic duo, joined together in heart and on stage.  Hailing from the Carolinas, the music of Stolen Hearts’ debut album, Dirty Southern Soul is a wholesome blend of blues, jazz and folk rock.  Taylor and Johnson are both soulful vocalists and masterful guitarists.  Adding to the cool factor, Taylor was mentored by non-other than the renowned blues guitarist Debbie Davies.

“Carolina Days (Bootsie’s Song)” is a fresh splash of roots rock.  Johnson takes the lead on vox and tosses in smile-worthy mandolin playing, which adds quite a nice touch to the catchy guitar riffs. Taylor belts out the sax-infused heartbreaker “All I Got Left” in a most impressive way.  Her buttery vocals sound great.  Taylor delivers more exquisite vocals on “My Johnny”.  This one reminds me so much of Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac with its light bouncy melody.  

Stolen Hearts take us on a trippy psychedelic journey in “Werewolves (Make Lousy Boyfriends)”.  Fuzzy guitar riffs and echo effects turn this space jam sung by Johnson into an instant favorite.  This twelve track album ends with a delightful live performance of the Etta James classic, “I’d Rather Go Blind”.


Stolen Hearts certainly embrace their creativeness, both lyrically and musically. Dirty Southern Soul is a tasty musical treat, indeed.

###




for more information on Stolen Hearts, visit their website : http://www.stolenhearts.rocks/

Misssissippi Bigfoot - Population Unknown


2015 – Silver Tongue Records
By Phillip Smith; Nov 21, 2015

 

Formed six months ago, in May of 2015, after a show at The Ground Zero Blues Club, in Clarksdale, Mississippi, Mississippi Bigfoot is akin to lightning in a bottle.  They certainly have revealed to be the biggest musical surprise for me this year.  This Memphis-based band consists of lead vocalist Christina Vierra, lead guitarist Johnny Holiday, guitarist Ashley Bishop, drummer Doug McMinn, and bassist Cade Moore. Population Unknown is a stellar collection of nine boogie-infused, rocking blues songs, one of which is a phenomenal cover of “The Hunter”, first recorded by Albert King.    

Vierra’s vocals are powerful and soulful as she belts out the fabulous “Burn That Woman Down”.  Holiday has no shortage of tasty guitar licks as he plays this swampy favorite with true grit and conviction.  “Wag the Dog” is another killer tune.  This hard-driving song is a perfect storm of blues and rockabilly. McMinn slathers on a hefty helping of tasty harp, which sounds so cool running alongside the commanding voice of Vierra.

Mississippi Bigfoot breaks out the funk and delicious grooves in “No Flesh In OuterSpace”, a cosmic favorite.  Holiday and Vierra perform as a duet in the smoking hot “Clarksdale”, which pays homage to Robert Johnson’s legendary crossroads where deals with the devil are made.    

Mississippi Bigfoot nails every song with great writing and outstanding performances.  Population Unknown is such an enjoyable album from start to finish; I recommend it for anyone who loves great blues music.   


For more information on Mississippi Bigfoot, visit their website at www.mississippibigfoot.com/

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Kim Simmonds and Savoy Brown - The Devil to Pay


2015 – Ruf Records

By Phillip Smith; Nov 14, 2015

The Devil to Pay, the latest from the legendary Kim Simmonds and Savoy Brown is a monster set of thirteen all-new, original mojo-infused blues tunes.  Savoy Brown retains their exemplary three man lineup with bassist Pat DeSalvo and drummer Garnet Grimm as Simmonds continues to lay down the law with his guitar and verse.    

Simmonds’ guitar oozes with heartfelt emotion as he explores the deep well of loneliness in “Ain’t Got Nobody”.  He then faces the harsh consequences of infidelity in the title track “The Devil to Pay”, a rambling blues tune with an old school Sun Records rockabilly vibe.  Simmonds rips it up with tremendous slide on “I’ve Been Drinking”.  While “Snakin’” is a nice instrumental to which one can sit back, relax and enjoy, the ominous “Evil Eye” pretty much begs to be turned up full blast so one can completely absorb the radiating guitar licks and badass bassline. This is one killer tune.

I really like this particular incarnation of Savoy Brown.  Simmonds, DeSalvo and Grimm sound so good together, and really know how to tap into that rawer, edgier sound so reminiscent of the early days of rock and roll. The Devil to Pay is a definite ‘keeper’.  





Friday, November 13, 2015

Chloe Collins - 5 @ 15


2015 – Collins House Records
By Phillip Smith; Nov 12, 2015

 

Listen to the new five song EP, 5 @ 15 by the New York recording artist Chloe Collins, and you’ll find yourself amazed at the sound of her voice.  Collins not only possesses an outstanding ability to sing, but this fifteen year old star shines brightly as a songwriter and guitarist too. Recorded at Grind Central Station in Nashville, and produced by Mikey Reaves, 5 @ 15 is a well-polished album of Country-Pop music.  Backing Collins on additional guitars and instruments is Reaves and Taylor Ivey.  

Breakup ballads, “All Over Again” and “My Goodbye” both have ‘radio-hit’ written all over them.  The music is fresh and catchy.  Collins takes to slightly darker waters with “New Nightmares”, a playful song about cutting lose and raising a little Hell. 


5 @ 15 will certainly resonate with Country-Pop fans all over.  A great voice and good songs make this one a fun little listen.  I look forward to hearing what Collins has in store for us in the future.  







Saturday, November 7, 2015

Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip - Ain’t Bad Yet


2015 – Hokahey! Records
By Phillip Smith; Nov 7, 2015

 
Ain’t Bad Yet, the sixth album from Finnish blues-rock group Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip is an instant hit as far as I’m concerned.  The lineup of the band remains the same, featuring Bjorklof (vocals/harmonica/guitar), Lefty Leppänen(electric guitar/slide guitar), Teemu Vuorela(drums),  Seppo Nuolikoski(bass) and Timo Roiko-Jokela(percussion/malletkat).  Terrific songs and outstanding performances with a rich southern vibe are key to the allure of this album, which by the way is produced by legendary John Porter.

A saucy rhythm, joined with hot harmonica licks, spill all over “Rat Race”, a spectacular jammin’ favorite, reminiscent of one of my favorite bands, Phish.  I love the change of tempo when the band breaks into “Sweet Dream’s a Sweet Dream”, a slightly spacy Hendrix-influenced treat.  Leppänen’s swampy slide guitar sounds so good on “Last Train to Memphis”, and “Today”.    

Catchy blues-filed hooks and a hard driving beat keep the anti-war anthem “Rain in Jerusalem” quite centered.  This is such a powerful song.  Bjorklof delivers funky vocals and sweet harmonica over a really cool little bass-line provided by Seppo on “Hold Your Fire Baby”.  Gritty blues sounds best with some cool harp. 

I dig the twangy “Blame It On the Bright Lights”, with its catchy back-beat.  John Porter steps in with guitar in hand and is joined by singers Lena Lindroos and Veera Railio. This song reminds me a lot of southern twangsters, Southern Culture on the Skids. I can’t help but feel good all over when I hear it.


Ain’t Bad Yet is a soulful blend of blues and country, making this eleven track album a refreshingly cool listen from start to end.  Micke Bjorklof and Blue Strip definitely hit this one out of the park.  

Kinky Friedman - The Loneliest Man I Ever Met


2015 – Avenue A Records
By Phillip Smith; Nov 7, 2015


It’s been a long damn time since Kinky Friedman has released a new studio album.  To put it in a political perspective, Gerald Ford was winding down his last year of presidency the year Lasso From El Paso was released in 1976.  The thirty-nine year wait is finally over, and The Kinkster has delivered a mother-load of western/folk greatness in his brand-spankin’ new album, The Loneliest Man I Ever Met.  The album features musicians Joe Cirotti (guitar, bass, mandolin), Brian Molnar (guitar), and Jeff ‘Little Jewford’ Shelby (keyboard), and is chock-full of magnificent covers and original gems.

The Willie Nelson classic, “Bloody Mary Morning” is quick to grab my attention.  This is just a great song, and to smear the icing on the cake, Nelson lends not only guitar and vocals to the song, but steps in as producer on it as well. I would have loved to hang around the studio when this was recorded.  Kinky’s version of Tom Waits’ “Christmas Card From A Hooker in Minneapolis”, keeps my ears glued to the speakers as much as the original.  “My Shit’s Fucked Up”, by the late great Warren Zevon, prompts me to keep in mind, life doesn’t slow down for anyone.  If there’s something on the top shelf of one’s priority list, take care of it before the opportunity is lost.

Friedman is a true master of storytelling.  With seemingly little effort, he draws me in to this despairingly gloomy world of solitude and isolation in title track, “The Loneliest Man I Ever Met”, and then transports me to a different place and time in “Wild Man From Borneo”.  The album closes with the elegantly performed standard “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square”, which features guest pianist Bobbie Nelson.  This one is very nice indeed.

I hope the wait-time is much shorter until the next release from this national treasure.  The Loneliest Man I Ever Met is a quite the splendid listen.    

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Charlie Musselwhite - I Ain’t Lyin’…


2015 – Henrietta Records
By Phillip Smith; Oct. 31, 2015

 
I Ain’t Lyin’…, the latest album from legendary Bluesman Charlie Musselwhite is chockfull of downhome blues and happens to be a sheer delight.  The album was recorded live in 2014 at the Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival in Sonoma, CA, and Clarksdale Soundstage in Clarksdale, MS, with Matt Stubbs (guitar), June Core (drums), and Steve Froberg (bass).   

I love how Musselwhite takes on Elmore James’ “Done Somebody Wrong”.  Stubbs’ crisp bluesy riffs and Musselwhite’s second- to-none harp playing sound so good.  There’s a sort of playful Fifties rockabilly vibe going in “Long Lean Lanky Mama”. It’s just a fun song to dig into, as is “My Kinda Gal” with Froberg’s cool-as-hell, cowboy-fitted baseline.  The band gets kind of funky on “Long Leg Woman”. Its Allman Brothers feel makes it one of my favorite tracks on this album.  This is definitely a song that jams.    

Duke Pearson’s “Cristo Redentor” is such a lovely piece.  This slow and easy instrumental is exquisite.  Core’s drumming really shines and Stubbs so elegantly keeps the rhythm going as Musselwhite beautifully plays his heart out on harmonica.

Musselwhite scores big with I Ain’t Lyin’… This is how the Blues should be played.



Saturday, October 24, 2015

Martin Harley and Daniel Kimbro - Live at Southern Ground


2015 – Del Mundo Records
By Phillip Smith; Oct. 24, 2015

 
UK singer/songwriter/guitarist Martin Harley along with Daniel Kimbro, an extremely talented upright bass player from Eastern Tennessee, should work together more often.  The duo recorded the magnificent ten track album, Live at Southern Ground in just a ‘handful of hours’ at Southern Ground Studios in Nashville, Tennessee. With the exception of a couple of covers, the majority of the album features the engrossing lyrics and fetching melodies written by Harley.

“Cardboard King” is such a beautiful song about loss and disappointment.  Harley’s buttery vocals are the icing on this cake filled with an amazing blend of resonator with slide and bow-played bass.  I love the playful and fun approach Martin takes as he picks “Honey Bee” banjo-style.  This one makes me smile, as does the swinging “Love in the Afternoon”.

I can feel the emotion emanating from Harley as he goes to church and plays the hell out of Tom Waits’ “Chocolate Jesus”.  They also nail Blind Willie Johnson’s “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” to the wall.  Harley has the perfect voice for wailing out the blues.  That voice paired with his unique guitar stylings make for a delightful listen.


Live at Southern Ground certainly lands in my personal list of favorite records this year. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Todd Wolfe Band - Long Road Back


2015 – American Showplace Music
By Phillip Smith; Oct. 17, 2015

The Todd Wolfe Band seems to just get better and better.  Wolfe surrounds himself with some of the most talented musicians around: drummer Roger Voss, bassist Justine Gardner, and the master of the B3, John Ginty.  Since Wolfe’s last album was released in 2013, his band has spent over 200 nights on the road touring the world.  It was during these travels; the band wrote and developed material for his ninth album, Long Road Back.  It’s an intelligent mix of mind-bending Rock and Blues.  

Title track “Long Road Back” is pure Southern Rock with an Allman Brothers/Govt Mule vibe.  I’d love to hear this one with an extended jam.  “Poison” has all the qualities of a hit song.  Wolfe lets loose some really nice bluesy guitar licks while Ginty’s luscious B3 attacks and Gardner’s funky bassline slide nicely into place. This is just a fantastic piece. “Fire Me Up” has a nice homey groove, and seemingly calls back to his days working with Sheryl Crow.  Wolfe throws a little Southern seasoning into “Annalee” which hums down the track like a freight train tearing cross-country.  I love the slide guitar screams he injects into the song.

Wolfe breathes a phenomenal new life into Stephen Still’s “Black Queen”.  This rockin’ jewel, slathered in a heavy dose of Seventies psychedelia, is such a delightful listen.  They also give a stellar performance, taking on Cream’s “Outside Woman Blues”.  
   
Voss bangs out a cool as hell tribal beat which leads in to the witchy “Hoodoo River”.  Sporting infectious grooves saturated in trance blues, this is a splendid song to chill to.  Ginty plays the hell out of this one, and Wolfe’s guitar playing is simply amazing.   “Gone” is another track that blows me away.  It’s fuzzier, funkier, and contagious as hell.

There is so much going on in the music in this album, I hear something new and interesting each time I hear it.  Needless to say, Long Road Back is a fabulous album and indeed a terrific listen.  







Saturday, October 10, 2015

Dweezil Zappa - via zammata’



2015 –Dweezil Zappa

By Phillip Smith; Oct. 10, 2015

The title via zammata’ is taken from the name of the street in Partinico, Sicily where Dweezil’s grandfather, Francis Vincent Zappa lived before immigrating to America.  The street name refers to the very specific sound made when rain puddles are trampled by the feet of children at play.    In 2013, Partinico renamed that exact street, via Frank Zappa after Dweezil’s father.   Zappa hugs the curb, sticking close to this definition of via zammata’, in the music created for this album.  His playful splashes are in a musical playground, however, with focus on waves of sound instead of water.

Zappa starts the album with the fantastic instrumental, “Funky 15”.  Reminiscent of the attention-grabbing themes associated with television crime dramas from the Seventies, it boasts a nice slice of funk, a groovy bassline and a beautiful string and brass arrangement by ‘Scoremeister’ Kurt Morgan, which all culminates into a wonderful and thrilling listen.  “Rat Race”, lulls the listener in with a sweet little vocal harmony from the Song Birds, and then in a Reverend Horton Heat rockabilly fashion, pushes the pedal to the metal and takes off like a souped up hot rod.  A strong and steady flow of adrenaline keeps this one headed in a furious frenzy.  Zappa dives into the world of heavy metal on “Dragon Master” taking a tongue-in-cheek, over-the-top Spinal Tap approach.  Featuring lyrics written by Frank, and vocals by Shawn Albro, the song is a definite favorite.

Switching gears from metal to meta, Zappa enlisted the one and only John Malkovich to speak the whimsical wandering narrative on “Malcovich” to which Zappa returns in song, this reply, “Malcovich, Malcovich what the fuck are you talking about?”  This makes for a nice sing-a-long.  ”Hummin’” takes a realistic look at life with a weirdly hypnotic melody which burrows deep into my brain and digs in, as if to set up permanent residence.  I’ve caught myself waking up in the middle of the night a couple of times already with this song running through my head.

via zammata’ is a fun and quirky album with lush melodies and complex compositions built around bizarre yet intelligent lyrics.  It took only one listen to establish this album as a favorite.          
 

http://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Andy T. Nick Nixon Band - Numbers Man


2015 –Blind Pig Records
By Phillip Smith; Oct. 3, 2015

Taking in the cool blues-lavished sounds of the Andy T. – Nick Nixon Band’s latest release, Numbers Man makes me smile from ear to ear. The band is guitarist Andy ‘T’ Talamantez, vocalist Nick Nixon, Larry van Loon handing the B3 and piano, drummer Jim Klingler, and bassist Sam Persons. Also along for the ride is The Texas Horns (Kaz Kazanov: tenor sax, Al Gomez : trumpet, and John Mills : baritone sax).

A blast of horns and a wave of B3 lead the way for a swinging R&B treat in “Shut the Front Door”. Andy T. delivers classic rock guitar, Chuck Berry style, as Nixon belts out his commanding vocals. The band nails down a splendid rendition of Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown’s ”Gate’s Salty Blues” in which Klingler’s precision drumming rolls out to greet the sweet twang of Andy T’s guitar.

Infatuation with a 6’-3” tall gal is the inspiration for the fun and spirited, “Tall Drink of Water” in which special guest, Christian Dozzler takes the boat out for a little Zydeco fun. Dozzler also adds a nice taste of barrelhouse blues to “Sundown Blues”, which mixes nicely with the lush B3 sounds of Van Loon. This extraordinary track features Kim Wilson from the Fabulous Thunderbirds on harmonica. When that is joined with Nixon’s gravelly vocals, everything gels perfectly and culminates into a flawless performance.

It’s very obvious that Andy T. and Nixon take their music seriously. Numbers Man is the proof in the pudding.


Friday, October 2, 2015

Bridges of Madison County, Iowa - October 1, 2015


Photos by Phillip Smith 


Imes Covered Bridge, St. Charles, IA 

Imes Covered Bridge, St. Charles, IA 

Imes Covered Bridge, St. Charles, IA 


Holliwell Bridge, southeast of Winterset, IA

Cedar Bridge, north of Winterset, IA

Cedar Bridge, north of Winterset, IA


Holliwell Bridge

Holliwell Bridge, southeast of Winterset, IA

Cedar Bridge

Cedar Bridge

Hogback Bridge

Cedar Bridge

Cedar Bridge

Hogback Bridge


Hogback Bridge


Through knothole of Hogback Bridge

Through knothole of Hogback Bridge

Roseman Bridge

Through knothole of
 Roseman Bridge

Cutler Donahue Bridge, Winterset, IA

Roseman Bridge

Hogback Bridge

Hogback Bridge

Roseman Bridge

Cutler Donahue Bridge, Winterset, IA

Cutler Donahue Bridge, Winterset, IA

Roseman Bridge

Hogback Bridge

Roseman Bridge

Roseman Bridge

Saturday, September 26, 2015

David Gogo - Vicksburg Call


2015 –Cordova Bay Records
By Phillip Smith; Sep 26, 2015


Canadian blues guitarist David Gogo delivers outstanding electric guitar blues in pure album storytelling fashion via his fourteenth record, Vicksburg Call.  Gogo steps through each of the ten songs like a separate chapter in this narration of a bad breakup.  Gogo's stellar band consists of Jay Stevens (bass guitar, vox, piano), Bill Hicks (drums, percussion), Marisha Devoin (acoustic bass), and Rich Hopkins (Hammon organ).    

“Cuts Me to the Bone” is hard rockin’ Texas style blues that pulls me right in to his world. With an intro that pays homage to Neil Young, and a rhythm that fits really comfortable, the song screams to be turned up loud.  I also have to mention “What’s Not to Like” which boasts one hell of a catchy hook.  I like the frugally peppering of slide guitar on this one. The legendary Kim Simmonds (Savoy Brown), guitar in hand, joins in for “Fooling Myself”.  This one is one big bowl of blues.   

I love his spacy psychedelic take on Neil Young’s “The Loner” with the cool as hell bass line from StevensGogo’s slathering of raw and fuzzy goodness on his guitar riffs grabs my attention as the song melts in my ears. A big surge of empathy erupts as Gogo distraughtly sings “There’s a Hole”, about the hole in his life that his woman used to fill. The finishing touches of harmonica from special guest Shawn Hall pull the heartstrings even tighter.  Gogo masterfully tackles Stephen Stills’ “Jet Set (Sigh)” too.  His guitar performance on this track is phenomenal.  The unexpected treat on this album appears on the final track.  Gogo beautifully puts his unique spin on Annie Lennox’s “Why”, singing it with fortitude of conviction.

Amazing guitar performances and great songs make Vicksburg Call a captivating listen.