Sunday, March 29, 2015

Gregg Allman live at Riverside Casino 3/28/15

Riverside, Iowa
By Phillip Smith; Mar 29, 2015

Walking on stage to a standing ovation from a sold out crowd is something only a few people get to experience.  Gregg Allman is one of them.   Allman, along with the rest of his nine man ensemble took the stage at Riverside Casino in Riverside, Iowa.  With Allman on the B3 and Scott Sharrard on guitar, front and center, the band tore into a ripping rendition of “Stateboro Blues”.  The audience was happy, and so was I.  Without missing a beat, they then slid right into a sweet sounding “I’m No Angel” followed up with the mellow grooves of “Come and Go Blues”.  Dipping into his Playin’ Up a Storm album for a two-fer, Allman performs a refreshingly “Brightest Smile in Town”.  The intro was beautifully played, and Allman’s vocals were soulful.  The sax solo was a standout as well. I absolutely loved hearing the crowd pleasing Muddy Waters classic, “Trouble No More”. Initiated with a fantastic drum intro, this one was played tight as hell. This is where it sets in, just how cohesive this band is.  It’s so enjoyable to hear Sharrard tear it up on guitar. For “Melissa”, Allman switched over from the B3, to acoustic guitar. This song hit the spot, and drew people to their feet. 

The second set was quite strong too.  Allman picks up his electric guitar for an exquisite “Ain’t Wasting Time No More”. It sounded so good.  Returning to acoustic guitar, Allman and the band got a little help from the crowd singing “Midnight Rider”.  This song culminates with a really interesting trumpet performance from Marc Franklin and a standing ovation.  The fast and furious “Love Like Kerosene” was phenomenally played. Ron Johnson was dishing out some awe-inspiring groove on the bass while we got yet another smoking performance from Sharrard.  After the first few notes of “Whippin’ Post” were played, it was apparent the audience would not be able to sit still.  Greg remained on electric, while Peter Leven took over the B3.  Groovy beats from Steve Potts and Marc Quinones and blasts from the brass make this an interestingly funky treat.  This was one everyone had undoubtedly been waiting for, as it drew a huge standing ovation.  With that closing out the last set, the band returned once more with Allman back at the B3 for a riveting extended version of “Southbound”.  Needless to say, the show was outstanding.


Statesboro Blues
I’m No Angel
Come and Go Blues
Brightest Smile In Town
Trouble No More
The Same Thing

-Instrumental Break-

Cradle of Civilization
Hot Lanta
Ain’t Wasting Time No More
Midnight Rider
Love Like Kerosene
Whipping Post



Saturday, March 28, 2015

The New Basement Tapes - Lost on the River

2014 – Harvest Records
By Phillip Smith; Mar 28, 2015

There’s something very special about the latest supergroup, New Basement Tapes.  This collective of musicians, consisting of Elvis Costello, Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops), Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes), Jim James (My Morning Jacket), & Marcus Mumford (Mumford & Sons) have joined forces to record fifteen tracks based on uncovered song lyrics which were written by Bob Dylan in 1967 during the original Basement Tape sessions. Dylan credited with co-writer of each song on the album, does not appear on any of the performances.

The somewhat spacy “Down on the Bottom” kicks things off.  This track is co-written by Jim James, who also by the way takes on the electric guitar and organ.  I really like the fuzzy My Morning Jacket guitar licks James dishes out during the bridge.  This is the kind of song that captivates me upon first listen.  James is also at the helm of “Nothing To It”, a poppy song about letting the flip of a coin decide the fate of a thief.  Under the covers, this is ominous and sinister enough to be on Harvey Dent’s playlist.  

I can’t steer away from “Kansas City”, with writing credits given to both Mumford and Goldsmith.  Mumford nails the lead vocals on this ode to torn hearts and letting go.  Johnny Depp even makes an appearance to play guitar on this one.  Goldsmith revisits Kansas City on “Liberty Street”.  This story of hard times is solemnly sung and beautifully played on piano.  Goldsmith delivers again on the rootsy “Card Shark”, a cute little ditty featuring Costello on ukulele.  This song has that feel-good pleasantness to it that lures the listener to sing along. I like this one a lot.

It’s so good to hear Elvis Costello tear it up both vocally and electrically on guitar in “Six Months in Kansas City (Liberty Street)”.  He brings to the table the same enthusiasm and exuberance he had in his early years.

Title track, “Lost on the River #20” beautifully concludes the album, with lovely vocals from Rhiannon flowing alongside stellar acoustic guitar performances from Mumford and Goldsmith.  It’s hard to believe these Dylan songs haven’t been put to tape and released before.  They’re so good.  Lost on the River is nothing short of a masterpiece.    

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Cécile Doo-Kingué - Anybody Listening, Pt 1 : Monologues

2015 – CDK Musik
By Phillip Smith; Mar 21, 2015

Soulful vocals paired with infectious rhythms and thought-provoking lyrics, are the heart of Cécile Doo-Kingué’s latest album, Anybody Listening Pt. 1: Monologues, the first installment in a trilogy of albums. Anybody Listening features nine blues-soaked, cleverly written songs performed on acoustic guitar in a solo setting. 

Doo-Kingué makes a huge powerfully submissive splash with album opener, “Make Me”. I love her sultry vocals on this fusion of funk and blues.  She keeps the mood light in “Little Bit” as well, in this ditty about what it takes to get in the happy place. I can’t help but smile when I hear this one.

As a voice for a new generation of activists, Doo-Kingué picks up where the Seventies left off, when it comes to writing songs promoting civil rights.  “Bloodstained Vodka” is her response to the arrest of feminist punk rockers, Pussy Riot for charges of hooliganism, and Putin’s anti-gay stance.  Stand-out track, “Six Letters” takes a seriously heavy look at racism and the atrocities which go hand in hand with it.  Doo-Kingué plays this one in a traditional blues style, complete with slide.        

Title track, “Anybody Listening” a mellow ode to loneliness closes the album with a sad and slow yet funky rhythm. Although Anybody Listening Pt. 1: Monologues seems to goes by fast, it has a lot of replay-ability.  This poignant album leaves me wanting to hear more, and excited to hear the next two albums in the series.       

For more info on Cécile Doo-Kingué, visit her website

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Michael ONeill - I Like It Like That

2013 – Sleeping Trout Music
By Phillip Smith; Mar 14, 2015

Michael ONeill has a special talent, when it comes to songwriting. One listen to I Like it Like That, is good proof he can just as easily write for the mainstream country fan, as well as for the indie roots music enthusiast.  One thing is for sure, the songs in I Like it Like That are steeped heavily in Americana.

The first two tracks, “Raise a Glass”, and “When You Come Around”, remind me a lot of the self-reflective songs of Roy Orbison during his career revival in the Eighties. They’re both quite nice. ONeill croons with heartfelt emotion on “Feel Her Heart Break”, a somber song about a bad relationship. The steel guitar on this track is a very nice touch.

ONeill captures the spirit of John Prine in “Running Out of Time”.  This ode seems to say, life is way too short to spend all of our time here on Earth trying to figure out who we are.  “On Time” strikes a chord, paying homage to the Grateful Dead.  Complete with Jerry Garcia influenced guitar and vocals, this ditty is carefree and enlightening.

“ Real Deal” is a perfect pop country song. Catchy energized hooks and rockin’ bluesy riffs make this a boot-scooting favorite.  The alternate version of this song featuring a side of fiddle performed by Tim Crouch, is even better.

For more info on Michael ONeill, visit his website

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Dave Paris - Jury of My Peers

2015 – Mr. & Mrs. Paris Music
By Phillip Smith; Mar 7, 2015

The latest album, Jury of My Peers, from Iowan Dave Paris is a smorgasbord of thirteen original and amazing guitar-centric instrumentals.  Paris keeps it fresh with varying styles and tempos, burning his own stamp of ownership into each track with blazing melodic guitar riffs.  

As if busting through a wall like the Kool-Aid Man, “Romans Road” takes a no-holds-barred approach to greeting the listener with a an unexpected blast of hard-driving metal-laced rhythm.  Besides the furious guitar licks prominent on “Bought by Blood”, I love the swampy harmonica intro from Cyprian Alexzander.  Stand-out anthem, “Night Before Last”, is beautifully powerful.  Paris introduces a small string section composed of violinists Natalie Brown, Mike Hall, and Curt Harman, which adds tremendously to this song’s unique appeal.      

As far as the heaviest tracks go, I’m drawn to both “Last 2nd” and “Author of Fate”.  A funky bassline from Barbe Paris and intriguing beats from drummer Brent Harknett help make “Last 2nd” a great rock instrumental.  Paris performs this with an undeniable mastery.  “Author of Fate” kicks off in a classic Metallica form, with lots of fury. Paris carefully injects a smidge of progressive rock into this one before returning to the song’s metal roots.      

Dave breaks out the slide, and slips in a really unexpected treat in “Wood, Wire, Wind”.  Steeped heavily in North Mississippi country blues, this one hits the spot.  Alexzander returns with harmonica in tow for this track.  Based on this track alone, I’d love to hear what Paris would do with an entire album devoted to the Blues.

It’s so enjoyable to hear a guitar master such as Paris, do what he does best.  Fresh and seriously focused, Jury of My Peers has edged its way onto my list of favorite instrumental rock albums.  

For more info on Dave Paris visit his website