Saturday, March 26, 2016

R.B. Stone - Some Call it Freedom


2016 – Middle Mountain Music
By Phillip Smith; Mar 26, 2016


Veteran musician R.B. Stone brings a big ol’ plate of delicious downhome blues to the world via his new album and seventeenth project, Some Call it Freedom.  This eleven track album of all-originals is seriously great.  Stone takes on guitar, vocals and harmonica, while supported by Larry Van Loon on B3, B2 and piano, bassists Randy Coleman, Josh Fairman, and drummer Terrance Houston.    

I love the swampy slide guitar Stone plays throughout “Hill Country Stomp”, the first song out of the gate.  Howard kills it on drums, as he amps up this ramblin’ stomper.  Stone lays down more rippin’ guitar licks on title track “Some Call it Freedom”.  Stone’s fearless fuzzy licks are smoothly blended together with Loon’s brilliant piano boogie for “35 Miles to Mobile”, a definite stand-out track.  

Things get a little ominous and dark with “Another Thief”.  With Howard’s pseudo tribal Native American beat behind Stone’s wailing, both on guitar and vocally, this badass song rocks pretty damn hard.  “Nickajack”, although only two minutes long, keeps the energy flowing with plenty of swampy hill-country blues and fine picking.

My ears perk up even more when “Standin’ on Top of the World” kick in with harp playing that rivals that of John Popper.  This is a feel-good song for sure, and puts me in my happy spot when I hear it.


This album comes highly recommended to everyone who appreciates The Blues.




Janiva Magness - Love Wins Again


2016 – Blue Élan Records
By Phillip Smith; Mar 26, 2016


Janiva Magness’s latest album, Love Wins Again is a sheer delightful listen.  Delivering eleven outstanding tracks of soulful blues in her trademark grand fashion; Magness has just set the bar a little higher, ensuring this LP will be an instant favorite.

Title track “Love Wins Again” is so smooth and buttery it puts a big ole’ smile on my face each and every time I hear it.  The funk breaks out on “Real Slow” sporting contagious guitar riffs and a groovy bassline.  Sultry vocals on top of an infectious bluesy melody set the mood for “Moth to a Flame”.  Dim all the lights and grab your partner for a slow dance to Magness’ angelic voice on the dreamy “When You Hold Me”.  This one is really nice.       

There’s no shutting the party down when the turntable is spinning “Your House is Burnin’”.  This jamming masterpiece, about turning things around for the better, is loaded with hot guitar licks and a killer sax accompaniment. I love Magness’ interpretation of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s classic, “Long as I Can See the Light”.  It’s really magnificent. Now, if only we can arrange for this song to be recorded as a duet with her and John Fogerty

This stellar album is definitely one of my favorites this year. 






Sunday, March 20, 2016

Janiva Magness - Live @ Riverside Casino 3/19/16


March 19, 2016 – Riverside, Iowa
By Phillip Smith; Mar 20, 2016


Saturday, March 19, as part of their annual Tribute to Blues Weekend, Riverside Casino hosted the fabulous Janiva Magness for an evening of soulful blues.  Magness, who has won seven Blues Music Awards, and grabbed twenty-five blues award nominations, pulled down the B.B. King Entertainer of the Year Award in 2009.  Newest member of the band, guitarist Garret Deloian is a fresh addition, and sounds fantastic alongside the seasoned ensemble of drummer Matt Tecu , bassist Gary Davenport, and guitarist extraordinaire Zach Zunis.

Magness started the evening off with the very soulful “I Won’t Cry” and “Walkin’ in the Sun”.  Zunis peeled off a fantastic guitar solo on the beautifully sung “Say You Will”.  Janiva has such a special talent that allows her to connect to her audience. This was very much prevalent in the heartfelt selection “Doorway”, about love in the form of forgiveness. 

The audience was blessed to be treated to a heaping serving of songs off her brand new album, Love Wins Again.  When pre-ordering this new album, fans can get an extra three songs available nowhere else, via download.  These three tracks were spectacular. The ominous and mojo-infused “Sin Perfume” gave Deloian a beautiful podium to get his mojo on.  “I Don’t Hurt Anymore”, with its retro Nashville vibe, was downright amazing, and “I Can’t Let You Go”, not only had a fantastic guitar solo from Zunis, but the accompaniment from Davenport and Laug in the rhythm section was absolutely stellar.  I loved the cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Long as I Can See the Light”.  Deloian killed it on guitar and Magness’ vocals were exquisite.


It was a fine night of music indeed.



All Photos by Phillip Smith



















Samantha Fish - Live @ Campbell Steele Gallery : 3/18/16


March 18, 2016 – Marion, Iowa
By Phillip Smith; Mar 20, 2016


Friday, March 18, Samantha Fish blessed the audience at Campbell Steele Gallery in Marion, Iowa with a captivating show featuring two terrific sets of music. One couldn’t ask for a better rhythm section to back her as bassist Chris Alexander and drummer Go-go Ray.  These musicians sound extraordinary together.   Fish quickly grabbed everyone’s attention with a rousing execution of “Wild Heart”, which was followed up by the killer song “Show Me”.  Highlighted by a stellar performance from Go-Go Ray, this one brought everyone to their feet. 

Fish effortlessly commanded the stage as she ripped through “Blame it on the Moon and crowd-favorite “Runaway” on oil-can guitar and slide.  Her gorgeous acoustic rendition of Charlie Patton’s blues classic “Jim Lee Blues” was outstanding and fresh.  Fish also broke out a sweet cover of Junior Kimbrough’s “I’m in Love With You”.  This one appears on her new album, Wild Heart

Fish returned alone to deliver the first two songs of the second set acoustically.  She played her most streamed song, “Let’s Have Some Fun”, along with a favorite of her father, Tom T. Hall’s “That’s How I Got to Memphis”.  Afterward, the band proceeded to tear through a smashing “Go to Hell”, a mesmerizing “I Put a Spell on You”, and a phenomenally ripping “Bitch on the Run”.  Before all was done, the band took the stage for an encore to end the evening with a fearless electric cover of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs”, and it was great.  For this, I say “Bravo!”.  



All photos by Phillip Smith


Samantha Fish

Samantha Fish & Chris Alexander

Chris Alexander

Samantha Fish

Chris Alexander

Samantha Fish

Go-Go Ray

Samantha Fish & Chris Alexander

Go-Go Ray

Samantha Fish

Chris Alexander

Samantha Fish & Chris Alexander


Go-Go Ray

Samantha Fish


Sunday, March 13, 2016

Kelly Richey - Shakedown Soul


2016 – Sweet Lucy Records
By Phillip Smith; Mar 13, 2016


There’s a whole lot of shakin’ going on in Cincinnati rocker Kelly Richey’s latest and sixteenth album, Shakedown Soul.  This ten song collection of original no holds-barred rock and roll packs a hell of a mean punch.  Richey handles the guitar and mic, while Rikk Manning plays bass, and producer/mixer Tobe Donohue covers drums, synth, and sequencing.  Five of the ten songs were recorded earlier and feature additional musicians, drummer Robby Cosenza, keyboardist Lee Carroll, and bassist Blake Cox.

“Fading” is quick to capture my attention with its funky rhythm and edgy INXS-like guitar riffs.  Richey can surely shred.  I like the trippy intro leading into “You Wanna Rock”.  Richey attacks this one head-on with heavy licks and her trademark powerful raspy vocals.  This is a track best served loud.  A really nice groove takes over on “Lies”.  This is the one that gets stuck my head.  “Just Like a River” is fantastic and has a Seventies pre-punk Lou Reed vibe to it.  Richey’s “I Want to Run” is another terrific track with a solid rock melody and stellar guitar. 

Richey scores huge with “Shakedown Soul”.  This is one big ball of rock and roll fun.   




  



Cécile Doo-Kingué - Anybody Listening Part 2 : Dialogues


2016 – Funky Joint
By Phillip Smith; Mar 13, 2016


Montreal guitarist and singer-songwriter Cécile Doo-Kingué having hooked me with last year’s Anybody Listening Part 1 : Monologues, has totally reeled me in with her latest release, Anybody Listening Part 2 : Dialogues.  Keeping her music on the edge of political and social awareness, Doo-Kingué progresses from the raw and acoustic direction of Monologues by adding more production and electricity, and it sounds terrific.  Joining the six new tracks on this twelve track album, are five re-recorded versions of her most outstanding tracks from Monologues : “Anybody Listening”, “Little Bit”, “Six Letters”, “Animal Kingdom”, and “Bloodstained Vodka”.  These are tracks I was really drawn to in their original acoustic versions, but I love these new recordings even more.

Besides being such a prolific songwriter, Doo-Kingué is quite the guitar master as well. It’s so fun to hear her let loose at the end of “Sunshine Lady”, which by the way features the lovely vocals of Milika Tirolien.  I dig the swampy slide which kick starts the upbeat bluesy gem “Riot & Revolution”. This song gets the blood pumping through the veins and the fists pumping in the air.  “Sweet Talkin’ Devil” is quite a sweet surprise too. Doo-Kingué slays this magnificent southern-style rocker about temptation. For a fearless closer, Doo-Kingué tears it up on her killer cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Manic Depression”. 

I have no idea what direction Doo-Kingué will take us in on Anybody Listening Part 3, but I’m already on-board, and looking forward to it. 





For more info on Cécile Doo-Kingué, visit her website http://www.cdkmusik.com/

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Brothers Brown - Dusty Road


2016 – Funky Joint
By Phillip Smith; Mar 5, 2016


Listening to the debut album, Dusty Road, from Brothers Brown, puts a big smile on my face and makes me long for summertime, when outdoor concerts are in season.  Thankfully that time of year is just around the corner.  This bluesy, jam-friendly band is fronted by two gentlemen named Paul Brown: one, a double Grammy-winning producer/guitarist/singer/songwriter from Los Angeles, the other, a Grammy-nominated producer/keyboardist/songwriter from Nashville.  The other two members, bassist David Santos, and drummer Pete Young make for an outstanding rhythm section.  This is a really tight group of musicians.

When I first heard the song “Cup of Tea”, I couldn’t help but notice the Allman Brothers and Widespread Panic influence.  It’s pure southern boogie with tasty electric guitar licks and a rich organ accompaniment.  The driving beat and funky rhythm of “Hurricane” is such a rejoicing sound, it should have a label that reads, “Warning! Listening to this song could lead to the loss of shoes and uncontrollable urges to dance”.  Little Feat guitarist Paul Barrere guests on this track to lay down some delicious slide.  They score big on “The River” too.  This powerful song about revisiting the past is comfort music for the soul.  I love the slow soulful groove of “Love Sake”. It’s a perfect song for chilling, relaxing and swaying.


Poignant songwriting, stellar performances, and a whole lot of heart and soul is what makes Dusty Road such a pleasurable listen.  I’ll surely be keeping my eyes out for Brothers Brown in concert now.