2017 – Swing Suit Records
By Phillip Smith; March 10, 2018
One can feel the heart and soul poured into the latest release from “Michissippi” Mick Kolassa. Double Standards, a wonderful thirteen track album, celebrates some of the greatest blues songs to have been recorded. Backing Kolassa in the studio is guitarist Jeff Jensen, bassist Bill Ruffino, drummer James Cunningham, and organist Chris Stephenson. For this venture, Kolassa also enlists the participation of several notable musicians, who today are busy carving their own unique path to present the Blues. These artists are Tullie Brae, Erica Brown, Annika Chambers, Heather Crosse, Tas Cru, Gracie Curran, David Dunavent, Alice Hasan, Eric Hughes, Colin John, Jeremy Powell, Patti Parks, Sugaray Rayford, and Victor Wainwright.
A big gracious nod goes out to the legendary bluesman Willie Dixon. Performing as a duet with Kolassa, Erica Brown holds back nothing as she pours her soulful vocals into the classic “Spoonful”. I love Jenson’s guitar performance and Stephenson’s organ arrangement on this track. The lovely Heather Crosse joins in on “I Just Want to Make Love To You”. Memphis’ Eric Hughes lays a heaping helping of luscious harmonica on this track. It sounds great. The dynamic duo of Kolassa and Sugaray Rayford double the ante on “300 Pounds of Heavenly Joy”, originally recorded by Howlin Wolf, to bring a grand total of “600 Pounds of Heavenly Joy” to the table. Fortified with the guitar prowess of both Colin John, and Mike Kolassa, this track is a big bowlful of fun.
Victor Wainwright splendidly takes the vocal reins on Tampa Red’s 1928 hokum “It’s Tight Like That”, with Hughes icing the song with harmonica and Alice Hasan accompanying on violin. Tas Cru lends his definitive voice to the Jimmy Cox penned standard, “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out”. This timeless classic is beautifully accompanied by Hason on violin and Jeremy Powell on piano. Eric Hughes gives a smooth performance Big Bill Broonzy’s “Key to the Highway”. It’s very nice indeed.
Double Standards comes to a joyful conclusion in a full-fledged jamboree. Each singer takes a turn on “Ain’t Nobody’s Business”, spinning their own off-the-cuff lyrics. It’s a great track to close the album with, as the energy of the whole collective is funneled into this closing song.
All Proceeds from Mick Kolassa’s albums will go to support two of these important programs: The HART Fund and Generation Blues.
THE HART FUND (Handy Artists Relief Trust) is for Blues musicians and their families in financial need due to a broad range of health concerns. The Fund provides for acute, chronic and preventive medical and dental care as well as funeral and burial expenses.
GENERATION BLUES provides scholarship to artists under the age of 21 to study at reputable camps, seminars and workshop programs such as Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival, Augusta Heritage Center and Fernando Jones’ Columbia College Blues Camp.
Also reviewed on Phillycheeze’s Rock & Blues Reviews
Victor Wainwright and the WildRoots – Boom Town
Tas Cru - Simmered & Stewed
Heather Crosse - Groovin’ at the Crosse Roads
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