Saturday, November 16, 2019

#417 : Rebekah Meldrum - (self-titled)



2019 – Rebekah Meldrum
By Phillip Smith; Nov. 16, 2019

I’m very impressed with the debut self-titled release from Indiana-based singer-songwriter Rebekah Meldrum.  This preacher’s daughter grew up singing gospel, but got a penchant for the blues after hearing Koko Taylor at the young age of eight.  Guitarist Paul Holdman, her longtime collaborator, makes for a perfect fit, for together they weave a terrific album of earthy, delta-inspired blues.  The rest of the band is comprised of bassist David Murray, drummer Kevin Kouts, with P.J. Yinger on trumpet, and Richard Dole on saxophone. Tad Robinson and Patrick Long share duties on harmonica.

I love the opening track “Set Your Soul Free”. It is deliciously swampy to the core.  Holdman’s slide is fantastic and sounds great alongside Robinson’s attention-grabbing harp playing.  Meldrum’s vocals are fearless and sweet, as she delivers another fabulous serving of original blues with “Whiskey and Wine”.  This one is quite nice.  Holdman keeps his performance beautifully crisp, and Robinson shines as he rips it up on harmonica.  Meldrum surfs her smooth, velvety voice atop a funky rhythm on “Coat Tails”.  Holdman adds a funky nod to James Brown with his Jimmy Nolen-style chicken-scratch guitar licks.  I enjoy the song a lot.    

Meldrum closes this bodacious seven-track album with “I’m Here”, a song dedicated to friends and family lost to suicide.  The horns add a sense of a New Orleans second line.  It’s really a lovely song.  A portion of the profits from this track, are earmarked for donation to the Suicide Prevention Program.  This is really a terrific album, and I’d recommend it to any music fan. 

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For more information about the artist, visit this website.. www.rebekahmeldrum.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, November 9, 2019

#416 : Johnny Rawls - I Miss Otis Clay


2019 - Third Street Cigar Records   
By Phillip Smith; Nov. 9, 2019

It’s always a pleasure to hear new music from Johnny Rawls.  He is indeed one of the best soul-blues musicians around today.  I make a point to go hear him whenever he’s in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, performing at Checkers Tavern.  His new album, I Miss Otis Clay is downright spectacular.  I love it from start to finish.  This poignant homage to Rawls’ close friend and Blues Hall of Famer Otis Clay, is an instant favorite for me.  Recorded in Toledo, Ohio, the home of Third Street Cigar Records, the album features local blues musicians: guitarist Larry ‘Mr. Entertainment’ Gold, bassist Johnny ‘Hi-Fi’ Newmark, keyboardist ‘Cadillac’ Dan Magers, and drummer Scott Kretzer.  Also appearing on the record are The Toledo Horns comprised of Ric Wolkins on trumpet, and Mark Lemie on sax.

The hot buttery soul of “California Shaking Again’ leads off with a funky backbeat, infectious riffs, and sweet blasts of brass.  Rawls’ vocals are smooth and suave for this fantastic opening track.  Celebrating those contemporaries who have helped keep the art of The Blues alive, he pays an endearing tribute with “Give a Toast to the Blues”.  Guaranteed to set the mood for some good loving, Rawls’ soulful, romantic two-fer “Slow Roll It” and “Motion of the Ocean” are comfortably tucked in a cozy blanket of slow-groove.  

Title track, “I Miss Otis Clay”, brings a tear to my eye, as I listen to him sing about missing his friend.    In 2014, Rawls and Clay released the album Soul Brothers, which won the 2015 Blues Blast Award for Soul Album of the Year.  Clay sadly passed away from a heart attack in 2016.

The bar has once again been set for Soul-Blues.  I Miss Otis Clay, is my favorite Johnny Rawls album to date.        

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For more information about the artist, visit this website.. www.johnnyrawlsblues.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, November 2, 2019

#415 : Hudspeth & Taylor - Folie a Deux




2019 – Hudspeth & Taylor
By Phillip Smith; Nov.2, 2019

Folie a deux, the title of the debut album from guitarist Brandon Hudspeth (Levee Town) and singer/percussionist Jaisson Taylor, is defined as “delusion or mental illness shared by two people in close association”.  In the case of Hudspeth & Taylor, it represents their passion for music.  The two have known each other for almost twenty years, although they never formally collaborated until 2015 when they began their journey playing as a blues duo in Kansas City.  I’ve been aware of Hudspeth since reviewing Levee Town’s album Pages of Paperwork in 2011 for BluesWax, and hold high regard for his work as a guitarist and songwriter.  Taylor’s singing and versatile percussional stylings are most impressive.       

The acoustic slide on “Big Fat Hairy Lie” sounds terrific with the gently rolling rhythm. I love the song “Low Down Dealer Man” and the instrumental showmanship Hudspeth unveils on guitar.  Taylor sets a wonderfully earnest tone for the song with his singing.  Their cover of the late Little Hatch’s “Rock With Me Baby” is a down-home delight.  The playful melody on “Candy Man” is quick to capture my attention, as Taylor sings about a nefarious crime and its consequences.  Hudspeth’s smokin’ slide guitar, and Taylor’s blues-soaked vocals bring the album to the close with “Daddy Baby”.  It’s a fantastic song, and sounds great.

Folie a Deux is a gem of an acoustic blues album.  I really hope to hear more from Hudspeth & Taylor.  

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For more information about the artist, visit this website.. www.brandonhudspeth.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, October 26, 2019

#414 : Southbound Snake Charmers - To the Bone



2019 – Southbound Snake Charmers
By Phillip Smith; Oct. 26, 2019

I’m so very much excited to hear To the Bone, the fourth and latest release from Southbound Snake Charmers.  Their 2017 album, Rhythm ‘n’ Rust instantly drew me in to their world of psychedelic blues rock.  That record totally captivated my attention, and was an instant hit for me.  With To the Bone, this trio from Melbourne, Australia continues to push the envelope of blues rock with heavy and thunderous beats, loaded to the brim with gobs of grease, and hard-edge lyrics.  This EP features four brand new all-original tracks, and two remastered favorites.    The band is fronted by vocalist/guitarist Chris Denman, with bassist Nat Sutphin and drummer Brooke Maloney comprising one hell of a rhythm section.  Denman notes their intent on this recording was to recreate a 60’s / 70’s vibe, by recording all the rhythm live in one room at one time, omitting any synthesized or digital instruments.  This certainly gives the music a warmer and more personal sound.          

Reminiscent of the wonderful, hoodoo-injected swampy sounds of John Fogerty, the album hits the ground running with “Through the Smoke”.  The band masterfully creates an ominous stage for this hard-rockin’ anthem to flaunt its magic.  “Playing With Fire” continues to keep my blood pumping at full capacity with its furious beats, and wailing guitar licks.  Deman’s vocals are fearless and powerful.  The intoxicating and inescapable groove on “My Crazy” rapidly latches its claws right in and holds on tight.  At the core, this is pure delta blues lit up with gasoline.  It sounds fantastic.

The two remastered tracks are “Don’t Speak Too Soon” from Rhythm ‘n’ Rust and “Ride On” from Voodoo Chicken Shack, both of which sound amazing.  The whole EP is a terrific listen, and will remain on heavy rotation in my player.  I highly recommend it.  

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For more information about the artist, visit their website: www.southboundsnakecharmers.com   .

Link to the PhillyCheeze Review for Southbound Snake Charmers - Rhythm 'n' Rust
https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2017/04/southbound-snake-charmers-rhythm-n-rust.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, October 19, 2019

#413 : Biscuit Miller and the Mix - Chicken Grease



2019 – American Showplace Music
By Phillip Smith; Oct. 19, 2019

Chicken Grease, the latest release from Biscuit Miller and the Mix is absolutely fabulous.  Miller, who took home the Blues Music Award for Bass Player of the Year in 2012 and 2017, fronts a tight band steeped in Chicago blues.  Their music is smothered in grease and fortified with funk.  The Mix consists of Doctor Love on drums, Bobby B. Wilson on guitar, Alex ‘Southside’ Smith on guitar, and John Ginty on Hammond B3, Vintage Vibe electric piano, and percussion.  

The funky groove of “Here Kitty Kitty” pulls me right in with its playful energy.  This one always puts a grin on my face.  “Two Legged Dog” keeps the funk flowing with a righteously contagious riff, and killer beat.  With lap-steel in hand, Marcus Randolph makes a couple of outstanding appearances: the first on “609”, and the second on title-track “Chicken Grease”.  Both are superb tracks, and Randolph sounds amazing.    

Biscuit’s smooth-as-silk vocals are front and center as he suavely slows it down with the soulful “Watching You”.  “Get Ready”, a song of peace and love, sweetly brings the album to a close with brilliant keys and a hot buttery baseline.

Chicken Grease is a must hear for blues and soul music aficionados.  It’s such an enjoyable listen from beginning to end.         

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For more information about the artist, visit this website.. www.biscuitmiller.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, October 12, 2019

#412 : Odds Lane - Lost & Found




2019 – Gulf Coast Records

By Phillip Smith; Oct. 12, 2019

Odds Lane, the St. Louis blue-rocking duo on Mike Zito’s new label, Gulf Coast Records, has surely caught my attention with their new album Lost & Found.  Formed nearly sixteen years ago by multi-instrumentalist Doug Byrkit and drummer/percussionist Brian Zielie, this song-writing duo has been friends since 8th grade.  Lost & Found is inspired by their work with Zito on his Blue Room album, which is now celebrating its 20th anniversary with a remastered release on Ruf Records.

The driving pulse of “Blood on the Van” sinks its claws in fast, and holds steady while greeting the listener with a great big dose of rockin’ blues.  I love the gritty rhythm and the enormous punk beat which frames “Don’t Give it Away”.  “Moth to a Flame” reaches into the territory of Southern Rock, and is quite reminiscent of the Muscle Shoals sound.  The slide guitar on this sounds great, and the song has a playful-energetic groove.  Another favorite, “White Castle Blues”, is a searing tribute to those wonderful, little, square burgers I have been known to trek out of my way score a sackful.  Afterall, “The crave is a powerful thing”, and so is this album.             
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For more information about the artist, visit their website:  oddslane.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, October 5, 2019

#411 : BillyLee Janey - Blues Power



2019 – Billy Rock Music / Stray Dog Records

By Phillip Smith; Oct. 5, 2019

Since moving up here to Iowa in 1992, I’ve been listening to BillyLee Janey.  Inducted into the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005 for Truth & Janey and inducted into the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame in 2012, he is surely a force to be reckoned with when it comes to musicianship and playing the blues.  Blues Power, his latest release is a sheer delight.  Featuring eleven originals and two cover songs, this album is filled to the brim with hard-driving electric blues that cuts deep to the core.  BillyLee leads this trio on guitar and vocals.  His son Bryce Janey who also recorded, mastered and mixed the album, appears on bass guitar, with Eric Douglas is on drums.

From the first song, “Who Let the Dog Out”, Janey is already in top-gear, delivering hot-as-hell licks and playing the blues like I love to hear it.  He continues to amaze me in “Blues Alright”.  “Gimme Some Blues Power” is a monster of a song too.  Douglas lays down a stellar beat while Janey carpet bombs the listener with a tantalizing guitar performance.  His cover of Buddy Guy’s “Mary Had a Little Lamb” puts a big smile on my face too.  Janey makes this one his own.

While revisiting “Mean Ol’ Twister”, a track released on his album Got Them Iowa Blues, Janey adds an additional minute, forty-five seconds to the furious whirlwind simulation he creates with sound.  It was a spectacular song to begin with, but this new mix gives it the tornado-infused ending the song deserves.  Hearing Janey cut loose the way he does here, is an experience in and of itself.    

An absolute must-hear for blues fans, and guitar aficionados, Blues Power delivers high-voltage blues at its best.     

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For more information about the artist, visit this website.. www.billyleejaney.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, September 28, 2019

#410 : Ghost Town Blues Band - Shine




2019 – Ghost Town Blues Band
By Phillip Smith; Sep. 28, 2019

I’ve been anxiously awaiting this new album from Ghost Town Blues Band since first hearing about it this past Spring.  It was indeed worth the wait.  Shine, the band’s fourth studio album, and fifth overall is downright spectacular.  Soulfully packed in roots and blues, each of the dozen original songs stand out in their own way.  With singer/guitarist Matt Isbell as front-man, this Memphis-based band consists of guitarist Taylor Orr, saxophonist/producer Kevin Houston, trombonist Suavo Jones, bassist Matt Karner, drummer Andrew McNeill, with Cedric Taylor on B3 and piano.  

The feel-good energy of “Running Out of Time” delightfully ushers the album in.  I love the Allman Brothers vibe and the sweet sound of slide guitar.  “Soda Pop” is a downright blast.   Isbell fearlessly rips it up on cigar-box with some hard-driving blues.  The song is definitely one of my favorites.

Although “Shine” and “Givin’ it All Away” were both on GTBB’s live album, Backstage Pass, I embrace the new studio recordings.  Guest vocalists Paul DesLauriers and Annika Chambers both make an appearance on title-track “Shine”.  This beautiful feel-good song always puts a smile on my face. “Givin’ it All Away” is one bodacious jam.    The jazz-soaked rhythm from McNeill and Karner set the stage for a captivating performance from Suavo amid the swirling sounds of guitar and B3.  I enjoy it immensely.               

The funky groove of “Dirty” sinks its psychedelic claws in deep as Orr tosses out screaming cool-as-hell guitar licks.  I dig the rap break injected into the song by Suavo too.  It truly gives the song an extra dimension.  With a chockful of emotion, Orr gives a heart-felt delivery on “Carry Me Home”.  It’s such a great song.  Illana Katz Katz makes a guest appearance on “Hey There Lucinda” with violin in hand.  This absolutely lovely song delicately brings the album to a close.         

Shine is one of the best records I’ve heard this year.  I give it my highest of recommendations.

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




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.














Monday, September 23, 2019

#409 : Savoy Brown - City Night




2019 – Quarto Valley Records
By Phillip Smith; September 23, 2019

I’m happy to hear anything by the British blues-master Kim Simmonds and his band Savoy Brown.  Their latest release City Night, is no exception.  This is the fortieth album from them, and is another smash hit record.  With bassist Pat DeSalvo and drummer Garnet Grimm holding down the rhythm section, Simmonds takes charge as he does and delivers yet another round of stellar original straight-up, nose-to-the-grind blues.

Simmonds’ searing guitar licks, joined with a fearless driving beat, kicks this treasure-trove of blues-rock off with “Walking On Hot Stones”.  It is scorching and fantastic.  I love “Conjure Rhythm”, with its hypnotic hoodoo pulse.  “Hang in Tough” is a rugged rocker of hard-hitting blues which cuts to the bone.  A feel-good mood is set by title-track “City Night”, and fully enjoyed.   It’s so great to hear Simmonds wail on guitar. Simmonds nicely closes the album out with a heavy dose of blues in the fabulous “Ain’t Gonna Worry”.  

It’s amazing how Savoy Brown just keeps getting better and better with each release.  City Night is as good as it gets.  Blues fans are sure to enjoy this record.    

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Other PhillyCheeze reviews of Savoy Brown

Kim Simmonds and Savoy Brown - Goin’ to the Delta - https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2014/02/kim-simmonds-and-savoy-brown-goin-to.html

Kim Simmonds and Savoy Brown - The Devil to Pay - https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2015/11/kim-simmonds-and-savoy-brown-devil-to.html

Kim Simmonds - Jazzin’ on the Blues - https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2017/09/kim-simmonds-jazzin-on-blues.html

Savoy Brown - Witchy Feelin’ - https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2017/09/savoy-brown-witchy-feelin.html

#346 : Savoy Brown - You Should Have Been There! - https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2018/08/346-savoy-brown-you-should-have-been.html



#356 : Savoy Brown w/ The Satterfield – Erickson Project - Oct. 7, 2018 - https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2018/10/356-savoy-brown-w-satterfield-erickson.html


For more information about the artist, visit this website:  www.savoybrown.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, September 14, 2019

#408 : J.P. Soars - Let Go of the Reins


2019 – Whiskey Bayou Records

By Phillip Smith; Sep. 14, 2019

Produced by Tab Benoit, Let Go of the Reins delightfully highlights everything I like about the music of J.P. Soars : smokin’ guitar licks, hard-scrabble lyrics, and fearless vocals.  Soars, the Arkansas-based artist who won 1st place at the 2009 International Blues Challenge in Memphis and pulled down the Albert King Award for best guitarist, rolls out his fifth solo studio album covered in hard-driving blues.  Soars steers the ship on vocals and guitars, with Chris Peet on bass guitar, Tab Benoit on drums, and Tillis Verdin on the Hammond B3.   

Soars begins the album with a jumpin’ cover of J.B. LeNoir’s “Been Down So Long”.  The fresh new arrangement absolutely cooks.  I love the swampy cover of the 1970 hit song “If You Wanna Get to Heaven”, by the Ozark Mountain Daredevils.  Soars definitely makes this one his own.  I thoroughly enjoy his beautiful performance of Django Reinhardt’s intoxicating instrumental “Minor Blues” too. 

A wonderful deep dark groove, preceded by an ominous entrance, guides title-track “Let Go of the Reins” on its hypnotic path to a psychedelic finish.   Soars cut loose on his spirited tribute to Freddie King called “Freddie King Thing”.  It jams indeed.  “Lonely Fire” with its delicate melody and Spanish influence, is a song I simply adore.  

I highly recommend Let Go of the Reins.  It’s among the best albums I’ve heard this year.    


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For more information about the artist, visit this website : jpsoars.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, September 6, 2019

#407 : Lucas Haneman Express - Catch the Westbound




2019 – Lucas Haneman Express

By Phillip Smith; September 6, 2019

After reviewing the Lucas Haneman Express’ 2016 album, Tearing Up the Rails, I knew there was something special about this group.  Their follow-up album, Catch the Westbound definitely reassures me, there is indeed an air of magic about them.  Nominated for a 2018 Maple Blues Award, the band expertly delivers a variety of original roots/rock-based songs built on enchanting melodies and finely crafted lyrics.  Haneman takes the helm on guitar and vocals, with Jeff Asselin on drums, Megan Laurence on vocals, and Martin Newman on bass.   

With Lucas on lead vocals, “Lay it to the Line” wonderfully starts the album with a driving western-flavored jam.  The song seductively draws right in, as I sink into its twangy goodness.  “Cold Cold Front” is ominous, catchy as hell, and hard to shake.  Haneman sings this one with a suave finesse.  The swampy blues of “Ms. McGrim” is right up my alley.  I love the slide guitar and Megan’s accompanying vocals.  My favorite tune on the album, “Devil’s in my Grave” is riveting and rides atop a driving rhythm.  They splendidly bring the record to a close with a sweet, heady, Zeppelin-esque ballad, “To Be Brave”.  When Asselin kicks it in on drums, I get a big smile on my face.  This is such a cool song. 

One more time, Lucas Haneman Express has brought their ‘A’ game to the table and delivered a wonderful recording.   I very much enjoyed listening to this one.

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


The Phillycheeze review for Lucas Haneman Express – Tearing Up the Rails :
https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2017/03/lucas-haneman-express-tearing-up-rails.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.