Saturday, March 30, 2019

#384 : The BB King Blues Band - The Soul of the King




2019 – Ruf Records
Release Date: May 10, 2019

By Phillip Smith; March 30, 2019

Even though B.B. King has been gone for four years now, his spirit and legacy lives on.  His band of over 35 years The BB King Blues Band, with the support of several guest artists have created a wonderful blues album The Soul of the King.  The band is comprised of lead vocalist/bassist Russell Jackson, guitarist Wilbert Crosby, drummers Brandon Jackson and Herman Jackson, trumpeters James Boogaloo Bolden and Lamar Boulet, lead saxophonist Eric Demmer, saxophonist Walter King, keyboardist Darrell Lavigne, and trombonist Raymond Harris.

The energy of the big band is exquisitely captured on “Irene Irene”, an original tune featuring the great Kenny Wayne Shepherd on guitar.  This smoking blues track is heavily steeped in the B.B. King sound.  Hearing Mary Griffin and Taj Mahal pair up for a duet on “Paying the Cost to be the Boss” is indeed a special treat.  Joe Louis Walker makes an appearance to perform his song “Regal Blues (A Tribute to the King)”, making sure to throw in a sweet guitar solo.  For the grand finale, the band delivers B.B.’s signature song “The Thrill is Gone” with Michael Lee on lead vocals.  Lee, from Season 15 of The Voice, absolutely does this one right.  Other special guests on the album include, Kenny Neal, Diunna Greenleaf, and John Del Toro Richardson. 

Soul of the King is an absolute gem and I highly recommend it for all blues fans.  


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Click on the link below to purchase this terrific album from the PhillyCheeze Amazon Store.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

#383 : Ghost Town Blues Band live @ Moline Viking Club - March 24, 2019



Moline, Illinois

By Phillip Smith; March 26, 2019

I was happy as a lark to see Ghost Town Blues Band return to the region on their latest Canada/Midwest tour.  They truly are one of my favorite bands.  Presented by the Mississippi Valley Blues Society, and hosted by the Moline Viking Club, the show featured two bodacious sets of riveting high-energy blues.  Fronted by Matt Isbell on lead vocals and guitars, Ghost Town Blues band is also comprised of lead guitarist Taylor Orr, bassist Matt Karner, drummer Andrew McNeil, organist/keyboardist Cedric Taylor, and trombonist Suavo Jones.

As soon as the band kicked the first set into gear with “Hate to See Her Go”, and “Memphis Blues”, I knew it was going to be a sensational show.  They broke out “Dust the Dust” and ”Big Shirley” too, the latter of which sweetly rolled right into Led Zepplin’s “Rock and Roll”.  I loved the funky two-fer including “Shine” and "Givin’ It All Away” from their latest album, Backstage Pass.  Suavo belted out such a tremendous solo on trombone.  It was absolutely amazing.  Isbell pulled out his one-of-a-kind cigar box guitar he made out of his late grandmother’s silver drawer for an enthralling performance of “Road Still Drives the Same”.    

With a Bourbon Street-style entrance, horns and drums in hand, the band marched back into the venue for the second set playing “When the Saints Go Marching In”.  That was so fun to watch.  They played “Memphis Train” and “Tip of My Hat” soon after.  When they broke into the Beatles’ “Come Together” though, it was quite magical.  Like sword-wielding knights, Suavo and Isbell squared off.  While Suavo extended the outer slide tube of his trombone skyward, Isbell held his cigar box high in the air, nailing every note as the guitar neck maneuvered about the trombone as a slide.  It’s such a unique and amazing feat to witness.  Afterward, Orr gave a smokin’ guitar solo on “One More Whiskey”, then the band wrapped up with a spectacular extended jam on “Whipping Post”.  It was such a wonderful evening of music, I can’t wait to see them again. 

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* All photos by Phillip Smith     




























Saturday, March 23, 2019

#382 : Coyote Kings - Rocket



2019 – Underworld Records
By Phillip Smith; March 23, 2019

Coyote Kings, that fiery blues band from Wala Wala, Washington which I’ve been reviewing since 2011, is back once again with yet another rockin’ album of blues.  The album is called Rocket, and it happens to be the Coyote Kings first on Tim Langford’s (Too Slim & the Taildraggers) music label Underword Records.  This is also their first album featuring their new singer, Tiphony Dames who recorded her debut self-titled album with the band in 2017.  Led by guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Robin Barrett, Coyote Kings is also comprised of bassist Kit Kuhlmann and drummer Gordon Townsend.

“Drive Me”, with its bluesy beatnik vibe scores huge, blending searing guitar licks from Barrett and Diego Romero with a fierce accompaniment from Nate Miller on sax.  Dame’s vocals are smooth as silk, and sound great.  Things get heavy with “Break Free” as Barrett throws down a riff that’s infectious and yet psychedelically ominous.  Miller shreds the sax again, as Barrett unleashes the funk in “All Tangled Up”.  The mood softens when Dame sings “Baby’s Gone”, a heartbreaking lament of lost love.  Her vocals really shine here.  The album comes to a close with a beautiful five-minute instrumental called “Song For Shaman”, featuring guest bassist Kelin Kreider. The track is absolutely stunning.

Rocket, the sixth album from the Coyote Kings is a positive step in a new direction for the band, and I look forward to hearing more from them with Tiphony. 

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For more information about the artist, visit this website.. coyotekings.com  

Take a listen to the album on Apple Music, and if you decide to purchase it, use my special link.








Saturday, March 16, 2019

#381 : Nick Schnebelen - Crazy All By Myself




2019 – Vizztone



By Phillip Smith; Mar. 16, 2019

I’ve been a fan of Nick Schnebelen since reviewing Trampled Under Foot’s 2011 release Wrong Side of the Blues for Blues Revue Magazine’s online zine BluesWax.  I remember being in such awe of great talent when I saw the band perform live at Riverside Casino in 2012.  Schnebelen’s Live in Kansas City album, released in 2017, was outstanding, and this brand-new record Crazy All By Myself is absolutely terrific.  Producer/drummer Tony Braunagel (Taj Mahal, Robert Cray), along with heavy hitters, organist/pianist Mike Finnigan and bassist Hutch Hutchinson form one hell of a rhythm section.

I love the groove Braunagel and bassist Reggie McBride pour over “It Ain’t Me”. Smooth and intoxicating, it washes over me, like a fine bourbon.  Hearing Schnebelen let loose on guitar is pure joy.  Finnigan absolutely cooks on piano for “Ain’t Got Time For the Blues”.  The song is a massive dose of adrenalized blues with more stellar guitar from Nick.  Another song that grabs my full attention is “Alter of Love” which happens to feature one my favorite harp players, Jason Ricci.  This is one positively fabulous.

Schnebelen breaks out some wonderfully delicious slide guitar as he expresses his fondness for Harley Davidsons in the double-entendre loaded bike song “I’m a Fat Boy”.  With “Soul Magic”, the lovely Heather Newman appears on backing vocals, as Nick reveals his prowess as an R&B singer.  “Holding On”, beautifully performed and featuring the great Davy Knowles on guitar, is another favorite. 

Focused and fierce, Schnebelen has taken his music up another notch. Crazy All By Myself is definitely a record for blues fans to take notice of.


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For more information about the artist, visit the website :  www.nickschnebelenkc.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, March 9, 2019

#380 : Billy Hector - Some Day Baby




2018 – Ghetto Surf Music

By Phillip Smith; March 9, 2019

There’s a certain essence to the music of Billy Hector.  He writes great songs, his guitar performances rock the house, and his voice is made for the blues.  I love his work.  This New Jersey blues artist has topped himself once again with his latest album, Some Day Baby.  It’s not just the blues which Hector is a master of, but the man also knows his way around funk and soul in a tremendous way as well.

Once I hear the horns regally lead “Wizard of Babylon” in on the first track, I know I’m in store for a delightful listen.  Hector’s guitar sizzles as the groove kicks in.  With Winston Royce on bass guitar, and Val Romaine on drums, title track “Some Day Baby” is absolutely fabulous.  It’s magnificently punched up with horn accompaniment from Tom Labella and John Martin, and magically charged with an energy much akin to that of the Red Hot Chili Peppers taking on Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition”.  Another favorite is the George Clinton-esque, funk-infused “Butt Naked and Funk”.  Bassist Erik Boyd and drummer Rich Monica pair up for the rhythm section on this wonderful jam.  There’s an unavoidable intoxicating rhythm which draws me into “Creeper”.  The deep tones in Hector’s vocals are superb as he sings this song of infidelity, which by the way is enjoyably topped off with keys from John Ginty.   The way Hector transforms "Moonlight in Her Eyes" from a rolling blues tune to a Beatles-like orchestrated number is pure genius.  

Hector quite nicely takes on a couple of traditional tunes with “On Your Bond”, originally released by Blind Willie Johnson in 1930 , and “Alabama Bound”.  “Whisky”, a dark and brilliant tune dances atop a menacing atmosphere created by David Nunez on keys and drummer Larry Crockett.  Hector plays this with an emotional bravado. The album comes to a lively close with “Road to Happiness”, a soulful duet with his wife and co-producer Suzan Lastovica.   

Some Day Baby, a terrific album from start to finish, is definitely an addition to my favorites of 2018. 

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



Sunday, March 3, 2019

#379 : Anthony Gomes Live at the Redstone Room - March 2, 2019





Davenport, Iowa

March 2, 2019



By Phillip Smith; March 3, 2019



The first time I saw Anthony Gomes, the year was 2012, and he was opening up for the legendary B.B. King at the Paramount Theater in Cedar Rapids.  The sheer exuberance in his performance and mastery of guitar grabbed my full attention.  Saturday, March 2nd, he gave a stellar performance at the Redstone Room in Davenport, Iowa.  With Gomes on guitar and lead vocals, he was joined on stage by bassist Sean Holland and drummer Jeremy Howard.



From the git-go he rocked out with “Nasty Good”, and “Your Mama Wants to do Me (and Your Daddy Wants to do Me In)”, from his latest album Peace Love & Loud Guitars, an album which was a PhillyCheezeBlues blog pick of the week in January.  He also tore it up on his ode to Crown Royal with “Purple Whiskey Sack” from his 2006 album, Long Way Home.



His cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child” was outstanding.  Gomes was totally in his element, as he let loose on this one.  I was glad to hear “White Trash Princess”.  It’s one of my favorites on the new album, as is the title track “Peace, Love, and Loud Guitars”.   “Blues in the First Degree” also made the cut, and it sounded great.  It was such a joy to hear him play the new material.    



For the encore, Gomes brought the show to close, splendidly ripping it up on his stately homage to the King of the Blues, with “Come Down”.  It was magnificent, as was the show.  I can’t wait to see him perform again.


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* All photos by Phillip Smith


























Saturday, March 2, 2019

#378 : Music Maker Relief Foundation (Various Artists) - Blue Muse




2019 – Big Legal Mess Records



By Phillip Smith; March 2, 2019



The Music Maker Relief Foundation, whose mission is “to preserve the musical traditions of the South by directly supporting the musicians who make it, ensuring their voices will not be silenced by poverty and time”, is issuing a new book and CD package called Blue Muse to celebrate their twenty-fifth year.  According to their website, musicmaker.org, this organization, founded by Timothy and Denise Duffy, has helped with over 12,000 grants, and has supported 435 artists.  Blue Muse contains twenty-one tracks of southern blues and roots music from various artists.  It features recordings made from the nineties up to the present day, with tracks contributed by both Taj Mahal who beautifully performs “Spike Driver Blues” and Eric Clapton who joins with Timothy Duffy for a sweet instrumental cover of Willie Brown’s “Mississippi Blues”.



Eddie Tigner who played many years with the Ink Spots and was at one time the lead of Elmore James’ house band, tears it up on piano with his performance of “Route 66”. When Alabama Slim kicks off “I Got the Blues”, it puts a big smile on my face.  His hypnotic guitar stylings pull me deep into the song.  The soulful deep-cutting vocals of Robert Finley marvelously sing out on “Age Don’t Mean a Thing”.  With Jimbo Mathus on guitar and Al Gamble on keys, this is southern soul at its best.  Former Carolina Chocolate Drop co-founder Dom Flemons breaks out his harmonica and sings “Polly Put the Kettle On”.  Ben Hunter appears on fiddle and Guy Davis on guitar, making this traditional song also covered by the blues-great Sonny Boy Williamson, a delightful listen.  



One can feel the blues in the voice of the late great Piedmont Blues artist Algia Mae Hinton, who passed in February of 2018, as she delivers “Snap Your Fingers”.  Guitar Gabriel’s “Landlord Blues” oozes with authenticity.  ‘The Blues Doctor’ Drink Small from Columbia, South Carolina wonderfully sings and picks “Widow Woman”, a melancholy and reflective piece paying homage to those who have lost their husbands.   

This collection also contains “I am the Lightning” from one my recent favorites, Willie Farmer whose latest album, The Man From the Hill was reviewed on my blog last month. This is such cool song.   I was also happy to see Ironing Board Sam’s “Loose Diamonds” appear on this album too.  His CD, Super Spirit, which this track is from, was one of my memorable finds in 2018 while visiting one of my favorite stores on the planet, Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art in Clarksdale, Mississippi.   

Available by March 28th, 2019 , Blue Muse is also paired with a powerful 152 page companion book titled Blue Muse: Timothy Duffy’s Southern Photographs, published in association with the New Orleans Museum of Art, and loaded with tintype photos taken by Duffy of musicians representing American roots music.  For more information or to purchase this set, visit musicmaker.org .        

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Track list:
  1. La Collegiale – The Grotto Sessions (Guitar Gabriel, Ironing Board Sam, Etta Baker, Captain Luke, Alabama Slim, Neal Pattman)
  2. Spike Driver Blues – Taj Mahal
  3. Old Black Buck – Captain Luke
  4. Route 66 – Eddie Tigner
  5. I Got The Blues – Alabama Slim
  6. Age Don’t Mean A Thing – Robert Finley
  7. Polly Put The Kettle On – Dom Flemons
  8. Hambone – John Dee Holeman
  9. Snap Your Fingers – Algia Mae Hinton
  10. I am the Lightning – Willie Farmer
  11. D.O.C. Man – Dave McGrew
  12. Sweet Valentine – Martha Spencer & Kelley Breiding
  13. I Wanna Boogie – Boot Hanks w/ Dom Flemons
  14. Mississippi Blues – Eric Clapton w/ Tim Duffy
  15. Landlord Blues – Guitar Gabriel
  16. Widow Woman – Drink Small
  17. Cabbage Man – Sam Frazier, Jr.
  18. Sing It Louder – Cary Morin
  19. Loose Diamonds – Ironing Board Sam
  20. I Know I’ve Been Changed – The Branchettes
  21. Something Within Me – Theotis Taylor