Saturday, January 11, 2020

#427 : Annika Chambers - Kiss My Sass



2019 – Vizztone  
By Phillip Smith; Jan. 11, 2020

Kiss My Sass, the third studio album from Houston blues artist Annika Chambers, is a dynamo of hot soulful blues.  Chambers, who was deservedly awarded the 2019 Blues Music Award for Soul Blues Female Artist of the Year, has been nominated again for 2020.  She certainly woos me over with her astonishing beautiful voice.      

Immediately, I’m lured into the record with “Let That Sass Out”, a tune written by R.B. Stone.  Powerful vocals from Chambers is topped with a buttery rhythm from drummer Greg Brown Jr., and bassist Larry Fulcher.  Searing guitar licks from The Mighty Orq seals the deal.  Ruthie Foster makes a guest appearance on “What’s Your Thing”, with The Mighty Orq on pedal steel.  This one is an absolutely fabulous cocktail of deep blues and heavy soul.  I downright love her cover of the Etta James’ classic “In the Basement”.  This party song puts such a big smile on my face with every listen.  Chambers enlists her husband, the great Paul DesLauriers with acoustic guitar in hand, to join in a spirited duet on “I Feel the Same”.  They sound wonderful together.  DesLauriers douses his guitar with gobs of delightful slide while the subtle booming thunder from percussionist Sam Harrison injects an unmistakable heaviness to the song.   

Kiss My Sass truly is an album I’ve enjoyed from beginning to end.  It’s a terrific listen.      
   
---



For more information about the artist, visit this website..  https://www.annikachambers.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, January 5, 2020

#426 : Kevin Burt Live at Checkers Tavern



Kevin Burt Live at Checkers Tavern
Cedar Rapids, IA


January 5, 2020
By Phillip Smith

It’s been around twenty years since I first witnessed Kevin Burt’s early appearances at Checkers Tavern.  He’s always been engaging, but this show seemed more special, as Kevin reminisced about playing this venue in his early days as a solo performer. After kicking his show off with “Wake Up Baby”, an original off his Heartland and Soul album, he fabulously played through a mix of covers and original songs.  Armed with guitar and harmonica, he covered selections such as Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower”, Junior Wells’ “Messing with the Kid”, Richie Havens’ “Freedom”, Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now”, and Buddy Guy’s “Feels Like Rain”.  He also played several of my favorite originals, such as “Your Smile”, and “Day Day”.  His performance was soulful and heartfelt, and his voice, as always, superb.  I enjoyed this one immensely. 


* photo by Phillip Smith

Saturday, January 4, 2020

#425 : Joanna Connor - Rise



2019 – M.C. Records
By Phillip Smith; Jan. 4, 2020

For over thirty-five years, Joanna Connor has been wooing blues fanatics in the Windy City.  Rise represents her thirteenth album, and third for M.C. Records.  After spotlighting her 2016 release Six String Stories on my blog and being gobsmacked while watching her perform at the 2017 Czech Village Blues festival in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, it’s a great pleasure to hear new music from this fabulous musician.  Connor, on guitars and vocals, is backed by bassist Joewaun Jay Red Scott, drummers Cameron Lewis and Tyrone “TY Drums” Mitchell, Delby Littlejohn on keys and Ryan Shea on sax.

Joined by Keithen Banks on vocals and rapper Alphonso Buggz Dinero, Connor starts the record off with a delightful dose of funk-filled R&B in “Flip”.  This is where all the fun begins.  Then, with guitar in hand, Mike Zito steps in on “Bad Hand”.  This uplifting track is accented quite nicely with a beautiful keyboard performance from Littlejohn.  Lewis tears it up on the jazz instrumental “Joanna in A”.  This is one hip track that feeds the spirit.  Another great instrumental is the cover of Sly Stone’s “If You Want Me to Stay”.  I dig it when Scott pours the funk on the bass.  Listening to Connor play “My Irish Father” is an absolutely astonishing experience.  She truly is a master.  

Connor’s blend of funk and blues goes right for the jugular in “Mutha” with fierce, mind-blowing guitar licks and vocal backing from Dinero.  The album comes to a climatic end with “Dear America”, a heavy Led Zeppelin-based blend of “When the Levee Breaks” topped with Dinero’s spoken-word state-of-the-world message.

Rise elevates Joanna Connor to a brand-new level.  I highly recommend this one.   

---


For more information about the artist, visit this website:  www.joannaconnor.com

PhillyCheeze’s Review of Joanna Connor’s Six String Stories : https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2017/08/joanna-connor-six-string-stories.html

PhillyCheeze’s Photo coverage of 2017 Czech Village Blues festival, featuring headliner Joanna Connor : https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2017/08/czech-village-blues-festival-aug-12-2017.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.