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:

PhillyCheeze’s Review of Joanna Connor’s Six String Stories :

PhillyCheeze’s Photo coverage of 2017 Czech Village Blues festival, featuring headliner Joanna Connor :


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.

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