Saturday, February 22, 2020

#433 : Ben Rice & RB Stone - Out of the Box




2020 – Middle Mountain Music
Release Date : March 6, 2020

By Phillip Smith; Feb. 22, 2020


Out of the Box, a cigar box guitar project by Ben Rice and RB Stone caught my attention in a magnificent way.  Rice and Stone have written eleven original blues tracks which they perform using an assortment of cigar box guitars comprised of 6 and 4 string Washboards, Swampeast Cigar Box, and a Lobo Cigar Box.  Backing Rice and Stone on this self-produced project is drummer Dave Melyan, bassist Joseph Barton and Jimi Bott on tambourine.  Bott, the award-winning blues drummer who has played with the Fabulous Thunderbirds, and The Proven Ones, also recorded and mixed the record.

The guys bust out in full rockabilly style on “Hot Rod Mama”, both tearing it up on 6-string Washboards.  The slide sounds terrific, and their vocals are dynamic.  Melvan’s back-beat and Rice’s mesmerizing riff instills a relaxed North Mississippi vibe to “Easy Rollin’ Down the Road”.   Stone breaks out his harmonica on the delightfully cool retro track “Hoodoo Workin’ Overtime”.  There’s a bit of a Howlin’ Wolf essence about this one that I adore.  “Swamp East Boogie” puts a smile on my face with every listen as Stone lets loose on his SwampEast CBG.  The Southeast Missouri area they sing about is very familiar to me.   “Bad Blood on Mean Whiskey” has a menacing ambiance and a badass attitude that is irresistible.      

The grand finale of this splendid album is a song called “Lobo Jam”.  This four and a half minute instrumental jam consists of an edgy driving rhythm and lots of smoking slide guitar.  I absolutely love it.  This album is a must for blues and cigar box guitar fans.      

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For more information about these artists, visit their websites:  https://rbstone.com and https://www.benricelive.com/

Saturday, February 15, 2020

#432 : Lauren Anderson - Won't Stay Down



2019 – Lauren Anderson Music

By Phillip Smith; Feb. 15, 2020


Won’t Stay Down, the latest release from Lauren Anderson is a powerful five-track, all-original EP, which wonderfully showcases her soulful vocals and gifted song-writing chops.  Anderson’s genre-bending blueprint here is a sweet blend of country, soul, rock, and blues.  Providing the instrumentation behind her knock-out voice, is an amazing group of musicians consisting of guitarist Jimi Greene, bassist Hutch, drummer John Rodrigue, and William Adkins on keys.

Anderson beautifully sings breakup song, “Too Little, Too Late” with a delicate finesse.  Dripping with emotion, the song features a wonderful organ accompaniment from Adkins.  It’s such a lovely song.  Hutch and Rodrigue create a cool infectious groove to run through the center of “Won’t Stay Down”.  It takes a hold of me fast.  Emmanuel Echem and Kiran Gupta add a smooth extra layer to “Cake”, a funky jazz number with an Amy Winehouse vibe.  This one is my absolute favorite.  Anderson continues to captivate me with “Wild and Free”.  With Greene ripping it up on guitar and Adkins hammering the keys, it’s one hell of a rockin’ jam to close this record out with.  

Anderson definitely packs a lot of punch into this recording.  Won’t Stay Down is definitely a ‘keeper’.


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For more information about the artist, visit this website: https://www.laurenandersonmusic.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, February 8, 2020

#431 : Sister Lucille - Alive



2019 – Endless Blues Records
By Phillip Smith; Feb. 8, 2020

Hot and seductive vocals from Kim Dill coupled with gobs of dynamic guitar from her husband Jamie Holdren fuel Alive, the debut album from Springfield, Missouri’s Sister Lucille.  They sound great together as their voices blend in southern-style harmony.   The other half of the band is comprised of a fantastic rhythm section featuring drummer Kevin Lyons, and bassist Eric Guinn.  Alive, produced by Holdren, and mixed by Grammy Award winner Jim Scott who produced Tedeschi TrucksRevelator album, makes for one hell of a bluesy listen.   

Holdren pours out a cool funky groove on “Won’t Give It” as the soulful keys from Chris Stephenson on a Hammond B, join with attacks of brass from saxophonist Peter Climie, trumpeter Jared Dover , and trombonist Andrew Earle.  It sounds great.  I love the swampy, delta blues style slide Holdren dishes out on “See My Baby”.  For a nice big helping of blues at its authentic best, “Respect Your Woman” features Eric Hughes, a Memphis blues artist who I hold high regard for, making a guest appearance on harmonica.  It’s always a delight to hear him play.  

I adore the Stax vibe hanging out in “Wanna Love You”.   Dill sings this infectious tune with sexy persuasion as Holdren absolutely rips it up on guitar.  The Stax vibe keeps trucking on as they cover “99 Pounds”, a song written by Don Bryant, and originally recorded by his wife Ann Peebles.  This one is a big-time favorite indeed and it’s songs like this which I fall head over heels for.  Etta James’ “W.O.M.A.N”, the other cover song on this record is a splendid showcase for Dill as she pours everything into her performance of this wonderful classic. 

Sister Lucille serves up a marvelous mix of blues, rock, and soul with Alive.  I certainly hope we hear more from them in the near future. 
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For more information about the artist, visit this website: www.sisterlucilleband.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, February 1, 2020

#430 : Griff Hamlin and the Single Barrel Blues Band - I'll Drink to That



2019 – Griff Hamlin

By Phillip Smith; Feb. 1, 2020

I’ll Drink to That, the debut album from Griff Hamlin and the Single Barrel Blues Band is absolutely terrific.  Hamlin, known to many through his Blues Guitar Unleashed instructional website, has built an outstanding band to back him on this new release.  A smokin’ guitar and smooth vocals puts him front and center with a remarkable rhythm section comprised of keyboardist Ty Bailie, bassist Mark Smith, and drummer Chris Atchley.  The Single Barrel Blues Band also contains a splendid horn section made up of Jonathan Bradley on trumpet, Eric Letta on alto/tenor sax, Kevin Hicks on trombone, and Laura Hamlin on baritone sax.  This release is composed of ten tremendous blues tracks which are sure to keep the record on heavy-rotation.

I love the opener “Almost Level with the Ground”.  It has an instant familiarity and reminds me of what I admired about the music of Stevie Ray Vaughan.  Hamlin’s vocals are fearless, and his guitar is flawless.  Smith and Atchley steer the bus with astonishing precision as the backing horns and keys give the song body and soul.  “Don’t Lie”, another go-to song for me, is another fine example of Hamlin’s exquisite mastery of the blues.  This song fabulously highlights his sensational shredding skills.      

“Someone” is slow and beautifully captivating.  Bailie plays this one with a soulful finesse and the horns effortlessly blend right in, making it a pure joy to listen to.  I yearn for another trip to the ‘Big Easy’ when I hear “Louisiana Holiday”.  It’s funky, fun, and best served with an ice-cold Abita beer.  Hamlin’s expertise when it comes to writing authentic blues songs, is rightfully exhibited on “Bourbon and a Pistol”.  It’s a very cool song to close the album with.

Griff Hamlin and the Single Barrel Blues Band is a band on top of their game.  I really appreciate what they are doing with the Blues, and immensely enjoyed this album.

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For more information about the artist, visit the website : griffhamlin.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.