Saturday, May 30, 2020

#447 : Shawn Pittman - Make it Right!



2020 – Continental Blue Heaven

By Phillip Smith; May 30, 2020


Shawn Pittman has toured with Susan Tedeschi, recorded with Double Trouble, been in a band with former members of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, and played with Hubert SumlinJames Cotton, and Pinetop Perkins.  That’s quite the amazing resume, and it’s no surprise his thirteenth release Make it Right!, hooked me from the git-go.  Pittman’s guitar performances are amazing, and he sounds so damn good as he maneuvers from crisp and twangy, to dirty and swampy.  This is the kind of guitar-centric blues I enjoy most.  Pittman, on guitar and vocals, is joined by bassist Erkan Özdemir and drummer Levent Özdemir for the making of this splendid twelve track album.    

The delectable slow droning riff on “Done Tole You So” called out to me like a R.L. Burnside song.  It embraces that North Mississippi Hill country sound, and I love every bit of it.  A spectacularly funky cover of Albert King’s “Finger on the Trigger” follows.  Its groove, surrounded in a Hendrix-inspired cloak of psychedelia, is warm and inviting.  A pulsing breakneck beat courtesy of Levent is the only source for rhythm on title track, “Make it Right”.  Pittman’s guitar performance is scorching.  His rendition of Junior Kimbrough’s “I Feel Good” puts me in my happy place, as the juke joint experience is wonderfully recreated. The blues is played nice and slow on Pittman’s original “How Long”, as each note seems to hover in the air.  I embrace their instrumental take of James Brown’s “Cold Sweat”.  It’s one my top favorites.    

Make it Right is one killer record.  This is definitely one album you want to pick up.        


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For more information about the artist, visit this website :  shawnpittman.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, May 23, 2020

#446 : Tony Holiday - Soul Service



2020 – Vizztone  

By Phillip Smith; May 23, 2020

Striking while the iron is still hot from his acclaimed Porch Sessions album released last summer, Memphis musician Tony Holiday has forged a new killer record called Soul Service.  Produced by Ori Naftaly of Southern Avenue, and recorded at the famed Zebra Ranch studio in North Mississippi, Soul Service has a sort of Memphis-meets-Bakersfield sound.  Behind the microphone and with harp in hand, Holiday is joined by Landon Stone on guitar, Max Kaplan on bass, and Danny Banks (John Nemeth band) on drums.  Special guests include Victor Wainwright on keys, and Naftaly on guitar. 

The funky guitar riff on “Paying Rent on a Broken Home” quickly sinks its hooks into me.  Along with Holiday’s smokin’ harp, it makes for a whopping serving of soulful blues.   “Good Advice” is fabulously nostalgic, as it reflects of a time when the division between country and rock were more blurred.  Holiday absolutely swings with “Checkers on the Chessboard”.  He plays this brilliantly.  I love the dreamy melody on the slow-cooked break-up song, “It’s Gonna Take Some Time”.  Wainwright’s accompaniment sounds so good.  Holiday’s performance on “The Hustle” is attention-grabbing, with his dynamic lyrical cadence and infectious groove.   

Holiday’s blend of blues, country, rock and soul is seamlessly stitched into this absolute gem of a record.  Soul Service is definitely recommended. 

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For more information about the artist, visit this website..  https://tonyholidaymusic.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, May 16, 2020

#445 : Albert Castiglia - Wild and Free



2020 – Gulf Coast Records 

By Phillip Smith; May 16, 2020

Albert Castiglia’s prowess as a guitarist never ceases to amaze me.  He is one of my go-to artists when I really want to hear my blues sizzle.  His latest album Wild and Free definitely cooks.  Produced by Mike Zito and recorded live on January 3rd and 4th, 2020 at the Funky Biscuit in Boca Raton, Florida, this recording features guests John Ginty, and Lewis Stephens with Zito himself making an appearance.  Castiglia’s rhythm section is comprised of bassist Justine Tompkins, and drummer Ephraim Lowell.  They sound great, and they’re tight as hell.    

Castiglia kickstarts the album with a furious, intense rush by leading off with “Let the Big Dog Eat”.  Stephens adds a delightful taste of soul on B3, while the others keep it funky.  The momentum continues to build with “Hoodoo on Me”.  Castiglia’s fearless, blues-soaked vocals are perfectly fit for his attention-grabbing guitar licks.  Then “Heavy” gently rolls in on this big mellow wave.  This beautifully written and executed song about life itself is one of my absolute favorites.  I also adore their eight and half minute colossal jam on Paul Butterfield’s “Lovin’ Cup” with Ginty on B3.  I can’t help but smile when Castiglia and the guys dive in to Johnny Winter’s “Too Much Seconal” with both Ginty and Zito stepping in for some old school blues.  This is what it’s all about.  “Boogie Funk”, another bodacious eight and half minute jam, brings things to a lively close with a riveting performance and plenty of searing guitar action. 

To fill the void in these times in which live music is not available, Albert Castiglia’s Wild and Free is exactly what I need to hear.              
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For more information about the artist, visit this website.. www.albertcastiglia.net



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, May 9, 2020

#444 : Eliza Neals - Black Crow Moan


2020 – E-H Records

By Phillip Smith; May 9, 2020

I got hooked on the music of Eliza Neals when I reviewed 10,000 Feet Below in 2017.  Last summer, I was gob smacked by her album Sweet or Mean, and had the pleasure of seeing her perform at the Prairie Dog Blues Festival in Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin.  It was great to hear her stellar vocals belting out song after song, backed by her high energy band.

On Black Crow Moan her latest release, Neals draws me in from the get-go on “Don’t Judge the Blues”.  The slide guitar from Mike Puwal fills it with swampy goodness.   Slathered in hot buttery soul "The Devil Don't Love You", features the great Joe Louis Walker.  He keeps it funky on guitar as Neals takes me to church on keys.  Walker also delightfully appears on title track "Black Crow Moan".  The call and response vocals are emotionally-charged as the notes from Walker’s guitar weightlessly drift skyward.  This dark masterpiece, covered in ominous overtones, oozes with authenticity.  “Never Stray” is another amazing song.  It is shrouded in a beautiful intensity and features guitarist Derek St. Holmes (Ted Nugent) bassist Jason Kott, and drummer Jeffrey ‘Shakey’ Fowlkes (Too Slim).  St. Holmes also brings a bowlful of slow-cooked blues and searing guitar to Neal’s cover of Big Mama Thornton's "Ball and Chain".  Eliza sings this with fearless abandon as Shakey builds a wall of thunder on drums.  It’s an absolutely wonderful experience to hear.

When it comes to my list of favorite blues-rockers, Eliza Neals remains among the top. As long as the badassery within her keeps forging great records such as Black Crow Moan, I’ll be there to hear them.  

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For more information about the artist, visit this website : http://elizaneals.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, May 2, 2020

#443 : Tyler Morris - Living in the Shadows


2020 – Vizztone

By Phillip Smith; May 2, 2020

I’ve been a fan of Tyler Morris since reviewing his 2018 album Next in Line.   He continues to push the envelope when it comes to mastery of guitar, and his latest release Living in the Shadows is testament to that fact.  Backing Morris on this album is bassist Terry Dry, drummer Matthew Robert Johnson, and Lewis Stephens on Hammond B3 and Wurlitzer piano.  Produced by Mike Zito, this fourth release from Morris also features a remarkable guest list comprised of Ronnie Earl, Joe Louis Walker, and Amanda Fish.  

Morris pours out some magnificent blues with a terrific cover of Don Nix’s “Everybody Wants to go to Heaven”.  Zito and Walker both take the mike on “Polk Salad Annie” while Stephens lays down the rich sounds of B3.  Morris absolutely sizzles on guitar.  The notes weightlessly float through the air with “Temptation”, a beautifully executed original.  Amanda Fish, whose music I adore, is guest singer on “Better Than You”.  This riveting Suzi Quatro-esque blues-rocker was penned by Zito and co-founder of Gulf Coast Records, Guy Hale.   With “Young Man Blues”, Morris pays homage to the artists and musicians who gave him inspiration over the years.  Ronnie Earl provides additional guitar on the song, and it sounds great.  Morris infuses a tremendously infectious riff fortified with stellar licks on “Taken From Me”.  This one has a way of coaxing me to turn the volume up.  The record ends with the heavy, rocking blues of “I’m on to You”, another smokin’ original.  Hearing him rip it up on guitar is a sheer delight.

Living in the Shadows is a rock-solid album loaded with blazing guitar performances.  Morris’ playing is downright amazing. Thanks to younger blues artists like him, the Blues will be around for quite a while longer.


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For more information about the artist, visit this website :  http://www.tylerdmorris.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.