Saturday, May 22, 2021

#501 : The Bogart Jones Band - Beneath the Scars

2021 – Bogart Jones Band

Release Date : March 21,2021

By Phillip Smith; May, 22, 2021


Hailing from the heartland of Illinois, in Canton, The Bogart Jones Band has managed to sweep me off my feet with their new album, Beneath the Scars.  This second full-length release for the six-piece band, is rich in melody and lyrically masterful.  Basking in that sweet-spot between funky jam bands and southern rock, their all-original music is a patchwork of rock, jazz, blues, country, and soul.  It fits in very well alongside that of The Allman Brothers and Widespread Panic.  The Bogart Jones Band is comprised of Wes Simmons (lead vocals and bass), Ryan Rose and Don Mabus (guitars and vocals), Tim Fiers (drums), Curt Caudill (keyboards and vocals), and Ty Bailey (percussion).

A driving riff and funky beat roll out the red carpet for the riveting coming of age song “Tainted Youth” to get the album going.  I love the big sound, the hot guitar licks, and the wave of hold-steady chords off the organ.  Maintaining the high level of energy which they began with, they keep pushing forward in a huge Allman Brothers’ take-no-prisoner way on “The Word” in which the message is love.  A slow intoxicating groove, and Simmons’ deep slightly raspy vocals puts “Someone to Love” at the top of the list of favorites.  “Dear John” a touching, melancholy, and beautifully melodic farewell letter is another standout performance.  The pace is a fast and funky one on “It’ll Do” with Candill invoking a fascinating Zappa-esque energy into his solo.  The album closes in a full-fledged country-funk fashion on “Life’s a Bitch” filled with a ferocious beat, searing electric guitars, hot bassline, and barrelhouse piano.  It’s bodacious and sounds great.

I’m definitely keeping my eyes peeled for upcoming releases from The Bogart Jones Band.  These guys are terrific!          



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Saturday, May 15, 2021

#500 : Howard Grimes with Preston Lauterbach - Timekeeper My Life in Rhythm


2021 – Devault Graves Books

Release Date : July 1, 2021

By Phillip Smith; May 15, 2021


I’ve been a huge Stax Records fan for a very long time, and I absolutely love the southern soul music which poured out of Memphis in the Sixties and Seventies.  The grooves were buttery and always inviting.  Howard Grimes, the man who created the beats upon which the Memphis sound was built, tells his story of navigating the Memphis music scene from behind the drums of the prestigious Hi Records Rhythm Section.  Written with Preston Lauterbach, who also co-wrote the recent book from Annye C. Anderson Brother Robert – Growing Up With Robert Johnson, Timekeeper makes for a most intriguing read.    

A key connection was made when Grimes, never knowing his real father, found guidance and a mentorship from Emerson Able, the Manassas High School band director who referred to the youth as a human metronome.  The world Grimes paints of his growing up in Memphis in the Forties and Fifties, is a dicey, exciting, and sometimes terrifying one filled with neighborhood juke joints, barber shops, cafes, and pool halls.  That being said, Grimes was almost always able to steer his way out of trouble, and focus on his love of playing drums. 

Grimes’ stories of starting out are so captivating, and his brushes with fame are countless.  While still in high school, he was already going on road gigs with Rufus Thomas and his crew.  The whole band, plus Ma Rainey would all be packed in a ’59 four-door Chevy with all the instruments in the trunk, and the stand-up bass fiddle running through the middle of the car from the front windshield to the rear window.  Willie Mitchell and the Hodges brothers who made up the rest of the Hi Rhythm Section are all continually mentioned throughout the book, showing just how intertwined their lives were, through the good times and the bad.  It was while traveling through Texas with Mitchell when Al Green was discovered and signed to Hi RecordsMitchell produced Green’s record, with Grimes and the Hodge boys providing the backing.  That record became a hit, and Al Green became household name after that.     

Besides recording with top artists such as Rufus Thomas, Isaac Hayes, Al Green, Ann Peebles, Willie Mitchell, Otis Clay, O.V. Wright, and Steve Cropper, he’s backed legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson as well.  His encounters with each are  discussed.  It’s these stories which really draw me in.

Grimes also goes into deep details regarding his home-life, documenting the rocky relationship he had with his wife, and the fight that left him in the hospital with a knife wound.  Several of his friends were going through that same kind of turmoil, and he talks about how that affected things in the studio as well.  He does not sugar-coat his feelings or mince his words when it comes to telling it like it is or how it was.  His faith in God though kept him going when the going was tough.

In the end, I found it endearing that Grimes has continued to maintain contact with Able, the bandleader from high school throughout the years.  Timekeeper is a book that is hard to put down.  I already want to read it again.





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Saturday, May 8, 2021

#499 : Bob Corritore & Friends - Spider in My Stew


2021 – Vizztone

Release Date : May 14, 2021

By Phillip Smith; May 08, 2021


Taking into consideration all his own records in addition to all the others he’s played on, Bob Corritore has appeared on over a hundred albums in his career.  In that time, he’s acquired a hell of a lot of friends.  Thirty-eight of them appear on his new fourteen-track disc Spider in My Stew, making for one of the hottest straight-up blues albums this year.

The fabulous voice of Oscar Wilson (Cash Box Kings) takes command as he joins Tony Tomlinson (guitar), Patrick Skog (bass), and Alan West (drums) of the Fremonts to kick the album off with a swanky cover of Fenton Robinson’s 1957 single “Tennessee Woman”.   Shea Marshall’s contributions on piano and sax gives it the perfect finishing touch.  Sugarray Rayford, one of my favorite singers these past few years, belts out one of his own songs “Big Mama’s Soul Food, joined by Kid Ramos and Johnny Main on guitar.  This one has me jonesing for a meal at Miss Polly’s on Beale Street in Memphis.  The great Johnny Rawls lends himself and a song as well.  “Sleeping With the Blues” is smothered in his trademark style of soulful blues.  Bob Welsh on piano and John Primer on guitar and vocals rip it up on a splendid cover of the J.B. Lenoir song, “Mama Talk to Your Daughter”.  With Alabama Mike taking the mic, and Junior Watson (the Mighty Flyers, Canned Heat) on guitar, “Look Out” absolutely cooks.  I dig the groove.  The rhythm really takes a hold on this one.

I love the Willie Dixon tribute which packs three of his songs right in a row.  “Don’t Mess With the Messer” gets this batch started with Diunna Greenleaf on vocals and Jimi ‘Primetime’ Smith on guitar.  That is followed by title-track “Spider in My Stew” which hosts a dynamic duo of Lurrie Bell and Bob Margolin.  Corritore pours his soul into the song, as Bell and Margolin duke it out on guitar.  Bell takes the mic on this one, and it sounds great.  The Willie Dixon three-fer concludes with a rollicking standout recording of “Wang Dang Doodle” with Bill ‘Howl-N-MAdd’ Perry and his daughter Shy Perry.    

Blues fans will surely want to pick up this all-star blues record.  It’s fantastic!       



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Saturday, May 1, 2021

#498 : Joecephus and the George Jonestown Massacre - Heirs of the Dog : A Tribute to Nazareth

2021 – Saustex Records

By Phillip Smith; May 1, 2021

Memphis musician Joey Killingsworth and his band, The George Jonestown Massacre have returned to the studio once again to record a tribute album for charitable reasons.  The most recent was their Mutants of the Monster album honoring Black Oak Arkansas, which featured BOA founding members Jim Dandy and Rick Reynolds.  This time around, they’re paying homage to Nazareth, whose Hair of the Dog album still sits among the top of my favorite albums.  Killingsworth, aka Joecephus and the GJM bring their A-game as well as a fistful of notable guests to recreate the Hair of the Dog in its entirety, in an outlaw country punk fashion, and it sounds great.  Guests include Blaine Cartwright and Ruyter Suys (Nashville Pussy), Greg Martin (Kentucky Headhunters), Eddie Spaghetti (Supersuckers), Jason McMaster (Dangerous Toys, Igniter) and Manny Charlton (Nazareth, and producer of original album), JD Pinkus (Butthole Surfers), Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars), Neil Fallon (Clutch), and Harvey McLaughlin.

From the moment I heard the clang of the cowbells, on “Hair of the Dog”, I knew I was in for a treat.  With Blaine Cartwright involved on this one, the energy is kept at high voltage and segues brilliantly over to “Miss Misery” which is recorded with Greg Martin and Ruyter Suys.  It winds down with a delicious dose of feedback, making way for the iconic ballad “Love Hurts” which features both Eddie Spaghetti and Suys.  I love the inclusion of lap steel guitar on this one.  I never thought of the song as a country roadhouse slow-dancer, but it sounds amazingly good. Then “Changing Times” with Jason McMaster and Manny Charlton kicks in.  That riff takes ahold and digs tightly in, backed with a monster beat.  J.D. Pinkus and Luther Dickinson join the band for “Whiskey Drinkin’ Woman”.  Swampy and covered in kudzu, the song is an outstanding cover drenched in southern-rock.  About half the length of the original, “Please Don’t Judas Me” with Neil Fallon is a little less ethereal, and a little more ominous than the original.  Heavy bass, lingering guitar fuzz, small helpings of feedback, and a tambourine-fed pulse make for a cool-as-hell track.

From the viewpoint of a person who has owned the original Hair of the Dog album on vinyl for well over thirty-five years, Heirs of the Dog is an album I can enjoy as much as the original.  When it comes to making tribute albums, Killingsworth is a master.  This album stands entirely on its own, and is surely a record worth seeking out.   


 *      All JGJM profits from sales of this album and a portion of profits from sales from Saustex Records will be donated to FSHD Society for FSHD Muscular Dystrophy research in memory of the band’s friend Jonelle Spicer.


Track List


1. Hair of the Dog (feat. Blaine Cartwright)

2. Miss Misery (feat. Ruyter Suys, Greg Martin)

3. Love Hurts (feat. Eddie Spaghetti, Ruyter Suys)

4. Changin' Times (feat. Jason McMaster, Manny Charlton)

5. Beggar's Day 03:52

6. Whiskey Drinkin' Woman (feat. JD Pinkus, Luther Dickinson)

7. Please Don't Judas Me (feat. Neil Fallon)

8. Guilty (feat. Harvey McLaughlin)



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