Saturday, November 20, 2021

#529 : Cole Allen - The Other Side


2021 – Cole Allen

By Phillip Smith; Nov. 20, 2021

Minnesota-based music artist Cole Allen first appeared on my radar while I was in the midst of reviewing the album Live My Life by his wife Sena Ehrhardt.  Allen was lead guitarist for the band, and that album, which was released on Blind Pig Records made a terrific impression on me.  His new six-track release The Other Side is quite impressive as well.  His talents shine brightly on this recording as he performs solo with acoustic guitar in hand.

Divided into two parts: sunset, and sunrise, this album begins on the darker sunset side, with title track “The Other Side”.  There’s a strong Pearl Jam-unplugged vibe on this song, which I just love.  Allen’s lyrical mastery is perfectly framed by his melancholy melody in “Black Cloud” a song where desperation seems to be the norm, and total hopelessness seems to be right around the corner.  As the darkness fades away, and the light creeps in, a splendid cover of “Maybe it’s Time” by Jason Isbell opens the sunrise portion of the album in a thought-provoking fashion.  Allen’s odyssey through the dark and into the light finally lands him on the ‘other side’ with “Noelle”.  This beautiful song, dedicated to his daughter, is wrapped in a blanket of love and joy. 

The Other Side is such a reflective piece.  Allen wears his heart on his sleeve throughout the whole album.  His original songs are amazingly crafted and seem to walk the line between Eddie Vedder and John Prine.  I certainly hope to hear more of Cole Allen in the future.      


 Links to additional PhillyCheeze reviews featuring Cole Allen:

PhillyCheeze's Rock & Blues Reviews: Sena Ehrhardt live at Campbell Steele Gallery - Feb. 11, 2017 (


PhillyCheeze's Rock & Blues Reviews: Sena Ehrhardt - Live My Life (


For more information about the artist, visit this website :


You can 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, November 13, 2021

#528 : Dave Specter - Six String Soul : 30 Years on Delmark


2021 – Delmark Records

by Phillip Smith; Nov. 13, 2021


Dave Specter has appeared on over fifty albums and DVDs either as guitarist, bandleader, or producer, and was inducted into the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame in 2018.  For an artist to have a three-decade-long career on one label is indeed a rarity.  Specter’s latest release celebrates that exact accomplishment with Six String Soul: 30 Years on Delmark.  This fabulous two-disc set covers his amazing career with 28 magnificent tracks representing fourteen albums.   The list of legendary blues artists appearing on this compilation album is a dazzling one to say the least.  It includes Barkin’ Bill Smith, Ronnie Earl, Jesse Fortune, Tad Robinson, Sharon Lewis, Barrelhouse Chuck, Floyd McDaniel, Lurrie Bell, Jimmy Johnson, Otis Clay, Brother John Kattke, and Jorma Kaukonen (Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna).

“Wind Chill”, from the album Bluebird Blues he recorded with Barkin’ Bill Smith, and Ronnie Earl is a delectable jazz instrumental complete with a smooth walking bassline and coupled with organ, and horns.  Specter’s guitar performance is superb.  From the same album, a sweet cover of T-Bone Walker’s “Railroad Station Blues” immediately follows.  Barkin’ Bill takes on the lead vocals as Specter and Earl join on guitar.  From the album Kiss of Sweet Blues by Lurrie Bell with Dave Specter and the Bluebirds, “You’re Gonna Be Sorry” is an exquisite blast of Chicago Blues, with Bell on vocals and guitar.  A track that absolutely cooks is “Can’t Stay Here No More” off Wild Cards with Tad Robinson’s soulful vocals riding a wave of Stax-inspired rhythm, complete with hornsI absolutely love this one.  W.C. Handy’s “St Louis Blues” from Floyd McDaniel’s West Side Baby album totally captivated me.  This is one of the first songs I learned how to play on organ back in the Seventies, and it will always be a special song to me.  Specter teams up with Otis Clay for a ripping good time in “Chicago Style”.  This homage to the Windy City and the blues artists who make their mark there is a swinging one.  Jorma Kaukonen and Brother John Kattke collaborate wonderfully with Specter on the album Blues From the Inside Out.  “The Blues Ain’t Nothin’”, a song from that album and co-written by Kaukonen and Specter is a wonderful jam loaded with smoldering riffs, and hot licks.

Six String Soul closes with Specter’s brand new single “The Ballad of George Floyd” which he recorded with Billy Branch.  Showcased now at the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa as part of the Songs of Conscience, Sounds of Freedom exhibit, the song’s hand-written lyrics are on display among Woody Guthrie’s tenor banjo, Steven Van Zandt’s guitar used for the “Sun City” recording, and Pete Seeger’s five-string banjo.

Six String Songs : 30 Years on Delmark is definitely an album blues fans will want to give a listen to.  This thirty year journey of Dave Specters musical career is highly recommended.




 For more information about the artist, visit this website :


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, November 6, 2021

#527 : Joseph Veloz Presents - Joseph and the Velozians


2021 – Joseph Veloz/Big O Records 

By Phillip Smith; Nov. 6, 2021


Four years have passed since Veloz’s last release Offerings made it across my desk for review.   That was quite an impressive album.  His brand-new record Joseph and the Velozians again captures my full attention with his delightful originals and covers.  With Veloz laying down the funkiest of rhythms on bass and Funk-wah guitar, keyboardist Jim Alfredson and drummer/percussionist Donny Brown hold down the fort for the other thirteen musicians appearing in varied combinations. 

Slathered in a slow buttery groove, “Pretty is as Pretty Does” opens the album with guest Larry McCray behind the mic with his soulful vocals.  I love it when he rips it up on guitar during the bridge.  The party train continues to barrel down the line as Thornetta Davis sings Muddy Waters’ “I Got My Mojo Working”.  Carlton Washington is a beast on guitar as is Jim Alfredson on keys.  This is hands-down one of the best contemporary covers I have ever heard of this classic blues track.  Davis also delivers a velvety and soulful performance on the 2006 Gnarls Barkley hit song “Crazy”.  Veloz takes Bobby Caldwell’s “What You Won’t Do For Love” and breathes new life into the song as a funktified instrumental with a George Clinton flair.  The laid-back groove makes for a very chill listening experience. 

Joseph and the Velozians is an incredible and inspirational release.  R&B fans and funk aficionados are going to love this record.                



PhillyCheeze Review for Joseph Veloz – Offerings :


PhillyCheeze Review for Thornetta Davis – Honest Woman:



For more information about the artist, visit this website :




Click on the link below to purchase this terrific album from the PhillyCheeze Amazon Store.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.