Saturday, May 28, 2022

#556 > The Groove Krewe featuring Nick Daniels III - Run to Daylight (


2022 – Sound Business Services

By Phillip Smith; May 28, 2022

Original source :


Spearheaded by songwriter/musician/producers Rex Pearce and Dale Murray from Southern Louisiana, The Groove Krewe is a group of handpicked studio musicians selected to back featured artist Nick Daniels III (Neville Brothers, Dumpstaphunk).  This this funky New Orleans-style party record called Run to Daylight features Daniels on bass guitar and lead vocals, with the core of The Groove Krewe consisting of drummer Eddie Bayers, bassist David Hyde, guitarists Rex Pearce and Nelson Blanchard, and horn players Jason Parfait, Ian Smith, Pete Verbois, Chris Belleau, Lacy Blackledge, and Bob Henderson.  This ten-track album is packed with all original songs crediting at least one of the two producers Pearce and Murray with writing credits on every song.  

The Groove Krewe kicks things off in a delightfully funky way with title-track “Run to Daylight”.  The large band sounds lively and festive.  “That’s New Orleans” keeps the good times going in ‘Who-Dat’ fashion with shoutouts to Bourbon Street, Preservation Hall, and beignets.  There’s no doubt this is going to be a go-to album to spin this summer as the Krewe breaks into a chic Seventies-style disco groove on “Have a Party”.  It’s absolutely fabulous.  I love the album closer “Raising Cane on the Bayou”.  It hits the ground running in a surge of high-energy blues splashed with a bit of grease and topped with horns.  The Stax-meets-Muscle Shoals vibe on this one positively glistens. 

Run to Daylight is a feel-good album with puts me in a happy mood.  This is just what I needed to hear. 




This terrific album is available in the PhillyCheeze Amazon Store. 

*As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

#555 > Ryan Lee Crosby - Winter Hill Blues (


2022 – Ryan Lee Crosby

By Phillip Smith; May 21, 2022

Original source :


It was two years ago I first heard Ryan Lee Crosby play at the virtual Juke Joint Fest in Clarksdale, Mississippi.  The annual event was thrown for a spin in 2020 due to Covid 19, so organizers cleverly decided to take the festival online in a virtual sense with free live Facebook streams, and app-driven tip jars.  That was my first time to experience Juke Joint Fest in any capacity, and I was totally captivated.  Crosby’s performance bowled me over with his unique way of playing and his pure blues authenticity.

Produced by the legendary Bruce Watson (R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, Robert Belfour), and dedicated to his mentor, the great Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, Winter Hill Blues is a sensational nine-track album of deep-delta acoustic guitar blues.  Eight of those nine tracks are wonderfully-timeless originals penned by Crosby.  Backing Crosby is drummer/percussionist George Sluppick (JJ Grey & Mofro, Chris Robinson), and bassist Mark Edgar Stuart.   

From the beginning notes of “I’m Leaving”, I’m onboard.  I love how Sluppick’s freight-train beat kicks in and Stuart’s bass notes penetrate right to the bone.  Crosby impressively woos me on guitar, declaring “Well I’m gonna leave ya child, I’m gonna leave when the morning comes”.  His genteel delivery of title-track “Winter Hill Blues” is beautifully executed.  There’s a definite Skip James energy surrounding this one, and it sounds wonderful.  The swirling hypnotic rhythm on “Down So Long” pert near puts me in a North Mississippi trance, and I enjoy it immensely.   Continuing along Bentonia blues tradition with songs about the devil, Crosby’s “Was it the Devil” is a poignant and reflective song about his mother’s passing.  Here he sings “It was the devil who made her do that thing, but it was the lord who gave her angel’s wings”.  He takes a hard look at the institutions we are most familiar with in his hard-driving blues anthem “Institution Blues”, and finds a hidden purpose of systematic control when he takes a peek behind the curtains.  The song could’ve been written at anytime within the past hundred years, but its words are ageless.  The album closes with a robust cover of Rev. Robert Wilkins’ “Wish I Was in Heaven Sitting Down”.  The slide guitar on this track is absolutely fabulous.

Winter Hill Blues is a wonderful album of traditional blues and it deserves all the future accolades it will receive.        




For more information about Ryan Lee Crosby, visit this website :




Ryan Lee Crosby on Bandcamp

Saturday, May 14, 2022 #554 > Diunna Greenleaf - I Ain't Playin'


2022 – Little Village

By Phillip Smith; May 14, 2022

Original source :


I Ain’t Playin’, the latest release from Texas blues artist Diunna Greenleaf is a must-hear.  This three-time Blues Music Award winner, dishes out thirteen wonderful tracks, incorporating blues, soul, funk, and southern gospel.  Her amazing vocals are backed by a stellar lineup of musicians which include producer Kid Andersen on guitar, Jerry Jemmott on bass, Jim Pugh on keys, and Derrick “D’mar’ Martin on drums.

The album busts loose on a strong Stax-influenced start with “Never Trust a Man”.  A funky bassline, groovy beat, and stellar horn section provide the perfect pocket for Greenleaf’s fiery voice.  Steeped in seventies soul, “Running Like the Red Cross” gets down as Pugh deals out a generous dose of swirling keys to accompany the song’s lush melody.  “If it Wasn’t for the Blues” is delightfully funky in an Isaac Hayes kind of way.  With guest Igor Prado on lead guitar, this is the song I can listen to many times over and enjoy it each and every time.  All it takes is five seconds for Jemmott’s infectious bassline riff on “Answer to the Hard Working Woman” to reel me in for an invigorating musical explosion.  I love how Martin’s precision beat, Greenleaf’s vocals, and those fabulous horns get increasingly thicker until the final note.  The blues sounds so good when Diunna sings “Damned if I Do”, and with accompaniment by Andersen, she sounds even sweeter. 

Ain’t Playin’ is such a dynamic album.  Everything about it works and it sounds amazing.  


*  I * I finally had the pleasure of seeing Kid Andersen play a couple of weeks ago in Memphis.  He was playing guitar for Elvin Bishop at the Memphis in May Beale Street Music Festival.  It was indeed a thrill to watch them perform together.









For more information about Diunna Greenleaf, visit this website :



This terrific album is available in the PhillyCheeze Amazon Store. 

*As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Sunday, May 8, 2022 #553 > Vaneese Thomas - Fight the Good Fight

2022 – Blue Heart Records

By Phillip Smith; May 8, 2022

Original source :


There was a definite magic in the air when Vaneese Thomas recorded Fight the Good Fight at the famed Royal Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, a place once home to Hi Records and the Hi Rhythm Section.  The album represents all which I love about Memphis music: the soulful melodies, the funky intoxicating rhythms, the horns, the blues-soaked guitars, and the swampy country detours.  It’s no secret, music runs deep in Thomas’ family, often referred to as Memphis’ “First Family of Soul”.  Her father being the legendary Rufus Thomas, her sister, the “Memphis Queen” Carla Thomas, and her brother the notable keyboardist Marvell Thomas.   Fight the Good Fight features a dozen all-original tracks, and according to Vaneese, “I feel like it’s some of the best writing that I’ve ever done”. 

With a blast of horns nestled in a bed of sweet southern soul, “Raise the Alarm” opens the album as a wake-up call to a crisis looming over the horizon.  Thomas’s riveting vocals shine on “Rosalee”.  Standout banjo accompaniment from Peter Calo and slide guitar from Tash Neal pull this wonderful song into a bluegrass setting.  There’s a very cool Steely Dan vibe on the piano-driven “I’m Moving On” as it fuses several genres together.  I love how Scott Sharrard absolutely tears it up on slide.  I’m totally captivated with each listen of “’Til I See You Again”.  This lush, outstanding song is filled to the brim with soul and beautifully performed.  Thomas lets loose on country-rocker “He’s a Winner”.  Peppered with harmonica from Corrin Huddleston, this track is a sweet and fun shoutout to her life partner Wayne Warnecke who co-produced the album with Thomas.  Violinist Katie Jacoby makes a guest appearance on “Fight the Good Fight” infusing a more Nashville-leaning sound to this title-track with a message of hope and encouragement.

Thomas’ Fight the Good Fight is a thought-provoking and refreshing listen.  I enjoyed it through and through.           




For more information about Vaneese Thomas, visit this website :



Vaneese Thomas - "Same Blood Same Bone" {Official Music Video}


This terrific album is available in the PhillyCheeze Amazon Store. 

*As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.