Showing posts with label Blues Blog. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blues Blog. Show all posts

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, April 25, 2020

#442 : John Primer & Bob Corritore - The Gypsy Woman Told Me



2020 - Vizztone
By Phillip Smith; April 25, 2020

John Primer and Bob Corritore have teamed up once again to record yet another fabulously legitimate record of blues.  Primer instantly connects with his vocals, and enthralls me with his guitar phrasing.   He sounds so damn good as Corritore absolutely rips it up on harmonica.  Produced by Corritore, Clarke Rigsby and Kid Andersen, The Gypsy Woman Told Me also features Jimi “Primetime” Smith (guitar), Billy Flynn (guitar), Bob Welsh (piano), Kid Andersen (organ), Ben Levin (piano), Kedar Roy (bass), Mike Hightower (bass), Troy Sandow (bass), June Core (drums), and Brian Fahley (drums).  This twelve-track album contains ten deep covers and a pair of splendid Primer originals. 

Muddy Water’s “The Gypsy Woman Told Me” makes for a captivating listen as the title track.  With Welsh on piano, Roy on bass, and Core on drums, this one is slowly steeped in old-fashioned Chicago blues.  Corritore wonderfully takes on the legendary Helena, Arkansas harp player Sonny Boy Williamson II with “My Imagination”.  Primer’s guitar sizzles and Welsh holds nothing back on the ivories.  Dripping with emotion, their cover of Jimmy Rogers’ “Left Me with a Broken Heart” is exquisite.  With the driving rhythm of a rolling freight train, “Little Bitty Woman”, is a smashing song.  This Primer original features spirited vocals, tremendous harp topped with Welsh’s attention-grabbing barrelhouse piano.  Flynn, Hightower, and Fahey provide the backing for the guys as they close with “Ain’t Gonna Be No Cuttin’ Loose”, a James Cotton song from 1984.  Primer plays this with precision against Corritore’s textured and nuanced performance.

The musical chemistry between Primer and Corritore is incomparable as they continue to produce some of the best blues being produced these days.  An absolute must for the blues fan, The Gypsy Woman Told Me is a sheer delight.     

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For more information about the artists, visit their websites : www.johnprimerblues.combobcorritore.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.




Sunday, January 5, 2020

#426 : Kevin Burt Live at Checkers Tavern



Kevin Burt Live at Checkers Tavern
Cedar Rapids, IA


January 5, 2020
By Phillip Smith

It’s been around twenty years since I first witnessed Kevin Burt’s early appearances at Checkers Tavern.  He’s always been engaging, but this show seemed more special, as Kevin reminisced about playing this venue in his early days as a solo performer. After kicking his show off with “Wake Up Baby”, an original off his Heartland and Soul album, he fabulously played through a mix of covers and original songs.  Armed with guitar and harmonica, he covered selections such as Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower”, Junior Wells’ “Messing with the Kid”, Richie Havens’ “Freedom”, Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now”, and Buddy Guy’s “Feels Like Rain”.  He also played several of my favorite originals, such as “Your Smile”, and “Day Day”.  His performance was soulful and heartfelt, and his voice, as always, superb.  I enjoyed this one immensely. 


* photo by Phillip Smith

Saturday, December 28, 2019

#424 : Northern Social - (self-titled)



2019 – independent

By Phillip Smith; Dec. 28, 2019

Northern Social, a mesmerizing duo from Ontario, is comprised of guitarist/vocalist Dylan Wickens and drummer/percussionist Mike Rajna.  Their debut release is this wonderful five-track EP, saturated in blues.  Wickens, a two-time winner of the Toronto Blues Society New Talent Search, and nominee for The Maple Blues AwardsBest New Artist in 2005, has been steadily touring these past twenty-two years, with either his own band, or with his Hendrix Tribute.  

The high-octane blues-rocker “Waiting” fearlessly rips this package open with fiery hot licks and a driving beat.  I’m instantly drawn to the hypnotic rhythm Wickens lays out in their cover of Keb Mo’s “Am I Wrong”.  It settles nicely in the pocket while his smooth and heavy vocals take charge.  “King of Hearts” is another one I can just get lost in.  There’s a bit of that North Mississippi moonshine poured on this one.  It’s fabulously dirty.  “Dead Neighbor Blues” is work of genius and beautifully brings this recording to a close.  Wickens definitely tapped into the blues when writing this one.

The five tracks on this EP surely packs a punch, and demands attention.  Northern Social is definitely worth taking a chance on. 

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·         Streaming formats are not available.  Purchases can be made through the website, www.dylanwickens.com

Saturday, December 14, 2019

#421 : Jay Gordon's Blues Venom - Slide Rules!



2019 - Shuttle Music

By Phillip Smith; Dec. 14, 2019

I was first introduced to Jay Gordon’s Blue Venom when I reviewed the No Cure album for Blues Review Magazine in 2011.  It appeared on their online web-zine BluesWax.  That was one of my favorite discs that year.  Slide Rules!, Gordon’s latest release is even more spectacular, as his heels dig deep into the Mississippi delta mud for thirteen ferociously outstanding electric slide blues.  Gordon, one of the best guitarists/vocalists around fronts the band with bassist Sharon Butcher and drummer Tom Parham making up the rhythm section.

Gordon opens up with one of his originals “Dripping Blues” which definitely lives up to its name.  The slide-work on this is covered in grease and cooked to perfection.  He follows with another astonishing track “Pain”.  It is packed with more tantalizing guitar, and topped with his trademark fearless, gravelly vocals.  I positively dig it.  “Dockery’s Plantation” is an absolutely fabulous seven-and-a-half minute experience.  It’s ambrosia for the blues lover’s soul. 

The cover songs they choose for this record are brilliant.  First we get Elmore James’ “Stranger Blues” with its unavoidable driving rhythm.  They do this one just right.  Hearing Robert Johnson’s “Travelin Riverside Blues” puts a big smile on my face.  But their version of “Train Train”, that badass song released by Blackfoot in 1979, is a killer indeed.                             

So, like the first album from Jay Gorden I reviewed, Slide Rules! is definitely among my favorites from the year.  I highly recommend it.    

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For more information about the artist, visit this website : bluesvenom.com     



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





Friday, November 22, 2019

#418 : Mike Zito and Friends - Rock ‘n’ Roll : A Tribute to Chuck Berry




2019 – Ruf Records
By Phillip Smith; Nov. 22, 2019

This latest release from bluesman Mike Zito is a mighty stellar tribute to the legendary ‘Father of Rock and Roll’ Chuck Berry.  Being that both Zito and Berry are from St. Louis, Missouri, makes this a very personal project.  Zito, backed by his band, bassist Terry Dry, drummer Matthew Johnson, and pianist/organist Lewis Stephens incorporates a smashing guest list on this twenty track album, which includes some of my favorites: Joanna Conner, Walter Trout, Joe Bonamassa, Eric Gales, Luther Dickenson, Sonny Landreth, Tinsley Ellis,Tommy Castro, Albert Castiglia, and Kid Anderson.

The album begins with one of the first songs I learned to play on organ, William C. Handy’s “St. Louis Blues”.  This song which I hold close to my heart features Chuck Berry Jr.  It’s such a rocking version of the song, and ushers the album in quite nicely.  I love the cover of “Rock & Roll Music” with Joanna Connor.  She’s such a powerhouse of a guitarist, and brings a lot to the table on this one.  Walter Trout shines as he always does on “Johnny B Goode”.  Damn, this one rocks!  Robben Ford steps in to record a fantastic remake of  “You Never Can Tell”.  This one will always remind me of my favorite film, Pulp Fiction.  The legendary Eric Gales punches up another favorite “Back in the USA” with a huge dose of his ripping guitar-work.  I always appreciate what Luther Dickinson is involved in, and “Too Much Monkey Business” is no exception.  I love “No Particular Place to Go” with Jerimiah Johnson.  This one really resonates.  Sonny Landreth brings a certain smoothness to “Havana Moon”.  I could listen to this one all day long.  

Being a huge fan of Chuck Berry and Mike Zito, this album has such a hold on me.  It’s downright spectacular.


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For more information about the artist, visit this website.. www.mikezito.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.









Track Listings


Disc: 1


  1. St - Louis Blues Charlie Berry III

  2. Rock N Roll Music - Joanna Connor

  3. Johnny B - Goode - Walter Trout

  4. Wee Wee Hours - Joe Bonamassa

  5. Memphis - Anders Osborne

  6. I Want to Be Your Driver Ryan Perry

  7. You Never Can Tell - Robben Ford

  8. Back in the USA - Eric Gales

  9. No Particular Place to Go - Jeremiah Johnson

  10. Too Much Monkey Business - Luther Dickinson

  11. Havana Moon - Sonny Landreth

  12. Promised Land - Tinsley Ellis

  13. Downbound Train - Alex Skolnick

  14. Maybelline - Richard Fortus

  15. School Days - Ally Venable

  16. Brown Eyed Handsome Man - Josh Smith/Kirk Fletcher

  17. Reeling and Rocking - Tommy Castro

  18. Let It Rock - Jimmy Vivino

  19. Thirty Days - Albert Castiglia

  20. My Ding a Ling - Kid Andersen


Saturday, October 5, 2019

#411 : BillyLee Janey - Blues Power



2019 – Billy Rock Music / Stray Dog Records

By Phillip Smith; Oct. 5, 2019

Since moving up here to Iowa in 1992, I’ve been listening to BillyLee Janey.  Inducted into the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005 for Truth & Janey and inducted into the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame in 2012, he is surely a force to be reckoned with when it comes to musicianship and playing the blues.  Blues Power, his latest release is a sheer delight.  Featuring eleven originals and two cover songs, this album is filled to the brim with hard-driving electric blues that cuts deep to the core.  BillyLee leads this trio on guitar and vocals.  His son Bryce Janey who also recorded, mastered and mixed the album, appears on bass guitar, with Eric Douglas is on drums.

From the first song, “Who Let the Dog Out”, Janey is already in top-gear, delivering hot-as-hell licks and playing the blues like I love to hear it.  He continues to amaze me in “Blues Alright”.  “Gimme Some Blues Power” is a monster of a song too.  Douglas lays down a stellar beat while Janey carpet bombs the listener with a tantalizing guitar performance.  His cover of Buddy Guy’s “Mary Had a Little Lamb” puts a big smile on my face too.  Janey makes this one his own.

While revisiting “Mean Ol’ Twister”, a track released on his album Got Them Iowa Blues, Janey adds an additional minute, forty-five seconds to the furious whirlwind simulation he creates with sound.  It was a spectacular song to begin with, but this new mix gives it the tornado-infused ending the song deserves.  Hearing Janey cut loose the way he does here, is an experience in and of itself.    

An absolute must-hear for blues fans, and guitar aficionados, Blues Power delivers high-voltage blues at its best.     

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For more information about the artist, visit this website.. www.billyleejaney.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.








Tuesday, June 11, 2019

#395 : Big Daddy Wilson - Deep in My Soul




2019 – Ruf Records



By Phillip Smith; June 11, 2019



Deep in My Soul, the latest album from the Big Daddy Wilson, is a magnificent platter of soulful blues.  This North Carolina born bluesman who now calls Northern Germany his home, trekked back to the U.S. to begin working with Grammy-winning producer Jim Gaines.  Recording began at GainesBessie Blue Studio in Stantonville, Tennessee, and wrapped up at the legendary FAME studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.  With Laura Chavez onboard playing guitar, Wilson’s killer rhythm section is comprised of Memphians Dave Smith on bass, and Steve Potts on drums.

With a soulful Memphis Stax vibe, the album begins with “I Know”.  Chavez immerses herself into Steve Cropper-mode and the rest of the band follows suit.  With additional accompaniment from Brad Guin and Ken Waters, aka The Alabama Horns, the stage is perfectly set for Wilson’s deep, engaging vocals.  “Tripping On You” is another terrific track saturated in the funky, soulful sound of Stax.  It is purely delightful.  The inescapable hook of “Ain’t Got No Money” keeps me on the line while I gush over the slide guitar.  I absolutely love the funky riffs, soul-wrenching vocals, and an infectious groove on title track “Deep in My Soul”.  Ominous and seductive, “Voodoo” is one cool-as-hell blues-soaked track.  It’s as if it were pulled right out of a Mississippi swamp.

This album from Big Daddy Wilson scores high on all levels, and I highly recommend it.        


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For more information about the artist, visit this website: https://www.bigdaddywilson.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 25, 2019

#393 : Christone "Kingfish" Ingram - Kingfish



2019 – Alligator Records
By Phillip Smith; May 25, 2019

I first heard of Christone “Kingfish” Ingram a couple of years ago, while watching a YouTube video.  I remember being amazed at his guitar prowess and being enamored by the sheer depth he plunged himself into the Blues.  Earlier this month, I was fortunate to have witnessed a live performance of this Clarksdale, Mississippi blues prodigy at Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis, Tennessee.  It was indeed a rare treat for this blues music loving soul. 

Ingram’s debut album, simply titled Kingfish, has finally been released, and I’m absolutely loving it.  Produced and co-written by two-time Grammy winner Tom Hambridge, the album features notable guest performances from Buddy Guy, Keb’ Mo’, and Billy Branch.  With Kingfish holding court on vocals and guitar, and Hambridge behind the drums, the band is comprised of guitarist Rob McNelley, bassist Tommy MacDonald, and Marty Sammon on B3 organ/piano.     

From the beginning, I was hooked by the dynamic groove of “Outside of This Town”.  Kingfish’s fearless delivery and robust vocals stand tall in the saddle.  Buddy Guy who has stated “Kingfish is the next explosion of blues.”, appears with Keb’ Mo’ on the delightful gem of a tune “Fresh Out”.  This track about being down and out has a cool vintage quality about it.  Sammon’s piano accompaniment is terrific.  “Before I’m Old” is another great song.  It is funky, soulful, and topped with more searing guitar.  Keb’ on this one too, as well as three other smoking tracks.  One of which is “If You Love Me”.  With Billy Branch on harp and Chris Black on drums, it’s a downright jamboree.          

One of my absolute favorites on the album is, “Been Here Before”.  Kingfish plays this amazingly-reflective song on acoustic guitar and sings it with heart.  I remember being wowed and captivated by his performance of this song at Beale Street Music Festival. It really stuck with me. 

Kingfish is one of those albums, every blues fan will want in their collection. It’s that damn good.   

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For more information about the artist, visit this website.. www.christonekingfishingram.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.






Friday, April 19, 2019

#387 : Alexis P. Suter Band - Be Love




2019 – Hipbone Records

By Phillip Smith; April 19, 2019

Be Love, the latest album from Alexis P. Suter Band is one hot record.  Suter, who carved out her career in New York, opening for The Levon Helm Band and B.B. King, knocks another recording out of the park with her powerful and soulful voice. Her band consists of Michael Louis (guitar,vocals,bass), Vicki Bell (vocals), and Ray Grappone (drums).

Suter pines for her loved one as she pours a smooth layer of deep Sixties soul on ballad “Lips Hips and Fingertips”.  The song has a warm nostalgic essence about it.  A revving rhythm topped with some bodacious slide guitar brings some fast-paced blues to ”Little Back Rider”.  It really hits the spot.  I love the hip-swinging blues of “Sway”.  This funk-filled line dance number is an absolute favorite.  I love the slow groove and cosmic atmosphere of “Dog Eat Dog”.  There’s a definite George Clinton/Eddie Hazel influence on the front end.  When it come to the title track, “Be Love”, there’s a lot of energy flowing through.  This is a sure-fire blues-rocker that begs to be heard loud.  Filled with horns, keys, and searing guitar, the song jams indeed.

Be Love, from the Alexis P Suter Band is a hit in my book.        

















For more information about the artist, visit this website.. www.  





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 16, 2019

#376 : Willie Farmer - The Man From the Hill



2019 – Big Legal Mess Records

Release Date : March 1,2019



By Phillip Smith; Feb. 16, 2019



Willie Farmer, an auto mechanic from Duck Hill, Mississippi, who’s owned his own shop for over forty years, scores huge with his splendid new blues album, The Man From the Hill. Recorded at Delta Sonic Sound in Memphis, Farmer enlists top-tier talent to back him, like Jimbo Mathus (Squirrel Nut Zippers), Will Sexton, Mark Edgar Stuart, and Al Gamble ( St.Paul and the Broken Bones). 



I love that rolling rhythm embedded into Farmer’s songs.  On Junior Kimbrough’s “Feel So Bad”, which leads the album off, the riff is unavoidably hypnotic and alluring.  He also rolls out a hearty cover of “Shake It”, originally from Jessie Mae Hemphill.   “I am the Lightning”, is also heavily soaked in the North Mississippi hill country waters.  It just pulls me right on in.  This track in particular also appears on an upcoming release called Blue Muse, a various artist collection from the Music Maker Relief Foundation.  

An avid churchgoer who still plays every Friday, Farmer also represents the sweet sounds of old-school gospel music with The Sensational Nightengales’ “At the Meeting”.    Farmer has a special way of bringing the listener right into the songs he sings.  When he sings “Daddy Was Right”, it’s an absolute heart-breaker.



This is definitely an album to keep an eye out for.  I can’t get enough of it.


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Take a listen to the album on Apple Music.




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











#375 : Danielle Nicole - Live at the Famous Mockingbird



Danielle Nicole     

Live @ The Famous Mockingbird
Marion, Iowa
Feb. 15, 2019

By Phillip Smith; Feb. 16,2019



The Famous Mockingbird was the place to be for two stellar sets of blues on Friday, February 15.  It was a sold-out show, and the excitement was surely in the air to see Danielle Nicole, who was a 2019 Grammy Nominee for Best Contemporary Blues Album.  Her band consisted of drummer Ralph Forrest, and guitarist Brandon Miller, who will be returning to Famous Mockingbird with his band in the near future. 

The show led off with the smooth and buttery “Hot Spell” from her latest album, Cry No More.  Her luscious vocals and thumping bass sounded absolutely fabulous.  Other amazing cuts from that album which landed in the first set were, “Lord I Can’t Keep From Crying”, “Pusher Man”, “Burning For You”, and “My Heart Just Remains”.  I loved her cover of Willie Dixon’s “I Just Want to Make Love to You”, and Howlin’ Wolf’s “Spoonful”.  She soulfully covered Lukas Nelson’s “Find Yourself”, and closed the show with “Save Me” chockful of heavy riffs, and wonderful guitar shredding from Miller.

It was a splendid show indeed.


* Photos by Phillip Smith