Showing posts with label Jim Gaines. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jim Gaines. Show all posts

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.






Sunday, July 29, 2018

#344 : Vanja Sky - Bad Penny



2018 – Ruf Records
Release Date: Aug. 17, 2018


By Phillip Smith; July 28, 2018


Vanja Sky, one of the newest blues artists to join the Ruf Records family, takes no prisoners with her brand new album Bad Penny.  It was just five years ago, this former pastry chef from Croatia picked up a guitar, and in the moment, she knew that being a musician was her destiny.  Within two years, she was in a band touring Croatia, Slovenia, and Germany.

Recorded at Bessie Blue Studios in Statonville, Tennessee, and Studio Erde in Berlin, Germany, Bad Penny features Mike Zito on rhythm guitar, Terry Dry and Dave Smith on bass guitar, Matthew Johnson and Yonrico Scott on drums, and Lewis Stephens on piano/organ.  She also enlists the legendary Jim Gaines (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Santana, Steve Miller, Miles Davis) to take on the tasks of engineering in Tennessee, along with Tobias Noethen who engineered the tracks recorded in Germany. 

Vanja rocks out on a killer cover of Rory Gallagher’s “Bad Penny” for the title track.  Her voice is strong and fearless.  Her guitar licks are terrific.  I get totally swept up in Zito’s outrageously infectious riffs.  The blues are smokin’ with lots of great slide on “Low Down and Dirty”, which includes Bernard Allison alongside Vanja and Zito.  It’s downright bodacious.  

Shining brightly as a songwriter as well, Vanja penned ten of the dozen tracks on the record.  Tender and poignant “Inside Pain” seems to float in mid-air in a beautiful performance.  She totally rips it up on “Give Me Back My Soul”, a Texas style blues rocker with a theme most familiar to blues enthusiasts. It’s a favorite indeed.  Like a Lucinda Williams tune, “Crossroads of Life” digs its fingernails in deep and packs a wallop of that great swampy sound of country blues. It’s brilliant.

Searing guitar licks along with Vanja’s amazing vocal stylings make Bad Penny one hot album, enjoyed start to finish with every listen.  Vanja is currently touring with Mike Zito and Bernard Allison on the Ruf Records Blues Caravan.  This is one show I don’t want to miss.      

 
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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.     





Saturday, April 21, 2018

#330 : Kris Lager Band - Love Songs & Life Lines



2018 – Kris Lager

By Phillip Smith; April 21, 2018


The Kris Lager Band has hit an “out of the stadium” home-run with their latest album Love Songs & Life Lines. Taking a more rootsy approach than usual, Lager embraces the core musical genres classified as Americana as he opens up and shares an honest yet soulful insight into life itself.  The band is comprised of Kris Lager on lead vocals and guitar, John Fairchild AKA Scooby Sha Bobo on drums, Aaron Underwood on bass guitar, Mike Lefever saxophone, and Jeremiah Weir on the B3 organ.  Recorded by Pony Creek Studios in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Love Songs & Life Lines was mixed by legendary producer Jim Gaines (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Santana, Steve Miller, Van Morrison).  Needless to say, it sounds great.

The album sweetly opens up with the magnificent instrumental “Aurora Borealis”.   Lager notes this is both a love song and a life line, as the song’s title is derived from Aurora, Nebraska, his father’s birthplace.  Immediately following, “The Heart Wants What the Heart Wants” grabs me with a contagious hook and a Traveling Wilbury vibe.  It then relinquishes me to the beautifully written and performed “Sweet Magnolia”, a track which brings back fond memories of growing up in the South.  I love the slide guitar on this track.  A smooth funky rhythm constructed by Underwood and Scooby sets the stage for “San Francisco Bound”, a freewheelin’, feel-good ode to Lager’s 2009 journey of California via the Pacific Coast Highway.  This one makes me grin from ear to ear.  Delightful waves of Dylan wash over with every listen to “Where the Green Grass Grows Tall”.  Lager’s voice sounds so good amid Weir’s spirited electric piano accompaniment and Scooby’s shuffling beat.   
Love Songs & Life Lines is both charming and brilliant.  Give it a listen, it will not disappoint.

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Love Songs and Life Lines can be purchased from Kris Lager on his website: https://www.krislagerband.com/store.html





In June of 2014, I caught up with the Kris Lager Band with camera in hand, for the annual Irish District Music and Arts Festival in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  Those photos can be viewed using the following link:   https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2014/06/irish-district-music-arts-festival_22.html
   

Saturday, November 4, 2017

#300 : Rocky Athas - Shakin’ the Dust


2017 – Cherryburst Records
Release Date : Oct 15, 2017

By Phillip Smith; Nov 3, 2017


With this being the 300th installment of Phillycheeze’s Rock and Blues Reviews, I wanted to use this milestone issue to honor blues-guitar great, Rocky Athas, who has just released this fabulous new album, Shakin’ the Dust.  Produced by the legendary Jim Gaines and jam-packed with a truck-load of Texas blues, this eleven-track record is a true gem.  In the studio with Athas is his son Rocky Athas II on bass guitar, and drummer Walter Watson. Together they form one hell of a power-trio.      

Athas fires off a blazing performance on “You Pushed Me Too Far”, an outstanding original with a heavy dose of attention-grabbing blues licks.  It’s absolutely wonderful and doesn’t get much better than this.  “Texas Girl” is great too, as it kicks off with an amazing intro.  The song fearlessly follows suit with Athas injecting heaping helpings of fantastic guitar into a crushing wave of catchy hooks.  I love the Neil Young grunge vibe Athas affixes to “Time Flies” and how the ballad seems to gently tumble by like time itself.               

His revved up cover of the Calvin Carter penned classic “I Ain’t Got You” is a sweet amalgam of the versions rendered by The Yardbirds and Aerosmith.  Athas breathes new life into Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s “Looking Back”.  I get a big smile on my face every time I hear it.   The album closes out with a spectacular mind-bending performance, taking on Jimi Hendrix’s “Villanova Junction”.  This one is beautifully played.     

The cohesive flow on Shakin’ the Dust makes an appreciable call-back to the heyday of album rock.  It’s put together really well.  Rocky Athas scores big with this album, and I look very much forward to hearing what is in store down the road.    
     

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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.          
 





Saturday, January 9, 2016

Heather Crosse - Groovin’ at the Crosse Roads


2015 – Ruf Records
By Phillip Smith; Jan 9, 2016

There’s always been some damn good music pouring out of the Mississippi Delta, and the spigot is far from being turned off.  Caught in that wave of music is Heather Crosse‘s magnificently bodacious rocking blues band, Heavy Suga’ & the Sweetones.  Formed in Hot Springs, Arkansas in 2007, Crosse moved the band to Clarksdale, Mississippi in 2008.  Groovin’ at the Crosse Roads is eleven tracks of boogie-laced blues produced by non-other than multi-Grammy Award winner Jim Gaines.  With Crosse taking on lead vox and bass in the band, she is joined by guitarist Dan Smith, drummer Lee Williams, and Mark Yacovone on piano/keys.   

Crosse hooks me quick with her sultry performance of “My Man Called Me”.  Smith’s guitar licks and Yacovone’s piano prowess solidifies this intoxicating mix of swing and electric blues. I love their funky cover of Clarence “Blowfly” Reid’s 1974 sexy B-side “Rockin’ Chair”.  Slathered in a laid-back Seventies vibe, this wonderful throwback conjures up visions of big collars and flare jeans.  Crosse adds just the right amount of rasp as she takes on Big Mama Thornton’s powerful classic “You Don’t Move Me No More”.  Not only does Crosse nail the vocals, but Yacovone’s piano performance shines brightly, reminding me a bit of the “Killer”, Jerry Lee Lewis.  This one is fun indeed.              

Simply put, Groovin’ at the Crosse Roads is a delightful listen.   




for more information on Heather Crosse, visit her website:




Saturday, December 19, 2015

Johnny I. - All Star Blues Revival


2015 – JIB Music
By Phillip Smith; Dec 19, 2015

 

Johnny I. is Connecticut-based singer/songwriter/guitarist John Ingrassia, and this guitar-slinging bluesman has enlisted a few very well-known and very well-respected friends in the music industry to join him in the recording of All Star Blues Revival, a terrific three track EP that packs a lot of punch.  

Mixed by non-other than the legendary producer, Jim Gaines, the laid back and cool “Late Night”, ventures into the realm of psychedelic blues with Johnny I’s groovy guitar licks and the lush B3 sounds of the great Bruce Katz.  But wait, there’s more: Jaimoe (Allman Brothers) delivers the beats and Tommy Shannon (SRV Double Trouble) the bass, making for a killer performance.  “Avery’s Tune” features Blind Melon’s Glen Graham on drums with Brad Smith mixing. Ingrassia plays his heart out and Graham wails on the drums. This tune truly jams. A fun and funky rhythm drives “Life is Better (2nd Time Around).  On this one, Ingrassia enlists Billy Cox (Jimi Hendrix Experience), drummer Chris Layton (SRV Double Trouble) and Reese Wynans(SRV Double Trouble) for this true all-star jam, also mixed by Gaines.   

All Star Blues Revival is a huge winner in my book.  Three songs are just not enough though. I want more.