Showing posts with label Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reviews. Show all posts

Saturday, April 11, 2020

#440 : Justin Saladino Band - Live


2020 – Disques Bros.
By Phillip Smith; April 11, 2020

Montreal-based Justin Saladino has a stellar new album, simply called Live.  The recording took place over two nights at Piccolo Studios in Quebec for an audience of dedicated fans.  Hearing the live takes from A Fool’s Heart and No Worries adds an extra layer of soul to the songs.  With Saladino taking lead of this six-piece band on guitar and vocals, he is joined by guitarist Antoine Loiselle, keyboardist David Osei-Afrifa, drummer Denis Paquin, bassist Gabriel Forget, and percussionist Lucie Martel.  

The album splendidly opens in a bluesy romantic direction with “Take What You Want”.  Saladino’s vocals are smooth and confident.  I love how he fearlessly brings “Purple Girl” to life with his guitar mastery.  It rocks in a fabulous way.  While beautifully wearing his heart on his sleeve, he lays down a slew of extraordinary licks on his break-up ballad “Peace With You”.  Saladino packs a gob of delicious blues slide into Tom Petty’s “You Don’t Know How it Feels”, making for one hell of a cover.

JSB Live is one of the best live albums I’ve heard in a while.  Saladino absolutely cooks on guitar.    
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For more information about the artist, visit this website : justinsaladinoband.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, December 22, 2019

#422 : Matty T Wall - Transpacific Blues, Vol. 1




2019 – Hipsterdumpster Records
By Phillip Smith; Dec. 22, 2019

Australian bluesman Matty T Wall has been a favorite of mine since reviewing his debut album Blue Skies in 2016.  His second album, Sidewinder, which was released in 2018 was among my favorite albums that year.  Now, his third release, Transpacific Blues, Vol. 1 is out and I love it to pieces.  Wall records this colossal masterpiece with returning musicians, drummer Ric Whittle and bassist Stephen Walker to back him.  For this gem, Wall also pulls in some of the heaviest hitters in the blues arena to accompany him on this killer eight track album of classic blues.  Those guests include Walter Trout, Eric Gales, Kirk Fletcher, Dave Hole, and Kid Ramos. 

The record furiously kicks off with one of my absolute favorite songs, John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom”.  Featuring fellow Australian bluesman, slide guitarist Dave Hole, this song absolutely cooks.  The fabulous Eric Gales adds his fiery magic to the groovy cover of Tommy Tucker’s 1964 hit “High Heel Sneakers”.  It’s fun to hear Wall and Trout jam out on the “She’s Into Something”.  I love his cover of “Stormy Monday”.  Wall’s vocals are suave and soulful.  Kirk Fletcher appears on Albert King’s “Born Under a Bad Sign” for one hell of a performance.  Whittle and Walker keeps a bit of that classic Stax vibe going too.  Wall delightfully takes on “I’m Tore Down”, originally recorded by Freddy King, and follows up with a riveting rendition of Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads”.

This is definitely an album blues fans will want to pick up.  I dig every bit of it, from start to end.      

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For more information about the artist, visit this website: mattytwall.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, August 17, 2019

#404 : Rick Vito - Soulshaker



2019 - Vizztone
By Phillip Smith; Aug 17, 2019

Soulshaker, the tenth and latest disc from Rick Vito is terrifically enchanting.  Vito, who was a member of Fleetwood Mac from 1987 – 1991, has also played with a truck-load of my favorite artists, such as John Mayall, Bob Seger, John Prine, Bonnie Raitt, Delbert McClinton, and Todd Rundgren.  With Charles “Mojo” Johnson manning the drums, Vito handles most everything else: guitars, vocals, bass, and keys.     

Vito sets a mysterious retro atmosphere in “I’ve Got a Secret”.  Beautifully played and sung with a crooner’s finesse, it pulls me right in.  Laced with a fistful of boogie and slide guitar, “I Do Believe” is a nice jam indeed.  This spirited tune hosts drummer Rick Reed, bassist Charles Harrison, and organist Mark Horwitz.  Vito breaks out some delicious Texas blues on “World On Fire”.  His guitar performance shines bright on this absolutely fabulous song.  “Ball and Chain” is another favorite.  I love the tribal beat Johnson lays down.  It meshes quite nicely with the ominous sounds Vito concocts with his slide.  Wrapping up the album, is a lovely heartfelt instrumental of Sam Cooke’s “Change is Gonna Come”.  Words are not needed.  Vito’s guitar speaks for itself on this one.

Vito’s style is unique and sits atop a conglomeration of blues, roots, and pop.  Regardless of which style each song gravitates to, it’s a joy to hear him play.  Soulshaker is definitely a winner in my book.           

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For more information about the artist, visit this website : www.rickvito.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, July 20, 2019

#401 : Eliza Neals - Sweet or Mean


2019 – E-H Records LLC

By Phillip Smith; July 20, 2019

It has been over two years since I fell head-over-heels for Eliza Neals’ 10,000 Feet Below album.  But, after hearing her latest EP Sweet or Mean, I find the wait has been worth it.  This time around, Neals teamed up with New York bluesman Ted Horowitz aka Popa Chubby.   Horowitz not only plays guitar on this release, but also takes on the role of producer/arranger.  Comprising the remainder of the band is Dave Keyes on B3/piano/Wurlitzer, Chris Gambaro-Vega on bass, and John Medeiros Jr. on drums.  

This six-track release opens and closes with two smokin’ variations of “Pawn Shop Blues”, a ripping original tune, written by Neals.  Her fearless delivery stands tall as Popa Chubby lays down a searing slab of blues on electric guitar.  Saxophonist Ian Hendrickson and trumpeter Michael Leonhart appear on one version, while “Pawn Shop Blues (roadhouse)” features barrelhouse piano from Keyes.  Vega and Medeiros create a captivating groove on “Blackish Gray”, which swiftly pulls me into its orbit.  Songs like this encourage me to put Neals at the top of my list of favorites.  There is certainly a positive chemistry between her and Ted when it comes to playing the blues.  Eliza sings her autobiographical power-anthem “Bitten by the Blues” with a soulful, rock-star delivery.  The hook is very infectious and sounds great with Popa Chubby’s tantalizing guitar licks.  I love the delta-flavored acoustic “Knock Knock Knocking” too.  It’s raw and fabulous.

Sweet or Mean is a terrific six-track EP.  It’s definitely worth checking out, if you dig the blues.      

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For more information about the artist, visit the website.. www.elizaneals.com   

PhillyCheeze Rock & Blues Review for Eliza Neals - 10,000 Feet Below https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2017/04/eliza-neals-10000-feet-below.html


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, June 23, 2019

#397 : Cheyenne James - Burn It Up




2018 – Cheyenne James

By Phillip Smith; June 21, 2019

Burn It Up, the debut album from Texas blues singer Cheyenne James is one powerful and soulful ride.  James, an accomplished stage actress, dancer, and fire-eater pours her whole self into each of the ten outstanding performances.  Her band consists of guitarists Dave Carter and Mark May, bassist Rock Romano, harmonicist Steve Krase, keyboardist Randy Wall, drummer Jim Brady, saxophonist Eric Demmer, and Lamar Boulet on trumpet and flugelhorn.

I love her remarkable cover of Little Milton’s “Grits Ain’t Groceries”.  Cheyenne’s stellar vocal delivery has a nice Stax-like backing with the horns and keys.  With a taste of old-school Nashville, James fearlessly belts out “Gypsy Mama” while Krase tears it up on harmonica.  When she sings Van Morrison’s “Steal My Heart Away”, I just have to stop everything and listen.  It’s such a beautiful song, and so beautifully executed.  Sung with an abundance of heart and emotion is the sublime original “What Does It Mean”.  Cheyenne’s performance on this gem is reminiscent of the late, great Amy Winehouse, and Boulet’s trumpet performance is mesmerizing.  The album comes to a smile-inducing close with a smooth rendering of Willie Dixon’s “You Know You Love Me Baby”.

Burn It Up is a definite ‘keeper’.  I immensely enjoyed listening to this album, and very much look forward to hearing more from Cheyenne James.           

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For more information about the artist, or to purchase her CD, visit her website.. https://www.cheyennejames.com

  

Saturday, June 1, 2019

#394 : Sean Taylor - The Path Into the Blue




2019 – Sean Taylor Songs
By Phillip Smith; June 1, 2019

The Path Into the Blue, the ninth full-length album from London-based singer-songwriter Sean Taylor is absolutely remarkable.  I love how this beat-poet troubadour underscores the social issues of today with his expertly crafted lyrics.  Then with a blanket of soulful, funky, and rootsy music, his message is beautifully delivered.  With Taylor on vocals and guitars, and electric piano, Mark Hallman takes on the bass, suitcase drums, electric piano, and Hammond organ.

A groovy disco-infused rhythm is the backdrop as Taylor tears off his quick-fire rant against Brexit, hipster culture, addictions, corporate greed, and the dark side of the internet in “This is England”.  Wordless backing vocals from Stephanie Daulong add a very cool Pink Floyd-esque touch to the song.  The 2013 Lampedusa migrant shipwreck is the melancholic subject of “Lampedusa”.  Andre Moran makes a guest appearance on guitar for this beautifully executed performance.  The sounds of a pedal steel guitar played by Henry Senior gently ushers the melodic “In the Name of God” into play.  However, when the saxophone and backing vocals finally arrive, this floaty anti-hate song delightfully breaks the boundaries between country, jazz, and gospel.  Taylor’s slightly gravelly vocals and the irresistible, delicate melody on “Tobacco and Whiskey” naturally remind me of the finest works of the great Tom Waits.  It is definitely one of my favorites.

The album is certainly an amazing listen.  I highly recommend it.

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For more information about the artist, visit this website:  https://www.seantaylorsongs.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, September 29, 2018

#354 : The Bennett Brothers - Not Made For Hire



2018 – American Showplace Music

By Phillip Smith; Sep. 29, 2018

New York musicians, guitarist Jimmy Bennett and bassist Peter Bennett first came to my awareness as the backbone of Alexis P. Suter Band.  Their presence on blues-rock albums from Bruce Katz, John Ginty, and Marcus Randolph captured my attention even more.  This summer, the Bennett Brothers released their debut album, Not Made For Hire, a powerful blues-rock album filled with a fistful of electric guitar and lots of groove. Drummer Lee Falco and keyboardist John Ginty bring their mojo to the band as well, forming a tight-knit outfit of musicians.

A searing blast of Texas-style electric blues greets the listener in “Junkyard Dog”.  Falco holds nothing back on drums as he drives this revving fully-loaded beast with ripping guitar from Jimmy.  The B3 sounds of Ginty is sweet icing on this cake.  The Bennett Brothers give an intoxicating performance in a wonderful, riveting way in “I Just Don’t Want the Blues Today”.  This one also features the lovely vocals of Linda Pino backing them up.  She definitely adds a layer of heartfelt emotion to the song.  The rocking contagious riffs in “What’d I Do” have a fabulous way to burrowing right inside to my core, and I love every bit of it.  The album ends in a tremendous way when the needle drops on “I Got a Woman”.  The guitar/organ intro generates a wave of excitement and captivates my attention.  Within ten seconds, the groove is set with a the funky rhythm and rides the spiraling B3 organ delightfully to its cosmic end.   

Not Made For Hire is the real deal.  This is what Blues-Rock is all about.

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Links to other PhillyCheeze Rock & Blues Reviews featuring the Bennett Brothers :

Marcus Randolph My Peeples Peeple - Transplant

John Ginty - No Filter

John Ginty - Bad News Travels Live CD/DVD

Bruce Katz Band - Homecoming

The Alexis P Suter Band - Love the Way You Roll




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 28, 2018

#331 : The Eric Hughes Band - Meet Me in Memphis



2017 – Eric Hughes Music

By Phillip Smith; April 28, 2018


If you’ve listened to live music on Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee within the past seventeen years, there’s a good chance you’ve heard Eric Hughes on stage performing his unique and captivating blend of blues.  He took up residency on the historic Official Home of the Blues in 2001, and plays there on a regular basis still today.  Meet Me in Memphis, marks his fifth album to date, and is an homage to the city in which he was born and raised.  The Eric Hughes Band consists of Eric Hughes on vocals, guitars, harmonica, and percussion, Walter Hughes on guitars, mandolin, lap-steel, Leo Goff on bass guitar, Brian Aylor on drums, Chris Stephenson on keyboards, Art Edmaiston on saxophone, Marc Franklin on trumpet, along with Susan Marshall and Reba Russell on backing vocals.

The nine track album rolls out the gate, ready for business, with “Freight Train of Pain”.  This southern rocker comes loaded with scads of blues-soaked harp and ripping guitar riffs.  Hearing title track “Meet Me in Memphis” ushers me right to the heart of the Bluff City with a longing for some fine music, tasty barbeque, and a tall glass of sweet tea.  With a robust horn accompaniment, chords, and Steve Cropper-like guitar licks, I love how the song gently taps into the soulful sounds of Stax Records.

Hughes has a gift for incorporating the lost art of story-telling into his songs. A captivating tale of outlaw nature is spun in his western ballad “The Day They Hanged the Kid”.  Franklin, on trumpet, suavely tops the song with a little Spanish seasoning.  With poetic truth, and a shovelful of satire, the troubles of the hipster nation finally get the spotlight in Hughes’ humorously penned “Midtown Blues”.  Once pulled in by Aylor’s caffeinated beat and Goff’s funky bassline on “Here Comes the Boogie Man”, there’s no escape from   Eric’s magnificent harmonica performance and Walter’s wonderfully ominous guitar licks.  

In joyous celebration of one of America’s favorite pastimes, the album closes with “Believe I’m Going Fishing”.  I simply adore this song.  It’s catchy as hell.  In fact, the whole record is that catchy.  Meet Me in Memphis is a terrific album, and a splendid delight.        

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Eric Hughes also appears on Mick Kolassa’s Double Standards album, which I reviewed earlier this year.  That recording comes highly recommended as well.  Here’s the link to that review.



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, April 14, 2018

#329 : Long Tall Deb and Colin John - Dragonfly



2017 – Vizztone Records

By Phillip Smith; April 14, 2018


Dragonfly, the second disc from Long Tall Deb and Colin John is a superb album to sink ones teeth into.  This eleven track album explores a variety of worldly genres while anchored in American roots, blues and soul.  Deb Landolt aka Long Tall Deb fills each song with her enchanting vocals, building a connection to the listener every time, while Colin John wondrously plays guitar.  The main core of musicians on the album consists of drummer Jimmy Castoe, bassist Melvin Powe, and Nate Hofman on organ.  Produced by Michael Landolt (Coldplay, O.A.R.) the album also features several noteworthy guests such as Mick Kolassa, Jeff Jensen, Michael Hill, Jo El, James Cunningham, Bill Ruffino, Cliff Starbuck and Chris Stephenson.       

There’s a sense of attitude and fearlessness on the head-banging blues-rocker “On the Way Down”.  From John’s searing guitar riffs to Deb’s powerful vocals the song rides the wave of Castoe’s thunder and sticks the landing quite nicely. John breaks out the sitar to add a taste of India to the spaghetti western ballad of no regret called “Remember Why (It’s Good He’s Gone)”.  The brutal honesty of the lyrics in “Pull The Pin” cuts through like a broken beer bottle.  It’s an amazing song of self-reflection and metamorphosis.

With the exception of an intoxicating cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “Lungs” off his 1969 self-titled album, all songs on Dragonfly are original compositions.  “Lungs” is a little extra special in that it features a different configuration of musicians than the rest of the album.  For this poignant and beautifully played cut, Long Tall Deb and Colin John enlist drummer James Cunningham, guitarist Jeff Jensen, bassist Bill Ruffino, and organist Chris Stephenson. 

The word, “Dragonfly” as mentioned in the liner notes, is a symbol of transformation and change, and is the definitive theme to the record itself.  The album’s title track, full of adrenalin-pumping surf guitar is cloaked in the shadows of an ominous and forbidding atmosphere.  This twangy masterpiece is most interesting and has a strong presence, much akin to the songs Quentin Tarantino hand-picks for his films. It’s a brilliant song indeed. 

The flowing continuity of Dragonfly smoothly weaves its eleven songs into one very enjoyable listen.   

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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 20, 2018

#315 : Michelle Malone - Slings & Arrows


2018 –SBS Records
Release Date : March 02, 2018

By Phillip Smith; Jan 20, 2018

Three decades after recording her first album New Experience in 1988, Georgia songstress/guitarist Michelle Malone is releasing her fifteenth studio album, Slings & Arrows.  This bodacious record, smothered in southern rock and hard-edged blues, is loaded with lyrics so sharp, they cut to the bone.  I’m captivated right from the start.  With Malone on vocals, guitars, harmonica, and mandolin, her band consists of Doug Kees on electric guitar, bassist Robby Handley (Larkin Poe), drummer Christopher Burroughs, and percussionist Trish Land.  The album contains nine original songs and a fascinating cover of Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” which was performed as a duet with Shawn Mullins.          

I happily soak up the wonderful Sixties soul doused over “Sugar on My Tongue”.  Malone’s vocals are smooth as glass, and take on a Motown persona, while the band is holding court in a Memphis Stax fashion.  It sounds great.  The foot-stomping, hill country blues of “Beast’s Boogie” cradles me in its dancing hypnotic rhythm.  Malone tops this favorite with a big juicy scoop of harmonica and a delicious side of slide.  I love how “Civil War” begins so delicately and magnificently evolves into a full-fledge southern rock head-banger.  A feeling of melancholy washes over as Malone beautifully sings from the bottom of a broken heart in “The Flame”.  It’s an amazing song indeed.  In fact, the whole album is plumb terrific.



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, June 17, 2017

Joseph Veloz - Offerings


2017 – JMVelozs
By Phillip Smith; June 17, 2017


It’s a rare treat when a bass player’s talent takes top billing, as Joseph Veloz does.  This Detroit area musician who has played with many greats over the years, such as Lucky Peterson, Matt “Guitar” Murphy, Mississippi Heat, James Armstrong and Joanne Shaw Taylor, joins forces on his new album, Offerings, with guitarist Shawn Kellerman, keyboardist Jim Alfredson , and drummer Andrew “Blaze” Thomas.  As if that’s not enough, he is also accompanied by very special musical guests Lucky Peterson, Biscuit Miller, Greg Nagy, and Jennifer Westwood & Dylan Dunbar (Jennifer Westwood and the Handsome Devils).   

The funk rolls in on a blast of cosmic keys and thumping bass, straddling a bombardment of badass guitar from Kellerman for the instrumental “Just Jammin’”.  A wave of musical delight washes over me as this one plays on.  Featuring the signature sounds of Lucky Peterson on vocals, “Jukin’ and Shakin’” shifts into high gear for a refreshing blast of spirit-lifting, feel-good, high-energy blues. Alfredson’s performance on the organ is simply amazing.  Biscuit Miller lends his fabulous voice to the infectious soulful groove of Eddie Kirkland’s “Good Good Day”. 

Being a huge fan of Jennifer Westwood and the Handsome Devils, I immediately fell in love with the outstanding cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”.  Westwood’s vocal delivery is beautiful and iconic.  Kellerman dishes out huge doses of searing slide guitar, which opens up for a dazzling guitar solo from Dunbar.  This is a terrific track indeed.   


Veloz closes this eight song treasure out a breakneck performance on Prince’s “Kiss” with Joey Spina (Whitey Morgan and the 78’s) on the mic.  The creativity in Veloz’s musical arrangements and production choices are the icing on the cake of his extraordinary talent as a bassist.  And that’s what makes Offerings such a blast to hear. 


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Click on the link below to purchase this terrific album from the PhillyCheeze Amazon Store.




Saturday, December 3, 2016

Billy Pierce - Shapes of Soul


2016 –  Got Slide Records
By Phillip Smith; Dec. 3, 2016

The tunes on Billy Pierce’s latest album, Shapes of Soul is chock full of New Orleans-rooted jams topped off with some of the best slide guitar around.  Pierce’s band includes the multi-talented bassist/producer Charlie Wooton, drummer Doug Balote, and keyboardist Keiko Komaki.  Special guests include the magnificent trombonists of Bonerama ( Mark Mullins, Craig Klein, and Greg Hicks), Mike Zito, Jason Ricci, Jeff T. Watkins, and Michael Doucet.   

Pierce sings about struggling with money in “Paycheck to Paycheck”, an electric song with a smooth jazz vibe, featuring a terrific performance by the guys in Bonerama.  Harp player Jason Ricci dishes out a captivating performance on “Me and the Misses”.  Title track “Shapes of Soul” is a wondrous instrumental in which Keiko Komaki ‘s piano performance beautifully compliments Pierce’s slide guitar.  “Delta Queen”, a torch song for the southern man is immersed in a cool groove and slathered with scrumptious slide as well.  The contrasting guitars from Zito and Pierce sound amazing on “Tears of Joy”.  I love the way this song takes a hard right turn into the land of controlled chaos.  This song turns into one tasty jam when Balote ups the tempo and Komaki attacks the B3 with full force.  Massive waves of funk and infectious grooves make “Katrina” a definite standout.
 I get a little hypnotized with each and every listen to this delightful instrumental.


Pierce carefully explores the music acknowledged for its southern roots, and creates beautiful micro-blends of jazz, blues, and country which lay the foundation for Shapes of Soul.    




Saturday, November 19, 2016

Laurence Jones - Take Me High


2016 –  Ruf Records
By Phillip Smith; Nov. 19, 2016

Take Me High, the fourth album from British blues artist Laurence Jones, is downright spectacular.  After being awarded Best European Blues Guitarist in 2015, Jones fines himself nominated again for 2016.  Producer-extraordinaire Mike Vernon (John Mayhall, David Bowie, Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac) puts his magic touch on the album, making sure the energy levels remain high on this fabulous recording.  Joining Jones is his band composed of bassist Roger Inniss, drummer Phil Wilson, with Bob Fridzema on keyboards and Paul Jones on harmonica. 

Killer beats and lush keys provide the perfect backdrop for Jones’ razor-sharp riffs on “Live It Up”, a monster song which crushes everything in its path.  From the searing beginning to its exciting climax, “Addicted to Your Love” is drenched with emotion.  “Take Me High”, stewed in an electric bluesy goodness is dutifully served with true grit and nice tasty helping of slide.  It is such a great pleasure to hear Jones let loose on a song, like he does on Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground”.  This piece de resistance is ear-candy for the music aficionado. 


I could listen to Take Me High for hours on end.  It is just that good.