Showing posts with label Victor Wainwright. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Victor Wainwright. 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. 


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

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, March 10, 2018

#323 : Mick Kolassa - Double Standards

2017 – Swing Suit Records

By Phillip Smith; March 10, 2018

One can feel the heart and soul poured into the latest release from “Michissippi” Mick Kolassa.  Double Standards, a wonderful thirteen track album, celebrates some of the greatest blues songs to have been recorded.  Backing Kolassa in the studio is guitarist Jeff Jensen, bassist Bill Ruffino, drummer James Cunningham, and organist Chris Stephenson.   For this venture, Kolassa also enlists the participation of several notable musicians, who today are busy carving their own unique path to present the Blues.  These artists are Tullie Brae, Erica Brown, Annika Chambers, Heather Crosse, Tas Cru, Gracie Curran, David Dunavent, Alice Hasan, Eric Hughes, Colin John, Jeremy Powell, Patti Parks, Sugaray Rayford, and Victor Wainwright.

A big gracious nod goes out to the legendary bluesman Willie Dixon.  Performing as a duet with Kolassa, Erica Brown holds back nothing as she pours her soulful vocals into the classic “Spoonful”.  I love Jenson’s guitar performance and Stephenson’s organ arrangement on this track.  The lovely Heather Crosse joins in on “I Just Want to Make Love To You”.  Memphis’ Eric Hughes lays a heaping helping of luscious harmonica on this track.  It sounds great.  The dynamic duo of Kolassa and Sugaray Rayford double the ante on “300 Pounds of Heavenly Joy”, originally recorded by Howlin Wolf, to bring a grand total of “600 Pounds of Heavenly Joy” to the table.  Fortified with the guitar prowess of both Colin John, and Mike Kolassa, this track is a big bowlful of fun.

Victor Wainwright splendidly takes the vocal reins on Tampa Red’s 1928 hokum “It’s Tight Like That”, with Hughes icing the song with harmonica and Alice Hasan accompanying on violin.  Tas Cru lends his definitive voice to the Jimmy Cox penned standard, “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out”.  This timeless classic is beautifully accompanied by Hason on violin and Jeremy Powell on piano.  Eric Hughes gives a smooth performance Big Bill Broonzy’s “Key to the Highway”.  It’s very nice indeed. 

Double Standards comes to a joyful conclusion in a full-fledged jamboree.  Each singer takes a turn on “Ain’t Nobody’s Business”, spinning their own off-the-cuff lyrics.  It’s a great track to close the album with, as the energy of the whole collective is funneled into this closing song. 



All Proceeds from Mick Kolassa’s albums will go to support two of these important programs: The HART Fund and Generation Blues.

THE HART FUND (Handy Artists Relief Trust) is for Blues musicians and their families in financial need due to a broad range of health concerns. The Fund provides for acute, chronic and preventive medical and dental care as well as funeral and burial expenses. 

GENERATION BLUES provides scholarship to artists under the age of 21 to study at reputable camps, seminars and workshop programs such as Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival, Augusta Heritage Center and Fernando Jones’ Columbia College Blues Camp.

Also reviewed on Phillycheeze’s Rock & Blues Reviews

Victor Wainwright and the WildRootsBoom Town

Tas Cru - Simmered & Stewed

Heather Crosse - Groovin’ at the Crosse Roads

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, March 3, 2018

#322 : Victor Wainwright and the Train - (self-titled)

2018 – Ruf Records

By Phillip Smith; March 2, 2018

Victor Wainwright, one of my favorite keyboardists playing the Blues today, has released a spectacular new album with his new backing band, The Train.  Making up The Train is drummer Billy Dean, bassist Terrence Grayson, and guitarist Pat Harrington. This album features a dozen original songs from Wainwright which ranges from barrelhouse blues to boogie-woogie.  No matter what he’s playing, it’s performed with precision and soul. 

Wainwright’s lush keys and ominous lyrics stand tall on “Wilshire Grave” as it sinks its claws in.  A seductive hook, the growling trumpet of Doug Woolverton, and the backing vocals of Reba Russell make this song the embodiment of cool.  With a bluesy Randy Newman vibe, “Dull Your Shine” emits a message of positivity as it reinforces the characteristic of individuality.  There hasn’t been a better song about debt collection than “Money”.  Wainwright’s piano prowess is quite amazing and Harrington’s guitar performance is terrific.  “Thank You Lucille” is a wonderful homage to the great B.B. King.  In a fitting tribute, guitarist Monster Mike Welch seemingly channels the man himself.  A slow-burn start on “Sunshine” breaks into a rejoicing Phish-phriendly jam with tiny nods to the great Frank Zappa.  Harrington’s smokin’ guitar performance coupled with Billy Dean’s amazing drum fills put a gigantic smile on my face.

Victor Wainwright and the Train is one stellar record, and certainly deserves to be heard.

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.     

Also reviewed on Phillycheeze’s Rock & Blues Reviews

Click below to read PhillyCheeze's review of  :Victor Wainwright and the WildRoots – Boom Town

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Victor Wainwright and the WildRoots - Boom Town

2015 –Blind Pig Records
By Phillip Smith; July 4, 2015

Boom Town, the latest release from Victor Wainwright and the Wildroots, is chockfull of boogie-laced blues and tasty jams.  Wainwright, who rightfully claimed the Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year for 2013 and 2014, leads this fantastic eight person band called, the Wildroots through thirteen spirited New Orleans flavored selections. Hearing him rip into the piano while laying down a truck load of boogie woogie on “Two Lane Blacktop Revisited” will leave no doubt why he pulled down that award twice already.  

It’s amazing to hear the different directions to which Wainwright can take his voice.  From a comforting tone, in the spiritually moving “When the Day is Done”, to being bad-ass and sinister, in “Reapers on the Prowl”, where he goes all “Wolfman Jack” in his conversation with the Grim Reaper.  Guitarist JP Soars, fellow Southern Hospitality collaborator with Wainwright is a guest performer on “The Devils Bite”, a Cab Calloway influenced tune.  This dark and rootsy track brings to mind Nick Cave’s Murder Ballads album.

The slow and easy “WildRoot Farm” makes for a cool little duet featuring Patricia Ann Dees.  This one will have you on the front porch sipping iced tea on a hot summer day, taking in the aromas of a freshly prepared southern style dinner. Stephen Kampa rolls out a sweet harmonica accompaniment which totally sets that laid-back mood.     

BoomTown culminates into an amazing instrumental jam at the end with “WildRoot Rumble”.  This is my favorite track on the album, and I play it loud.  Stephen Dees and Nick Black bring it on with rambling guitars, Kampa kills it on harmonica, Billy Dean keeps the furious beat going on drums, and Wainwright pounds the hell out of the piano. This is what it’s all about!     

For more information about Victor Wainwright visit his website at

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Southern Hospitality - Easy Livin’

By Phillip Smith

Grab some iced tea and meet me on the front porch, ‘cause we’re gonna relax and listen to Southern Hospitality’s new CD, Easy Livin’.  With its origins stemming from an impromptu jam session following a blues festival in Florida back in 2011, Southern Hospitality is comprised of guitarist JP Soars, lap steel guitar master, Damon Fowler, and keyboardist Victor Wainwright.  Easy Livin’ is undeniably a Southern blues concoction, which is comforting and somewhat intoxicating.  The guys all contribute their song writing skills to the making of the album. Both, the opener, “Southern Livin’”, and the closer, ”’Sky is What I Breathe” is credited to all three.  “Southern Livin’” is such a cool song, and like Southern living goes, it takes its time and is in no hurry to get anywhere.    And I absolutely love “Sky is What I Breathe”.  It’s such a beautiful song about remembering our connection with nature and our responsibility to keep it sacred. 

If one is going to dedicate an album to southern hospitality, you have to have at least one song about drinking. “Kind Lies & Whiskey” is that song.  Written by Fowler, this country boogie draws a bright spotlight of attention to his keyboard skills.  While we have the menu out, you have to order up the ‘Fried Neck Bones and Home Fries”.  The guitar on this Latin instrumental written by Willie BoBo is so very reminiscent of Carlos Santana.   Can I order an album of instrumentals from Soars and Fowler for desert?

The album as a whole is quite good and at times outstanding.