Showing posts with label review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label review. 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.    
---









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.


Saturday, March 28, 2020

#438 : Ryan Perry - High Risk, Low Reward




2020 – Ruf Records
By Phillip Smith; March 28, 2020

In 2007, Ryan Perry was only thirteen years old when Homemade Jamz Blues Band placed second at the 23rd International Blues Challenge in Memphis.  With four albums already under his belt as frontman for this Tupelo, Mississippi-based sibling trio with brother Kyle and sister Taya, Ryan ventured a new direction to record this debut album as a solo artist.  For High Risk, Low Reward, Perry noted that he originally wanted to keep the Jamz vibes going, but discovered along the process of writing, his musical tastes had changed.  “The new generation of the blues is here now, and it’s here to stay…”, says Perry.  This new album contains eleven extraordinary tracks, and features Roger Inniss on bass, Lucy Piper on drums, along with backing vocalists Jeffrey Staten and Stefanie Bechtold.

Perry cracks the album open with “Ain’t Afraid to Eat Alone”, a track offering a healthy dose of attention-grabbing guitar and creamy vocals.  From the first listen, I’m instantly reminded of the remarkable music of Robert Cray.  I find myself going back for extra helpings of title-track, “High Risk, Low Reward”.  Perry delivers it in that delectable North Mississippi swamp style, which I adore so much.  His cover of Willie Dixon’s “Evil is Going On” is riveting and magnificent.  His guitar prowess shines brightly as his voice delightfully growls.  The album closes with an amazing delta-blues original “Hard Times”.  I absolutely love it. 

Perry keeps one foot in Mississippi as his other seeks new ground, creating a fresh blend of blues.  Mississippi High Risk, Low Reward is a terrific album every blues fan should give a listen to. 

---




·      *   Note : Ryan Perry will be joining Jeremiah Johnson and Whitney Shay for Ruf Records Blues Caravan 2020.           



For more information about the artist, visit this website:  www.ryanperryband.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, January 4, 2020

#425 : Joanna Connor - Rise



2019 – M.C. Records
By Phillip Smith; Jan. 4, 2020

For over thirty-five years, Joanna Connor has been wooing blues fanatics in the Windy City.  Rise represents her thirteenth album, and third for M.C. Records.  After spotlighting her 2016 release Six String Stories on my blog and being gobsmacked while watching her perform at the 2017 Czech Village Blues festival in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, it’s a great pleasure to hear new music from this fabulous musician.  Connor, on guitars and vocals, is backed by bassist Joewaun Jay Red Scott, drummers Cameron Lewis and Tyrone “TY Drums” Mitchell, Delby Littlejohn on keys and Ryan Shea on sax.

Joined by Keithen Banks on vocals and rapper Alphonso Buggz Dinero, Connor starts the record off with a delightful dose of funk-filled R&B in “Flip”.  This is where all the fun begins.  Then, with guitar in hand, Mike Zito steps in on “Bad Hand”.  This uplifting track is accented quite nicely with a beautiful keyboard performance from Littlejohn.  Lewis tears it up on the jazz instrumental “Joanna in A”.  This is one hip track that feeds the spirit.  Another great instrumental is the cover of Sly Stone’s “If You Want Me to Stay”.  I dig it when Scott pours the funk on the bass.  Listening to Connor play “My Irish Father” is an absolutely astonishing experience.  She truly is a master.  

Connor’s blend of funk and blues goes right for the jugular in “Mutha” with fierce, mind-blowing guitar licks and vocal backing from Dinero.  The album comes to a climatic end with “Dear America”, a heavy Led Zeppelin-based blend of “When the Levee Breaks” topped with Dinero’s spoken-word state-of-the-world message.

Rise elevates Joanna Connor to a brand-new level.  I highly recommend this one.   

---


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

PhillyCheeze’s Review of Joanna Connor’s Six String Stories : https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2017/08/joanna-connor-six-string-stories.html

PhillyCheeze’s Photo coverage of 2017 Czech Village Blues festival, featuring headliner Joanna Connor : https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2017/08/czech-village-blues-festival-aug-12-2017.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.




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.


---


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, February 2, 2019

#373 : John Mayall - Nobody Told Me



2019 – Forty Below Records
Release Date : Feb. 22, 2019

By Phillip Smith; Feb. 2, 2019

The highly revered Godfather of British Blues, John Mayall is back, and this time he’s bringing a slew of A-list guitarists to the studio with him.  The list of guests on this album is comprised of Todd Rundgren, Little Steven Van Zandt (E Street Band), Alex Lifeson (Rush), Joe Bonamassa, Larry McCray and Carolyn Wonderland, all of whom are noted as personal favorites of Mayall.  Returning to the studio with the godfather is Greg Rzab on bass guitar and Jay Davenport on drums.  Billy Watts appears on rhythm guitar as well, along with Mayall’s horn section (who are also members of the house band for Conan O’Brian).  Produced by Eric Corne (founder of Forty Below Records), and recorded in the famed Foo Fighters’ Studio 606, which houses the legendary Sound City console, the album has a sweet rich sound, and a luxurious, polished ambience.

The album opens with a down-home blues number by Magic Sam, “What Have I Done Wrong”.  Mayall’s vocals are perfect for singing the blues, and Joe Bonamassa, needless to say, absolutely tears it up on guitar.  Bonamassa also appears on the cover of “Delta Hurricane”, the title track to Larry McCray’s 1993 album. The groove on this is delightful, with Mayall on keys, Bonamassa on guitar, and a stellar brass accompaniment.  McCray kills it on the Albert Collins song, “The Moon is Full”. I could listen to him play all day long.  His performance on Gary Moore’s “The Hurt Inside” is wonderful too.

It’s a rare treat to hear Rush’s Alex Lifeson play hard core blues. With Mayall bringing it home on harp and keys, Lifeson pours himself into his performance on “Evil and Here to Stay” a tune from the late, great Jeff Healey. The funky riff Rundgren opens Little Milton’s “That’s What Love Will Make You Do” with, brings me immediately into the song.  The horn section punches it up quite nicely while Rundgren keeps the endorphinic energy flowing freely.  Hearing Little Steven dole out some serious blues in “It’s So Tough”, brings a giant smile to my face.  It’s nothing short of an amazing listen.

I love the three tracks Carolyn Wonderland appears on.  She boldly takes on Bonamassa’s “Distant Lonesome Train”, and plays the hell out of it.  Her slide guitar is an absolute delight.  She also covers a couple of Mayall-penned songs.  With the timing of B.B. King, she instills a relaxed breath into title track “Nobody Told Me”, and puts the moxie in “Like it Like You Do”.

Nobody Told Me is a one of a kind record. The song choices Mayall makes for this are fantastic, and their execution is absolutely brilliant.          


---
Past PhillyCheeze reviews for John Mayall…
           
John Mayall - A Special Life :
https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2014/07/john-mayall-special-life.html

John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers - Live in 1967
https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2015/05/john-mayalls-bluesbreakers-live-in-1967.html

John Mayall - Find a Way to Care :
 https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2015/08/john-mayall-find-way-to-care.html

John Mayall - Talk About That :
 https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2017/05/john-mayall-talk-about-that.html



For more information about the artist, visit this website.. https://www.johnmayall.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, December 15, 2018

#366 : Paul Oscher - Cool Cat



2018 – Blues Fidelity

By Phillip Smith; Dec. 15, 2018

It’s a real blessing to hear the blues from those who have spent time playing with the legends.  Paul Oscher, an integral part of the blues world since the Sixties, joined Muddy Waters Blues Band at the age of seventeen to play harmonica.   With Muddy, he played for around five years.  He even shared Muddy’s basement with the legendary pianist Otis Span for a while too.  Oscher’s latest album Cool Cat, contains a baker’s dozen of songs, the majority of which are straight-up blues. 

Oscher is a blues maestro and his songs strongly connect to the listener.  With one exception, which happens to be a marvelous and hypnotizing performance of “Rollin’ and Tumblin’”, the album is comprised of all original material.  “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” features Mike Keller on guitar, Sarah Brown on bass guitar, Russell Lee on drums, and the backing vocals of Sunny Lowdown and Jeremy Dowden.   Miss Lavelle White makes a guest appearance to sing “Dirty Dealing Mama”. This double-entendre packed tune is a huge barrel of fun.

Oscher’s vocals sound wonderful and gravelly as he sits behind the piano on “Money Makin’ Woman”.   Guitarist Mick Schemer, bassist Johnny Ace , and drummer Russell Lee make for an outstanding backing band for it too.  They appear all together on four other tracks, of which include “Blues and Trouble”, “Hide Out Baby”, “Work That Stuff”, and “Poor Man Blues”.

I’m absolutely delighted by the title track instrumental “Cool Cat”, and the story he tells leading up to it.  Recorded as a jazz quartet, this song is dedicated to a flute-playing wine-head who kept a beret-wearing, sunglass-sporting alley cat named Cool Cat.  Oscher also recorded a smooth nine-and-a-half minute R&B version of “Cool Cat” at the famed Greaseland Studios with Kid Andersen.  It is fantastic.

Oscher keeps the Blues as real as it can get, and keeps Cool Cat cool as hell.

---





For more information about Paul Oscher, visit his website www.pauloscher.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.   




Saturday, September 15, 2018

#352 : RC and the MoonPie Band - All This



2018 – HoundSounds

By Phillip Smith; Sep. 15, 2018


All This, the brand new disc from RC and the MoonPie Band brings a smile to my face with every listen.  The MoonPie Band, from Green Swamp, North Carolina is fronted by Robert “RC” Christian, and consists of guitarist Robert Marlowe, drummer T Bone Betourney, bassist Mike Logiovino, and backing vocalist Russell Pleasants.  Chock-full   of funky soulful blues, All This is a delectable slice of southern Americana served with authenticity.

Title track, “All This” gets the party started with a sweet funky rhythm carved out by Logiovino and Betourney.  Marlowe’s guitar is smoking hot as he rips it up on this one.  Keyboardist extraordinaire Bruce Katz takes the helm of a 1920 Steinway baby grand as guest pianist on “5-10-15 Hours”.  RC’s vocals are suave on this fabulous cover of Ruth Brown’s 1952 hit.  Katz brings back again for a rollicking high-energy homage to one of the best bluesmen in the biz, “The Buddy Guy Up”.    

I love the jazz-soaked cover of Oscar Brown’s “Somebody Buy Me a Drink”.  Rich Moncure’s trombone accompaniment is the icing on the cake for this track.  One can’t help but be pulled in to the intoxicating blues of “Leave Me To Be”, a captivating 9 bar blues song from Christian and Marlowe.  The driving bassline sidles up quite nicely to Greg Moyers’ polyrhythmic beats.  It’s a treat to hear “Steady Rollin” Bob Margolin step in with Telecaster guitar in hand for “Big Ass Jug O’ Wine”.  Now that’s the Blues!  

Guitarist Gary Pope aka “the Pope of Shallotte” joins RC and the MoonPie Band to wonderfully bring this gem of an album to a soulful groovy close with their spectacular cover of Calvin Arnold’s 1968 “Funky Way”.   All This is one cool-as-hell album.  It is indeed “all that”.

    
---


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.     


Sunday, August 19, 2018

#348 : Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip - Twentyfive Live at Blues Baltica



2018 – Hokahey! Records

By Phillip Smith; Aug. 18, 2018


In 1991, front man Micke Bjorklof and bassist Seppo Nuolikoski formed Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip.  With over twenty-five years under their belt, and a few personnel changes this Finnish outfit is now stronger than ever and holds court as a top tier blues band with a global fanbase.  Twentyfive Live at Blues Baltica celebrates those twenty-five years of playing live music with a magnificent twenty-one track double live album recorded at Blues Baltica, the annual four-day blues festival in Eutin, Germany.  Alongside Micke and Seppo, the lineup of the band consists of guitarist Ville “Lefty” Leppänen who has been with the band since 1999, drummer Teemu Vuorela, and percussionist/MalletKAT master Timo Roiko-Jokela.

Firing smoothly on all cylinders, the band nicely starts off with “Jack the Black Hat” from their 2014 studio album, After the Flood.  With a tremendous jazzy groove, they splendidly cover the sultry title track to that album as well.  I love the hoodoo inspired “Ray Needs a Mojo Hand”.  It captivates me with every listen.  A couple of very cool blues covers land on disc one too: “5-10-15 Hours”, originally recorded by Ruth Brown, and a ripping celebration of “Honey Hush” which is loaded with lots of hot juicy harp.  “Honey Hush” was originally recorded and co-written by Lowell Fulsom as “Talkin’ Woman”. The song was later covered by the blues-master Albert Collins who recorded it as “Honey Hush” to place on his 1978 LP Ice Pickin’.  Lefty gives a smokin’ guitar performance on this final song of the first disc.  

The second disc opens with ”In Chains” a heart-wrenching blues ballad off Bjorklof’s 2015 studio album Ain’t Bad Yet.  “Gumbo Mama” is a fun and funky treat with a Red Hot Chili Peppers vibe.  Teemu nicely rolls the red carpet out for “Killer Woman” a twangy head-banger that rips it up in a classic rockabilly form.  It segues perfectly right into the next song, dedicated to the great, late Son House, “Ramblified” which is an incredible performance packed with lots of amazing slide guitar.  Twentyfive Live beautifully comes to a close with “Sweet Dream’s a Sweet Dream” a soulfully delicate tune which brings to mind the music of Tommy Bolin. 

Until I actually get to experience a Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip concert in person, I’m more than happy to have Twentyfive Live at Blues Baltica to enjoy.  It’s fabulous.        



   ---



    

Follow the links below to read previous PhillyCheeze reviews for Micke Bjorklof and Blue Strip :         

Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip - Ain’t Bad Yet

Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip - After the Flood
Southpaw Steel ‘n’ Twang - Stat(u)e of Mind  (w/ Ville “Lefty” Leppänen)

Southpaw Steel ‘n’ Twang - Hale’s Pleasure Railway  (w/ Ville “Lefty” Leppänen and Micke Bjorklof)

           

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.     


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.      

 
---

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, July 21, 2018

#343 : Brother Dege - Farmer's Almanac



2018 – Psyouthern.Records
Release Date: June 1, 2018


By Phillip Smith; July 21, 2018


Farmer’s Almanac, the fourth full-length album from Louisiana native, Brother Dege Legg, is somewhat of a masterpiece.  Its eleven original tracks are slathered with attention-grabbing slide guitar, and razor-sharp lyrics.  Backing Brother Dege is The Bretheren, comprised of Kent Beatty on bass, and drummers Greg Travasos and Doug Belote.   

A surge of excitement traverses through “Country Come to Town”.  Dege’s magnificent finger picking shines while Travasos provides a steady heartbeat-like pulse.  Layers of instrumentation provide an enhanced sense of depth in “The Shakedown”.  The country blues slide and backdrop of dual drums makes this an amazing listen.      

The stories Legg tells with his songs are fantastic.  Outlaw blues ballad “Bastards Blues” is tension-filled and swampy.  Guest drummers Hawley Joe Gary (Spank the Monkey) and Eric Heigle (The Lost Bayou Ramblers) join drummer Doug Belote to help create the ominous atmosphere the song resides in.  Tightly woven prose and a beautiful hypnotic rhythm keep “The Moon & the Scarecrow” gingerly afloat as it softly builds to its climatic peak.    

The album is book-ended by a pair of Pink Floyd-esque instrumentals, “Partial to the Bitters” and “Partial to the Bitters Pt. 2”.   The later, a bit more infused with twang, sounds just as brilliant, nonetheless.  Farmer’s Almanac receives my highest possible recommendation.  It’s that great. 

 ---


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.