Saturday, April 23, 2016

Shaun Hague : Journeyman A Tribute to Eric Clapton - Live @ Campbell Steele Gallery : 4/22/16


Live @ Campbell Steele Gallery
April 22, 2016 – Marion, Iowa
By Phillip Smith; April 23, 2016


Friday, April 22, Chicago guitarist/vocalist Shaun Hague brought his captivating show, Journeyman - A Tribute to Eric Clapton, to Campbell Steele Gallery in Marion, Iowa.  Joining Hague onstage for this delightful retrospective is keyboardist Robert Monroe, bassist Brian Burke and drummer Andy Taylor.  In this sold-out show, Journeyman treated the audience to three sets of hits and deep cuts, making sure to cover every era of Clapton’s career.

Beginning with the Sixties, Journeyman hit the ground running with a killer cover of “White Room” which almost immediately gave me goosebumps. This was followed up with a riveting “Badge”.  Burke's sweet bassline cemented the intoxicating groove on “Sunshine of Your Love”, in which Hague and Monroe alternated vocals.  The band was in total synchronicity for this one.  Taylor’s drum solo was spectacular and was a definitely ‘Hell Yeah’ moment.  Hague doles out more smokin’ guitar grooves on Robert Johnson’s iconic classic “Crossroads” to end the first set.

Set two, featured songs from the Eighties and Nineties, where Journeyman hit on deep cuts, “Holy Mother”, and honky-tonk friendly “Alberta”.  After a jamming performance of “Pretending”, they brought onstage with them, guest guitarist Billy Satterfield. Watching Hague and Satterfield go toe-to-toe on Muddy Water’s “Hoochi Coochi Man” was phenomenal.  The dual guitar sounded terrific.  Monroe downright tore it up on keys, reminding me of a mad scientist at work.  His talent definitely runs deep.    

The third and final set covered the classic Clapton songs of the Seventies.  Taylor grabs another captivating drum solo on “Let it Rain”.  I love this song.  I haven’t heard it in a while, but it transports me instantly to the days of my youth.  Satterfield is invited onstage again to join the band for “Cocaine”, where they tendered another absolutely grand performance.  Electric and spacy, their rendition of Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing” was an example of rock and roll at its best.  No Clapton tribute would be complete without “Layla”. This beautifully played song was the cherry on top, and ended the last set of the evening, bringing the walk down memory lane to a close.  It was a terrific night for music.    



All Photos by Phillip Smith


Shaun Hague

Robert Monroe

Shaun Hague

Brian Burke

Andy Taylor

Andy Taylor

Shaun Hague &  Brian Burke

Brian Burke

Brian Burke

Shaun Hague, Brian Burke, and Billy Satterfield

Shaun Hague & Billy Satterfield

Billy Satterfield

Robert Monroe

Robert Monroe

Shaun Hague

Shaun Hague

Shaun Hague & Billy Satterfield

Shaun Hague, Brian Burke, and Billy Satterfield



Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Trysette - Feel So Pretty


2015 – Little Hartley Music
By Phillip Smith; Apr 13, 2016


Feel So Pretty, the fifth studio album by Australian singer/songwriter/pianist Trysette is quite a lovely album indeed.  It is melodically rich and beautifully performed.  A seasoned and most talented group of musicians was enlisted for this studio recording in Los Angeles.  Guitarist Randy Ray Mitchell (Donna Summer, Warren Zevon, Billy Bob Thornton), organist Bob Malone (John Fogerty), and drummer Mike Baird (Eddie Money, Rick Springfield, Joe Cocker, Journey) gel together so good as the backing band, as they mix elements of pop and country and rock creating a laid-back and feel-good sound.

Trysette sings about an unhealthy infatuation in “Under My Skin”, a song that is smooth as glass with catchy hooks.  This song appears again at the end of the album in a more intimate and stripped down presentation, with Trysette at the piano, Marty Rifkin on pedal steel and backing vocalist Karen Nash.   I really like title track “Feel So Pretty”. It has this really cool Julianna Hatfield vibe and is such a delight to hear. Of the dozen tracks on Feel So Pretty, all are original with the exception of one song; Snow Patrol’s 2006 hit single “Chasing Cars”. The string accompaniment from Sophie Delerue and Candy Girard are the perfect touch to this mesmerizing cover which showcases Trysette’s beautiful vocals.


Feel So Pretty is music for the soul on a rainy day.  Heartfelt from beginning to end, this enchanting album is a true gem.  



for more info on Trysette, visit her website @ http://www.trysette.com/




Saturday, April 9, 2016

Mac Arnold and Plate Full O’ Blues - Give It Away


2015 – PFOB Music/Plantation #1 Productions
By Phillip Smith; Apr 9, 2016


This new album, Give It Away, from the legendary recording artist Mac Arnold is one big tasty bowl of traditional blues.  Alongside Arnold, is Plate Full O’ Blues, which consists of guitarist/vocalist Austin Brashier, Max Hightower (harmonica, keyboard, bass), and drummer Scotty Hawkins.  This band is the real deal, bringing solid performances to a baker’s dozen of terrific tunes, of which the lion’s share are original.

Arnold breaks out the gas can guitar on a few tracks, and it sounds doggone good.  The first of those, “Don’t Burn My Cornbread” brings a smile to my face each time I hear it.  According to the liner notes, the lyrics to this love song were sparked by an actual dinner time incident.  Things get even more interesting down at Max’s “Uncle Dewitt’s Café”, a popular little juke joint in the country where they would dance all night to a nickel jukebox.  Brashier plays this one very nicely. 

Hightower, harmonica in hand, gets “Damned If I Do” started with a nice dose of blues harp.  This one is slow-cooked Texas style, with hot guitar licks and sweet vocals.   I love the inspirational “Give It Away”.  This title track is so full of soul; one can’t help but resonate with its spirit.  Another song I find fantastic and heartfelt, is “How I Need You”.  Beautifully performed, I wish it was a little longer than two minutes in length.

Mac Arnold and Plate Full O’ Blues also give up a solid and soulful performance on Brook Benton’s “I’ll Take Care of You”, as well as a rollicking rendition of Jerry Reed’s swampy hit single “Amos Moses”.  This album is a treat for the ears and is definitely recommended for the serious blues fan.        




Saturday, April 2, 2016

Angel Forrest - Angel’s 11


2016 – Ad Litteram
By Phillip Smith; April 2, 2016


The latest album, Angel’s 11 by Quebec songstress Angel Forrest is quite a terrific record.  It features eleven original blues-laden tracks, each spotlighting a different guitarist to back Forrest’s powerful vocals. 

There’s something intriguing about the topic of dodging the law, when it comes to music and song.  That’s the hook in “Hangman”, featuring Johnny Flash on guitar.  This ripping track satisfies my craving for both blues-rock and outlaw country.  “Tumbleweed”, with Dimitri Lebel-Alexandre is another really cool song with that western vibe.  Forrest beautifully sings this heartfelt melody about longing for a lost love.    

“Spoil Me Up” is a sexy and soulful treat with a delightful horn arrangement.  Steve Strongman plays this one with precision. The lady sings the blues so good in “Let Me Go”, featuring Kim Greenwood on guitar.  Greenwood is a monster on the guitar, and when he lets loose, it sounds fantastic.  Forrest and guitarist Corey Diabo give an electric performance on the manic “Wildflower”.  While Forrest belts out a powerful delivery to “Touch Of My Hand”, axe-man Shane Murphy injects a heavy dose of psyche-blues for some really trippy results.

The other guest guitarists are Rob MacDonald, Ricky Paquette, Paul DesLauriers, Steve Hill, and Adam KarchAngel’s 11 is such a fantastic album, musically and lyrically, it definitely lands as one of my favorites of the year. 







Saturday, March 26, 2016

R.B. Stone - Some Call it Freedom


2016 – Middle Mountain Music
By Phillip Smith; Mar 26, 2016


Veteran musician R.B. Stone brings a big ol’ plate of delicious downhome blues to the world via his new album and seventeenth project, Some Call it Freedom.  This eleven track album of all-originals is seriously great.  Stone takes on guitar, vocals and harmonica, while supported by Larry Van Loon on B3, B2 and piano, bassists Randy Coleman, Josh Fairman, and drummer Terrance Houston.    

I love the swampy slide guitar Stone plays throughout “Hill Country Stomp”, the first song out of the gate.  Howard kills it on drums, as he amps up this ramblin’ stomper.  Stone lays down more rippin’ guitar licks on title track “Some Call it Freedom”.  Stone’s fearless fuzzy licks are smoothly blended together with Loon’s brilliant piano boogie for “35 Miles to Mobile”, a definite stand-out track.  

Things get a little ominous and dark with “Another Thief”.  With Howard’s pseudo tribal Native American beat behind Stone’s wailing, both on guitar and vocally, this badass song rocks pretty damn hard.  “Nickajack”, although only two minutes long, keeps the energy flowing with plenty of swampy hill-country blues and fine picking.

My ears perk up even more when “Standin’ on Top of the World” kick in with harp playing that rivals that of John Popper.  This is a feel-good song for sure, and puts me in my happy spot when I hear it.


This album comes highly recommended to everyone who appreciates The Blues.




Janiva Magness - Love Wins Again


2016 – Blue Élan Records
By Phillip Smith; Mar 26, 2016


Janiva Magness’s latest album, Love Wins Again is a sheer delightful listen.  Delivering eleven outstanding tracks of soulful blues in her trademark grand fashion; Magness has just set the bar a little higher, ensuring this LP will be an instant favorite.

Title track “Love Wins Again” is so smooth and buttery it puts a big ole’ smile on my face each and every time I hear it.  The funk breaks out on “Real Slow” sporting contagious guitar riffs and a groovy bassline.  Sultry vocals on top of an infectious bluesy melody set the mood for “Moth to a Flame”.  Dim all the lights and grab your partner for a slow dance to Magness’ angelic voice on the dreamy “When You Hold Me”.  This one is really nice.       

There’s no shutting the party down when the turntable is spinning “Your House is Burnin’”.  This jamming masterpiece, about turning things around for the better, is loaded with hot guitar licks and a killer sax accompaniment. I love Magness’ interpretation of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s classic, “Long as I Can See the Light”.  It’s really magnificent. Now, if only we can arrange for this song to be recorded as a duet with her and John Fogerty

This stellar album is definitely one of my favorites this year. 






Sunday, March 20, 2016

Janiva Magness - Live @ Riverside Casino 3/19/16


March 19, 2016 – Riverside, Iowa
By Phillip Smith; Mar 20, 2016


Saturday, March 19, as part of their annual Tribute to Blues Weekend, Riverside Casino hosted the fabulous Janiva Magness for an evening of soulful blues.  Magness, who has won seven Blues Music Awards, and grabbed twenty-five blues award nominations, pulled down the B.B. King Entertainer of the Year Award in 2009.  Newest member of the band, guitarist Garret Deloian is a fresh addition, and sounds fantastic alongside the seasoned ensemble of drummer Matt Tecu , bassist Gary Davenport, and guitarist extraordinaire Zach Zunis.

Magness started the evening off with the very soulful “I Won’t Cry” and “Walkin’ in the Sun”.  Zunis peeled off a fantastic guitar solo on the beautifully sung “Say You Will”.  Janiva has such a special talent that allows her to connect to her audience. This was very much prevalent in the heartfelt selection “Doorway”, about love in the form of forgiveness. 

The audience was blessed to be treated to a heaping serving of songs off her brand new album, Love Wins Again.  When pre-ordering this new album, fans can get an extra three songs available nowhere else, via download.  These three tracks were spectacular. The ominous and mojo-infused “Sin Perfume” gave Deloian a beautiful podium to get his mojo on.  “I Don’t Hurt Anymore”, with its retro Nashville vibe, was downright amazing, and “I Can’t Let You Go”, not only had a fantastic guitar solo from Zunis, but the accompaniment from Davenport and Laug in the rhythm section was absolutely stellar.  I loved the cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Long as I Can See the Light”.  Deloian killed it on guitar and Magness’ vocals were exquisite.


It was a fine night of music indeed.



All Photos by Phillip Smith



















Samantha Fish - Live @ Campbell Steele Gallery : 3/18/16


March 18, 2016 – Marion, Iowa
By Phillip Smith; Mar 20, 2016


Friday, March 18, Samantha Fish blessed the audience at Campbell Steele Gallery in Marion, Iowa with a captivating show featuring two terrific sets of music. One couldn’t ask for a better rhythm section to back her as bassist Chris Alexander and drummer Go-go Ray.  These musicians sound extraordinary together.   Fish quickly grabbed everyone’s attention with a rousing execution of “Wild Heart”, which was followed up by the killer song “Show Me”.  Highlighted by a stellar performance from Go-Go Ray, this one brought everyone to their feet. 

Fish effortlessly commanded the stage as she ripped through “Blame it on the Moon and crowd-favorite “Runaway” on oil-can guitar and slide.  Her gorgeous acoustic rendition of Charlie Patton’s blues classic “Jim Lee Blues” was outstanding and fresh.  Fish also broke out a sweet cover of Junior Kimbrough’s “I’m in Love With You”.  This one appears on her new album, Wild Heart

Fish returned alone to deliver the first two songs of the second set acoustically.  She played her most streamed song, “Let’s Have Some Fun”, along with a favorite of her father, Tom T. Hall’s “That’s How I Got to Memphis”.  Afterward, the band proceeded to tear through a smashing “Go to Hell”, a mesmerizing “I Put a Spell on You”, and a phenomenally ripping “Bitch on the Run”.  Before all was done, the band took the stage for an encore to end the evening with a fearless electric cover of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs”, and it was great.  For this, I say “Bravo!”.  



All photos by Phillip Smith


Samantha Fish

Samantha Fish & Chris Alexander

Chris Alexander

Samantha Fish

Chris Alexander

Samantha Fish

Go-Go Ray

Samantha Fish & Chris Alexander

Go-Go Ray

Samantha Fish

Chris Alexander

Samantha Fish & Chris Alexander


Go-Go Ray

Samantha Fish


Sunday, March 13, 2016

Kelly Richey - Shakedown Soul


2016 – Sweet Lucy Records
By Phillip Smith; Mar 13, 2016


There’s a whole lot of shakin’ going on in Cincinnati rocker Kelly Richey’s latest and sixteenth album, Shakedown Soul.  This ten song collection of original no holds-barred rock and roll packs a hell of a mean punch.  Richey handles the guitar and mic, while Rikk Manning plays bass, and producer/mixer Tobe Donohue covers drums, synth, and sequencing.  Five of the ten songs were recorded earlier and feature additional musicians, drummer Robby Cosenza, keyboardist Lee Carroll, and bassist Blake Cox.

“Fading” is quick to capture my attention with its funky rhythm and edgy INXS-like guitar riffs.  Richey can surely shred.  I like the trippy intro leading into “You Wanna Rock”.  Richey attacks this one head-on with heavy licks and her trademark powerful raspy vocals.  This is a track best served loud.  A really nice groove takes over on “Lies”.  This is the one that gets stuck my head.  “Just Like a River” is fantastic and has a Seventies pre-punk Lou Reed vibe to it.  Richey’s “I Want to Run” is another terrific track with a solid rock melody and stellar guitar. 

Richey scores huge with “Shakedown Soul”.  This is one big ball of rock and roll fun.   




  



Cécile Doo-Kingué - Anybody Listening Part 2 : Dialogues


2016 – Funky Joint
By Phillip Smith; Mar 13, 2016


Montreal guitarist and singer-songwriter Cécile Doo-Kingué having hooked me with last year’s Anybody Listening Part 1 : Monologues, has totally reeled me in with her latest release, Anybody Listening Part 2 : Dialogues.  Keeping her music on the edge of political and social awareness, Doo-Kingué progresses from the raw and acoustic direction of Monologues by adding more production and electricity, and it sounds terrific.  Joining the six new tracks on this twelve track album, are five re-recorded versions of her most outstanding tracks from Monologues : “Anybody Listening”, “Little Bit”, “Six Letters”, “Animal Kingdom”, and “Bloodstained Vodka”.  These are tracks I was really drawn to in their original acoustic versions, but I love these new recordings even more.

Besides being such a prolific songwriter, Doo-Kingué is quite the guitar master as well. It’s so fun to hear her let loose at the end of “Sunshine Lady”, which by the way features the lovely vocals of Milika Tirolien.  I dig the swampy slide which kick starts the upbeat bluesy gem “Riot & Revolution”. This song gets the blood pumping through the veins and the fists pumping in the air.  “Sweet Talkin’ Devil” is quite a sweet surprise too. Doo-Kingué slays this magnificent southern-style rocker about temptation. For a fearless closer, Doo-Kingué tears it up on her killer cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Manic Depression”. 

I have no idea what direction Doo-Kingué will take us in on Anybody Listening Part 3, but I’m already on-board, and looking forward to it. 





For more info on Cécile Doo-Kingué, visit her website http://www.cdkmusik.com/

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Brothers Brown - Dusty Road


2016 – Funky Joint
By Phillip Smith; Mar 5, 2016


Listening to the debut album, Dusty Road, from Brothers Brown, puts a big smile on my face and makes me long for summertime, when outdoor concerts are in season.  Thankfully that time of year is just around the corner.  This bluesy, jam-friendly band is fronted by two gentlemen named Paul Brown: one, a double Grammy-winning producer/guitarist/singer/songwriter from Los Angeles, the other, a Grammy-nominated producer/keyboardist/songwriter from Nashville.  The other two members, bassist David Santos, and drummer Pete Young make for an outstanding rhythm section.  This is a really tight group of musicians.

When I first heard the song “Cup of Tea”, I couldn’t help but notice the Allman Brothers and Widespread Panic influence.  It’s pure southern boogie with tasty electric guitar licks and a rich organ accompaniment.  The driving beat and funky rhythm of “Hurricane” is such a rejoicing sound, it should have a label that reads, “Warning! Listening to this song could lead to the loss of shoes and uncontrollable urges to dance”.  Little Feat guitarist Paul Barrere guests on this track to lay down some delicious slide.  They score big on “The River” too.  This powerful song about revisiting the past is comfort music for the soul.  I love the slow soulful groove of “Love Sake”. It’s a perfect song for chilling, relaxing and swaying.


Poignant songwriting, stellar performances, and a whole lot of heart and soul is what makes Dusty Road such a pleasurable listen.  I’ll surely be keeping my eyes out for Brothers Brown in concert now.