Sunday, June 18, 2017

Honey Island Swamp Band - Concert Photos : Irish District Music & Arts Festival (Cedar Rapids, IA 6/17/17)



Cedar Rapids, IA
By Phillip Smith; June 18, 2017


Photos by Phillip Smith



Honey Island Swamp Band


Aaron Wilkinson – mandolin, guitar,
harmonica, vocals
Chris Mulé – guitar, vocals
Sam Price – bass, vocals
Garland Paul – drums, vocals
Chris Spies - keyboards
 Rick King - Percussionist















































Perry and the Pumpers - Concert Photos : Irish District Music & Arts Festival (Cedar Rapids, IA 6/17/17)

Perry and the Pumpers

Cedar Rapids, IA
By Phillip Smith; June 17, 2017

Although rain was in the forecast, the music gods smiled down, and the 2017 Irish District Music & Arts Festival finished the evening unscathed with the exception of the occasional droplet falling from the sky.   Opening for the Honey Island Swamp BandPerry and the Pumpers took the stage at five o-clock and the festivities commenced.  Iowa Blues Hall of Fame member and Cedar Rapids native Perry Welsh, returned to his hometown with a briefcase full of blues to give a ripping performance.  The Pumpers were composed of guitarist Bryce Janey,  Iowa Blues Hall of Fame member and B3 master Tom 'T-bone' Giblin, drummer Troy Harper, and bassist Dave Bader,  Starting things out with "Ain't That Just LIke a Woman", the band rolled through a treasure chest of classics which included "In My Younger Days", "Early in the Morning", and "Hey Little Girl", setting the stage for a great night of live music.





All Photos by Phillip Smith


Troy Harper, Perry Welsh, and Dave Bader

Perry Welsh and Dave Bader

Dave Bader and Bryce Janey

Dave Bader and Bryce Janey

Tom 'T-bone' Giblin

Dave Bader, Perry Welsh, and Bryce Janey

Perry Welsh and Dave Bader

Dave Bader

Tom 'T-Bone' Giblin and Perry Welsh

Perry Welsh and Dave Bader

Bryce Janey

Perry Welsh


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. 


---


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




Saturday, June 10, 2017

John McNamara - Rollin’ With It


2017 – Bahool Records  
By Phillip Smith; June 10, 2017


Recorded at Memphis’s legendary Ardent Studios, Rollin’ With It, the latest album from Australian singer/songwriter, John McNamara is chockful of smooth Memphis soul.  Boasting a killer lineup of Stax musicians featuring drummer Steve Potts (Booker T & the MGs),  guitarist Michael Toles (Bobby Bland, The Bar-Kays), pianist/organist Lester Snell (Albert King, Isaac Hayes), who also arranged the album, and bassist James “Jimi” Kinard(Isaac Hayes, B.B. Kings All Stars), the album is a bodacious musical delight.       McNamara, who grabbed a semi-finalist slot in the 2015 International Blues Challenge, lays his fabulous voice and bluesy guitar licks down in six original songs and four wonderful covers.

From the moment, “One of a Kind” immersed from the speakers, loaded with searing electric guitar, rich keys from Snell, and the sweet sound of horns, I knew this album would be a favorite.  McNamara suavely croons as the spoon-fed rhythm of “Under the Weight of the Moon” uncannily drills itself into my subconscious. That’s absolutely fine with me though.

McNamara beautifully takes on Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “Ask Me Nothing (But about the Blues)”.  Drizzled with buttery vocals and wonderful blasts of horns, this one is sung from the heart.  His recording of Otis Redding’s “Security” is second to none and positively fabulous.     


As a huge fan of Stax Records and all the terrific music which flowed out its doors in the Sixties and Seventies, I have to say, Rollin’ With It ranks as my favorite Stax album not officially on the Stax label.  It’s just that good.

---

Saturday, June 3, 2017

North Mississippi Allstars - Prayer For Peace


2017 – Sony Legacy  
By Phillip Smith; June 3, 2017


North Mississippi Allstars has been one of my favorite bands since they rolled out Shake Hands With Shorty in the year 2000.   With their latest album Prayer For Peace, the three-time Grammy Nominated Dickinson brothers, Luther and Cody bring another fine batch of blues songs to the table.  Recorded in multiple studios across the U.S., while on their 2016 tour, this self-produced album features quite the notable guest list, which includes Oteil Burbridge, Graeme Lesh, Sharisse Norman, Danielle Nicole, Dominic Davis, and Shardé Thomas.   

The driving trance beat and the beckoning of a “Prayer For Peace” warmly lures the listener into the album.  The accompaniment by guest musician, fife-master Shardé Thomas (daughter of Otha Turner) is the cherry on top of this mantra for world peace.  A delicious bombardment of greasy slide guitar from Luther grabs my full attention on the riveting hill country blues of “Run Red Rooster”.  They tackle “Stealin’”, first recorded by the Memphis Jug Band in 1928 (and also covered by the Grateful Dead), in a raw stripped-down Stones fashion.  Taking on another couple of cues from The Dead, they tear into an intoxicating version of “Deep Ellum” and break out a plumb terrific jam on “Bid You Goodnight”.  

Wonderfully psychedelic licks woven into clusters of fat electric riffs breathe new life into the hill-country blues of R.L. Burnside’s “Birds Without a Feather”.  Another Burnside foot-stomper they take on is the fabulous “Miss Maybelle”.  They also pay a nice homage to the great Mississippi Fred McDowell, injecting a fortified soulful groove into “You Got to Move” which segues very nicely into a smoking rendition of “61 Highway”. 

The Dickinsons valiantly do their part to make sure the blues are not forgotten by keeping the music alive in their performances.  Their taste in music is extraordinary as is their interpretations of it.  Prayer For Peace continues their tradition.  

---



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, May 20, 2017

Nick Schnebelen - Live in Kansas City


2017 – Vizztone Records
By Phillip Smith; May 20, 2017


I’ve been a fan of Nick Schnebelen since hearing Wrong Side of the Blues, a 2011 release from his band Trampled Under Foot, which was cofounded with his siblings, Danielle Nicole and Kris.  That album was one of my favorites that year, and I was fortunate to have reviewed it for Blues Review Magazine’s online magazine, Blues WaxNick now leads his own band, a high-energy power trio with Cliff Moore on bass and Adam Hagerman on drums.  Live in Kansas City captures a riveting concert from this band who took the stage at Knuckleheads Saloon in Kansas City on December 3, 2016. 

Leading off this killer ten track album, is the spectacular “Fool”.  Schnebelen’s vocals, soaked in the blues, are powerful and smooth.  The captivating sound of his guitar rings with spirit and emotion.  I love the funk-infused rhythm on “Herbert Harper’s Free Press News”.  Catchy riffs and high-octane drums fuel this one.  The guitar mastery demonstrated in “You Call That Love” is second to none, and sounds absolutely amazing. Chills shoot up and down my spine when they break into a quite superb cover of Johnny Winter’s “Mean Town Blues”.  Schnebelen takes no prisoners as he plays this wonderful piece on slide.  The album closes with “Conformity Blues”, an exquisite instrumental guided by a propelling rhythm and intricately laced up with an exhilarating guitar performance.


Nick Schnebelen Live in Kansas City is an outstanding album of fortified electric blues which hits the ground running and plows through right to the very end.

---


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.





Friday, May 12, 2017

John Mayall - Talk About That


2017 – Forty Below Records  
By Phillip Smith; May 12, 2017


I’m always happy to hear new material from John Mayall,.  With his latest album, Talk About That, Mayall nails down another winner in a long string of rock-solid blues albums.  Returning to record the eleven track jewel with Mayall is guitarist Rocky Athas, bassist Greg Rzab, and drummer Jay Davenport.    

Mayall lays down seriously groovy keyboard riffs alongside Rzab’s thick and saucy bassline in title track, “Talk About That”.  I love it when he breaks out that juicy Bourbon Street blues with the deliciously horn-rich “Gimme Some of That Gumbo”.  Athas delivers a searing guitar performance which brings this one home.  When Mayall plays the harmonica in the Jimmy Rogers All Stars cover, ”Goin’ Away Baby”, it sounds so damn good.  This is one killer blues song indeed.  His piano performance on life-questioning “You Never Know” is quite delightful too.  I get lost in the stirring sounds of “Blue Midnight”. Its vibrant and intoxicating rhythm pulls me deeply in.       

For “The Devil Must Be Laughing” and “Cards on the Table”, Mayall enlists non-other than the fabulous Joe Walsh to play guitar.  Both are rather outstanding and capture the legendary Walsh sound.   


Talk About That is an enchanting album which showcases a wonderful set of Mayall masterminded blues.    


---






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.


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

John Nemeth - Feelin’ Freaky

John Nemeth   
Feelin’ Freaky
2017 – Memphis Grease 
By Phillip Smith; May 9, 2017

Feelin’ Freaky, the latest release from John Nemeth is a brilliant collage of heady blues-rich soul music taking a smidge of liberty to poke fun at society and embrace those on the edge.  Recorded  at the Zebra Ranch in Coldwater, Mississippi and  Royal Studios in Memphis, Tennessee with his touring band, the Blue Dreamers (guitarist Johnny Rhoades, bassist Matthew Wilson, drummer Danny Banks) under the direction of Grammy-nominated producer Luther Dickenson, the album certainly has its share of the Bluff City woven into its DNA.

Nemeth addresses the topic of gun violence in America while blasting a wall of lush poppy horn-infused soul in “Under the Gun”. I can’t help but think of Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground while this terrific anthem rolls out the speakers.  He crushes it on title track “Feelin’ Freaky” a funky jewel with a driving riff and creamy contagious hook.  Nemeth breaks out a briefcase full of blues harp to top off the dance-friendly groove on “Get Offa Dat Butt”.  This is a fun one for sure.

Capturing the sweet soul Stax sounds of the early Seventies, Nemeth unleashes a smoking smooth vocal performance on “Rainy Day” a song of regret and heartbreak.  He nails it down again in “Long Black Cadillac”.  The song is heavy and beautiful. 

Nemeth continues to keep a unique edge applied to his music, never failing to engage the listener with fresh funky grooves drenched in old-school soul.  That’s exactly what I love about this album.











Saturday, April 29, 2017

Eliza Neals - 10,000 Feet Below


2017 –  E-H Records LLC
By Phillip Smith; Apr 29, 2017


10,000 Feet Below, the latest album from Detroit music artist Eliza Neals is pretty incredible.  This wonderfully talented singer/songwriter/pianist and 2013 Michigan Blues Hall of Fame inductee, guitarist Howard Glazer (The Narcotics) are backed by an amazing group of guest musicians in the making of this fabulous record.
  
Neals’ angelic vocals pour freely over Glazer’s captivating and psychedelic guitar licks in the dark and spacy cover of Skip James’ “Hard Killing Floor”.  It’s an absolute delight. There’s a huge splash of more mind-melting psychedelic-infused blues in the boldly performed “Call Me Moonshine”.  Glazer’s playing is sublime.  I get lost in the hypnotizing groove of “Merle Dixon”.  It’s a warm and fuzzy guitar play-land to spend time in. 

Neals digs in deep and pulls out some amazing power vocals Ann Wilson-style, for the scorching rocker “Burn the Tent Down”.  Teaming up with guitarist Billy Davis (Jimi Hendrix, Hank Ballard), Neals gives an intoxicating delivery on the heady original composition “At the Crossroads”.  It’s absolutely beautiful.


10,000 Feet Below is a striking album, full of rich melodies and exquisite vocals.

---


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.


Low Society - Sanctified


2017 – Rezonate Records
By Phillip Smith; Apr 29, 2017


It didn’t take very long at all for me to fall head over heels for this record.  Mandy Lemons’ powerful vocals stand-out as her husband, guitarist/producer Sturgis Nikides plays incredibly smooth slide, making for some deliciously twangy blues.  With backing from a Belgian rhythm section featuring bassist Jacky Verstraeten and drummer Bart De Bruecker, the band, Low Society takes on its intriguing personality.  Sanctified, their third studio album is a hard-hitting, gobsmacking delight.  It was recorded partly in Belgium and partly in Memphis, where the band currently resides.

I love their cover of John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery”.  It’s such a beautiful song, and sounds terrific with Lemons on the mic.  Guest pianist Rick Steff adds a lovely accompaniment.  There’s a crisp stillness which lingers in the air when I hear “Nina”.  This one reminds me tremendously of Fleetwood Mac during their mid-Seventies years.  “Drowning Blues” and “Raccoon Song” are captivating as well.  I could listen to Nikides play this all day.  The spirits of the cross-roads must have been summoned for title-track “Sanctified” for Lemons and Nikides both dole out no-holds-barred performances.  


Sanctified closes out with an exquisite heartfelt cover of Etta Jame’s blues classic, “I’d Rather Go Blind”.  Low Society magnificently delivers a marvelous album of blues enacted with a rebellious flair.  It’s a new favorite, for sure.





Saturday, April 22, 2017

Mr. Sipp - Knock a Hole In It


2017 – Malaco Records 
By Phillip Smith; Apr 22, 2017


Records like Knock A Hole In It from gospel-musician-turned-bluesman Castro Coleman, aka Mr. Sipp , “The Mississippi Blues Child”, are far and few in-between.  Coleman, winner of the 2014 International Blues Challenge and Gibson Guitarist Award in Memphis, Tennessee pours his soul into his craft, both as a songwriter and performer. This album features a dozen original tunes and one fabulously superb cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing” which runs nearly eight and half minutes long and segues right into a sweet guitar instrumental of “Star-Spangled Banner” which brings it to a close.

I absolutely dig the funky raw groove woven into the title-track, “Knock A Hole In It”.  The energy running through this song is stunning and electric.  This one surely goes down as my favorite song of the year.  Terrific vocals and smoking hot guitar from Coleman along with a searing performance from organist Carrol McLaughlin make “Bad Feeling” another stand-out song.  Coleman certainly does not mess around when it comes to dishing out serious blues.  From the slow, smoldering “Strings Attached” to the heel-stomping house-rockin’ “Juke Joint”, his artistry shines through. 


I have a feeling Knock a Hole In It will be at the top of my list for a quite a long time.  It’s definitely a good time.

---












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, April 16, 2017

Sean Chambers - Trouble & Whiskey


2017 – American Showplace Music  
By Phillip Smith; Apr 15, 2017


From 1998 to 2003, Sean Chambers toured as lead guitarist and band leader for the legendary bluesman Hubert Sumlin. During that time, Chambers was named by Guitarist Magazine as “One of the Top 50 blues guitarists of the last century”.  His sixth release, Trouble & Whisky is fully-loaded with raw electrified blues.  Backing Chambers is drummer Kris Schnebelen(Trampled Under Foot) , bassist Todd Cook, and Michael Hensley on B3 and piano.

Right out of the gate, the driving rhythm and searing blues in “I Need Your Lovin” sets the tone for the whole album.  Chambers’ slide guitar on “Bottle Keeps Staring at Me” gets so red hot, it scorches.  The infectious hook sets in and does not let go.  With Schnebelen nailing down a thunderous performance on drums, Chambers takes on Rory Gallagher’s “Bullfrog Blues” with unbridled force.  I love the way Chambers’ guitar wails with emotion in his rendition of s B.B. King’s “Be Careful with a Fool”.  It’s plumb terrific. Special guest, John Ginty, one of my favorite keyboardists today, lays down some groovy keys on his B3 in the soulful jamboree of “Travelin’ North”.  It melts like butter with Cook’s funky bassline.  The song soars skyward as Chambers takes control of this wonderful instrumental.

Trouble & Whiskey is about as good as it gets.  It is indeed a powerful album.





---




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 8, 2017

Samantha Fish - Chills & Fever


2017 – Ruf Records
By Phillip Smith; April 8, 2017



With her new album, Chills & Fever, Samantha Fish ventures into an exciting new direction, shifting her focus towards early Rock and R&B.   Recorded in Detroit, Fish baptizes this fourteen track recording in the splendid sounds of the Sixties and Seventies, enlisting members of the Detroit Cobras( rhythm guitarist Joey Mazzola, bassist Steve Nawara, drummer Kenny Tudrick), electric pianist Bob Mervak, and a superb horn section featuring Mark Levron on trumpet, and Travis Blotsky on saxophone. 

Fish sings “It’s Your Voodoo Working” with a sexy and confident voice.  Her guitar teases are terrific and sound amazing, backed by the vibrant horn accompaniment from Levron and Blotsky.  A new life is breathed into Irma Thomas’s “Hurts All Gone”.  It’s a spectacular song with a fabulous hook.  Her slide guitar on Skip James’ “Crow Jane” is a bodacious swampy treat.  I absolutely love it.  I’m also smitten by the wonderful cover of Lulu & the Luvvers’ “I’ll Come Running Over”.  That is hands-down, one big nostalgic bowlful of fun featuring a classic rhythm and blues sound.


Chills & Fever reveals a most interesting new side to Samantha Fish.  Already a huge fan of her work in the blues, this album only makes me love her music more.

---






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.



Southbound Snake Charmers - Rhythm ‘N’ Rust


2017 – Southbound Snake Charmers  
By Phillip Smith; April 8, 2017



There was instant lovability for Southbound Snake Charmers the moment I first popped their latest disc, Rhythm ‘N’ Rust into the player.  The album is chock-full of swampy southern blues-rock driven by wonderful thunder filled rhythm.  Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, this magnificent trio is composed of vocalist/guitarist Chris Denman, bassist Nat Sutphin, and drummer Brooke Maloney

Maloney’s pulsing drumming lures me right into the wonderfully greasy blues of “Don’t Speak Too Soon”.  Filled with amazing guitar licks, fearless vocals, and intoxicating bass, there’s a Sixties’ Cream vibe running through this amazing psychedelic jewel.  This one relentlessly surges through my soul.  Highlighted by its caffeinated crashing beats and invigorating rhythm, attitude runs rampant through the hoodoo- infused “Snake Oil”. Denman seemingly takes a cue from RL Burnside on another favorite, “Hearts of Corruption”, singing the blues while dishing out whopping doses of deliciously swampy slide guitar.  There’s a beautiful and unsettling intensity which slowly rises to the top in “The Longest Night”, a thrilling ballad spattered with amazing guitar and sung with the freewheeling charisma of Jim Morrison. 


The brilliantly ferocious hard-rocking blues of Rhythm ‘N’ Rust satisfies my craving for exemplary music in spades.  On a ten point scale, this record scores an eleven. 




Saturday, April 1, 2017

Tommy Talton - Somewhere South of Eden


2017 – Tommy Talton 
By Phillip Smith; April 1, 2017



It’s been almost three years since Tommy Talton’s previous release Until After Then hit the airwaves.  That one was quick to grab my attention with its lyrical and stylistic twists.   His latest, Somewhere South of Eden, continues to feed my fascination with prolific lyrics and lush melodies.  Backed by bassist Chris Donohue (Emmy Lou Harris, Lucinda Williams, Alison Krauss) and drummer Bryan Owings (Tony Joe White, Buddy Miller, Emmy Lou Harris), Talton is also joined by several spectacular guest musicians such as  Chuck Leavell (Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Allman Brothers), Spooner Oldham, Ike Stubblefield, John Ginty, Steve Conn (Sonny Landreth, Bonnie Raitt), Kenny Head (John Barry, Georgia Satellites),  Jeff Mosier (Col. Bruce Hampton) on banjo, and saxophonists Randall Bramblett and Tom Ryan.

“Somewhere South of Eden”, a beautiful melancholy number flowing with soothing twangy slide, takes a hard look at mortality.  This song shows without a doubt Talton belongs at the top of the list when it comes to the songwriting greats.  I absolutely adore the buttery hypnotic hook in “Poblano”, a wonderful Latin-inspired instrumental with worldly beats from David Keith on congas and piano accompaniment from Chuck Leavell.  It’s always a pleasure to hear the funky keyboard wizardry of John Ginty.  His contribution to southern jam-friendly rocker “Waiting on the Saints” sounds fantastic amid Talton’s bodacious guitar licks.  “Don’t Go Away Sore”, featuring a terrific banjo performance from Jeff Mosier is a big bowlful of bluegrass fun.  It puts a grin on my face which stretches from ear to ear.

The esteemed Tommy Talton has definitely crafted one hell of an album with Somewhere South of Eden.  I highly recommend it.


---


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.