Saturday, August 12, 2017

Lightnin’ Willie - No Black No White Just Blues


2017 –Little Dog Records

By Phillip Smith; Aug 12, 2017


With copious amounts of finesse and authenticity, Lightnin’ Willie sprinkles smidges of country and surf flavorings into his unique blend of blues.  His latest record, No Black No White Just Blues, produced and arranged by Pete Anderson (Dwight Yoakum, Roy Orbison, Michelle Shocked), is splendid and attention grabbing.

Michael Murphy contributes a lively boogie-filled piano performance to the swinging “Can’t Get That Stuff”, while jamming alongside the western tone of Lightnin’s ripping guitar.  “Eyes in the Back of My Head” is another fantastic track.  This song about infidelity reminds me immensely of those from one of my favorites, the good Reverend Horton Heat.  “Sad and Blue”, a rambling twangy cocktail garnished with the melodious sounds of Skip Edwards’ accordion, is big dose of old school fun.  I easily get lost in the hypnotic rhythm of “Fuss and Fight” which segues nicely into the suave “Phone Stopped Ringing”.  Sweetly accompanied by Edwards on B-3 and Ron Dzubla on saxophone, the song is a keeper.

With every spin of No Black No White Just Blues, I gain a greater appreciation for the music of Lightnin’ Willie.  His songs of hard luck and tough breaks make for a great listen.

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For more info on Lightnin’ Willie …  http://www.lightninwillie.com

    


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



Saturday, August 5, 2017

John Pagano Band - One More Round


2017 –Midnight Circus Records

By Phillip Smith; Aug 5, 2017


It’s been just a little over two years since reviewing John Pagano’s tantalizing Live at Darwin’s album. At that time, he was going by JP BluesOne More Round, his fifth album, and first under the new band name, is another extraordinary recording.  Still playing as a power trio with drummer Shiloh Bloodworth and bassist Tony Hossri, Pagano delivers eleven delicious new tracks to the table.

Pagano pours a double shot of swampilicious slide guitar into the boogie-laced drinking song “Bottoms Up”.  It is slathered and smothered in delicious greasy blues. “Trouble on Wheels” is another great high energy track to get the blood pumping.  His searing guitar licks shine though the rolling rhythm.    

Pagano reintroduces his cover of Hugo’s version of “99 Problems” which he had recorded earlier for his Live at Darwin’s record.  Pagano goes out of his way to make the new studio take sound amazing. It is fabulous indeed.  I’ll be cranking up the volume on “Catch That Train” too.  It’s a fearless Billy Gibbons-inspired rocker which perfectly closes out the album.

One More Round is so good; it’s hard to put down.  Pagano definitely scores again.           

  
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For my July 2015 review of JP BluesLive at Darwin’s, click here .    

For more info on the John Pagano Band … http://johnpaganoband.com/
          



  


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

Friday, August 4, 2017

Joanna Connor - Six String Stories


2016 –M.C. Records

By Phillip Smith; Aug 4, 2017


Six String Stories, the eleventh release from Chicago guitar-slinger Joanna Conner is an amazing listen to say the least.  She continues to throw her whole being into each performance, with both her axe and voice.   Joining Conner on the album, is Marion Lance Lewis (drums, bass, percussion, synth, vocals) , Jeff Lewis (keyboards), Omar “Harp” Coleman (harmonica), Charlie Kimble (tenor sax), Gary Solomon (alto/soprano sax), and Charles Pryor (trumpet, flugelhorn).

There is no denying this lady has been baptized in the blues, once one hears the captivating first licks of “It’s a Woman’s Way” bursting through the stereo speakers.  The song, oozing with flair and attitude hooks me like an unsuspecting catfish.  Conner dishes out a big saucy helping of slide guitar on “By Your Side”.  It sounds so sweet.  The cover of Jill Scott’s “Golden” is absolutely lovely, and reminiscent of one my early musical favorites, George Benson


Of the ten spectacular tracks on Six String Stories, there’s one which stands out above and beyond.  That song is “Halsted Street”.  Complex and searing, Conner attacks this   progressive-blues-rock instrumental with an intense ferocity.  I am gobsmacked with each and every listen.  The album comes highly recommended.


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


Sunday, July 30, 2017

319 Music & Arts Festival - 2017


Czech Village
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
July 29, 2017


The 319 Festival is one of my absolute favorites.  It shines a tremendous amount of light on the musical talent that surrounds us, and allows the festival-goer to experience the music and genius which flows abundantly from those creators and performers.  With almost 90 acts in this one day long event, checking out every band and artist was just not going to happen.  I did make it to at least 22 different performances, which may be a single one day record for me.      


Sleeping Jesus (Winona, MN) 
Sleeping Jesus (Winona, MN)


Wenslow (Marion, IA)

Lance Maynard, Iowa


The UI Breakers
The UI Breakers
The UI Breakers



Willys Wonders / Dready Glass 

Nexus Merch Booth


The Negotiators


EJ Swavv (Iowa City, IA)
EJ Swavv (Iowa City, IA)


Thomas Clark (Oink)

Cubits (Fairfield, IA)
Cubits (Fairfield, IA)

Cubits (Fairfield, IA)
     
Hep Cat (Cedar Rapids, IA)
Hep Cat (Cedar Rapids, IA) 


Crystal City (Iowa City, IA)

Crystal City (Iowa City, IA)

Jason Zbornik introducing Insomniac Folklore
Insomniac Folklore (Nashville, TN)
Insomniac Folklore (Nashville, TN)



Insomniac Folklore (Nashville, TN)


Soultru (Davenport, IA)
Soultru (Davenport, IA) 

Thomas Clark (Oink)



Sister Wife (Quad Cities)

Sister Wife (Quad Cities)

Colleen (Cedar Rapids, IA)
Colleen (Cedar Rapids, IA)

Colleen (Cedar Rapids, IA)

KMB (Cedar Rapids)
KMB (Cedar Rapids)
KMB (Cedar Rapids)






US The Network (Waterloo, IA)
US the Network (Waterloo, IA) 







Lee Big Daddy Kohl
Lee Big Daddy Kohl


PrettyGirlHateMachine (Des Moines, IA)
PrettyGirlHateMachine (Des Moines, IA)


Thomas Clark (Oink)




treesreach (Cedar Rapids, IA) 

Dueling at Dawn (Cedar Rapids, IA)
Dueling at Dawn (Cedar Rapids, IA)


SIRES (Des Moines, IA)
SIRES (Des Moines, IA)
SIRES (Des Moines, IA)
SIRES (Des Moines, IA)



The Hex Girls (Cedar Falls, IA)
The Hex Girls (Cedar Falls, IA)
The Hex Girls (Cedar Falls, IA)


Reggae Rapids (Cedar Rapids, IA)

Reggae Rapids (Cedar Rapids, IA)



Billylee Janey (Cedar Rapids, IA)
Billylee Janey (Cedar Rapids, IA)



Condor & Jaybird (Quad Cities)
Condor & Jaybird (Quad Cities)
Condor & Jaybird (Quad Cities)


Young Ezzy (Cedar Rapids, IA)


In the Attic (Cedar Rapids, IA)

In the Attic (Cedar Rapids, IA)

In the Attic (Cedar Rapids, IA)



In the Attic (Cedar Rapids, IA)


* All photos by Phillip Smith