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. 


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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.

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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.  

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