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













































































Saturday, July 29, 2017

Paul Nelson Band - Badass Generation


2016 –Walk the Dog Music / Friday Music Inc.

By Phillip Smith; July 29, 2017


One of the hottest albums I’ve heard this year is Badass Generation from The Paul Nelson Band.  Featuring a dozen wonderfully written and performed original tunes, the album is a surefire hit in my book.  Nelson, who was awarded a Grammy for performing on guitar and producing the legendary Johnny Winter’s 2014 Step Back album, fronts one tight as hell band.  This killer quartet consists of Nelson on guitar, singer Martin Fredheim, bassist Christopher Alexander, and drummer Chris Reddan 

I love the thick Texas-style blues riff on “Down Home Boogie”.  The licks are searing and the slide guitar is sweet and buttery.  Fredheim’s vocals are amazingly powerful and confident.  “Keep it All Together” has an instant likeability and hooks me with its southern-blues-rock charm.  With only a few listens under my belt, “Please Come Home” has already clawed itself inside my head, waiting to be running on auto-play upon my awakening.  Nelson’s guitar performance is this ballad is spacy and cosmic.  It reminds me tremendously of Jerry Garcia from the Dead’s In the Dark era.  It’s a fabulous song indeed.

“Swamp Thing”, Nelson’s nitty gritty guilty-pleasure love song, is one big ball of fun.  With an infectious hook surrounded by the sounds of the night, the tone is perfectly set.  The grinding intro on “Trouble” is chockful of gusto.  Reddan’s full-on drum attack is terrific and Nelson’s solo on the bridge is downright awe-inspiring.  When the dual guitar rings out on “Take it Back”, I immediately think of one my favorite bands, Black Oak Arkansas. I have to turn the volume up a notch or two for this badass album closer.  It’s rock and roll at its best.

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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 22, 2017

Gina Sicilia - Tug of War


2017 – Blue Elan Records
By Phillip Smith; July 22, 2017

Gina Sicilia continues to captivate listeners with her beautiful voice and lovely compositions in her seventh release, Tug of War.  Produced by Grammy-winning producer Glenn Barratt and Grammy-nominated producer Dave Darling, the album consists of six new tracks, along with the five tracks from her 2016 EP release, Sunset Avenue

Guest guitarist Zach Zunis (Janiva Magness) dishes out a heaping dose of electrifying licks on “I Don’t Want to be in Love”.  Strong and confident, Siclia’s vocals on “Damaging Me” are reminiscent of those of Linda Ronstadt’s in the height of her career.  Her cover of Patsy Cline’s “He Called Me Baby” is a magnificent and fresh homage to the 1976 Candi Staton version. The rich sounds of Joel Bryant’s B3 slather the song with soul.  Sicilia gives an outstanding performance filled with emotion as she sings The Beatles’ 1963 hit “All My Loving”.  
   

Drawing inspiration for the album title and original tracks, from her own personal struggles and experiences, this wonderfully gifted vocalist artfully encapsulates the Blues into her music and into this album, Tug of War.    

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Here's a quick link to check out my review of Gina Sicilia's  Sunset Avenue EP -> 

    
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.

Ivor S.K.- Montserrat


2017 – Ivor Simpson - Kennedy

By Phillip Smith; July 22, 2017


Ivor S.K. is quickly climbing to the top of my list of favorite songwriters.  One year has lapsed since his critically acclaimed EP, Delta Pines crossed my desk.  I loved that disc.  I adore his latest release, Montserrat as well.  This debut full-length album consists of ten original masterpieces steeped in blues.  Montserrat showcases the genius of Ivor Simpson-Kennedy, with each song written, arranged and performed by the artist himself.
       
I quickly latch on to the marching rhythm of breakup song “Don’t Say Goodbye” while enjoying the slick rockabilly guitar licks.  The hook in “Ain’t No Cross” masterfully induces a double-take, while tackling one of the largest white elephants on the planet.     His tale of double-crossing drug dealers in the Caribbean-flavored “I’ve Been Had” is a sheer delight.  It is funky and contagious.           
    
“It’s Raining”, beautiful and melancholy, sinks in deep.  His performance on acoustic guitar is absolutely lovely.  The jazzy homage to the Big Easy in “Take Me Back to New Orleans” is vibrant and alluring, painting pictures of exploring the local music scene and chilling at the world-famous Beignets.


Listening to Ivor S.K. reminds me of listening to Tom Waits for the first time, being caught up in the wonderfully raspy voice, the musicianship, and the songs.. those killer songs.  This album indeed stands up and stands out.

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Here's a quick link to check out my review of Ivor S.K.'s  Delta Pines EP ->   https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2016/05/ivor-sk-delta-pines.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.


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Boogie Patrol - Man on Fire


2017 – Boogie Patrol

By Phillip Smith; July 15, 2017


Boogie Patrol, a high-energy five-piece R&B band from Edmonton, Alberta has recorded an outstanding batch of ten original songs on their latest album, Man on Fire.   Rott’n Dan Shinnan takes on lead vocals and harmonica, with guitarists Yuji Ihara and Chad Holtzman, bassist Nigel Gale, and drummer/percussionist Emmet Vanetten rounding out the band.  Special guests include Marc Arnold on Hammond B3/Keys and The Mocking Shadows Horns.   

I’m hooked from the moment the horns bust loose on the smooth and breezy “Players Blues”.  Shinnan’s vocals, dripping with a cool hip rasp, ushers the album in with a suave and strong confidence.  His vocal and harmonica performance on “Hard to Tell” is grand and soulful. It’s a beautiful song for sure. The funk breaks out in a big meaty way on “Shaker Down Below”.  Complete with a rich horn accompaniment, this one is served just the way I like it, with lots of jam.  The driving funky rhythm of “Got One On Ya” is quick to grab my attention, and opens the gate for a fun and groovy listening experience.  With guitars blazing and horns on fire, Shinnan delivers an amazing vocal performance on title track “Man on Fire”, bringing the album comes to a powerful close. 


Man on Fire is a fabulous listen from start to finish.  It doesn’t really get much better than this.

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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 9, 2017

The Knast - Reckless Soul


2017 – Madlad Music

By Phillip Smith; July 9, 2017


I’m totally smitten by the new album, Reckless Soul from the Seattle foursome called The Knast. Their music, packed with catchy lush grooves inspired by the British Invasion and the counter-culture movement of the Sixties, makes for an outstanding listen.  Making up the band, are lead vocalist/guitarist AJ Delange , lead guitarist J. Weichman, bassist Tascar Wise, and drummer Ian Thomas
  
Baptized in psychedelia and fuzz-laden guitar, “Side Effects” is one cool as hell track which I synchronize with immediately.  Title track, “Reckless Soul” keeps the momentum sweetly going with a driving rhythm, smooth vocals and spacy effects.  The feel-good sounds of “Here and There” puts me in my smiling phase and puts me in a care-free mood.  When listening to “Waiting For the Lights to Change”, I’m immediately infatuated with Delange’s lofty vocals and Weichman’s cutting edge guitar performance.


Every song on this ten song album is an absolute delight.  Reckless Soul is a definite keeper.


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For more information on The Knast, visit their website @ https://www.theknast.com/

Craig Erickson - All the Way


2017 – Fervor Music

By Phillip Smith; July 9, 2017


It’s hard to believe it has been twenty five years since Craig Erickson’s fabulous breakout blues-rock album, Roadhouse Stomp hit the shelves.  His latest, All the Way is an exquisite ten track shot of serious guitar-centric rock and roll featuring the great Jeff Martin (Badlands, Racer X, Blindside Blues Band, Michael Schenker, Dokken) on drums. 

Intense and hypnotic, the grinding rhythm on “Breakthrough” demands my full attention and begs to be heard at a high volume.  Erickson’s positivity shines brightly in “Like a Bird”, a beautiful track which soulfully soars skyward.  “Touch The Sky” is absolutely superb.  Erickson’s guitar performance is searing hot, and sounds terrific alongside Martin’s thunderous drumming.  A monster riff and a marching beat are the heart-pulse of “Underdog”, another favorite decorated with electrifying guitar licks.  “Never Give Up” hits the ground running down the red carpet with an extraordinary intro, and races to the finish line on a double-dose of adrenalin.


I love how Erickson cleverly weaves an inspirational theme of perseverance through this amazing record of guitar mastery.  This one is highly recommended for the guitar enthusiast.

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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 2, 2017

The Shopkeeper – Film Review


Directed by Rain Perry
Release Date : Aug 21, 2017 – Shopkeeper, LLC

By Phillip Smith; July 2, 2017


The Shopkeeper, a warm and thoughtful documentary from folk rock singer/songwriter Rain Perry, sheds an eye-opening light on the current state of the music industry.  With a focal point of Mark Hallman’s Congress House Studio in Austin, Texas, the film takes a close look at the what it has taken over the past few decades to stay in the music game.

Delving into Hallman’s career as a musician, which spans nearly forty years, we get a glimpse of his earlier years as a member of the band Navarro, which happened to lead to simultaneously backing two legendary greats, Carole King and Dan Fogelberg. In the Eighties, after relocating to Texas, Hallman rented a house on two acres of land south of Austin to use for a pre-production studio, and he just never abandoned it. Over the years, The Congress House has become a haven for musicians from both near and far away.  Perry brilliantly relays the tale of the ever evolving business of music through the stories of Hallman and those who have worked with him, like Ani DiFranco, Tom Russell, Charlie Faye, Betty Soo, and Colin Gilmore.

In 1974, the music industry boasted $10.5 billion in sales, which grew to $19 billion in 1994.  With the introduction of the MP3 and file-sharing services of Napster, Pandora, and Spotify, record sales have plummeted. This not only affects the artists, it affects the studios as well.  Without the promise of record sales, the artists embrace newer technology which gives them the ability to inexpensively record at home, on devices which may be nothing more than an iPhone.  There is a price to pay for this.  The music itself takes a huge hit in quality, as it bypasses the step where those with extremely trained ears can take a really good song, and make it a great song.  Hallman, who is one of those extremely trained and talented figures, is noticing the changing trends every day.

I love the stories Perry draws from the musicians who all share a love for this sacred space and who might consider the studio a second home. The comradery surrounding those tales of overcoming whatever obstacles they had to overcome are truly the heart and soul of the film.   

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For more information regarding this film, visit these websites...
rainperry.com and shopkeepermovie.com





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



Saturday, July 1, 2017

Sam Price and the True Believers (self-titled)

Sam Price and the True Believers
(self-titled)
2017 – Sam Price Music

By Phillip Smith; July 1, 2017


When he’s not immersing himself into his mind-warping bass performances for the critically acclaimed Honey Island Swamp Band, New Orleans Sam Price has a sweet gig fronting his own funk-tified band, Sam Price and the True Believers.  With Price on bass and lead vocals, The True Believers consists of guitarist Matt Galloway, drummer Ethan Shorter, keyboardist Phil Breen, Conga Mike on congas, bongos, and percussion, and singer Whitney Alouisious.  Their first release is a five-track jubilee of infectious songs and note-worthy musical performances. 

Good vibes are abundant in the soulful bouncing rhythm of “Where I Want To Be”.  Featuring guest guitarist John Fohl (Cherry Poppin’ Daddys, Dr. John), this one turns my heart light on full beam.  Price breaks out the treasure chest of old skool funk on “Down To You”.  The whirling sounds of keys set the stage for Price’s funky bassline, Alouisious’ fierce vocals and a blazing saxophone played by Tom FitzpatrickEric "Benny" Bloom (Lettuce) lends his trumpet mastery to this song leading it to a cosmic climax.  It feels really good to snuggle up inside the relaxed swaying melody of “Keep On Pushing”.  I can’t help but think of Steely Dan when listening to this one.


I look very much forward to hearing what may come next from Sam Price and the True Believers.  They definitely have a good thing going.

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