Sunday, August 13, 2017

Czech Village Blues Festival - Aug 12, 2017


Czech Village
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 
All photos by Phillip Smith; Aug 13, 2017


I am more than thrilled to see the return of an annual blues festival here in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  It has been a long journey to get one going again since the final Bluesmore in 2013.  This year the Linn County Blues Society joined forces with the Friends of the Czech Village to bring the blues back to our city.  The result was a phenomenal evening of music performed by The LCBS Allstars featuring eight Iowa Blues Hall of Fame inductees, along with headlining act, Joanna Connor.



The LCBS Allstars   



Dennis McMurrin

Bryce Janey

Dennis McMurrin

Dan Johnson

Bob Dorr and Tony Brown

Eric Douglas

Dennis McMurrin and Bryce Janey

Bob Dorr

Bryce Janey, Eric Douglas and Bob Dorr


Bob Dorr, Craig Erickson

Bob Dorr

Dennis McMurrin and Bob Dorr

Bob Dorr and Ron DeWitte

Ron DeWitte

Dennis McMurrin

Ron DeWitte

Dennis McMurrin

Dennis McMurrin and Ron DeWitte

Dennis McMurrin and Ron Dewitte

Bob Dorr, Ron DeWitte, and Dan Johnson

Festival Attendees


Bryce Janey and Bob Dorr

Tony Brown and Dennis McMurrin

Tony Brown, Dennis McMurrin, and Bryce Janey

Ron DeWitte

Craig Erickson

Tony Brown

Craig Erickson and Ron DeWitte

Dennis McMurrin, Bryce Janey, Bob Dorr,
and Craig Erickson

Tony Brown, Dennis McMurrin, Bryce Janey,
and Bob Dorr

Dennis McMurrin, Bryce Janey, Bob Dorr,
Craig Erickson, and Ron Dewitte



The Joanna Connor Band   


Joanna Connor

Lance Lewis

Tony Palmer

James Carter

Joanna Connor

Joanna Connor

James Carter

Joanna Connor

Lance Lewis
 
Joanna Connor

James Carter and Joanna Connor

Lance Lewis

Tony Brown

Joanna Connor and Craig Erickson


Tony Brown, Joanna Connor, and Craig Erickson

Joanna Connor and Craig Erickson

Joanna Connor and Craig Erickson

Bryce Janey and Tony Brown

Tony Brown, Joanna Connor, and Craig Erickson

Tony Brown, Joanna Connor and Craig Erickson

Joanna Connor, Craig Erickson, and Lance Lewis

Bryce Janey

Bryce Janey

Tony Brown, Joanna Connor, Craig Erickson
and Lance Lewis

Tony Brown and Joanna Connor

Bryce Janey, Tony Palmer, Tony Brown,
Joanna Connor, Craig Erickson and Lance Lewis


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

    
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, 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/
          



  


    
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, 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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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.