Saturday, January 27, 2018

#316 : Eric Gales / Craig Erickson live @ The Redstone Room 1-26-18


Eric Gales w/ opening act Craig Erickson
Live @ The Redstone Room
Jan 26, 2018
Davenport, Iowa
By Phillip Smith; Jan. 27, 2018


The Redstone Room in Davenport, Iowa was the place to be for guitar aficionados Friday, January 26thThe Craig Erickson Band, with John Hall on bass and Rob Haskell on drums, delivered a powerful six-song set before The Eric Gales Band took the stage.  The Eric Gales Band consists of Eric on guitar, Byron Carter on bass, his wife LaDonna on drums and percussion, and Nick Hayes on drums.  

For a perfect start, Erickson kicked the evening off with the wonderfully funky “Space Rooster” from the Cosmic Farm album.  He delivered one my favorites, “Mojo in Memphis” in powerhouse fashion and broke out a groovy new track, “Love Land”  which rolled right into a fantastic cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Baby”.  Singer Alicia Strong joined The Craig Erickson Band for the final two songs, “Mercy” from Sky Train Galaxy, and “Overtime” off the Roadhouse Stomp album, ending the set with a room full of smiles and cheers.


Eric Gales was in top form as he greeted a near-capacity crowd to a couple of killer tracks, “Change in Me (the Rebirth)” and a sweet cover of Freddy King’s “Boogie Man” both off his brand new record, Middle of the Road”.  I loved his searing instrumental take on “Don’t Fear the Reaper”.  I immensely enjoyed being swept away by the rolling blues on “Swamp”.  That’s such a terrific song.  Gales brought the evening to a close, dishing out an incredible performance with a “Voodoo Chile / Back in Black” medley. It was absolutely wonderful.

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all photos by Phillip Smith


Craig Erickson Band




















Eric Gales Band




























all photos by Phillip Smith

Saturday, January 20, 2018

#315 : Michelle Malone - Slings & Arrows


2018 –SBS Records
Release Date : March 02, 2018

By Phillip Smith; Jan 20, 2018

Three decades after recording her first album New Experience in 1988, Georgia songstress/guitarist Michelle Malone is releasing her fifteenth studio album, Slings & Arrows.  This bodacious record, smothered in southern rock and hard-edged blues, is loaded with lyrics so sharp, they cut to the bone.  I’m captivated right from the start.  With Malone on vocals, guitars, harmonica, and mandolin, her band consists of Doug Kees on electric guitar, bassist Robby Handley (Larkin Poe), drummer Christopher Burroughs, and percussionist Trish Land.  The album contains nine original songs and a fascinating cover of Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” which was performed as a duet with Shawn Mullins.          

I happily soak up the wonderful Sixties soul doused over “Sugar on My Tongue”.  Malone’s vocals are smooth as glass, and take on a Motown persona, while the band is holding court in a Memphis Stax fashion.  It sounds great.  The foot-stomping, hill country blues of “Beast’s Boogie” cradles me in its dancing hypnotic rhythm.  Malone tops this favorite with a big juicy scoop of harmonica and a delicious side of slide.  I love how “Civil War” begins so delicately and magnificently evolves into a full-fledge southern rock head-banger.  A feeling of melancholy washes over as Malone beautifully sings from the bottom of a broken heart in “The Flame”.  It’s an amazing song indeed.  In fact, the whole album is plumb terrific.



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

           
           



Sunday, January 14, 2018

#314 : Bob Dorr and the Blue Band - “The Last Goodbye” Tour


Bob Dorr and the Blue Band - “The Last Goodbye” Tour
w/ opening act Duke Tumatoe
Live @ Riverside Casino & Resort Show Lounge
Jan 13, 2018
Riverside, Iowa
By Phillip Smith; Jan. 14, 2018


Saturday, January 13th, Bob Dorr and the Blue Band performed their “Last Goodbye” show at Riverside Casino.  Following a couple of terrific sets from the wonderful Duke Tumatoe, who captivated the crowd with “Give Me Back My Wig”, “You Don’t Drink Enough” and “Tie You Up”, Bob Door and the Blue Band tore through three exhilarating sets of music to the largest audience I have ever seen at the Show Lounge. 

Bob Dorr kicked the first set off with the swinging “Don’t Sting, Bite or Bug Me” which was followed by slough of sweet tunes of which included “3 AM Backdoor Baby” and “Bottle in the Kitchen”.  To commemorate Bob’s sixty-sixth birthday which fell on January 12, the band played “Happy Birthday Blues” before working their way down the set list to hammer out splendid covers of Sam and Dave’s “Soul Man”, and Van Morrison’s “Domino”.

The second set broke open with a fabulous jam on “Not Fade Away”.  Cathy Henry gave a captivating performance singing Etta James’s “Blues is My Business”. One of the biggest highlights for me was hearing “Elvis in Paraguay”.  It was fabulous.  Ralph Stephens joined in on washboard and Bob broke out the zydeco tie for a rousing jamboree on “They All Asked For You”, which melted quite nicely into a medley of “Iko Iko” and “Jambalya”.  The set closed out with a riveting delivery of “Mustang Sally”. It was an instant crowd pleaser.


Set number three included fun songs like “Drugs Drugs Drugs” and the high energy horn-heavy ska tune “Arc Welded”.  It was absolutely wonderful.  Also included in this final set was “Nadine”, which was immediately followed by “The Last Goodbye”.  The performance was outstanding.   Bob Dorr and the Blue Band kept the electricity going through the night, winding down with “Bobby’s Blues”, and landing on “Mojo and the Say So” for a grand ending.  For the encore, they returned to play “Any Ordinary Man”, which brought the show to its final close.  It was a magical evening indeed.

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all photos by Phillip Smith


Duke Tumatoe

Duke Tumatoe

Duke Tumatoe


Bob Dorr and the Blue Band

Bob Dorr

Jeff Petersen

Cathy Henry, Doug Norton

Jeff Petersen

Jeff Petersen

Bob Dorr

Doug Norton

Doug Norton

Bob, Cathy, Doug, Jeff

Bob, Cathy, Doug

Nolan Schroeder, Bob Dorr

Bob Dorr, Doug Norton

Jeff Petersen

John Rohlf

Bob Dorr

Jeff Petersen

Bob Dorr

Bob Dorr

Ralph Stephens



Ralph Stephens




Saturday, January 13, 2018

#313 : Bernard Allison - Let it Go


2018 –Ruf Records
Release Date : February 2, 2018

By Phillip Smith; Jan 6, 2018

I have nothing but the highest of praise for Bernard Allison’s latest album Let it Go.  It’s a delightful blend of blues, funk and soul.   With this release, Bernard returns to Ruf Records, the label Thomas Ruf created for his father, the late great bluesman Luther Allison in 1994.  Bernard’s band is wonderfully tight and consists of rhythm guitarist John T. McGhee, bassist George Moye, and drummer Mario Dawson.  Recorded by the legendary music producer, Jim Gaines, the album was recorded at Bessie Blue Studio in Stantonville, Tennessee.

From the beginning, I’m hooked by the spirited rhythm and bouncy groove on “Cruisin for a Bluesin”.  It wonderfully ignites into a smoking guitar performance.  His soulful vocals on title track “Let it Go” are suave and soulful.  This is such a terrific song.  There’s a definitely a bit of the P-Funk influence on the front end of “Night Train”.  I love the bassline Moye throws down as Bernard takes this fresh, funky track to the next level with his guitar mastery.  Covered and topped with Dawson’s dynamic drumming, this is one phenomenal listen. 

Bernard charmingly takes on Brook Benton’s 1960 hit single “Kiddio”, enlisting the magnificent Jose Ned James on sax. For a fabulous finale, the listener is treated to two wonderful covers originally recorded by his father, Luther.  First served is the delicious slow-cooked blues of “You’re Gonna Need Me”, from the 1982 album South Side Safari. Then for a captivating closer, Bernard beautifully performs “Castle”, from Luther’s 1994 album Hand Me Down My Moonshine. 
Over the years, Bernard Allison has continued to push the envelope in his songwriting and artistry, and that certainly shows in Let it Go


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



            

Saturday, January 6, 2018

#312 : Ghalia & Mama’s Boys - Let the Demons Out


2017 –Ruf Records
Release Date : January 12, 2018

By Phillip Smith; Jan 6, 2018

Belgian singer/songwriter/guitarist Ghalia Vauthier has teamed up with New Orleans’ bluesmen Johnny Mastro and Mama’s Boys to record one hell of a blues-rock album, Let the Demons OutGhalia’s vocals, strong and sexy, sound fantastic paired with Mastro’s blazing harmonica, Smokehouse Brown’s sizzling guitar, Dean Zucchero’s beefy bass, and Rob Lee’s crashing drums. 

To jumpstart the album, Ghalia takes the listener on a late night/early morning food run in “4AM Fried Chicken”.  A dazzling guitar solo from Smokehouse highlights this hopping treat smothered in a bowlful of boogie.   A hypnotizing rhythm sided with a haunting melody driven by Johnny Mastro draws me tightly in to title track “Let the Demons Out”. Ghalia’s vocals on “Press That Trigger” are wonderfully fearless like that of Pat Benatar and Chrissie HyndeJohnny Mastro’s harp is ablaze on “Have You Seen My Woman”.  Smokehouse absolutely tears it up on this one.  Gentle waves of cymbals and a trance-inducing slide guitar riff set the stage as Ghalia beautifully delivers a masterpiece called “Addiction”.  She sings this ballad about love and co-dependence with splendid heartfelt emotion.

Let the Demons Out is a solid album, and a thoroughly delightful listen from start to finish.  Ghalia & Mama’s Boys sound great together and make quite a powerful partnership.  I hope they continue to work together.
 
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Click on the link below to purchase this terrific album from the PhillyCheeze Amazon store.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

#311 : Howlin' at Greaseland


Various Artists
Howlin’ at Greaseland
2017 –West Tone Records
Release Date : 2017

By Phillip Smith; Dec 30, 2017


Howlin’ Wolf has always been one of my favorite bluesmen and I was quite excited to hear this new compilation of the Wolf’s music masterminded by producer Stephanie Tice and Christopher ‘Kid’ Andersen.  Howlin’ at Greaseland was recorded at Andersen’s Greaseland Studio in San Jose, California, and features a terrific crew of blues singers consisting of Alabama Mike, John Blues Boyd, Tail Dragger Jones, Henry Gray, Aki Kumar, Terry Hanck, and Lee Donald.   The band has a rotating cast of notable Bay area blues artists on hand too.  With Andersen himself on guitar for the majority of the songs, others include: Rick Estrin(harmonica), Aki Kumar(harp), Rockin’ Johnny Burgin(guitar), Johnny Cat Soubrand(guitar), Vance Ehlers(bass), Jim Pugh(piano), Dmar Martin(drums), Lorenzo Farrell(piano), Alex Pettersen(drums), Robby Yamilov(bass), Joe Kyle Jr.(bass), June Core(drums), Henry Gray(piano), Patrick Rynn(bass), Chris James(guitar), Eric Spaulding(sax) and Mike Phillips(bass).

The album wonderfully begins with the infectious hook of “Meet Me in the Bottom”.  Alabama Mike pours himself into his performance.  Kid Andersen’s slide guitar sounds so nice, especially paired with the harp playing of Rick Estrin.  It’s a terrific way to start the record.  This really has a way of warming the listener up for the killer rendition of “Smokestack Lightnin’” sung by John Blues Boyd.  This one features both Kid and Rockin’ Johnny Burgin on guitars, as well as Estrin on harp, delicately accented by the piano prowess of Jim Pugh(Robert Cray Band).  Tail Dragger delivers the goods on “Don’t Trust No Woman”, as he belts the tune out with tons of experience.  Rockin’ Johnny Burgin splendidly keeps the song rolling on guitar while Aki Kumar delivers a big juicy performance on harp.  I love Henry Gray’s remarkable piano and vocal delivery of “Little Red Rooster”.  It is blues at its purest.  The album comes to a close with sweet recording of “Spoonful” sung with conviction by John Blues Boyd. Players on hand for this track include Kid Andersen and Rockin’ Johnny on guitars, with Rick Estrin on harp, Joe Kyle Jr. on bass, Jim Pugh on organ, and Eric Spaulding on sax.  They sound so great together; I certainly would be up for hearing more of these compilations from Greaseland.      
   


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

Saturday, December 23, 2017

#310 : Rockie Charles - Born For You (Reissue)


2017 –Orleans Records
Reissue Date : Nov. 24, 2017
Originally Released : 1996

By Phillip Smith; Dec 23, 2017


Alfred Charles Merrick (Nov. 14, 1942 - Mar. 12, 2010), also known as the “President of Soul” Rockie Charles was a Louisiana-born singer/songwriter who was a backing vocalist for the likes of Percy Sledge, Little Johnny Taylor, and Otis Redding in the late Sixties. He cut his first single “Mr Rickashay” in 1967 and recorded a few more singles on the Soulgate label a little later.  Due to a slowing demand for blues and soul artists in the Seventies, Rockie switched careers and became a tug boat captain. Then in the mid- Nineties, he placed an advertisement in a New Orleans entertainment directory looking for music work. That drew the attention of Carlo Ditta, producer for Orleans Records, which then led to the development of Born For You, his debut solo LP, which was recorded in 1995-1996.  With Rockie handling the guitar and vocals, his rhythm section was comprised of bassists Jerry Pekinto and John Bonvillian Jr., organists Rick Allen and Wayne Lohr, and drummer Tony D’Alessandro. 

Ushering in the album, title-track “Born For You” showcases Rockie’s smooth vocal stylings and his bright guitar performance which are masterfully highlighted by rich swirly organ music and accented with delightful blasts of brass.  From the first listen, the song brings to mind the early sounds of Otis Redding and the early Sixties soul music from Stax.  Rockie sings his southern soul ballad “Old Black Joel” with heartfelt emotion.  This fabulous and amazing track features the heavenly backing voices of Karlene Arena, and Rhea Kahler.  I love the funky infectious hook in the twangy “Festus Believes in Justice” and the high notes Rockie serves up in “I Just Called to Wish You a Merry Christmas”.  His vocals are suave and charismatic.   There are not many holiday songs as soulful as this one.  The bluesy “There is a Rainbow Hangin’ Over My Shoulder” brilliantly escorts the album to a beautiful and poignant close. 


Each and every listen to Born For You brings a great deal of joy to my music-loving ears.  This album is true gem.

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