Saturday, February 16, 2019

#375 : Danielle Nicole - Live at the Famous Mockingbird



Danielle Nicole     

Live @ The Famous Mockingbird
Marion, Iowa
Feb. 15, 2019

By Phillip Smith; Feb. 16,2019



The Famous Mockingbird was the place to be for two stellar sets of blues on Friday, February 15.  It was a sold-out show, and the excitement was surely in the air to see Danielle Nicole, who was a 2019 Grammy Nominee for Best Contemporary Blues Album.  Her band consisted of drummer Ralph Forrest, and guitarist Brandon Miller, who will be returning to Famous Mockingbird with his band in the near future. 

The show led off with the smooth and buttery “Hot Spell” from her latest album, Cry No More.  Her luscious vocals and thumping bass sounded absolutely fabulous.  Other amazing cuts from that album which landed in the first set were, “Lord I Can’t Keep From Crying”, “Pusher Man”, “Burning For You”, and “My Heart Just Remains”.  I loved her cover of Willie Dixon’s “I Just Want to Make Love to You”, and Howlin’ Wolf’s “Spoonful”.  She soulfully covered Lukas Nelson’s “Find Yourself”, and closed the show with “Save Me” chockful of heavy riffs, and wonderful guitar shredding from Miller.

It was a splendid show indeed.


* Photos by Phillip Smith







Saturday, February 9, 2019

#374 : Paul Nelson - Over Under Through



2019 – Riverwide Records

By Phillip Smith; Feb. 10, 2019

Over Under Through the new album from Paul Nelson is a powerful one to say the least.  His songs, poignant and masterfully crafted, are delivered with finesse.  Drawing inspiration from artists like Amos Lee, Ray Lamontagne, and Lyle Lovett, Nelson carves out his own style, and leaves me wanting to hear more.   

Of the eleven tracks on the record, all are original with the exception of one.  That one exception is an amazing, retooled cover of Johnny Cash’s “I Walk the Line”.  He definitely made this one his own.   Nelson’s pulsing blues-laden spiritual, “Go Down Ezekiel” is terrific and swampy, with guitarist Kevin Barry (Rosanne Cash, Susan Tedeschi, Paula Cole) onboard.  The poetic dirge “Ghost in the Basement”, an absolute favorite, is beautifully written and sang with a heartfelt performance.  In “Silent Majority”, Nelson takes a Dylan-esque stance and boldly proclaims that silence strengthens authority, indifference paves the way, and ain’t nothing gonna ever change if we’re silent.  The song is loaded with a twangy goodness from Barry, and nicely accented with harmonizing backing vocals from Kristin Cifelli, Ellis Paul, and Nickie Fuller.    

Paul Nelson scores huge with this recording.  Terrific from beginning to end, Over Under Through is a captivating and rewarding listen.


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For more information about the artist, visit this website..   https://www.paulnelsonofficial.com


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Saturday, February 2, 2019

#373 : John Mayall - Nobody Told Me



2019 – Forty Below Records
Release Date : Feb. 22, 2019

By Phillip Smith; Feb. 2, 2019

The highly revered Godfather of British Blues, John Mayall is back, and this time he’s bringing a slew of A-list guitarists to the studio with him.  The list of guests on this album is comprised of Todd Rundgren, Little Steven Van Zandt (E Street Band), Alex Lifeson (Rush), Joe Bonamassa, Larry McCray and Carolyn Wonderland, all of whom are noted as personal favorites of Mayall.  Returning to the studio with the godfather is Greg Rzab on bass guitar and Jay Davenport on drums.  Billy Watts appears on rhythm guitar as well, along with Mayall’s horn section (who are also members of the house band for Conan O’Brian).  Produced by Eric Corne (founder of Forty Below Records), and recorded in the famed Foo Fighters’ Studio 606, which houses the legendary Sound City console, the album has a sweet rich sound, and a luxurious, polished ambience.

The album opens with a down-home blues number by Magic Sam, “What Have I Done Wrong”.  Mayall’s vocals are perfect for singing the blues, and Joe Bonamassa, needless to say, absolutely tears it up on guitar.  Bonamassa also appears on the cover of “Delta Hurricane”, the title track to Larry McCray’s 1993 album. The groove on this is delightful, with Mayall on keys, Bonamassa on guitar, and a stellar brass accompaniment.  McCray kills it on the Albert Collins song, “The Moon is Full”. I could listen to him play all day long.  His performance on Gary Moore’s “The Hurt Inside” is wonderful too.

It’s a rare treat to hear Rush’s Alex Lifeson play hard core blues. With Mayall bringing it home on harp and keys, Lifeson pours himself into his performance on “Evil and Here to Stay” a tune from the late, great Jeff Healey. The funky riff Rundgren opens Little Milton’s “That’s What Love Will Make You Do” with, brings me immediately into the song.  The horn section punches it up quite nicely while Rundgren keeps the endorphinic energy flowing freely.  Hearing Little Steven dole out some serious blues in “It’s So Tough”, brings a giant smile to my face.  It’s nothing short of an amazing listen.

I love the three tracks Carolyn Wonderland appears on.  She boldly takes on Bonamassa’s “Distant Lonesome Train”, and plays the hell out of it.  Her slide guitar is an absolute delight.  She also covers a couple of Mayall-penned songs.  With the timing of B.B. King, she instills a relaxed breath into title track “Nobody Told Me”, and puts the moxie in “Like it Like You Do”.

Nobody Told Me is a one of a kind record. The song choices Mayall makes for this are fantastic, and their execution is absolutely brilliant.          


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Past PhillyCheeze reviews for John Mayall…
           
John Mayall - A Special Life :
https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2014/07/john-mayall-special-life.html

John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers - Live in 1967
https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2015/05/john-mayalls-bluesbreakers-live-in-1967.html

John Mayall - Find a Way to Care :
 https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2015/08/john-mayall-find-way-to-care.html

John Mayall - Talk About That :
 https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2017/05/john-mayall-talk-about-that.html



For more information about the artist, visit this website.. https://www.johnmayall.com



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Saturday, January 26, 2019

#372 : Jim Dan Dee - Jim Dan Dee



2018 –Jim Dan Dee

By Phillip Smith; January 26, 2019

Jim Dan Dee, the debut self-titled album from Toronto-based Jim Dan Dee is a high-energy and bluesy listen.  The band name itself stems from the expression, “Everything is just Jim Dandy”, and defines the essence of their music. The phrase also defines the front-man singer/guitarist Jim Stefanuk aka Jim Dan Dee.   Along with Stefanuk, the rest of the band is comprised of bassist Brian McCarthy, saxophonist Jason “Bobby” Sewerynek, and drummer Shawn Royal. 

With Royal and McCarthy dishing out a heart-pounding pulse, Stefanuk drives “Save My Soul” with a fearless hard-driving fashion, filling the song with catchy-as-hell riffs.  I love the sax accompaniment, and the angelic backing vocals from “Sweet” Jules Cordosa.  “Payday” packs quite a wallop too.   A fistful of swagger and Jim’s gravelly take-charge voice take this song to the next level.  “When You Move Like That” shines with the spirit of John Lee Hooker as it races through the speakers.  The jam on this is very nice indeed, filled with backing keys played by Jesse Karwat and blasts of sax to punch it up.  Jim Dan Dee takes a suave yet ominous approach with “Killer”.  This is such a fabulously composed song, and Jim’s guitar prowess is styleful and captivating.  Stefanuk confronts Old Scratch himself in “Walking Shoes”, as he closes the album out with a little bit of grease and shaker full of psychedelia.  It’s terrific.     

Bulletproof and dripping with cool, Jim Dan Dee has surely been one my favorite surprises this year.  It’s quite the album.

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For more information about the artist, visit this website.. www.jimdandee.com 

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Saturday, January 19, 2019

#371 : Anthony Gomes - Peace, Love & Loud Guitars



2018 – Up 2 Zero Entertainment

By Phillip Smith; Jan, 19, 2019


Anthony Gomes is such a powerhouse of a musician; I can’t help but love everything he puts out.  His latest album, Peace, Love & Loud Guitars, is a smashing success due to his guitar mastery, raspy commanding vocals, and diligent songwriting chops.  Gomes’ band consists of bassist Mike Brignardello, drummer/percussionist Greg Morrow, keyboardist David Smith, with Chris Leuzinger on acoustic guitar.

The front half of the album leads off with a terrific homage to the legendary king of the blues, BB King, on “Come Down”.  Gomes keeps this one fired up with an infectious riff, and piles it on thick with scads of smile-worthy BB King-style licks.  He blows the roof off the house with his ode to the queens of manufactured housing with “White Trash Princess”.  The number of songs out in the world about drinking is almost limitless, and “The Whiskey Made Me Do It” tops the list.  Gomes slide guitar on this is magnificent.     

Title track, “Peace, Love & Loud Guitars” kicks off the second half of the album, with a killer hook, and the ferocity of AC/DC.  Charlie Daniels sang about the time “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”.  Black Oak Arkansas had a “Race With the Devil”, and Van Halen was “Running With the Devil”.  There’s something kind of kickass about those songs, and Gomes fearlessly throws his hat into the ring of badassery to recant a tale about taking a ballsy visit down to the infamous crossroads.  His mission: to take Robert Johnson’s soul back from Beelzebub, as he sets out to go “Stealin’ From the Devil”.  This one absolutely rocks.  Gomes continues rocking hard with “Hard Road Easy”, which leads off in a Led Zepplin “Kashmir” manner.

Peace, Love & Loud Guitars is an album every fan of blues-rock needs to pick up.   Gomes puts the rock in blues-rock, and has indeed set a new bar for himself with this release. 
     
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For more information about the artist, visit this website :  www.anthonygomes.com


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Saturday, January 12, 2019

#370 : Little Freddie King - Fried Rice & Chicken



2018 – Orleans Records

By Phillip Smith; January 13, 2019

At seventy-eight, Little Freddie King is still ferociously pumping out raw, live blues in New Orleans at The DBA, and BJ’s Lounge.  His latest album, Fried Rice & Chicken is derived from six tracks off his 1996 release Swamp Boogie, and five songs from his 2000 in-concert album Sing Sang Sung. For those like me who missed the boat on those two albums, this is a great one to pick up. 

For the Swamp Boogie half, King is joined by bassists Earl Stanley and Robert Wilson, upright bassist Jason Sipher, drummers Kerry Brown and Bradley Wisham, and ‘Crazy’ Rick Allen on the Wurlitzer electric piano and organ.  The album opens with a splendidly funky instrumental cover of Jr. Walker and the All Stars’ “Cleo’s Back”.  King plays this with a slice old school twang, as Allen drizzles the song with an early Stax/Booker T. Jones vibe.  King also tears it up on Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say”, the other cover on the Swamp Boogie half of the record.  I love “The Great Chinese”.  This pseudo-instrumental has a definite Champs (“Tequilla”) influence.  Its rhythm pulls me in for a funky ride.  Another endearing instrumental, “Kinky Cotton Fields” is delivered with a western, cowboy twang.

The second half of Fried Rice & Chicken features recordings from two 1999 shows at Dream Palace in New Orleans.  The musicians playing with King on these tracks consist of long-time collaborator ‘Wacko’ Wade Wright on drums, Anthony Anderson on electric bass, and Bobby Lewis DiTullio on harmonica.  This act kicks off in a no-holds-barred way with a fantastic hardcore blues jam called “Sing Sang Sung”. King continues to rip it up on guitar, DiTullio kills it on harp, and Wright keeps the pulse adrenalized on drums.  Singing from the heart, King splendidly covers Jimmy Reed’s 1957 classic “Honest I Do”.   He also pays a rockin’ tribute to his namesake, Freddie King on “Hide Away”.  The album comes to a close with the funky country blues original “Bad Chicken”.  I can feel the smiles on the musicians’ faces, every time I hear it.  

Fried Rice & Chicken is a pure gem, and its rawness fascinates me.

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For more information about the artist, visit this website: https://littlefreddieking.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.




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Saturday, January 5, 2019

#369 : Wooden Nickel Lottery - Long Time Running



2018 – Violet Isle Records

By Phillip Smith; Jan. 05, 2019

Wooden Nickel Lottery, a four-piece band hailing from eastern Iowa, continues their tradition of producing a unique blend of rock, country, and blues with their third and latest release, Long Time Running.  The pairing of Rick Gallo’s soulful vocals with Rich Toomsen’s high energy guitar sounds great as bassist Jessica Toomsen, and drummer Delayne Stallman forge the pulse of a groovin’ rhythm section.  Of the nine tracks on the record, eight are notable originals written by Rich.       

Steeped in southern rock and paved with a Bob Seger vibe, title track “Long Time Running” is a badass tune evoking images of a cowboy on a mission.  I love listening to Rich rip it up on “The Right Man”.  This song is a true showcase for his guitar mastery.  A funky rhythm and a groovy contagious riff blows the doors open on “Drive By Love”, laying out the red carpet for Galllo’s signature voice.  “East to West” is a stellar favorite.  Rick’s smooth vocals take the reins, as the song energetically gallops in to an amazing listen featuring more blazing guitar from Rich and a hypnotic bass and drum backing from Jess and Stallman.    

With guest performances from Gerald Estella on organ and David Arnold on sax,  Long Time Running comes to a spectacular close with a stirring and beautiful cover of Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come”.  This song is definitely worth checking out, and so is the album.     


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Other PhillyCheeze articles about Wooden Nickel Lottery : 


#325 : Tinsley Ellis / Wooden Nickel Lottery live @ The Redstone Room

https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2018/03/325-tinsley-ellis-wooden-nickel-lottery.html


Wooden Nickel Lottery - Down the Line

https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2016/07/wooden-nickel-lottery-down-line.html

      


For more information about the artist, visit this website..  https://www.woodennickellottery.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.   As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.




Saturday, December 29, 2018

#368 : Shaw Davis & the Black Ties - Tales From the West



2018 – Chin Music Records

By Phillip Smith; Dec. 29, 2018

Tales From the West, the second release from Florida blues-rock trio Shaw Davis & the Black Ties, is an engaging balls-to-the-wall smash hit.  Front-man Shaw Davis coaxes a tsunami of sound from his guitar, culminating in an explosive performance.  The remainder of this killer band is comprised of bassist Patrick Stevenson, and drummer Bobby Van Stone.  

With a taste of Texas blues, “Take My Hand” rocks hard, and begs to be heard loudly.  Davis takes the listener to the cosmos and back with his stellar guitar commandeering.  The psychedelic groove on title track “Tales From the West” is ominous and infectious.  It digs right into my skull, and hangs out quite a while.  “Mamma Told Me” brings more Texas blues back in full regalia.  It sounds fantastic.  Davis takes another jammin’ venture into the cosmos of psychedelia on “Atomic Groove”. 

This band is the first I have ever heard to fearlessly take on Frank Zappa.  When “Willie the Pimp” began, I was not only impressed at the cajones it took to cover a Zappa song, but I was amazed at how great this sounded.  The only other cover on the album, “I Gotta Try You Girl”, from North Mississippi blues legend Junior Kimbrough, is loaded with searing guitar and rock-solid vocals.

Tales From the West is an astonishing forty-seven minute listen. The louder it’s heard, the better it sounds.  It’s just that good of a record.








For more information about the artist, visit this website..   https://www.shawdavisblackties.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.



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Phillycheeze's Favorites from 2018





By Phillip Smith; Dec 29, 2018

        The Phillycheeze Top 20 of 2018 (in alphabetical order)











































































































































































































































































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Sunday, December 23, 2018

#353 : Amanda Fish - Free



2018 – Vizztone

By Phillip Smith; Sep. 22, 2018

Free, the latest album from Amanda Fish has a sense of earnest purity in both the writing and presentation.  The music, delivered with the swagger of an outlaw poet, is a heart-stopping head-turner.  Amanda not only holds court as vocalist on this terrific blues-rock record, but she also plays bass (all tracks), acoustic guitar, electric and 12-string guitar, mandolin and piano.  This artist is extremely talented to say the least.  Drummer Glen James backs her on all the tracks.   Also appearing on this disc, are guitarists Dave Hayes, Ken Valdez, Coyote Bill and Lois Nadal, Chris Hazelton on keys, and vocalist Sara Morgan.  Special guests include Alastair Greene, “Steady Rollin’” Bob Margolin, Tyler Morris, and Richard Rosenblatt    


One of the most amazing songs I’ve heard this year is the blues ballad “Anymore”.  Fish’s vocals are heartfelt and soulful.  Hayes’ contagious guitar riff, and Hazelton’s funky keys sign, seal and deliver this wonderful track.  I love the swampy southern twang of “The Ballad of Lonesome Cowboy Bill”.  Like an old Marshall Tucker record, this one sets up shop with a tale to tell and a fistful of fiery guitar licks.  Fish’s powerhouse vocals are nicely framed by Margolin and Morris.  Alastair Greene kicks the door in and takes no prisoners with a dynamite guitar performance on “Going Down”.  This is one bad-ass house-rockin’ song.  The infectious driving rhythm on “Not Again” charges along like a freight train on a mission.  Rosenblatt sweetly accompanies on harp, and Hays on guitar.  “You Could Be” is beautifully played.  It’s got such a robust sound rooted in the wonderful instrumentation of Fish on guitar and piano, Hazelton on organ, and Coyote Bill on guitar.   

Amanda Fish grabs my full attention with Free.  It is one hell of a spectacular listen.  That’s for sure.

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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.



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Saturday, December 22, 2018

#367 : Sugaray Rayford - Somebody Save Me



2018 – Forty Below Records
Release Date : Mar. 1, 2019

By Phillip Smith; Dec. 22, 2018

My first exposure to Caron “Sugaray” Rayford was through listening to the Double Dynamite record from the Mannish Boys.  Rayford sang lead on nine of the twenty-six tracks on that double album.  Take a listen to any of his music, and it will become so very evident why he was nominated for four Blues Music Awards in 2018.  Written and produced by Forty Below Records founder Eric Corne, Somebody Save Me, the latest from Sugaray Rayford is bathed in the goodness of Sixties soul.  Rayford’s suave and powerful voice is accented quite nicely on this new recording with interesting hooks and a tight-knit band.  It’s much akin to the music of Charles Bradley, which I simply adore. The backbone of the band on this album consists of Rick Holmstrom on guitar, Matt Tecu on drums, Taras Prodaniuk on bass, and Sasha Smith on keys/organ.

The album begins with “The Revelator”, a hypnotic track with an Isaac Hayes delivery that magically beckons me like a porch light to a moth.  The bassline from Prodaniuk was quick to embed itself deep within my subconscious.  “Time to Get Moving” is a blues-soaked adrenalin jolt.  Its heightened pace is fortified with a groovy guitar twang from Holmstrom and topped with a juicy harp performance from Corne.  One listen to “You and I” and the music of Memphis’ Stax Records immediately comes to mind.  There’s certainly a call-back to the Memphis Horns with the sweet sounds of brass from Mark Pender on trumpet, Ron Dziubla on sax, and Richard A Rosenberg on trombone.  Swampy and dangerous, there’s an obvious Howlin’ Wolf vibe radiating off “I’d Kill For You, Honey”.  “Angels and Devils” keeps the atmosphere ominous, and unpredictable.  If ever there was a need for a blues-centric James Bond theme, this song would be on the top of the list.  Sugaray takes it nice and slow like Teddy Pendergrass on title track, “Somebody Save Me”.  His smooth, buttery vocals delicately dance atop a backing of violin and cello.  This definitely sets the mood for a slow dance.  

Sugaray is the real deal and Somebody Save Me is an amazing listen. 


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For more information about the artist, visit this website :  https://sugarayblues.com


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