Saturday, October 3, 2020

#465 : Micke & Lefty (feat Chef) - Let the Fire Lead

 


2020 – Hokahey Records

By Phillip Smith; Oct. 3, 2020 

It’s been ten years since Micke Björklöf, Lefty Leppänen, and Chef recorded their last album “Up the Wall”.  Their brand-new album Let the Fire Lead fabulously celebrates their twentieth anniversary of making music together.  For the past several years this Finnish trio has been involved with other noteworthy musical projects as well.   Björklöf and Leppänen have been busy with their band Blue StripLeppänen also had been involved with his trio Southpaw Steel ‘n’ Twang.  Chef has been playing with The Lumberjacks, a band he co-founded in 2007.  Björklöf noted “We had a wakeup call  last summer when we realized that almost ten years had passed since the last album release.  We felt this could be now or never, so we booked the studio right away.”.  The album was then recorded at their home base in Finland.     

On National resonator guitar, Lefty takes the lead vocals on “Small Town Baby”, a spectacular blues-rocker with a driving rhythm and the gusto of U2.  Micke takes the mic on title-track “Let the Fire Lead”, a lovely and delightful song with Lefty on resonator and mandolin.  “Gotta See My Church” is an amazing spiritual.  Sung with a big bowlful of passion, and played with a fiery finesse, its heart-pounding bass and drums sets an ominous undertone.  Whimsically advocating the minimalist lifestyle, they sing less is more in “No Stuff is Good Enuff”.  The chorus is really infectious, and sets its hooks in quickly.        

There’s a lot of energy poured into their cover of Willie Dixon’s “Tell That Woman”.  With Micke on lead vocals, dobro, and percussion, Lefty on resonator guitar, and Chef on upright bass, the song absolutely cooks.  Their voices harmonize quite nicely while serving up the country blues of Big Bill Broonzy in their performance of “Big Bill Blues”.  I really like their cover of Robert Johnson’s “I’m a Steady Rollin’ Man” too.  It is an absolute treat with guest lead vocalist Eero Raittinen.  Chef’s pounding bass-line adds a sense of intensity while Lefty rips it up on his National guitar.

Let the Fire Lead is an extraordinary album of blues and roots music delivered in a meticulous way and topped with wonderful three-part harmonies.  

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Related PhillyCheeze Reviews


Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip – After the Flood

https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2014/08/micke-bjorklof-blue-strip-after-flood.html

Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip – Ain’t Bad Yet

https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2015/11/micke-bjorklof-blue-strip-aint-bad-yet.html

Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip – Twentyfive Live at Blues Baltica

https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2018/08/348-micke-bjorklof-blue-strip.html

 

Southpaw Steel ‘n’ Twang – Hale’s Pleasure Railway

https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2014/09/southpaw-steel-n-twang-hales-pleasure.html

Southpaw Steel ‘n’ Twang – Stat(u)e of Mind

https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2016/01/southpaw-steel-n-twang-statue-of-mind.html

 


For more information about the artist, visit this website : mickeandlefty.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.



Sunday, September 27, 2020

#464 : Hanging Tree Guitars (Various Artists)

 


2020 – Music Maker Relief Foundation

By Phillip Smith; Sep. 26, 2020

The work of Freeman Vines, a North Carolina-based bluesman/artist/luthier, is the focus of a new book called Hanging Tree Guitars published by Bitter Southerner.  The title is a reference to a series of guitars in which Vines made using wood from a known lynching tree.  The guitars are fascinating and incredible pieces of art.  The book features tintype photos by Timothy Duffy, along with an essay by Lonnie Holley, and interviews with Vines.  Music Maker Relief Foundation, a non-profit organization which helps support impoverished musicians, has released a twelve-track album of various artists to serve as a companion piece to the book.  It truly is a splendid collection of blues and gospel music.

Leading this collection off is Rufus McKenzie’s “Slavery Time Blues”.  This is harmonica blues that cuts right to the bone as McKenzie creates a vivid visual relaying stories of his grandparents who were born as slaves.  Born in Perry Georgia, the same town as McKenzie, James Davis delivers his instrumental “Turning Point” in bare-bones fashion with just electric guitar and snare.  Its hypnotic rhythm embeds itself, like an earworm into my subconscious.  Guitar Gabriel sings of hard times in “Southland Blues” a striking song gently played on acoustic guitar with a lovely piano accompaniment.  Adolphus Bell gets my full attention on “Black Man’s Dream”, as he speaks of change, powerfully queueing up his meaningful words in a beautiful poetic cadence.  This one he makes sure to mention is dedicated to the late, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Hearing John Lee Zeigler on acoustic guitar play “John Henry” is intoxicating.  His unique style makes for an amazing listen.

The first half of the recording, being aligned with the Blues, leaves the remainder focused on Gospel.  The Glorifying Vines Sisters from Eastern North Carolina bring the house down with the vibrant and uplifting “Get Ready”.  It’s so different to hear “Glory Glory” played on steel guitar, but that is a good thing.  Elder Anderson Johnson absolutely tears it up on this traditional gospel song, and makes it his own.  When Johnny Ray Daniels digs in to “Somewhere to Lay My Head”, I truly want to stand up and dance.  It brings a joy to my heart.  One couldn’t pick a better song to bring this to a close than with “Amazing Grace”.  With a weathered voice and acoustic guitar, James ‘Guitar Slim’ Stephens (1915-1989) sweetly performs this 240-year-old song.  He takes it on with honor and gusto.                

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For more information about Hanging Tree Guitars, visit hangingtreeguitars.com .

For more information about Music Maker Relief Foundation, visit musicmaker.org .




Saturday, September 19, 2020

#463 : Andy Watts - Supergroove

 


2020 – Booga Music

By Phillip Smith; Sep. 19, 2020

 

Supergroove, the latest album from Israel’s Ambassador of the Blues Andy Watts is an impeccable record of big-band blues topped with the delectable sound of Watts’ smoking guitar.  With vocals rotated around a noteworthy guest list of singers such as Eliza Neals, and Joe Louis Walker, the band consists of Eyal Klein on keys, Ioram Linker on sax, Gregory Rivkin on trumpet, Tom Mochiach on bass, Moran Bar-On on trombone, Tom Bolig on drums, and Coastin Hank on harmonica.  Co-produced by multi-BMA winner and Grammy nominee Kenny Neal, Supergroove is nice mix of originals and covers, with a clean and polished sound.  

The funky instrumental “Supergroove” leads the recording off in a way which perfectly fits its name.  The sweet sound of horns backed with a B3 and a snappy back-beat make for great accompaniment to Watt’s Texas-blues stylings.  Linker’s baritone sax solo is a nice touch too.  I love Roy Young’s vocal stylings on their cover of Rick Estrin’s “Living Hand to Mouth”.  This is blues at its best with a luscious side of harp.  Young sounds great on the funky R&B cover of Gonzalez’s 1974 song “Pack it Up” too.  Grammy nominee Joe Louis Walker adds a silky-smooth touch to “Burning Deep”, a beautiful and soulful original.  It’s an absolute pleasure to hear the fabulous Detroit songstress Eliza Neals pour her magic on his 1995 song “Blues of the Month Club”.  I’d love to hear more collaborations between her and Watts.  High-energy blues-rocker “Don’t You Let Me Down” which was originally recorded in 1972 by the band Jericho, features the original singer Danny Shoshan.  This new version, rearranged for Watts’ larger band, sounds fantastic polished up with sounds of brass.  The album closes with a beautiful and delicate performance of Peter Green’s intoxicating instrumental “The Supernatural”.  Watts takes this song which first appeared on John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers’ A Hard Road album, and lifts it skyward in his own unique way.

Watts’ guitar mastery shines brightly on this album and he makes interesting choices music-wise.  Supergroove is a rock-solid album with rock-solid performances.  It’s definitely an album worthy of adding to your collection.   

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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.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases


Saturday, September 12, 2020

#462: Sir Rod & the Blues Doctors - Come Together

 


2020 – Adam Gussow and Roderick Patterson

 By Phillip Smith; Sep. 12, 2020

Sir Rod & the Blues Doctors is a collaboration between Adam Gussow, the master harp player of Satan & Adam, and Roderick Patterson aka Sir RodSir Rod a vocalist, dancer, and motivational speaker from the Atlanta-area also happens to be the nephew of Sterling “Mr. Satan” Magee.  Magee is the other half of the incredible blues duo Satan & Adam.  After watching the highly-rated documentary Satan & Adam last year, Sir Rod contacted Gussow to suggest they join forces to record a few songs as a tribute.  One thing led to another, and they gave birth to this wonderful new blues album, Come TogetherSir Rod takes on lead vocals, as Gussow brings it on harp/percussion along with fellow blues doctor Alan Gross on guitar.

The album opens up with a blast of riveting original blues on title-track “Come Together”.  The harp is hot, and the vocals are delivered with soulful conviction.  This is a song of the times which bears a positive message.  “I Want You”, another original song, fills me with joy with every listen.  I can’t help but smile when I hear it.  Sir Rod shines as songwriter, and pianist on “So Mean”.  It’s a beautiful song filled will heart-stirring emotion.

Sir Rod & the Blues Doctors pay an honorable homage to Satan & Adam through a few songs.   “Sanctified Blues”, a delicious slice of delta blues, takes me back to sounds of Mississippi when I hear it.  Rod’s vocals remind me a lot of Chris Robinson’s on “Seventh Avenue”.  I absolutely love this song delivered in a Black Crowes-inspired fashion.  “Freedom for My People” is terrific as well.  A song of unity and freedom, it cuts through right through to the bone.

The covers they chose for the album are plumb great.  They absolutely cook on James Brown’s “I Got You (I Feel Good)”.  Then immediately following, they bring the blues back home on a fabulous rendition of Willie Dixon’s “Little Red Rooster”.  For an album closer, they get down on Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say”.  Rod’s raspy growls, tossed in like little grenades, are fabulous. 

Come Together is a remarkable recording from beginning to end.  Blues fans will surely want to give this a listen.

 

 

 

* Note:  Just as I was writing this review, I sadly found out Sterling Magee, passed away on September 6th, at the age of 84 in Gulfport, due to complications from COVID-19.  Condolences to Roderick, Adam, and all of Sterling’s family and friends.

 

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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.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.


Saturday, September 5, 2020

#461 : Peter Parcek - Mississippi Suitcase


 

2020 – Peter Parcek Lightning Records

 By Phillip Smith; Sep. 5, 2020

Boston-based blues guitarist Peter Parcek has hit a homerun with his third and latest album, Mississippi Suitcase.  I can certainly see why he was compared to the great Eric Clapton, by living-legend Buddy Guy.  This new eleven-track album is fully loaded with fabulous songs played with a fine-tuned finesse.  Backing Parcek in the studio is Tim Carman on drums, Tom West on keyboards, and Marc Hickox on electric bass,        

Parcek starts the album off with “The World is Upside Down”, an original down-and-dirty blues tune fitting for the times today.  Slathered in that North Mississippi hill country blues, this attention-grabber is loaded with wonderfully swampy slide guitar.  It nicely slides right into a captivating cover of Sleepy John Estes’ “Everybody Oughta Make a Change”.  It’s such a rush to hear Parcek sink his guitar pick into this one.  He takes a slightly psychedelic turn, breaking into Peter Green’s “The Supernatural” which first appeared on John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers’ A Hard Road album.  It’s a beautiful instrumental.  Luther Dickinson and Mickey Raphael make a guest appearance on an exuberant take on Cousin Joe’s “Life’s a One Way Ticket”.   It’s so cool to hear Parcek go toe-to-toe with Dickinson while Raphael is ripping it up on harp. 

Two unexpected but very notable covers on this album include an intoxicating instrumental of The Beatles’ “Elenor Rigby” and a killer rendering of Lou Reed’s “Waiting For the Man”.  Parcek definitely makes them both his own.  I love them both. 

Hearing the way Parcek pours himself into his performances on this album, is a big part of the allure of why I adore this album.  Mississippi Suitcase is such a splendid recording.

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For more information about the artist, visit this website : peterparcekband.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, August 29, 2020

#460 : Kat Riggins - Cry Out

 


2020 – Gulf Coast Records

By Phillip Smith; Aug. 29, 2020

 

It’s been almost four years since being smitten by the music of Kat Riggins, with her 2016 album Blues Revival.  That album was so incredible.  Her brand-new album, Cry Out is yet another musical masterpiece.  Recorded on Mike Zito’s label Gulf Coast Records, the album has a big Zito presence.  Each of the original thirteen tracks were written by Riggins and composed by Zito, with the only exception being a short thirty-five second interlude of “Hand in the Hand”.  Backing Riggins on the album is drummer Brian Zielie, bassist Doug Byrkit, featuring Zito on guitar.  

“Son of a Gun” kicks the record off with a big meaty bassline, locked and loaded with a driving rhythm.  It’s a southern rocker infused with Seventies-style stanky funk, and packed with soul.  A fitting song for the times, title-track “Cry Out” is steeped in blues, and topped with a big slice of juicy harp.  “Catching Up” captivates me with Riggins’ smooth, powerful vocals which ride atop a tide of infectious riffs and thunderous beats.  Her no-holds-barred delivery on “Can’t You See Me Now” is nicely punched up with blasts of brass and hot guitar licks.  Kat sings the blues with abundant intensity in “Burn it All Down”, as she goes all-in for a final showdown in a shaky relationship. “The Storm” ominously wraps the album up in a harrowing and blues-soaked manner.  Riggins’ gives a dynamic performance as Zito takes his guitar out for a lush and psychedelic walk. 

Kat Riggins is definitely among the top of my list when it comes to favorite blues singers today.  As a songwriter, her mastery of writing blues songs is quite noteworthy.  Cry Out is an excellent album in all regards.                   

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For more information about the artist, visit this website : katriggins.com

 

PhillyCheeze’s Sep.16, 2016 review of Kat Riggins’ Blues Revival

https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2016/09/kat-riggins-blues-revival.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.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.


Sunday, August 23, 2020

#459 : Bette Smith - The Good The Bad The Bette

 

2020 – Ruf Records

Release Date : Sep. 25, 2020

By Phillip Smith; Aug. 23, 2020

 

Three years have passed since Bette Smith released her debut album Jetliner.  The Good The Bad The Bette, her follow-up album, is an exquisite explosion of gritty, soulful, and funky music.  Recorded at Dial Back Sound in Water Valley, Mississippi, the record was produced by Matt Patton (Drive-By Truckers), and Bronson Tew.  With Patton on bass guitar, and Tew on drums, Smith enlists a small army of guitarists comprised of Luther Dickinson, Jimbo Mathus, Craig Pratt, Jody Nelson, Bronson Tew, Matt Patton, Curtis J. Brewer, and John Mcleod.   

A bodacious cover of Lonnie Sheilds’ “Fistful of Dollars” struts in with a glamourous, spaghetti-western disco fashion.  The rhythm is downright funky and sophisticatedly accompanied with strings and horns.  “Whistle Stop”, an original from Smith is extremely bluesy and soulful.  Based on a dream she had shortly before her mother passed, this is a song commemorating her last goodbye.  Featuring Jimbo Mathus (Squirrel Nut Zippers ), “I’m a Sinner” invokes the sounds of sixties surf rock and absolutely cooks.  Smith’s vocals are fearless and from the gut, reminiscent of power-house soul singers Aretha Franklin, and Sharon Jones.  Luther Dickinson makes a guest appearance to pour some sweet southern soul into “Signs and Wonders”, setting the stage for an uplifting cosmic spiritual.  Smith serves up a big bowl of Muscle Shoals-style southern rock, with a delightful cover of The Dexateens’ “Pine Belt Blues”.  The band is tight as hell, and Smith’s vocals are rich and superb.  More Muscle Shoals-inspired music follows with a fabulous cover of the late, great Eddie Hinton’s “Everybody Needs Love”, featuring Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers.     

The Good The Bad The Bette is beautiful and flawless.  Don’t let this record pass you by.

             

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


Click on the link below to purchase this terrific album from the PhillyCheeze Amazon Store.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.


Sunday, August 16, 2020

#458 : Fantastic Negrito - Have You Lost Your Mind Yet?

 

2020 – Cooking Vinyls

 

By Phillip Smith; Aug. 15, 2020

 

Like George Clinton and Prince, Fantastic Negrito (Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz) is a creative force to be reckoned with.  His lyrics are timely, reflective, and meaningful.  His music is funky, soulful and tapped into the blues ever so gently.  His voice is definitely one which needs to be heard.  As the writer, producer, singer, and multi-instrumentalist, Fantastic Negrito has delivered a masterpiece in his latest album Have You Lost Your Mind Yet?   

 

With a delicious Stevie Wonder-infused groove, the album kicks in with “Chocolate Samurai”.  This being the closest thing to a title track, Xavier sings “Have you lost your mind yet?  Get free tonight!”  The song is fantastic.  Following is “I’m So Happy I Could Cry”, featuring the Tarriona Tank’ Ball of Tank and the Bangas on vocals.  Enduring days without electricity due to a derecho which pummeled Iowa earlier in the week, this song imbedded in my brain, was the only music I had to listen to for days.  I’m so happy my sub-conscious picked this one to keep me going.  The world is going mad and “What have we become?” is the sociological question asked in the ambiently hazy ballad “How Long?”.  I’m reminded of Frank Zappa in the way Fantastic Negrito magically creates a complex array of melodies and genres, fusing jazz, blues, and funk to produce amazing music.  “King Frustration” is an excellent example. There’s so much happening in this song, it opens up a bit more with each and every listen.  I feel thankful and happy when listening to Xavier sing about his compadres in “These are my Friends”.  

 

I absolutely love this album!  Have You Lost Your Mind Yet is a record you must listen to.       

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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, August 8, 2020

#457 : Mark May Band - Deep Dark Demon

 

2020 – Gulf Coast Records

By Phillip Smith; August 8, 2020

 

Deep Dark Demon, the seventh release from Mark May Band is a power-packed album of blues-rock featuring interesting original songs, soulful vocals and fierce guitar performances.  May, who cut his teeth in the Houston, Texas area playing biker bars and blues clubs for over twenty years, was also a member of Dickey Bett’s band for a while.  Killing it on lead vocals and lead guitar, he secures the front-man role of the band, which is also comprised of Billy Wells on vocals and rhythm guitar, Darrell Lacy on bass guitar, Brandon Jackson on drums for seven tracks, Geronimo Calderon on drums for four tracks, Barry Seelen on B3 for seven tracks, Shawn Allen on B3 for four tracks, and Al Pagliuso on percussion.  

The record rolls in a with “Harvey’s Dirty Side”, which boasts a heavy Allman Brothers meets Lenny Kravitz vibe.  Seelen’s beefy B3 riffs add a serious backup to May’s tantalizing guitar licks and mesmerizing style.  The relaxed pace on “BBQ and Blues” sets a perfect mood for a backyard cook-out abundantly stocked with coolers of ice-cold beer.  May bestows a Santana-esque flavor in”Back”.  This Latin-infused blues-rocker is an amazing listen.  May’s guitar prowess shines brightly on this masterpiece.

With Deep Dark Demon being recorded on Mike Zito’s Gulf Coast Records label, it’s a pleasure to hear Zito himself ripping it up on the title-track.  This slow-cooked number definitely brings the blues back home in style.  I love the dual lead guitar intro on “My Last Ride”.  May’s reflective lyrics and a driving rhythm are tremendous bookends for his stunning guitar-play.  The icing on the cake, “Invisible Man” brings the album to a fabulous close with a big bodacious bowl of eighties-style funk.  Although May’s soulful and debonair voice takes the front seat, I absolutely dig his use of the talk box on this track. 

Deep Dark Demon, satisfies on many levels.  It’s a terrific album through and through.       

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For more information about the artist, visit this website : markmay.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, August 1, 2020

#456 : BillyLee Janey - 20 Dollar Tip


2020 – BillyLee Janey

By Phillip Smith; Aug. 1, 2020

 

It’s always exciting to hear new material from Iowa Blues Hall of Fame member BillyLee Janey (Truth and Janey).  Janey’s bravado is a force to be reckoned with and his brand of electric blues is hard to beat.  For his latest album, 20 Dollar Tip, Janey returns to the studio with Dan ‘DJ’ Johnson on bass, Eric Douglas on drums, and Tom ‘T-Bone’ Giblin (Lonnie Brooks, The Dynatones, Mighty Joe Young) on Hammond B3 to produce an engaging, well-crafted record.   His son Bryce Janey mixed and mastered the record, and also appears on backing vocals.

Title-track “20 Dollar Tip” takes off in a dazzling fury with a wonderful display of searing guitar licks.  Flexing its muscles with a hard-driving rhythm and serious B3 back-up, it’s a great song to kick things off with.  Janey infuses a tasty bit of funk in his infectious tribute to delta blues in “Way Down in a Mississippi Town”.  This is definitely one of my favorites.  If there were a category for Best Soul Blues Song of the Year, “Love’s Gonna Stop That Train” would definitely be a contender.  The song is absolutely fabulous.  In “Stepping Out with the Blues”, Janey’s performance drips with Chicago-style authenticity, and sounds like perfection.  This nine-track album comes to a rollicking close with “Shake My Soul”, making for one hell of a blues jam. 

20 Dollar Tip is a splendid listen from start to finish, and 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.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.


Saturday, July 25, 2020

#455 : Scott Weis Band - Simmer Me Down


2020 – Scott Weis Band Production

By Phillip Smith; July 25, 2020


Simmer Me Down, the sixth release from Scott Weis Band, is a ten-track delight of electric blues.  With Weis on lead guitar and vocals, his trio also consists of Robert Kopec on bass guitar, and Roger Voss on drums.  Dedicated to the memory of Ben Elliot, who mixed and mastered the album, the record was recorded at Showplace Studios and features guests Cindy Mizelle on vocals, John Ginty on keys, Bashiri Johnson on percussion, and Phil Silverberg on keys.   

The opening track “Pride and Soul”, delicately awakens to a hard-driving blues-rock gem.  Filled to the brim with the lush sound of keys and a crashing pulse, the song also contains a bodacious dose of slide guitar.  It’s a stellar way to get the album started.  Weis breaks out a little Cajun funk topped with side of harmonica on title track “Simmer Me Down”.  It’s such a fun listen.  Surrounded by a wonderful infectious rhythm, and accompanied by Mizelle on backing vocals, Weis sings “Helpless” with a soulful John Hiatt swagger.  The song is pure excellence.  Weis, Voss and Kopec absolutely rip it up on “Right Where It Belongs”.  This is blues-rock at its best.      

Out of ten tracks on the recording, two are covers, and they are both terrific.  Weis performs Sam and Dave’s “When Something is Wrong with My Baby” with a mountain of heart and soul.  I love their take on ZZ Top’s “Jesus Just Left Chicago”.  Weis keeps this Texas blues favorite intact, while throwing his own spin into it.                 

The album closes with an amazing instrumental called “Transendence”.  It’s so reminiscent of the work of Tommy Bolin, it leaves me with a smile in my heart.  There’s no weak link in Simmer Me Down.  This album is about as solid as it gets.      

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For more information about the artist, visit this website : scottweisband.com


Saturday, July 18, 2020

#454 : Hurricane Ruth - Good Life


2020 – American Showplace Music

By Phillip Smith; July 18, 2020 

There’s no escaping the powerful voice and fierce style of Hurricane Ruth LaMaster in Good Life, her fifth and latest album.  Her fearless approach to singing the blues takes a backseat to none.  Produced by Ben Elliot (Savoy Brown, Leslie West, Hubert Sumlin) who sadly passed away April 5, 2020, this ten-track album comprised mostly of original songs features Scott Holt on guitar, Calvin Johnson on bass guitar, Bruce Katz on B3/keys, and Tony Braunagel on drums.

 A t-shirt I purchased from guitarist Scott Holt seven years ago at a favorite blues-hangout called Checkers Tavern in Cedar Rapids, Iowa says, “Loud is Good!”.  Loud is indeed good, and that’s the apparent mantra from the git-go with the high-energy opener “Wildfire”.  With Katz pounding the keys, and Holt ripping it up on guitar, Hurricane Ruth gives a riveting performance on the mic.  The music gets even hotter and out of control on “Dirty Blues”.  I love it.  Written by two-time Grammy winning producer Gary Nicholson, “Torn in Two” is an excellent vehicle for Ruth’s hardscrabble style.  While the band is absolutely cooking, she takes this song by the horns and wrestles it to the ground.  There’s a hard-rocking Suzi Quatro-esque vibe on “Black Sheep” which I simply adore.  This reflective ode to Ruth’s younger badass self is a definite favorite.  “Who I Am” is a killer track with lots of tasty jam.  A deep heavy pulse from Braunagel and a funky taste of keys from Katz opens the song as Ruth sings about leaving her partying days behind.

Hurricane Ruth packs a fistful of gusto into Good Life, delivering yet another rock-solid record of blues.  It’s definitely an album which I will keep in rotation for a while.     

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For more information about the artist, visit this website : hurricaneruth.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, July 11, 2020

#453 : Dave Fields - Force of Will


2020 – Dave Fields 

By Phillip Smith; July 11, 2020

 

I’ve been a fan of Dave Fields since reviewing his All In album which was released in 2014.  This New York City blues-rocker is such a remarkable musician, he never ceases to impress me with each new release.  He has risen to a whole new level with Force of Will, his latest album.  This record featuring ten tracks of all-original songs and is an amazing listen. 

Fields fabulously kick-starts the record off with a high-energy anthem of affection called “I Love My Baby”.  His infectious guitar riff and soulful vocals are accompanied with a delightful bluesy blast of harmonica from Bill Ferris.  Following up is hard-driving rocker “Big Block”.  Jam-packed with gobs of luscious, screaming guitar licks and astounding thunder-filled beats from drummer Van Romaine, this one is a monster. 

With a soulful slow-cooked delivery, Fields doles out gut-wrenching, down-home blues with “Why Can’t You Treat Me Right”.  Bassist Bjørn Hägset and drummer Käre Amundsen recording their parts from Molde Norway provide the rhythm section for this track. 

 Like Van Halen’s “Eruption” which lead into their cover of the Kink’s “You Really Got Me”, Fields’ “Delmar” is a short yet intense guitar instrumental leading up to another mind-blowing instrumental called “Jack Ham Her”.  The latter, with Erik Boyd on bass and Romaine on drums, grabs my full attention as it quickly reminds me of how in awe I was of Joe Satriani when I first heard Surfing with the Alien.  These two astonishing tracks tremendously caught me by surprise.   

Records like Dave Fields’ Force of Will keep me optimistic on the future of music.  The album is a great listen from start to finish.

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For more information about the artist, visit this website : davefields.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, July 4, 2020

#452 : Jeff Fetterman - Southern Son


2020 – Green Tea Music

 By Phillip Smith; July 4, 2020

 

Southern Son, the latest release from Jeff Fetterman has quickly garnered my affection.   Produced by Christoffer ‘Kid’ Andersen and recorded in California at Greaseland Studios, this twelve-track record is chockful of riveting blues-rock, with a tasty side of funk.  With Fetterman on guitar and vocals, his band is comprised of guitarist Eric Brewer, bassist Ralph Reitinger III, and drummer John McGuire.  Also appearing is John Halbleib on trumpet, Ric ‘Mightybone’ Feliciano on trombone, Doug Rowan on saxophone, and Kid Andersen on guitar, organ, piano, percussion and background vocals. 

Fetterman’s searing guitar on his high-energy opener “I Don’t Want To” sounds great with the horn-infused band and organ accompaniment.  The legendary tale of Robert Johnson’s pact with the Devil at the crossroads is a delightful and fun homage in “49/61”.  From the opening riff on “Ain’t Got You”, I’m hooked.  This big and bluesy hit infectiously rocks.  I love how “Blues for Charlie” gently drifts skyward-bound, like “Breathe” from Pink Floyd.  Beautifully executed, and performed, this instrumental is utterly remarkable.  Just as this track ends, Fetterman rolls into the only cover song on the album, “All Along the Watchtower”.  Here he takes a magical Isaac Hayes-inspired intro, before kicking the song into high-gear with a jaw-dropping guitar and vocal performance.  Behind the drums, McGuire grabs my attention fast with his thunderous and majestic beats.  This is my favorite track on the album.  Fetterman and company give up the funk on an incredible instrumental called “Voodoo Funk”.  It is another absolutely amazing song. 

 Fetterman’s Southern Son surely shines, and is one spectacular listen.                      

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For more information about the artist, visit this website : jefffetterman.com

 

 

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