Saturday, May 15, 2021

#500 : Howard Grimes with Preston Lauterbach - Timekeeper My Life in Rhythm


2021 – Devault Graves Books

Release Date : July 1, 2021

By Phillip Smith; May 15, 2021


I’ve been a huge Stax Records fan for a very long time, and I absolutely love the southern soul music which poured out of Memphis in the Sixties and Seventies.  The grooves were buttery and always inviting.  Howard Grimes, the man who created the beats upon which the Memphis sound was built, tells his story of navigating the Memphis music scene from behind the drums of the prestigious Hi Records Rhythm Section.  Written with Preston Lauterbach, who also co-wrote the recent book from Annye C. Anderson Brother Robert – Growing Up With Robert Johnson, Timekeeper makes for a most intriguing read.    

A key connection was made when Grimes, never knowing his real father, found guidance and a mentorship from Emerson Able, the Manassas High School band director who referred to the youth as a human metronome.  The world Grimes paints of his growing up in Memphis in the Forties and Fifties, is a dicey, exciting, and sometimes terrifying one filled with neighborhood juke joints, barber shops, cafes, and pool halls.  That being said, Grimes was almost always able to steer his way out of trouble, and focus on his love of playing drums. 

Grimes’ stories of starting out are so captivating, and his brushes with fame are countless.  While still in high school, he was already going on road gigs with Rufus Thomas and his crew.  The whole band, plus Ma Rainey would all be packed in a ’59 four-door Chevy with all the instruments in the trunk, and the stand-up bass fiddle running through the middle of the car from the front windshield to the rear window.  Willie Mitchell and the Hodges brothers who made up the rest of the Hi Rhythm Section are all continually mentioned throughout the book, showing just how intertwined their lives were, through the good times and the bad.  It was while traveling through Texas with Mitchell when Al Green was discovered and signed to Hi RecordsMitchell produced Green’s record, with Grimes and the Hodge boys providing the backing.  That record became a hit, and Al Green became household name after that.     

Besides recording with top artists such as Rufus Thomas, Isaac Hayes, Al Green, Ann Peebles, Willie Mitchell, Otis Clay, O.V. Wright, and Steve Cropper, he’s backed legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson as well.  His encounters with each are  discussed.  It’s these stories which really draw me in.

Grimes also goes into deep details regarding his home-life, documenting the rocky relationship he had with his wife, and the fight that left him in the hospital with a knife wound.  Several of his friends were going through that same kind of turmoil, and he talks about how that affected things in the studio as well.  He does not sugar-coat his feelings or mince his words when it comes to telling it like it is or how it was.  His faith in God though kept him going when the going was tough.

In the end, I found it endearing that Grimes has continued to maintain contact with Able, the bandleader from high school throughout the years.  Timekeeper is a book that is hard to put down.  I already want to read it again.





Click on the link below to pre-order or purchase this terrific book from the PhillyCheeze Amazon Store.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

#499 : Bob Corritore & Friends - Spider in My Stew


2021 – Vizztone

Release Date : May 14, 2021

By Phillip Smith; May 08, 2021


Taking into consideration all his own records in addition to all the others he’s played on, Bob Corritore has appeared on over a hundred albums in his career.  In that time, he’s acquired a hell of a lot of friends.  Thirty-eight of them appear on his new fourteen-track disc Spider in My Stew, making for one of the hottest straight-up blues albums this year.

The fabulous voice of Oscar Wilson (Cash Box Kings) takes command as he joins Tony Tomlinson (guitar), Patrick Skog (bass), and Alan West (drums) of the Fremonts to kick the album off with a swanky cover of Fenton Robinson’s 1957 single “Tennessee Woman”.   Shea Marshall’s contributions on piano and sax gives it the perfect finishing touch.  Sugarray Rayford, one of my favorite singers these past few years, belts out one of his own songs “Big Mama’s Soul Food, joined by Kid Ramos and Johnny Main on guitar.  This one has me jonesing for a meal at Miss Polly’s on Beale Street in Memphis.  The great Johnny Rawls lends himself and a song as well.  “Sleeping With the Blues” is smothered in his trademark style of soulful blues.  Bob Welsh on piano and John Primer on guitar and vocals rip it up on a splendid cover of the J.B. Lenoir song, “Mama Talk to Your Daughter”.  With Alabama Mike taking the mic, and Junior Watson (the Mighty Flyers, Canned Heat) on guitar, “Look Out” absolutely cooks.  I dig the groove.  The rhythm really takes a hold on this one.

I love the Willie Dixon tribute which packs three of his songs right in a row.  “Don’t Mess With the Messer” gets this batch started with Diunna Greenleaf on vocals and Jimi ‘Primetime’ Smith on guitar.  That is followed by title-track “Spider in My Stew” which hosts a dynamic duo of Lurrie Bell and Bob Margolin.  Corritore pours his soul into the song, as Bell and Margolin duke it out on guitar.  Bell takes the mic on this one, and it sounds great.  The Willie Dixon three-fer concludes with a rollicking standout recording of “Wang Dang Doodle” with Bill ‘Howl-N-MAdd’ Perry and his daughter Shy Perry.    

Blues fans will surely want to pick up this all-star blues record.  It’s fantastic!       



For more information about the artist, visit this website :


Take a listen to the album on Apple Music.


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Saturday, May 1, 2021

#498 : Joecephus and the George Jonestown Massacre - Heirs of the Dog : A Tribute to Nazareth

2021 – Saustex Records

By Phillip Smith; May 1, 2021

Memphis musician Joey Killingsworth and his band, The George Jonestown Massacre have returned to the studio once again to record a tribute album for charitable reasons.  The most recent was their Mutants of the Monster album honoring Black Oak Arkansas, which featured BOA founding members Jim Dandy and Rick Reynolds.  This time around, they’re paying homage to Nazareth, whose Hair of the Dog album still sits among the top of my favorite albums.  Killingsworth, aka Joecephus and the GJM bring their A-game as well as a fistful of notable guests to recreate the Hair of the Dog in its entirety, in an outlaw country punk fashion, and it sounds great.  Guests include Blaine Cartwright and Ruyter Suys (Nashville Pussy), Greg Martin (Kentucky Headhunters), Eddie Spaghetti (Supersuckers), Jason McMaster (Dangerous Toys, Igniter) and Manny Charlton (Nazareth, and producer of original album), JD Pinkus (Butthole Surfers), Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars), Neil Fallon (Clutch), and Harvey McLaughlin.

From the moment I heard the clang of the cowbells, on “Hair of the Dog”, I knew I was in for a treat.  With Blaine Cartwright involved on this one, the energy is kept at high voltage and segues brilliantly over to “Miss Misery” which is recorded with Greg Martin and Ruyter Suys.  It winds down with a delicious dose of feedback, making way for the iconic ballad “Love Hurts” which features both Eddie Spaghetti and Suys.  I love the inclusion of lap steel guitar on this one.  I never thought of the song as a country roadhouse slow-dancer, but it sounds amazingly good. Then “Changing Times” with Jason McMaster and Manny Charlton kicks in.  That riff takes ahold and digs tightly in, backed with a monster beat.  J.D. Pinkus and Luther Dickinson join the band for “Whiskey Drinkin’ Woman”.  Swampy and covered in kudzu, the song is an outstanding cover drenched in southern-rock.  About half the length of the original, “Please Don’t Judas Me” with Neil Fallon is a little less ethereal, and a little more ominous than the original.  Heavy bass, lingering guitar fuzz, small helpings of feedback, and a tambourine-fed pulse make for a cool-as-hell track.

From the viewpoint of a person who has owned the original Hair of the Dog album on vinyl for well over thirty-five years, Heirs of the Dog is an album I can enjoy as much as the original.  When it comes to making tribute albums, Killingsworth is a master.  This album stands entirely on its own, and is surely a record worth seeking out.   


 *      All JGJM profits from sales of this album and a portion of profits from sales from Saustex Records will be donated to FSHD Society for FSHD Muscular Dystrophy research in memory of the band’s friend Jonelle Spicer.


Track List


1. Hair of the Dog (feat. Blaine Cartwright)

2. Miss Misery (feat. Ruyter Suys, Greg Martin)

3. Love Hurts (feat. Eddie Spaghetti, Ruyter Suys)

4. Changin' Times (feat. Jason McMaster, Manny Charlton)

5. Beggar's Day 03:52

6. Whiskey Drinkin' Woman (feat. JD Pinkus, Luther Dickinson)

7. Please Don't Judas Me (feat. Neil Fallon)

8. Guilty (feat. Harvey McLaughlin)



For more information about the artist, or to purchase this album,  visit


Saturday, April 24, 2021

#497 : The Reverend Shawn Amos - The Cause of it All


2021 – Put Together Music

Release Date : May 21, 2021

By Phillip Smith; April 24, 2021

The Cause of it All, the fourth studio album from The Reverend Shawn Amos, is the eighth release overall for Amos.  Taking advantage of time in quarantine, Amos teamed up with guitarist Chris “Doctor” Roberts, of Amos’ full band, The Brotherhood to record an album of classic blues songs in a raw, stripped-down fashion.  Amos’ magnetic vocals and wailing harp are the perfect match for the deliciously swampy guitar playing from Roberts.  As a duo, the chemistry between the two makes for a superb album of blues.

The album starts off with an intoxicating cover of “Spoonful”, the Willie Dixon classic made famous by Howlin’ Wolf.  It’s delivered with a matter-of-factness that sends chills down my spine.  With The Reverend belting out fearless vocals and harmonica notes that seemingly hover above the song in mid-air, The Doctor hammers out flesh-ripping guitar licks.  It’s absolutely wonderful.  They fabulously follow up with a killer blues-rocker off The Red Devils 1992 debut album King King called “Goin’ to the Church”.  It’s a fitting tribute to frontman Lester Butler who wrote the song and sadly passed away from a drug overdose in 1998 at the age of thirty-eight.  Impassioned with heavy emotion, The Reverend delivers another cut-to-the-bone gem in Howlin’ Wolf’s “Color and Kind”.  Intimate and charming, their acoustic performances of “Baby Please Don’t Go” and “Hoochie Coochie Man” put a gleaming smile on my face.

This is one of the best blues albums I’ve heard this year.  The Cause of it All has everything it needs to be a contender for Best Traditional Blues Album.                          





For more information about the artist, visit this website :



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Saturday, April 17, 2021

#496 : The Jujubes - Where Are We Now


2021 – Faversham Records

By Phillip Smith; April 17, 2021


I’m absolutely enamored over Where Are We Now, the debut album from The Jujubes.  It’s delightfully soaked in that wonderful delta blues and served with an unbridled authority.  With a stripped-down and raw approach to their music, it’s truly amazing what this South East London trio brings to the table.  Comprised of singer Nikki Brooks, guitarist Sandy Michie, and harp player/guitarist Pete Sim, the band covers eight classic blues songs and delivers three originals. 

A formidable dose of slide guitar and harmonica ushers this blues album in with a wonderful cover of Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “You’re Gonna Be Sorry”.  Nikki’s vocals are a sultry and fearless combination made to sing the blues.  Her delivery on Elmore James’ “Hurts Me Too” is beautiful.  It sounds perfect alongside Pete’s radiant harmonica performance and Sandy’s sweet swampy guitar.  They win more of my affection on the Son House classic “John the Revelator”.  It’s wonderfully eerie with its haunting guitar licks and Nick Marangoni’s heartbeat-like pulse on drums.  More ominous gospel blues ensues with Willie Johnson’s “Dark Was the Night”.  This almost-instrumental ingeniously creates a dark and uneasy atmosphere with brilliant slide guitar and sounds of creaking floors.

Their original songs are great too.  Title-track “Where Are We Now” is marvelously melancholy.  Nikki sings this one with pure emotion as she questions the status of a shaky relationship.  I love how “Change is Coming” takes an upbeat path.  The song’s partying juke-house rhythm occasionally swerves into the North Mississippi lane and magnificently ends in a furious explosion of sound.  Another favorite, “The Funeral Song” is a delicate and fragile torch song which steals my heart.  It’s fabulous.      

Where Are We Now steals my heart with every listen.  I’m already looking forward to the Jujubes next release.



 For more information about the artist, visit their Facebook page :



Take a listen to the album on Apple Music.


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Saturday, April 10, 2021

#495 : Dexter Allen - Keep Moving On


2021 – Endless Blues Records

By Phillip Smith; April 10, 2021


Hailing from Crystal Springs, Mississippi and playing music since he was twelve, Dexter Allen is a man who definitely knows the blues.  Starting out playing bass in his parents’ gospel band, he moved on to lead guitarist for The Airtight Band, and then on to playing lead guitar for Grammy award winner Bobby Rush’s band.  Now with six solo albums already under his belt, Allen has just rolled out one more smashing record of sweet downhome blues.  It’s called Keep Moving On and its fabulous.  With Christopher Minter on drums and Joey Robinson on drums and keys, Allen holds the fort down on lead vocals, lead guitar, bass guitar, and keys as well.    

In a tasty dose of funkdafied blues, Allen leads the record off with title-track “Keep Moving On”.  I love the positive message he hammers into his lyrics, reminding us to “Keep your head up high.   Keep reaching for the sky.”.  On “Love Talk”, Allen belts out a performance that is soaked in the essence of the late great B.B. King.  His vocals are suave and electric, as notes from his guitar seemingly hang in mid-air amidst the sweet lingering sound of organ.  “Blues Eyed Girl” is soulful and dreamy.  Its romantic lyrics and arrangement bring to mind the wonderful love songs recorded by the legendary Teddy Pendergrass.  He dives deep into the blues on “F.A.B.U.L.I.S.T. Woman” telling his story of a disenchanted romance with more of his soul-warming guitar and a delightful backing of horns.  It sounds so good.

Dexter Allen’s Keep Moving On is music for the soul.  When I listen to this record, I really feel like I’m hearing the blues.


For more information about the artist, visit this website :


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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Sunday, April 4, 2021

#494 : Elizabeth King - Living in the Last Days


2021 – Bible & Tire

By Phillip Smith; April 4, 2021

It’s been forty-five years since Elizabeth King walked away from the recording business to raise her fifteen children.  King has returned to the studio to share her dynamic voice with a brand-new album of uplifting sacred soul called Living in the Last Days.   With Bruce Watson producing, King is backed by The Sacred Soul Sound Section comprised of guitarists Will Sexton (Dale Watson, Nicki Bluhm, Amy LaVere) and Matt Ross-Spang (Al Green, Jason Isbell, John Prine), bassist Mark Stuart (Alvin Youngbood Hart), and drummer/percussionist George Sluppick (Albert King, Chris Robinson Brotherhood).  Also appearing on this record are The Vaughn Sisters Vocals, The D-Vine Spiritualettes Vocals, organists Al Gamble (St. Paul & the Broken Bones), and Rick Steff, vocalists Chris and Courtney Barnes, with Art Edmaiston and Jim Spike on horns, and William Graves on vocals and Wurlitzer electric piano.

This eleven-track album leads off with “No Ways Tired”.  King’s steadfast vocals are accented with a deep buttery bass, and a sweet twangy guitar.  I love the title-track “Living in the Last Days”.  Complete with hand-clapping and beefy organ accompaniment, it becomes quite the glory-hallelujah hymn.  “Call on Him” is an exquisite taste of Sixties soul wrapped around southern gospel.  It’s musical gold.  Drenched in a swampy Mississippi blues, “You’ve Got to Move” brings the album to a close.  With a superb performance, King expresses just how closely the musical paths are between the blues and church music.                   

The world could use more music like the ones Elizabeth Kings brings to Living in the Last Days.



For more information about the artist, visit this website :



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, April 3, 2021

#493 : 8 Ball Aitken - Ice Cream Man


2021 – Red Rocker Records

By Phillip Smith; April 3, 2021


I can’t help but be a fan of Nashville-based Aussie recording artist 8 Ball Aitken.  His unique style of blues-rock is a funky and infectious blend.  Ice Cream Man, his twelfth and latest album, was recorded in Nashville and features Buddy Guy’s Grammy Award winning producer Tom Hambridge on drums, Buddy Leach (George Thorogood and the Destroyers) on saxophone, Taya Chani on backing vocals, Dillion James Aitken (8 Ball’s brothers) on organ/keys, with 8 Ball taking on all guitars, bass, harmonica, and lead vocals.

Southern soul meets delta blues when 8 Ball leads the album off with title-track “Ice Cream Man”.  Loaded with fun, saucy double entendres, this one always puts a smile on my face.  Fueled with a Jimi Hendrix-inspired riff and a ‘Summer of Love’ vibe, 8 Ball builds an enlightening case for “Peace Love and Understanding”, by dropping notable quotes from purveyors of peace such as Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., and John Lennon.  “Boomerang”, a psychedelic rocker with a thunderous beat and an inescapable groove chronicles the tale of an on-again off-again relationship.  This is one cool-as-hell track which begs to be heard at a loud volume.  I love the ominous road 8 Ball wanders onto with “Hard Times and Struggle”.  He’s definitely reaching into Tom Waits and Nick Cave territory here, and it sounds great.  The fierce guitar/harmonica performance he gives on “Solitaire” is absolutely wonderful and cuts deep to the bone.

Ice Cream Man is a splendid listen from start to finish.  I highly recommend it.


For more information about the artist, visit this website :


Available on Bandcamp 


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, March 27, 2021

#492 : Sugarmill Slim -- Sugarmill Slim

2021 – Self-released

By Phillip Smith; March. 27, 2021


Occasionally a debut album really grabs ahold of me and gives me true hope for the future of the blues.  The ten-track, self-titled record from Sugarmill Slim is truly one of those.  It’s loaded down with six ripping deep-cut covers and four marvelous originals delivered in a fearless juke-joint fashion.  Sugarmill Slim aka Anders La Source is a multi-instrumentalist based in the Los Angeles/Hollywood/San Fernando Valley area who found focus playing harmonica in the confines of raw blues.  Produced, engineered, and mixed by Chuck Kavooras (Bob Margolin, The Mannish Boys), the album features Slim on harp and lead vocals, with a band comprised of Courtney Kakebeen on bass guitar, Slam McAdam on drums, Luca Neroni on guitar, and Isaac Rawdog Plummer on organ and piano.   

From the beginning of their cover of Muddy Water’s “Just to be With You”, I was totally amazed at the intensity of Slim’s harp playing and his made-for-the-blues vocals.  His cover of Little Walter’s “Me and Piney Brown” is a pure delight.  Plummer wails on the organ of this red hot rhythm section.  A funky slice of soul “Leaving Truck” is an uncontested favorite.  “Screamin’”, an instrumental which first landed on the debut album of The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, is given a makeover cloaked in steamy Memphis soul.  It reminds me immensely of the MGs.  More intense blues follows with covers of Sonny Boy Williamson II’s Help Me” and Junior Wells’ “Little by Little”.  These are absolutely fabulous.  Slim sings with the ferocity of Jerry Lee Lewis on “Hook Me Up”, the scorching original track he first released as a single.         

I’m so glad I stumbled upon this recordThis is honestly one of the best straight-up blues albums I’ve heard this past year.  I highly recommend checking it out.  You will not be disappointed. 


Take a listen to the album on Apple Music. 


For more information about the artist, visit his bandcamp page :

Click on the link below to purchase this terrific album from Bandcamp .

Saturday, March 20, 2021

#491 : Robert Allen Parker - The River's Invitation


2021 – Broken String Records
Music Maker Relief Foundation
By Phillip Smith; March 20, 2021
Robert Allen Parker, a staple of the Memphis music scene, is going all-in on his second solo effort The River’s Invitation.  This incredible double LP ushers the listener along an amazing Memphis-music experience, incorporating the many styles and genres which have graced the Bluff City to produce a potent cocktail of delta blues, southern soul, psych-rock, southern boogie and gospel.  Recorded in Memphis with an ensemble of local talent, the album features singers Kennard Farmer, Candice Ivory, Yubu Kazungu, Lahna Deering and Chris Stephenson, with a top-notch cast of musicians consisting of guitarists Khari Wynn (also on bass guitar) and Rev. Neil Down, bassists Chiemi Fujio, Leroy Hodges (Hi Rhythm Section) , keyboardists Gerald Stephens and, Chris Stephenson, percussionists Michael Alan Todd and Melvin Turner, sitarist Richard Cushing, saxophonist Hope Clayburn, trombonist Victor Sawyer, trumpeters Shayla Shaw and Jared Dover, violinist Krista Lynne, cellist Jana Misener, and drummers Paul Taylor, Brian Wells, and Howard Grimes (Hi Rhythm Section).  Parker’s guitar style and mastery has garnered critical acclaim from Gary Clark, Luther Dickinson, Valerie June, and Tav Falco.   

Surfing atop a furious beat, “The Sound of Revolution” epically washes ashore on a wave of prog-rock spiked with a string section and hints of R.E.M..  Parker then takes us to church in the Mississippi delta for a swampy delivery of gospel standard “Jesus is on the Main Line”.  With vocals drenched in blues, he gives a breathtaking slide guitar performance.  “Indian Dream / 1 Way 2 Fly” is a most interesting display of musical duality as the selection abruptly transitions from a soft Indian-inspired instrumental into an explosion of power-punk-pop.  Complete with crunchy guitar, catchy hook, and a smoking bridge, it definitely rocks.  “More Than Love” is a brilliant nod to the legendary Stax catalog, boasting a funky groove, soulful vocals, and blasts of brass.  And I adore his cover of Al Green’s “I’m a Ram”.  It’s loaded to the brim in a groovy and funky stink.  Parker pays homage to the great Duane Allman on “Skydog”.  I love the Allman Brothers vibe he injects into it as he pours out this flawless performance.  The River’s Invitation comes to a magnificent end of its twenty-four track journey with a fistful of funk, Hendrix-y psych-blues guitar, and full-bodied organ with “And the Song Goes on Forever”.  It’s quite the amazing listen.       


About "I'm a Ram" 

Since reading Robert Gorden’s book It Came From Memphis and listening to the companion soundtracks, I’ve become obsessed with the song “I’m A Ram”.  Although originally recorded by Al Green, the version appearing on the soundtrack was performed by Memphis band Big Ass Truck.  After going through a rabbit hole of sorts, I had even created a Spotify playlist consisting of every version of “I’m a Ram” I could find.   Within a week, I received a CD for review from a blues-rock band called Head Honchos,  which also contained a cover of the song.  I took that a sign to take a closer look at that album.  It ended up being one of my favorite albums I had heard so far this year. 
When I noticed the song was listed on the track-list to this album, I took it as another sign,  I was hooked on this album from the beginning.  I’ll be keeping an eye out for Robert’s version of the song to show up on Spotify.  When it does, it will definitely be added to the playlist.
Link to the PhillyCheeze playlist -  I’m a Ram   

For more information about the artist, visit this website  :

Saturday, March 13, 2021

#490 : Damon Fowler - Alafia Moon


2021 – Landslide Records

Release Date: Mar. 26, 2021

By Phillip Smith; Mar. 13, 2021


I’ve been reviewing the music of Tampa, Florida musician Damon Fowler for almost eight years now.  Whether playing with his own band, or with Southern Hospitality, the supergroup he was in with J.P.Soars and Victor Wainwright, Fowler continues to be a magnificent force to be reckoned with.  His songs are compelling, his voice soulfully raspy, and his slide guitar is superb.  Alafia Moon, his eighth solo album was coproduced by Fowler and George Harris (Cheap Trick, Rick Derringer, Brian Johnson – AC/DC), and features Chuck Riley on bass, Justin Headley on drums, T.C. Carr on harmonica, Mike Kach on keys, backup vocalist Betty Fox, and Josh Nelms in charge of background noise.     

The record slides nicely into play with the swampy infectious goodness of “Leave It Alone”.  The groove quickly takes ahold of me.  The lush melody and beautiful arrangement on title-track “Alafia Moon” is a delight for the soul.  Notes from the organ seem to linger in mid-air, as the cymbals crash, with Fowler’s passion-soaked vocals ringing out atop his spectacular guitar performance.  I absolutely adore Fowler’s cover of Guy Clark’s fabulous story-telling song “The Guitar”.  It showcases his finger picking expertise very nicely.  “Some Things Change” is fantastic too.  With killer slide guitar from Fowler fueled by the smoldering sounds of harp, the song definitely cooks.  I dig the southern soul of “Wanda”.  Its Stax-meets-Fame vibe is dressed to the nines in a happy, funky groove.

The album closes with a joined-pair of tracks starting with “The Umbrella”, a spoken word selection of Fowler telling a story from his earlier days on tour.  His tale involves an encounter with a drunken fan in Prescott, Arizona, whose incessant request to hear the band play “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” leads to the final track on the album “Kick His Ass Out”.   

Constructed around the four musical corner stones of blues, country, rock, and soul, Alafia Moon sets a new benchmark for Damon Fowler.  It truly is an exceptional album.  



For more information about the artist, visit this website :



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Saturday, March 6, 2021

#489 : The Rush Cleveland Trio - Vintage Folk Rock and Blue Ribbon Blues

2021 – Wild Midwest Records

By Phillip Smith; Mar. 6, 2021


There’s something fascinating about the songs of Rush Cleveland.  His lyrical prowess goes toe-to-toe with the best of the best.  His music flows like aged whisky right from the cask.  This Iowa treasure ranks right up there with other favorite artists of mine like Watermelon Slim and Lucinda Williams.  

The Rush Cleveland Trio is comprised of Rush Cleveland on vocals and guitar, Gordon Sankey on bass and vocals, and Will Quegg on drums, with guest vocalist Sophia Landis appearing on four tracks.  Their latest release Vintage Folk Rock and Blue Ribbon Blues is a stellar nineteen track album of hardscrabble folk rock songs and from-the-gut blues all written by Cleveland.

Cleveland opens the album in a rocking Neil Young fashion with “Waterloo Land” where a trip to jail always seems to be waiting just around the corner.  “River Flows”, another great rocker, reels me in with a killer riff, and a captivating beat.  Decorated with memories of being carefree and hanging out at the river, this is one of my favorite tracks.  It’s really touching to hear Rush’s personal reflections on “Jose’s Blues” a memorandum of his friend.  Pat Garret, Geronimo, and Billy the Kid vividly come to life in Cleveland’s western outlaw ballad “Rush Meets Billy the Kid”.   

“He Always Comes Home”, featuring Landis on vocals, initiates the second half of the album.  I love the Chrissie Hynde/Pretenders vibe which radiates from her voice on this song.  Paradigms associated with contemporary love songs are abruptly demolished in “Crack House Row”, while blues paradigms are solidly reinforced with “Liquor, Lines, and Loose Women”.  Chicago, where blues meets electricity, is the backdrop of “Blues Electricity.  Here we get a brief history lesson of the genre and a terrific dose of raw guitar blues.  The album comes to a close with a wonderful instrumental called “Blues in D”.  It’s a track that puts me quickly at ease with every listen.

Vintage Folk Rock and Blue Ribbon Blues is bold stew of folk, blues, country and rock and is a standout slice of Americana.  I highly recommend it.                      



For more information about the artist, visit their Facebook page :


Take a listen to the album on Apple Music. 

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