Saturday, March 26, 2022

PhillyCheezeBlues.Blogspot.com #548 > The Boxmasters - Help...I'm Alive

 


2022 – Keen Tone Records

By Phillip Smith; Mar. 26, 2022

Original source : phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com

 

Help…I’m Alive, the twelfth and latest release from The Boxmasters, ushers in a dozen new original songs from J.D. Andrew and Bud Thornton.  With each of their recordings, I’ve always been delighted to listen to the guys navigate through their spectrum of influences.  This album most definitely carries on that tradition.

An infectious hook, powered by a driving beat and a lush soundscape, guides power-pop anthem “I Got a Girl” to the top of my favorites.  Frustrations, fueled by the pandemic and political duality, are vented in a twang-filled, Zappa-esque manner on the title-track “Help…I’m Alive”.  Then the solutions to said irritations are cleverly laid out in the unescapable groove of “Focus on the One”.  Letting someone down easily is one of the toughest things to do, and The Boxmasters turn such an occasion into a beautiful and melancholy ballad called “Turn Away”.  It’s absolutely stunning.  The upbeat Beatles-meets-Nashville sound infused into “Time” is very cool as well.  This ode to growing old together is vibrant and catchy.  I like it a lot.

Their unique sound, and homegrown lyrics inspire me to keep this one on heavy-rotation.  Help…I’m Alive is surely another homerun for J.D. and Bud.          

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For more information about The Boxmasters, visit this website :  https://www.theboxmasters.com


BOXMASTERS I GOT A GIRL 2021 Tour



More PhillyCheeze reviews for The Boxmasters:


https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2020/11/470-boxmasters-light-rays.html


https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2018/10/357-boxmasters-in-stereo.html


https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2015/04/the-boxmasters-live-at-surf-ballroom.html


https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2015/04/the-boxmasters-somewhere-down-road.html



This terrific album is available in the PhillyCheeze Amazon Store. 

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


Saturday, March 19, 2022

PhillyCheezeBlues.Blogspot.com #547 > Prakash Slim - Country Blues From Nepal


2022 –DeVille Records

By Phillip Smith; Mar. 19, 2022

Original source : phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com


Ram Prakash Pokharel aka Prakash Slim, an emerging blues artist from Lamatar, in the Lalitpur district of Nepal, has most definitely caught my attention with his new album Country Blues From Nepal.  With only a resonator guitar and slide in hand, he captures the pure essence of the blues with magnificent covers of legends such as Robert Johnson, Bukka White, Charley Patton, Mississippi Fred McDowell, and Blind Blake.  The originals which appear on this thirteen-track album are beautifully performed as well.         

An instrumental called “Blues Raga” starts the album off with lovely sitar-like bends and a hypnotic North Mississippi hill country groove.  Prakash’s original songs emit a vintage country blues essence as he sings them with a sincere delivery.  There’s an air of legitimate struggle in Prakash’s “Villager’s Blues”.  His hard-scrabble beginnings are laid out as he becomes the bluesman he is with the autobiographical song “Poor Boy”.  In addition, Prakash recorded a Nepali version of that song called “Garib Keto” which also appears on this album.  In this age of the Corona virus, it makes total sense there should be a straight up blues song on the topic.  The response Prakash has to the COVID-19 pandemic is brilliantly laid on the table with “Corona Blues”.        

Prakash takes on two classic Robert Johnson tracks, “Crossroad Blues” and “Me and the Devil Blues”.  With an amazing fearlessness he digs in and performs the hell out of these songs.  His guitar prowess surely grabs the spotlight.  I absolutely love his cover of Fred McDowell’s “You Gotta Move” too. 

Country Blues From Nepal is an utter gem of an album.  I’m excited to see the direction Prakash Slim takes with his music on his next release.     

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For more information about Prakash Slim, visit this website :  https://www.prakashslim.com/

  

 

This terrific album is available in the PhillyCheeze Amazon Store. 

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


Saturday, March 12, 2022

PhillyCheezeBlues.Blogspot.com #546 > Lady A - Satisfyin'


2021 – Lady A Productions

By Phillip Smith; Mar. 12, 2022


Original source : phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com


I’ve been a fan of Lady A since my first listen when I reviewed her 2016 album Loved, Blessed, and Blues.  Her ninth and latest album, Satisfyin’ continues to capture my affection for her music as it perfectly pairs her songwriting expertise with her special blend of funk, soul, and blues.  With Anita White aka Lady A front and center on lead vocals, her band is comprised of bassist John Studamire, guitarist Herman Brown, multi-instrumentalist Paul Richardson, multi-instrumentalist/background vocalist John Oliver III, and background vocalist Roz Royster McCommon.

The Seattle-based songstress rolls the album in with ‘Whatever You Do” which showcases her powerful vocals in an upbeat fashion.  She sounds great and the big band backing her is nicely topped off with a BB King-style guitar performance from Brown.  Immediately following is title-track “Satisfyin’”, which brings to mind the funky dance songs I immensely enjoyed in the Eighties.  Music, cheap liquor, gambling, and good food is the allure of “Miss Beula Mae’s”, an after-hours juke-joint Lady A reflects on.  Its inescapable groove, and detailed lyrics make this a favorite of mine.  A slow buttery bassline walks “Blues Soul Catfish & Fried Wings” to the finish in a major funky way.  Reminiscent of the music of George Clinton at times, it is absolutely fabulous.  In “For the People in the Back (All I Got)”, Lady A holds her ground, and without flinching once, stares down the pop-country band for pilfering her name.  Her fearless vocals, ride above a wave of hand-claps and an infectious gospel-infused melody.   

Satisfyin’ is a delightful album and like a fine wine, gets better with each and every listen.  

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For more information about Lady A, visit this website :  https://www.ladyababyblues.com/

 

 

This terrific album is available in the PhillyCheeze Amazon Store. 

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

 


Saturday, March 5, 2022

PhillyCheezeBlues.Blogspot.com #545 > Buckmiller Schwager - To Memphis and Back



2021 – Buckmiller Schwager

By Phillip Smith; Mar. 5, 2022

Original source : phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com

 

Together Tom Buckmiller and Brian Schwager are taking the Iowa blues scene by storm with their original working-man blues.  This Des Moines, Iowa – based blues duo pulled down first place in the 2021 Iowa Blues Challenge Solo/Duo category, securing their entry into the 2022 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee coming up in May.  Buckmiller has authored three blues books and teaches a class on the Blues at Drake University.  Schwager, lead guitarist and multi-instrumentalist, has a list of influences which reads like my record collection, naming guitar legends such as BB King, Jimmy Page , Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.  He has shared the stage with acts Blake Shelton, Thomas Rhett and Eli Young Band.  To Memphis and Back maintains a high level of excellence both lyrically and performance-wise on all ten songs.

A big dose of swampy slide blues leads the record in on “Whisky Man” before becoming electrified, Texas-style.  Buckmiller’s vocals take charge as Schwager absolutely rips it up.  “Thrill of the Thrill” intensifies the pace, and steps it up a notch, making for a barn-burner of a song.  A lush bluesy groove rolls in and hangs tight on “Tylenol and Templeton”.  This salute to hair-of-the-dog remedies proudly displays its Iowa roots with the mention of Templeton Rye.  Templeton was a total whisky game-changer in the state, touting a recipe that originated during the prohibition era and was supposedly enjoyed by Al Capone.  Topped off with horns and a hip soulful rhythm, “These Are the Good Days” catches me off guard in a very good kind of way.  The Velvet Underground vibe is absolutely delightful.  The album closes out with “Time To Come Home (Memphis Mix)” which absolutely cooks.  Heavy doses of resonator guitar, and hard-driving, George Thorogood-friendly riffs bring this one to a boil. It’s plumb terrific.

“To Memphis and Back” is a solid-as-hell album, and I certainly look forward to hearing more from Buckmiller Schwager in the future.  

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For more information about these artist, visit their websites :

https://www.tombuckmillerblues.com/

https://www.brianschwager.com/

 

 

Available on Bandcamp


Or 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, February 26, 2022

PhillyCheezeBlues.Blogspot.com #544 > The Terraplanes Blues Band - Stepping Stones


2022 – Terraplanes Blues Band

By Phillip Smith; Feb. 25, 2022

Original source : phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com

 

The Terraplane Blues Band from Bristol, UK absolutely tears it up on their new album Stepping Stones.  Produced by Richard Parsons, this twelve-track album of hot, original blues features Nick Scrase front and center on guitar and vocals.  The rest of the band is comprised of Eduardo Allen on harmonica, Tom Turner on drums, and Andy Wood on Bass.

Opening with “Highway 61” The Terraplanes Blues Band takes off with a driving rhythm, outlaw lyrics and humongous servings of searing harp.  It’s what one wants to hear from the first track.  Next up is “My Malaise” which grabs my attention with its playful and infectious riff.   This is indeed the makings of a Mississippi delta juke-joint jamboree.  Then “Get Along” rears its head and bites like a rattlesnake.  With the ferocity of those classic George Thorogood songs we all love, this one is entirely a big bowl of bliss.  Title track “Stepping Stones” has a bit of a North Mississippi hypnotic groove.  Its strong gravitational force pulls me right in to its lava-filled core.  Closing with “The Lonesome Crow”, the album comes to its end.  I can’t help but think of the final episode of Sons of Anarchy when I hear this one.  It’s such a beautiful song.

Stepping Stones is an absolutely brilliant album, and I highly recommend taking a listen to The Terraplane Blues Band                    

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


Available on Bandcamp

Saturday, February 19, 2022

PhillyCheezeBlues.Blogspot.com #543 > Reverend Nathon - Volume 1

 


2022 – Reverend Nathon

By Phillip Smith; Feb. 19, 2022

Original source : phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com


Volume 1, the debut album from Reverend Nathon swiftly grabbed my attention, and won my admiration with its kick-ass style of southern blues-rock.  This twelve-track, all-original recording is loaded with infectious rhythms and doused with Seventies psyche-rock.  It’s definitely a fun listen.  Hailing from the Lone Star State, Reverend Nathon is comprised of Nathon Dees on guitar and lead vocals, Gary Delz on drums, and Aaron Dees on bass guitar.

Reverend Nathon makes an ominous grand entry with “Darker Shade of Blues” an electric Texas-style blues song with a driving rhythm and vagabond-outlaw lyrics.  “Bi-Polar Blues” pulls me in tight with a deliciously greasy groove.  It masterfully sets the listener up for the main-event which features the good Rev’s psychedelic venture on guitar.  Nathon breaks out a magnificent dose of swampy slide on “Goin’ Fishin’”, a fitting anthem for beer-drinking sportsmen everywhere.  Heady lyrics and a beautiful melody make “Autumn Breeze” another stand-out song.  When I hear this one along with “Way it Could Have Been”, I’m immediately reminded of the ballads from one of my favorite bands Black Oak Arkansas.   Bringing Volume 1 to a close is “Golden Key”.  Its funky intoxicating rhythm and deeply-rooted lyrics make it a brilliant piece. 

I like this album so much; I honestly can’t wait to hear Volume 2.                            

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






Saturday, February 12, 2022

PhillyCheezeBlues.Blogspot.com #542 > Big Train and the Loco Motives - Red Dirt Blues! Live From Ground Zero Blues Club

 


2022 – Independent Release

By Phillip Smith; Feb. 12, 2022

Original source : phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com

 

I first met Jimbo Madsen aka “Big Train” in 2019 at Clarksdale, Mississippi while in town for the Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival.  He was visiting from Oklahoma and was friends with the group I had traveled down to Mississippi with.   In 2021, I saw him in Clarksdale again for the same festival.  This time, he brought his band The Loco Motives and was booked to play the legendary Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale.  This eleven-track album is a recording of that captivating performance.  With Jimbo “Big Train” Madson on lead guitar and vocals, the Loco Motives are comprised of Mason “Thumper” Cullen on bass, Bill “Top Dog” Cummins on harmonica, and Mike “Pinebox” Lander on percussion.       

The choice of cover songs Madsen and his ‘red dirt’ blues band lean into validates the affinity they have for the blues artists who sprang forth from the Mississippi delta.  Right off the bat, they play Muddy Waters’ “Got My Mojo Working”, Willie Dixon’s “Built For Comfort” and John Lee Hooker’s “Bang Bang Bang Bang” as frontman Madsen sprinkles tidbits of blues trivia between songs.  They serve up a big plateful of simmering, electric-blues on “Hoochie Coochie Man” and certainly captured everyone’s attention.  I loved hearing their bodacious original “Baby I Ain’t Skinny No More”.  This blues song for foodies, mentions all that good southern food I crave but can’t get up here in Iowa.  Like a true bluesman, Madsen belts out “Make Love To You”, another Willie Dixon-penned song.  One cover song caught me totally by surprise, and that was “Glocoat Blues”, originally from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and found on their 1974 album Stars & Stripes Forever.  This one put a big smile on my face for sure.  Bringing the album to its close is Elvis’ “Heartbreak Hotel”.  Madsen’s guitar tones are crisp and sound great.  

Big Train and the Loco Motives are unique and engaging.  Check out the album Red Dirt Blues! Live From Ground Zero Blues Club, and hit one of their shows if you get the chance. 

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*All Photos by Phillip Smith









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

 

Available on Bandcamp


Saturday, February 5, 2022

PhillyCheezeBlues.Blogspot.com #541 > Bob Corritore & Friends - Down Home Blues Revue

 


2022 – Vizztone/SWMAF

By Phillip Smith; Feb. 5, 2022

Original source : phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com


I’ve really been enjoying the ‘From the Vaults’ albums spearheaded by blues harmonica marvel Bob Corritore.  The latest in the series, Down Home Blues Revue, features thirteen tracks of real-deal blues recorded between 1995 and 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The amazing roster of southern blues artists on this album had all played Corritore’s blues club The Rhythm Room, and recorded tracks with him while in town.  The artists featured on this wonderful album are Robert ‘Bilbo’ Walker, Tomcat Courtney, T-Model Ford, Henry Townsend, Smokey Wilson, Honeyboy Edwards, Pecan Porter, Al Garrett, Dave Riley, and Big Jack Johnson. 

I was so happy to see Robert ‘Bilbo’ Walker’s name on the credits.  It was through Jeff Konkel and Roger Stolle’s docu-series MoonShine & Mojo Hands, and their film M for Mississippi where I first heard Walker, and quickly became a fan.   Walker appears three times on this album with songs “Rooster Blues”, “Still a Fool”, and “Baby Baby Baby”.  Another name that brought a big smile to my face was Fat Possum recording artist T-Model Ford.  His renditions of Arthur Crudup’s “Mean Old Frisco and Howlin’ Wolf’s “I Asked For Water” are captivating.     

Tomcat Courtney, who sadly passed away just a year ago at the age of 91, gives an extraordinary performance with “Clara Mae” a hard-edged, straight-up blues song on the evils of crystal meth.  Honeyboy Edwards performs Robert Lockwood’s “Take a Little Walk With Me”, with Willie “Big Eyes” Smith on drums, and I soak every bit of it up.  Corritore rips it up on harmonica as Pecan Porter takes on Canned Heat’s “Lets Work Together”.  The groove on Dave Riley’s “Home in Chicago” runs deep, and sounds great.  With a swaggering approach, Big Jack Johnson electrifies “Bluebird Blues” originally by Sonny Boy Williamson I.  He and Corritore sound terrific together.

Fans of Mississippi delta blues will definitely want to pick up this album.  It’s an absolute gem.

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 For more information about the artist, visit this website : https://bobcorritore.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, January 30, 2022

PhillyCheezeBlues.Blogspot.com #540 > 'daBluesapalooza



The Olympic Southside Theater

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

January 29, 2022

 

By Phillip Smith; Jan. 30, 2022

Original source : phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com

 

It was a fabulous night of blues last night at the Olympic South Side Theater in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  KCCK Jazz 88.3, is celebrating thirty years of playing ‘da Blues over the airwaves, and marked the occasion by hosting ‘daBluesapalooza, a five-hour blues show to honor Bob DeForest who started spinning the blues on KCCK in January of 1992.   John ‘Big Mo’ Heim who hosts The Big Mo Blues Show on Friday nights was also honored.

This special event featured the talents of several local area blues artists, making for a killer lineup of music which started with daBluesapalooza All-Stars comprised of BillyLee Janey, Dennis McMurrin, Nate Hines, Dan Johnson, Tom Giblin, and Eric Douglas.  Time seemed to fly as music continued throughout the evening from Craig Erickson Quartet, Homebrewed, Tanya English Band, Johnny Kilowatt featuring Alligator Records recording artist Gloria Hardiman, Molly Nova and the Hawk featuring Bryce Janey, John Resch & Doggin’ Out, and The Evan Stock Band.   

It was truly a special night.   

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·         * All photos by Phillip Smith      


Dennis McMurrin, Dan Johnson, BillyLee Janey

Tom 'T-Bone' Giblin

Craig Erickson, Rob Haskell

Craig Erickson, Rob Haskell

Al Naylor, John Hall

Homebrewed

Homebrewed

Nate Hines, Eric Douglas, Dennis McMurrin

Dennis McMurrin, Dan Johnson

Dennis McMurrin, Dan Johnson, Al Naylor

Tanya English Band


Ed English, Johnny Kilowatt

Johnny Kilowatt, Ed English

Johnny Kilowatt, Gloria Hardiman, Ed English


Turk Krause, Molly Nova 

Bryce Janey

Molly Nova

Bryce Janey

Evan Stock

Evan Stock Band

Evan Stock Band

Evan Stock Band





·         * All photos by Phillip Smith 

Saturday, January 29, 2022

PhillyCheezeBlues.Blogspot.com #539 > Grande Revival - Liberty Station



2021 – Grooveyard Records

 By Phillip Smith; Jan. 29, 2022

Original source :  phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com ©

 

Renowned recording artists Craig Erickson, and ‘Dirty’ Dave Osti recently teamed up as Grande Revival to record a hands-down, kick-ass album of guitar-centric blues-rock songs called Liberty Station.  Penning five tracks each, Erickson and Osti take turns singing their songs, rocking the sound of dual guitars with Anthony James Tuco on bass, and Cosmo Benz on drums.  Having two alpha powerhouse guitarists on each song makes for an amazing listen.

“Scars on the Road”, kicks the saloon-doors open as Dirty Dave fearlessly rips it up on guitar keeping the riffs infectious and the licks hotter than hell.  Smothered generously with his whisky-soaked vocals, this one fully grabs my attention.  The mellow groove Erickson weaves through “Cabin in the Country” pulls me right in.  The tones he harvests from his guitar bring to mind those of Tommy Bolin’s “Wild Dogs”.  Osti’s vocal styling topped with harmonizing guitars instill a huge Black Oak Arkansas vibe in title-track “Liberty Station”.  This southern-rocker is ear-candy for the guitar-lovers soul and features guest guitarist Stavros Papadopoulos from Greece.  “Gypsy Southern Highway”, another Osti song, immediately follows, breaking free of its gentle, melodic beginning and evolves into a phenomenal, fierce, hard-driving jam.  “Sweet Comfort of Love” embraces the sounds of Seventies southern-rock in an Allman Brothers kind of way, as Erickson sings about searching for love.  “Big River Moon” brings the album to its close in a grand way.  Osti and Erickson sound great together.

Liberty Station is a terrific debut album from Grande Revival.  I hope to hear more from these guitar masters in the future.

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Available at Grooveyard Records :

http://www.grooveyardrecords.com/granderevivallibertystation.html

 

Or 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, January 22, 2022

#538 : Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip - Whole 'Nutha Thang


 

2021 – Ruf Records

By Phillip Smith; Jan. 22, 2022

I’ve been a fan of Finnish, award-winning blues artist/bandleader Micke Bjorklof since reviewing his 2014 release After the Flood.   Bjorklof and Blue Strip had recorded four albums prior.  One of those being 2007’s Whole ‘Nutha Thing, originally released only in Scandinavia.  That album is now remastered and re-released by Ruf Records to help celebrate Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip’s thirty-year anniversary of being a touring band.  Recorded in London and produced by Neil Brokbank, this landmark record redefined the band’s sound.  With Bjorklof on lead vocals and harmonica, the band consists of Lefty Leppanen on slide/guitars, Seppo Nuolikoski on bass/piano, Teemu Vuorela on drums, and Roiko-Jokela on percussion/vibraphone/keys.  The eleven-track album also features guest appearances by Geraint Watkins (Paul McCartney, Bill Wymann ,Van Morrison, Mark Knopfler) on keys, and horn players from Van Morrison’s band at the time, Matt Holland on trumpet/flugel horn and Martin Winning on saxophone.  

With a Dylan-esque swagger, “Jungle Cat” strolls through with a delicious dose of twangy slide and barrel-house piano.  Bjorklof goes into full swing on “Back to my Room”.  Leppanen’s guitar performance is stunning and the rhythm section is amazingly tight.  This is one to jump, jive and wail to.  A whimsical, hypnotic melody speckled with slide creates the dreamy quality in “I Fell Down From the Tree (When I Saw Robert Johnson Pass Me By)”.  “Grapesugar Love” breaks out the funk in a big juicy way with bodacious blasts of brass mixed with a huge dose of swampy slide.  It’s vibrant and absolutely wonderful.  Time stands still as a melancholy wave washes over me with each listen of “Silver Moon”.  Bjorklof’s silky smooth vocals sound fantastic against this beautiful piano-led melody which brings Whole ‘Nutha Thang to its end.

Micke Bjorklof and Blue Strip never cease to amaze me.   They are surely among my favorites. 

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

 

Previous PhillyCheeze reviews featuring Micke Bjorklof:

 

Micke & Lefty (feat Chef ) – Let the Fire Lead

https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2020/10/465-micke-lefty-feat-chef-let-fire-lead.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 – Stat(u)e of Mind

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

 

Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip – Ain’t Bad Yet

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

 

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

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

 

Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip – After the Flood

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

 

 

 

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