New Blues News – 5/12/2017
Chris Antonik – Monarch (Self-produced): Singer/songwriter/guitarist Chris Antonik offers his third release featuring Chuck Keeping (drums), Guenther Kapelle (bass), Jesse O’Brien (organ, clavinet), Richard Underhill (alto, bari sax), Perry White (tenor sax) and William Sperandei (trumpet). Antonik wrote or co-wrote all but two songs on the disc. His own compositions focus on regret and the hope of renewal and forgiveness as he experienced the sad demise of his marriage. The sound is full and rocking, but also smooth. The band is based in Toronto and has travelled in the US and Europe. Click here and scroll down to listen to the opening song on the disc (“I’d Burn It All Down For You”).
Amy Black – Memphis (Self-produced): Amy Black offers her fifth disc, the second with a determined soul bent. She wrote seven of the ten songs on offer and is obviously committed to the soul recorded in Muscle Shoals, the site of so many great hits and the studio she recorded in for her last disc. There are plenty of star backing musicians, including Bobby Manuel (guitar on 3 songs), Joe Restivo (guitar on the rest); Al Gamble (organ, piano); Charles Hodges (Hammond organ, piano); Leroy Hodges (bass); Howard Grimes and George Sluppick (drums). Black has a good voice, though she lacks the gospel influence that harks back to the greatest soul singers. That being said, this is a good release offering up “props” for the sounds of “Hi” and Muscle Shoals. Click here for an introduction to this disc.
Mick Kolassa & Mark Telesca – You Can’t Do That (Self-produced): Who doesn’t love the Beatles? Even a couple of folk blues players like Mick Kolassa (vocals, guitar, percussion) and Mark Telesca (vocals, guitar, bass) do and they decided it was about time to color those great compositions in blues. Not just the blues, but acoustic, folk style blues – rags, hillbilly, Piedmont and other more modern styles. They got occasional backing from Jeff Jensen (guitar), James Cunningham (drums, percussion), Eric Hughes (harmonica, guitar), Marc Franklin (trumpet, flugelhorn) and Tommy Boroughs (fiddle, mandolin). To be honest, some songs work better than others, but that is probably a factor of lost novelty as things progress. All of the performances are good and when they’re at their best and I’m listening, “I Feel Fine”! Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Kate Lush Band – Let It Fly (Self-produced): Fourth release by this increasingly popular Australian band, featuring Kate Lush (vocals), Matt Roberts (guitar, vocals), Tim Wilson (bass, vocals), Ross Middleton (sax), Mark Barnsley (trombone), John Pennings (trumpet), Tony Boyd (drums) and Wes Harder (keys). All but two of the songs are originals by Lush and some collaborations with other band members. Her voice is somewhat reminiscent of Susan Tedeschi. The style is rock with a touch of soul. It’s definitely mainstream, but it’s also entertaining. Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Janiva Magness – Blue Again (Blue Elan): Janiva Magness is back with a barn-storming performance that equals or surpasses any disc she has released in her career! There’s a little more country soul and certainly a deeper shade of blue than she has offered in a while. It’s shorter than most discs, but the quality is killer throughout. No need to hit the next button and you’ll be tempted to hit the back button more than once. Her main band includes Zach Zunis and Garrett Deloian (guitars), Gary “Scruff” Davenport (bass), Matt Teeu (drums) and Arlan Schierbaum (Hammond organ) with guest appearances by David “Kid” Ramos (guitar), Sugaray Rayford (vocals) and T.J. Norton (harmonica) on one song each. The song selection is just so strong and features compositions like “I Love You More Than I Can Say” (Al Kooper), “If I Can’t Have You” (Harvey Fuqua and Etta James) and “Tired Of Walking” (Eddie Hinton). Magness’ voice has some road wear, but just enough to put the edge in the right place. A “Certified” Professor Bebop “Wax Devoid of Cracks”! Click here and scroll down to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Taj Mahal & Keb’ Mo’ – TajMo (Concord): The combination of Taj Mahal and Keb’ Mo’ is so amazingly fantastic that it’s unbelievable that these two haven’t recorded long ago. They share vocal styles, instrumental preferences, blues as the basis of the folk and world music that they have created, and the joy of their performances. Both sing and play in set-ups as simple as the duo playing guitars and singing with a bass and drums rhythm section and as elaborate as both performing with a group that includes bass, drums, B3, two additional guitarists (Colin Linden and Joe Walsh), accordions, a horn section, and back-up singers. The amount of joy, style and sass on this disc is fantastic! A “Certified” Professor Bebop “Wax Devoid of Cracks”! Click here to listen to the opening song.
John McNamara – Rollin’ With It (Self-produced): New and seemingly first release by Australian soul blues singer/guitarist John McNamara. The man sings with straight-forward assurance and a touch of blue jazzy style. He doesn’t quite have the fullness or style of Otis Redding or Bobby Bland but he offers very credible versions of Redding’s “Security” and Bland’s “Blind Man”. He also composed six of the ten songs on the disc and there are some very good ones on the list. Instrumental support is top notch, including Steve Potts (drums), Michael Toles (guitar), James “Jimi” Kinard (bass), Lester Snell (keys), Marc Franklin (trumpet, flugelhorn), Lannie McMillan (tenor sax) and Jim Spake (bari sax). Much of the recording was done at Memphis’ historic Ardent Studio. The mojo is clearly in order. This disc is strong from end to end. Fans of soul and blues should definitely check it out. Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Milagro Saints – Tupelo (Self-produced): 2015 release from this group who performed at WTJU on May 5, 2017! This disc features all original material by singer/guitarist S.D. Ineson and has a bit more of a rock tinge (but only a tinge) to it. The group also features Lee Kirby (Hammond organ, piano, accordion, harmonica, melodica), Roberto Morales (guitar), Steve Samosky (bass) and Jack wins-Low (drums, percussion, electric guitar, trombone, sax, mandolin, fiddle, bass, back up vocals), with Smitty (dobro) and Joyce Bowden (vocal). This release has the requisite rag-tag style and charm that comes with the best of this genre. To listen to songs on this or other releases, click here, then click “Listen To Music” and scroll down to “Tupelo” for this release or “Stranger Times” for their most recent release.
Anthony Rosano & The Conqueroos – Anthony Rosano & The Conqueroos (Self-produced): This is a blues rock band from Virginia Beach featuring Anthony Rosano (guitar, vocals), Paul Warren (bass), J.B.Bustillos (harp, sax) and Scott Smith (drums). This is their third release and was produced by Mike Zito, who also played guitar on several cuts. Other guests are Anders Osbourne (slide on one cut), Johnny Sansone (accordion one song) and Michael Harvey (fiddle on one cut). The main sound is hard rock with a few shifts toward folk or New Orleans rock (where the disc was produced). The group is currently touring Virginia and will be as close as Arrington for the Rock To LOCKN Finals on June 17. Click here and scroll down to listen to the songs on this disc.
Lightnin’ Wells – O Lightnin’, Where Art Thou? (Blind Lemon Records): Lightnin’ Wells presents an entire disc of old folk blues, including songs associated with or written by Mississippi John Hurt, Robert Johnson, Bukka White, Gus Cannon, Woody Guthrie, Dock Boggs, the Delmore Brothers and more. He does a very nice job playing and singing in a straight away style that honors the originals. Wells plays guitar, banjo, ukulele and harmonica. This is a very good collection, mixing the essentials and the less well known. Click here to listen and watch a performance by Wells in 2016. This song is not on the disc, but the sound is representative.