New Blues News – 3/17/2015
Chris Daniels & The Kings – Funky To The Bone (Moon Voyage): This veteran funk & soul band is the latest “generation” of their funk forefathers – The Prophets of Funk – Freddi Henchi and the Soulsetters as they eventually mixed and merged with a jam band led by Chris Daniels. Age and health issues began to thin the ranks over the years, sidelining singer Fred Gowdy and Chris King and sending Henchi to the grave. As Daniels regained his health recovering from leukemia, he reformed the group and they have played about 200 gigs each of the last two years. So, who are they? Chris Daniels (Vox, g), Fred(d) Gowdy (vox), Randy Amen (d, vox), Kevin Lege (vox, b), Colin “Bones” Jones (lead guitar), Jim Waddell (vox, sax), and Darryl Abrahamson (vox, trumpet) supported by several more brass players and vocalists with special keyboard guest Bill Payne (Little Feat). Lots of soulful dance music, much of which is smooth, uptown soul seasoned with some very saucy funk. Old style dance music before the disco took over. Click here for a sample live performance. Note – this song is not on the disc.
Fo’ Reel – Heavy Water (self-produced): This is a New Orleans flavored, Nashville- based soul blues band organized by guitarist / songwriter Mark Domizio and features the fantastically smooth and infectious vocals of C.P. Love (occasionally replaced by Rick Lawson), solid bass by David Hyde, keyboards from Johnny Neel, drums by Daryl Burgess or Allyn Robinson, and brass by Jon Smith (tenor sax), Ward Smith (baritone) and Barney Floyd (trumpet). This “Big Easy” sound is polished and swings with conviction whether it’s bluesy or funk-oriented. All but three songs are originals. A very solid disc from end to end – like slipping in some greasy gravy. Click here for a sample from this disc.
Generation Blues Experience – Private Angel (R Music): In 2012,14 year-old wunderkind guitarist Ray Goren met 78 year-old guitarist/vocalist Jamie Powell and 68 year-old harmonic player/vocalist Sammy Lee and a partnership across the generations and based upon their love of the blues was born. The three trade off vocals across the disc and the music, whether modern, traditional or rock or soul oriented are authentic or revised in a way that is truly a representation of their collected tastes. The musical setting is completed by Lester Lands (bass, g, vox), Albert Trepagnier (drums), Tadg Galleran and Andrew Bush (keys), Dan Weinstein (cornet, trombone), Bobby Hurricane Spencer (tenor), and Terry DeRouen (rhythm guitar). There is a wide variety of musical styles here, but there is a lot to appeal to blues fans, not to mention that it is pretty amazing to hear this then young man’s solo on “Ain’t No Sunshine”. Click here for a live performance of “Ain’t No Sunshine” to see what I mean.
Lucky 3 Blues Band – Blues Time (Lucky 3 – self-produced): Chicago blues vets Frank Raven (harp), Jim Desmond (vox and “archaic” drum box), and Jay O’Rourke (guitar) deliver five intense electrified and as in-your-face as straightforward blues can be. The harp could blow down the Hancock Building and the guitar competes favorably with General Electric. Nothing fancy, but it does have the right flavor! Click here for a video of a performance. Note this song is not on the disc nor is it as intense.
Eric Noden Band – Solid Ground (self-produced): Guitarist/singer/songwriter Eric Noden presents a dozen originals (one by Joe Filisko, the rest Noden’s). He is joined by Kenny Smith (d), E.G. McDaniel (b) and Joe Filisko (harp). Noden steps away from the old time Piedmont blues style of the previous release he and Filisko offered in the recent past in favor of an electric pop/rock/blues mixture and the results are somewhat mixed. The band is a tight unit and lays down solid shuffles, but the real story here is Joe Filisko opening up on the harp. From beginning to end, he displays his flexibility and inventive use of effects, whether on the standard blues tunes or the atmospheric rock style songs and it is his performance that lifts this disc above the “ok” category. Click here for a live duo performance by Noden and Filisko of a song that is on the disc.
Bettye LaVette – Worthy (Cherry Red): Betty is back with another remarkable collection of songs that she makes totally her own. The songwriters vary from Dylan, Lennon and McCartney, and Jagger and Richards to Mickey Newbury, Randall Bramlett, and producer Joe Henry, who has once again rounded up the musicians who seem to channel LaVette’s every intention. The sparse music provided by Jay Bellerose (d), Doyle Bramhall II (g,b), Chris Bruce (B, g) and Patrick Warren (keys) suits her time-worn and utterly expressive voice perfectly. Masterful. Click here for a live version and new construction of “Wait” (Lennon & McCartney) as performed by LaVette.
Pops Staples – Don’t Lose This (Anti-): While on his death bed, Pops Staples passed a tape to daughter Mavis and said, “Don’t Lose This!” She listened to these unreleased takes quite a bit, but felt that something was missing and contacted her frequent collaborator Jeff Tweedy to fill it out. The result is this disc – the least we’ll hear from this great writer/singer/guitarist who brought so many wonderful gospel and soulful performances to our ears. Pops is joined by the Staples family singers (Mavis, Cleotha, and Yvonne) on several songs and his unique guitar work is supported here and there by Jeff Tweedy (g,b) and son Spencer (d) and a dab of Scott Ligon (Wurlitzer piano), Tony Grady (b), and Tim Austin (g). Simple, direct and compelling just like Pops always brought it. A truly fitting tribute to a master of gospel and social commentary. Click here for a video about Pops Staples and the making of this disc.
Kopasetically with you,