Blues CD Review – 4-11-23

Mikey Junior – Blues in the Barn Vol. 1 (8th Train Records) – Mikey Junior has been on the Blues Scene for about 12 or so years but has gotten a lot praise over these few years for his amazing amplified Harmonica, his gravely voice and song writing. His newest CD is no exception. Recorded in an old barn turned studio (Silo Studios, NJ) on 80 acres which turned out to be the perfect place to bring in spirits of all the old blues guys of the past. Mikey Junior has several original tracks here. “321 Chelsea,” “Silo Yo,” and “Keep Moving My Way,” with “Summertime” done in the style of Mikey Junior. He also covers some of the greats like his first song on this CD – a cover of the great Elmore James in “Something Inside Me”. Mikey’s slow cover of Sonny Boy Williamson II’s “I’m Leaving You” is such a treat on this album. So many great songs on this CD. Jimmy Rogers’ “Goin’ Away” and another Sonny Boy Williamson II song, “Elevate Me Mama” are up there as some of my favorites but I think my favorite from this album is Howlin’ Wolf’s “Shake for Me”. Listen Here. This gets 9 in the blues content and an 8 on music content.

Dean Zucchero – Electric Church for the Spiritually Misguided (Pugnacious Records) – Dean was a native New Yorker who now resides in New Orleans, as a Bass Player and Song Writer. He has shared the stage with lots of great legends over the years. Interesting album as Dean wrote all the songs and plays bass but brings in a tower of talented musicians to sing and play the rest of the instruments. Filled with talented musicians like Johnny Rawls, Jason Ricci, Johnny Burgin and Ghalia Volt to just mention a few. A great mix of different Blues feeling through this album. The album starts out with “Big Boss Man” and Johnny Rawls singing and Johnny Burgin on guitar. Great way to start an album!! “Craft Beer” is a whimsical tune in a true Dr. John type style with vocals and guitar by Jonathon “Boogie” Long. “DBA” is an instrumental tune with Jason Ricci killing it on Harp and Joe Krown on B3 Organ; so good. The whole album kind of feels like a compilation CD but with a central link of Dean Zucchero, but it kind of works with lots of great songs. I think my favorite from this album is “Fascist Love” with the amazing Leslie Blacksbear Smith on vocals and Papa Mali on screaming guitar. Listen Here. This gets 9 in the blues content and a 7 on music content.

Chris Duarte – Ain’t Fiving Up (Provogue) – Chris Duarte has certainly made his mark as one of the best Blues guitarist in the world. Texas based, Chris has been a 30 year veteran as the next generation of SRV blues players. This is his 15th release and is a different approach for Chris as he is trying to probe different music styles. All songs are written by Chris as is all the Guitar and Vocals on this album. The CD starts off with a funky little tune “Nobody But You”. It feels a little country with electronica blended in. The next tune is “Big Fight” an almost rappy song with metal guitar licks followed by “Bye, Bye, Bye” a shuffle early Rock and Roll feeling tune. I thought this was going to be a Blues album!! OK, finally, next song “Can Opener” is that classic Duarte sound with Leslies’ rotating guitar waves throughout and blistering guitar leads. The album kind of goes up and down from there for me. Some great songs and some not so, that don’t seem to fit in. I think my favorite from this album is “Weak Days” but I couldn’t find a recording yet for it so this is an early Duarte live that shows his unique style on guitar, Listen Here. This gets 7 in the blues content and a 7 on music content.

Boo Boo Davis – Boo Boo Boogaloo (Blue Lotus) – Boo Boo Davis, one of the last of the original Mississippi Delta Bluesman, growing up in the middle of the Blues Scene as his father was the famous Sylvester Davis.  John Lee Hooker, Elmore James, Robert Pete Williams and Robert Petway would visit the family home to rehearse blues songs with Davis’ father. Boo started off on the drums and was in many iterations of a family band including his first band, The Lard Can Band. After moving North in the 60’s, Davis started playing with some blues legends like Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, Little Milton and Elmore James. With over a dozen albums out, this latest maybe his best with LA Jones – Guitar, Adrianna Marie – Bass, Chris Miller – Drums and Paul Niehaus IV – Keyboards. All songs are written by Davis and the whole recording sounds like it could have been done in the 60’s. Such a legitimate Blues Album. Every song on the Album feels like an old favorite, but I think my favorite from this album is “Boo Boo Boogaloo”. Here is a short clip of the song Listen Here. This gets 10 in the blues content and a 9 on music content.

Bruce Katz Band – Connections (Dancing Rooster) – Bruce Katz is probably best known for his tenure with The Gregg Allman and Friends band from 2007 – 2013, but he also played bass for Big Mama Thornton (which would have been my choice for his biggest achievement!!) Bruce also played with Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters from 1992–97, and was on 6 albums with that band. Bruce attended The New England Conservatory in Boston and received a Master’s Degree in Jazz Performance and it shows in his musical talent and knowledge. Even after playing with all these legend musicians, Katz really enjoys playing his own music with the Bruce Katz Band. This CD, Connections, is Katz’s 9th release with his own band. This album is a full out library of Keyboard sounds and such a wide range of tunes from full out rock to jazzy instrumental. With Aaron Lieberman on Guitar and Vocals, Liviu Pop on Drums and Congas and Shawn Oakley on Electric Bass, the band is tight and well produced. Some notable songs out of this CD is “Where’s My Wallet?” a full out Jazz instrumental fast tune with amazing Keys and Guitar. “Sneakin’ Around” is a B3 love song written by Jessie Mae Robinson, and “All About That” is a great Wes Montgomery type instrumental with tugs between organ and guitar. Over all, a world class music journey that you would expect no less from Bruce. I think my favorite from this album is “Where’s My Wallet”. Here is a live version, Listen Here. This gets an 8 in the blues content and a 10+ on music content.

Reviews by Juke Jackson, Don’t Blame the Station!!

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