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New Blues News – 11/11/2014
Tim Gartland – Million Stars (self-produced): Gartland sings, plays harp and wrote or co-wrote all of the songs on this disc. He and his band (Tom West (keys), Chris Rival (g), Paul Justice (b), and Forrest Padgett (d)) have a very mellow and laid back style on this disc. That makes the overall sound pleasing, but runs the risk of sounding too controlled and passionless. It’s seems they have more kick live than this disc generally demonstrates, though there are exceptions like “When The Next Wind Blows”. Click here for a live performance from 2012.
Marcus James – Head For The Hills (Firenze): Those hills would be in Mississippi, but there’s also significant connection with African roots as explored so magnificently by Corey Harris and some stomp down electric buzz reminiscent of the North Mississippi Allstars. James sings, and plays guitar, gourd banjo, 3-string cigar box guitar, slide dulcimer, diddley bow, beat box and harp and has support from a variety drummers. The sound ranges from primal and rockin’ to world-folk and can be mesmerizing like the best of the North Mississippi Hill Country sound. If you haven’t explored this style of blues/world music, this is a great place to start. A certified Professor Bebop “Wax Devoid of Cracks”! Click here for an earlier performance video.
Bruce Katz Band – Homecoming (American Showplace): Katz has been missing from the recording scene for a while and if you missed him or wondered if he missed it, the answer is a resounding, “YES!” In addition to the jazzy blues that has been his bread and butter for so many years, Katz (keys) turns loose some fine NOLA sounds (King of Decatur) and revisits blues classics like Santa Fe Blues, Wild About You Baby, and Blues Before Sunrise (two of which feature John Hammond). Katz basic band includes Chris Vitarello (g, vox) and Ralph Rosen (d) and Jimmy Bennett (g, lap steel, vox). The musicianship is top drawer and Katz is right in there throughout this party! So, don’t worry about where he’s been, just check out where he is now! BTW – he’s been part of Greg Allman’s touring band. Click here for a live solo performance from a year ago.
Lisa Mills – I’m Changing (self-produced): Singer songwriter Mills has a strong voice and handles a variety of styles (blues, gospel, folk, pop) on this disc. Mills’ gospel shadings have the greatest impact on her singing regardless of the song’s style. She has backup from various musicians depending upon the style and possibly when the particular take was recorded, as she explains in the liner notes that this disc has been reworked from its earlier form. The standouts include Ian Jennings (bowed standup bass) and Rick Hirsch and Corky Hughes (guitar). There is a lot to like about this disc, which grows on the listener with repeated listening, especially the blues/gospel sides for fans of Rory Block, among others. Click here for a live solo performance.
Peaches And Crime – Do Bad Things (self-produced): Vaudeville variety show – in style and presentation. This New York group composed and presents their own take on vaudeville performances, but just to reassure you, cornball still rules. Don’t expect much truly sly humor amidst the deadpan. Click here for a live performance.
Dave Ray – Legacy (Red House): A fantastic 3-disc retrospective tribute to the late Dave “Snaker” Ray, one of the early folk folk/blues revivalists of the 60’s, compiled and annotated by Tony Glover. The set tracks Ray’s career with rare and unreleased recordings spanning 1962 – 2002. Most performances here are duets with Ray on guitar and vocals and Tony Glover on harp. Dave Ray had the blues in his soul in his own personal style. This set is an important piece of blues and folk history and it is well worth many listenings. Click here for a music sample from 1973.
No new Soul or Gospel this week.