New Blues News – 11/16/2015
New Blues News – 11/16/2015
Reverend Shawn Amos – Loves You (Put Together): Amos’ background story is somewhat mysterious and certainly unique: the child of Wally Amos, creator of the “Famous Amos” chocolate chip cookie brand and former beauty queen and nightclub singer Shirl-ee May, Amos has worked on both sides of the music business, including A&R, music production, administration, composer and performer, now focused on his own hip and somewhat gospelized blues. Amos wrote ten of the twelve songs on offer and plays guitar and harmonica and sings throughout. His backing musicians include Chris “Doctor” Roberts (guitar), Brady Blade (drums, percussion), Chris Thomas (bass), Anthony Marinelli and Hassell Teekell (keys), Louis Smith (trumpet), and guest appearances by The Blind Boys Of Alabama, Mindi Abair (sax) and Missy Andersen (vocals). The tone shifts from gospelized blues to sly blues or blues rock and a taste of blue country soul. Songs with sass like “You’re Gonna Miss Me (When I Get Home)” and “Boogie” with Missy Andersen had me hitting the replay and more than once. Click here for an introduction by the Reverend himself. Click here if you want to hear the opening track.
Eddie Cotton – One At A Time (DeChamp): It’s often said if you want to get to the root of something, start from the beginning and that seems to be exactly what Eddie Cotton has done from the time he studied music at Jackson State University in his home town and served as music director at his father’s church. The next step is a mystery, but this disc isn’t – this is a solid uptown electric blues performance that would have undoubtedly made BB King turn around and take notice (even in his earlier days)! As this disc of all originals demonstrates, Cotton is a steady and expressive singer and a solid songwriter. The band includes Myron Bennett (bass), Samuel Scott Jr (drums), James “Hotdog” Lewis (keys), with the occasional addition of the Jackson Horns (Kimble Funchess on trumpet, Jessie Primer III on tenor sax and Mike Weidick on trombone) and some nice background vocals from JJ Thames, Myron Bennet, Carl Russell and John Genous. Grady Champion and Carlos Russell also add harmonica to one track apiece. Click here to listen to a sample from this disc.
Wendy DeWitt with Kirk Harwood – Getaway (Wette Music): Most frequently performing with drummer/vocalist Kirk Harwood, singer/songwriter/keyboard player Wendy DeWitt has been working to keep the piano boogie boogie alive for a number of years. On this most recent disc, the duo is joined by Steve Freund (guitar), Steve Evans (bass), Mike Rinta (trombone), Tom Poole (trumpet), and Keith Crossan (tenor sax) on eight DeWitt originals and three covers. Though DeWitt can certainly many boogie styles, this disc mostly offers mid to uptempo shuffles rather than the hot boogie that stoked the jazz and r’n’b of the 30’s – the 50’s. It is, nonetheless, good to hear new songs with a boogie base and the true highlight of this disc is DeWitt’s playing. Click here to listen to a live performance in at the 2014 San Francisco Boogie Festival. Note: this performance is not on the above disc.
Beth McKee – Sugarcane Revival (Swampgirl): McKee began her music career in the 90’s, and after an apprenticeship with Bobby Charles that included performing on his final recording, she has continued to focus writing on life in the South where she was born and grew up. She also has organized and provided leadership for a southern women’s group called “Swamp Sistas” whose “La Las” celebrate of regional music, food and culture and raise awareness and money for a variety of community issues and organizations. This disc features 13 original songs with a clear message of personal determination and experience in a musical setting that reflects R&B, soul, country, and gospel with occasional elements of zydeco as influences in her personal style. In addition to McKee’s writing, she sings and plays piano, organ and accordion. Musical backing is provided by Juan Perez (drums, percussion); former subdude Tommy Malone (guitar, bass, vocals); Tony Battaglia, Tim Lee, Justin Beckler and Tim Kelliher (alternating on guitar and bass); John Tegethoff (organ); Jason Thomas (fiddle); Charles DeChant (sax); and Rhonda Lohmeyer (mandolin). Even with all those musicians, it is McKee who commands the attention. Click here to listen to samples from this disc.
Sid Whelan – The Story Of Ike Dupree (Presidio): Here’s an intriguing blues and rhythm disc based on a fictional, but potentially archetypal character by the name of Ike Dupree. Dupree came into being as Whelan, a post-Katrina refugee from NOLA, was composing the first of a projected trilogy of discs about the impact of the storm on the Crescent City and its population. The character, according to Whelan, is intended as a trope for survival in the face of injustice from the system (police in Dupree’s case). The disc isn’t really a musical exactly. The references to Dupree come up on more than one song, but this is really a mood piece. Whelan has a declarative vocal style with slightly raspy quality that suggests that of a narrator. His guitar playing is bluesy, fluid, and quite effective. There is a “down home – on the edge of town” feel to some of the material that draws the listener to the songs. Musical backing is provided by Jerry Z (keys), Marco Panascia (bass) and Richard Huntley (drums) with the addition of two sets of horns: most notably a group fronted and directed by Fred Wesley (of James Brown and Parliament-Funkadelic fame) on trombone and with a second set of arrangements by Ron Horton. The units include Fred Wesley, Alan Ferber, and Victor Wesley (trombones), Ron Horton and Eleazar Shafer (trumpets), Phillip Whack, Michael Blake and Michael Lee Breaux (saxes) and Randy Weinstein (harmonica). Click here to listen to a live performance by Whelan. Click here to listen to samples from this disc.