New Blues News – 1/12/2021

New Blues News – 1/12/2021

John Fusco & The X-Road Riders – John The Revelator (Self-produced): “More than three decades after a teenaged Fusco ran away from his New England home to Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta — returning with a semi-autobiographical screenplay called Crossroads (and an unlikely discovery as a Hollywood screenwriter) — the writer-musician returned to his old Southern stomping grounds. He was back in the Delta to film his Netflix hit The Highwaymen, but a series of impromptu jam sessions with Cody Dickinson, whose father Jim had been a music advisor on Crossroads, turned into an album of Fusco’s original blues. For John the Revelator, Fusco has assembled a cast of modern blues stars: Dickinson (the North Mississippi Allstars), who produced Fusco’s first, appears behind the board again and also contributes background vocals, drums, bass, guitars, dobro, piano, and electric washboard. Vocalist Risse Norman, who has toured and recorded with the North Mississippi Allstars and Samantha Fish, also returns. They are joined by new Fusco collaborator Sarah Morrow, former trombonist for Ray Charles and bandleader for Dr. John.” ( Ultimately, Fusco and company recorded twenty songs that seemed to be essential to Fusco’s offering. “Early on in my writing career, the industry tried to pigeonhole me as the Western Americana guy. I learned, over time, to never let a story get trapped in a genre box as long as the DNA is rooted in your true voice. That’s how I feel about my music. It all comes out of blues and gospel, but some of the stories and themes find a style that even takes me by surprise; they find a music engine that crosses the borders and breaks out of any box. The story finds the right music to carry it. For me, story is always the compass.” There is a solid batch of blues inflected stories here. Click here to check out “Bad Dog” on this release.

Justin Howl – Wanderlust (Self-produced): “Justin Howl is an internationally touring blues and roots singer, songwriter, guitarist, and harmonica player based in Chicago, IL, USA. Blues Blast Magazine called him a “strong singer” whose tunes “will strike a chord with you. . . . and are intelligent throughout,” in reviewing his debut album Justin Howl and the Salty Dogs. His second album, a solo acoustic project titled Wanderlust, was released in December 2020 and hailed by Music Connection Magazine as “wonderfully weird. . . . cool and vibey. . . . topped off by Howl’s warm and rangey vocal presence.” ( “Howl began performing live when he was a PhD student at the University of Chicago—propelled by the energy of the city’s blues clubs and the vast collection of old recordings he had discovered in the library’s holdings. While Justin acknowledges a debt to Chicago blues, he says, “I’m more drawn to the North Mississippi style because of its hypnotic quality. I think it’s also my way of going back home through the music.” ( Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this release and Howl’s first release.

Dave Keller – You Get What You Give (Tastee T-O-N-E): “Back in June, after the murder of George Floyd, I watched this country seething with anger and pain. As someone who has built his career performing Black music, and who has received priceless gifts from Black mentors, I asked myself, “What can I do to help?” Due to Covid-19, all my summer gigs had been cancelled, and I had some extra time on my hands. So I thought, “What if I record my new originals with some of my friends, and donate the money from album sales to groups working for racial justice and equity?” I put the idea out there on social media, and the response was incredible. Within 24 hours I had received hundreds of dollars worth of pre-orders. Dozens of musicians wanted to participate. Clearly other folks felt the way I did, and wanted to give back in some way. The musicians on this album represent a great diversity of styles, backgrounds, ages, genders, and ethnicities. Some are known around the world. Some are known only locally. But most importantly, their music and their ‘soul’ moves me. I am proud to call each of these wonderful human beings a friend.” ( The performers are Dave Keller (vocal, guitar, harmonica), Annika Chambers (vocal), Annie Mack (vocal), Trudy Lynn (vocal), Johnny Rawls (vocal), Joe Louis Walker (vocal), Dawn Taylor Watson (vocal), Chad Hollister (vocal), Brother Bob White (vocal), Katie Henry (vocal) and Toussaint St. Negritude (vocal) backed up by several other rotating musicians. Obviously heart-felt and beautifully performed! This is a certified Professor Bebop “Wax Devoid of Cracks”! Click here to listen to the songs on this release.

Wayne Riker Gathering – Blues Lightning (Self-produced): West Coast guitar veteran Wayne Riker offers his thirteenth release. He has a full bodied sound with tight instrumental backing from Doug Kvandal (organ), MacKenzie Leighton (bass) and Walt Riker (drums) and each of the six songs has a different lead vocalist: Leonard Patton, Shelle Blue, Deanna Haala, Michele Lundeen, Scott Mathiasen and Lauren Leigh Martin with Debora Galan and Christine Hewitt singing back-up on four songs. The songs on offer are “Everyday I Have The Blues”, “W-O-M-A-N” , “Rock Me Baby”, “That’s Why I’m Crying”, “Tore Down” and “If You Love Me Like You Say”. Nothing particularly new but nice covers. Click here to listen to “W-O-M-A-N” from this release.

Jimmie Vaughan – The Pleasure’s All Mine (Last Music): Jimmie Vaughan offers a double set of oldies featuring his solid backing crew of George Rains (drums), Ronnie James (bass), Billy Pitman (rhythm guitar), Greg Picollo (tenor sax) and Kas Kasenoff Doug James alternating on bari sax. The performances are tight and smooth just waiting for you to cut a rug or at least tap your toes. Click here and scroll down to listen to samples of all of the songs on this set.


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