New Blues News – 12/2/2015

New Blues News – 12/2/2015

Doctor G & The Mudcats – Swampy Tonk Blues (Cheatham Street): In the never-ending explosions of naming hybrid music, I am pressed to describe the style / sound of this disc as “blue / country / folk”: the bluesiest songs are “J. Cool Blues” and maybe “Cottonmouth Blues” and certainly the title song remake of “Honky Tonk Blues” (it literally Hank Sr’s song with the word swampy replacing honky and has dropped the steel for some “boggy” guitar). The larger influences are Americana, folk, country and a taste of country swing. Sometimes, there is an eery feeling but, happy or sad, there is a great deal of lonesomeness and reflection throughout the set. The Mudcats include Sterling Finlay (bass, harmony); Kyle Schneider, Nina Singh or Johnny Arredondo (drums); Grant Mazak (electric guitar); and Big John Mills (guitar), with occasional guests Tim Crouch (“fiddles”), Lloyd Maines (steel guitar), Winston Haun (harmonica) and Ronnie Huckaby (piano). Click here to listen to one of the bluesiest songs. 

Harmonica Shah – If You Live To Get Old (Electro-Fi): This disc is a fabulous and eclectic connection to the electric classic Chicago sound of the late 50’s and 60’s AND to the blues of the era that still had at least one foot in the urban, pre-electric style of the 40’s and early 50’s. Despite the spare sound of the former and the rocking but dated sound of the less modern but still strongly philosophical earlier style, Shah covers the styles with authority and class. This disc is electric, BUT is not blues rock. It is a classic style no often heard these days. Shah wrote everything on offer here and sings and blows superior harp! He is supported by Jack de Keyzer (guitar), Julian Fauth (piano), Alec Fraser (bass), and Bucky Berger (drums, percussion). In the words of Tom Hyslop of Blues Revue, “Harmoina Shah’s straight up from the blues are just what the doctor ordered…or warned you about.”  Click here to listen to the opening track. 

Mighty Sam McClain & Knut Reiersrud – Tears Of The World (Act): Mighty Sam McClain began his recording career in the mid 60’s and carried the soul blues banner with pride and class right up until his passing last June.  This disc is undoubtedly the last he recorded and represent his soulfulness and universal love of many styles.  McClain co-wrote three of the dozen songs on the disc, which covers such territory from new soul blues (“Friends”) to transformed pop standards (“Que Sera, Sera”) and lots of gospelized blue soul in between. This disc is credited both to McClain and bandleader / singer / multi-instrumentalist Knut Reversrud (guitar, harmonica, piano) and it is also a fitting tribute to Mighty Sam’s wonderful career. The duo is supported by Bjorn Holm (guitar), David Wallumrod (keys), Nikolai Haengsie Eilertsen (bass), Andreas Bye (drums), Hakon Kornstad (reeds), and Martin Horntveth (timpani, tubular bells). In addition to McClain’s compositions and three from Reiersrud,  this disc features several other terrific soul or blues based songs, like a powerful rendering of a Carlene Carter composition entitled “Too Proud” which must stand as an equal to any of McClain’s best recordings. Click here to listen to the title song.  

Miss Marcy & Her Texas SugarDaddies – Deep Ellum (CSP): Miss Marcy declares she is bringing the red hot mama style back again! She’s not a subtle club singer, she’s a “barroom blues belter” who sings “Drinkin’ and Cheatin’ songs for the Wimmenz”.  She may not be Big Mama Thornton or Janis Joplin, but she does have enough attitude to keep the customers in an uproar. Her band, The SugarDaddies, includes Dave Burris (guitar, and co-writer of eight and solo writer of one song on this CD); Jason Cloud (guitar, dobro), Bobby Chitwood (bass), Wes Starr (drums), and Tim Alexander (piano, B-3) whose rockin’ blues lay a solid foundation Miss Marcy’s titillating taunts and tones. Pat Boyack wrote and plays on one song. Click here to check out a song from the disc. 

Willie May – Blues Mona (Self-produced): Veteran singer / songwriter / multi-instrumentalist Willie May sends out a melange of good-time blues and associated songs (he wrote six of the ten) on his sixteenth cd. May is a solid player and would, no doubt, be very good live. What you get is folksy, straightforward, blues-inflected songs sung with a slightly graveled and expressive voice.  He plays guitar, bass, dobro, baritone guitar, ukulele, kalimba and “jaw harp” and is supported by a constantly shifting set of musicians and singers. The opening number, “Lock It Up”, is a jovially combative duet with Sharon Bailey and sets the general mood of the recording, but you never can be sure what’s coming next. For example, there’s a kind of instrumental roadhouse surfing number, including sax followed by a serious song warning about the impending Communist threat (“Children Be Free”). There is most likely a little something here for everyone, but the range also creates some challenges.  Click here to listen to a sample from this disc. 


Professor Bebop


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