New Blues News – 3/3/2015

New Blues News – 3/3/2015

New Blues Adds:

Brad Absher & Swamp Royale – Lucky Dog (Montrose): Guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Absher presents a potpourri of soul that reflects his Big Easy/Lake Charles, LA influences. Half of the tunes are originals and fall into the slow or medium paced soul reminiscent of Dan Penn. The songs he covers are a revelation as well: Bill Withers’ Same Love, Leon Russell’s Rather Be Blind and a wonderful interpretation of William Bell’s You Don’t Miss Your Water, in which the song becomes his own.  Absher’s band, Swamp Royale – Larry Fulcher (b, vox), Barry Seelen (keys), Mike Patton (d) with the occasional addition of brass by Andy Saad, Kyle Turner, and Anthony Terry, provides exactly the backing he needs.  Laid back and oh so fine!  Click here for a sample song.

Ron Beer – The Blues Don’t Say It All (self-produced): This is Beer’s second disc and it is mostly a pop affair. Beer credits Lou Sabatini for lyrics and Paul Scofield for arranging.  The songs are originals and feature Beer on guitar and vocals, Bill Evans (keys), Neil Chapman (lead guitar), and John Meydam and Alex Paris in the rhythm section. The musicians are play well, but the vocals frequently detract.  Beer’s vocal is most effective on the Dixieland sound of “Call Me A Doctor”.  Click here for a live performance.

Big Apple Blues – Energy (Stone Tone):  Funky and bluesy band from NYC, featuring Baron Barry Harrison or Tom Papadatos (d), Admir “Dr. Blues” Hadzic (g), Jim Alfredson (keys), Anthony Kane (harmonica), Chris Emenizer (sax) and Matt Becker (effects) with a concept disc that takes us on a musical representation of a day in the life of a New Yorker. The disc is reminiscent of Paul Butterfield’s jazzier extended sides though this is not a reproduction of that sound. This IS, however, blues/jazz worthy of the name Big Apple. Solid throughout. Click here for a sample from this disc.

Filmore Sims – Walkin’ On Dangerous Ground (self-produced): Filmore “Slim” Sims brings his all-too-seldom heard brand of blues, soul, and funky r&b right down front on this disc. His urban hip with a down-home lip includes a straight-forward, laid back style full of backstreet wisdom and a good bit of hip humor.  The instrumentation includes John Clifton on guitar and harmonica and bass, drums and a couple of horns played by uncredited musicians.  There is nothing flashy or over the top, but this is a classic on-the back streets or slightly out-of-town club sound.  “A certified Professor Bebop Wax Devoid of Cracks!”  Click here for a live performance from a few years back.  Not on this disc.

Sunny Lowdown – The Blues Volume Low (self-produced): Here’s a singular sound: Sunny Lowdown on electric guitar and vocals, supported by Sunny Bottom (bass) and Sunny Tubs (drums) playing an uncredited list of blues songs like “Can’t Be Satisfied” with an overall band sound reminiscent of that being made by Muddy Waters, who wrote and recorded the song in 1948 with his own guitar playing and Big Crawford on bass. This isn’t an attempt to duplicate the original but does stay true to the electrified, unadorned presentation used by Muddy, John Lee Hooker, Lightnin’ Hopkins and others recording in the early 50’s.  Lowdown doesn’t bring out the acoustic guitar for some finger picking until half way through the disc. In a time when most blues recordings are terrifically ornate and “rocked” out, this is an ear catching performance.  It may or may not be your interest, but it is worthy of a listen so you can decide. Click here for a sample performance.

The Forrest McDonald Band – Turnaround Blues (World Talent):  Forrest McDonald (g) has a truly storied past: while working at Muscle Shoals Studio he contributed the signature guitar solo on Bob Seger’s  “Old Time Rock and Roll” (if you’re over 40, don’t tell me you didn’t immediately flash on Tom Cruise in his undies!) and has provided backing for Bobby Womack.  He has performed with Bonnie Bramlett, Roy Gaines, and Bob Margolin, in addition to leading his own bands. This disc is full-bodied, mature, soulful blues typically performed by seasoned players who have the assurance and chops to respect both what is played and the silence around what doesn’t. The band includes full voiced vocalist Andrew Black, big-as-your-house harp player Jon Liebman, dextrous keyboarder Tony Carey who even more body to the sound, and great support on bass and drums by Lee Gamon and John McKnight respectively.  Totally solid electric blues! The disc closes with a country ballad and two brief instrumental excursions that reach for the vibe of Carlos Santana.  BTW, McDonald lives in Richmond – who knew?   Click here for a live performance from last fall.

S.E. Willis – Turtle Dove Bounce/Live at the Poor House (Mr.Suchensuch):  Double disc from veteran pianist/singer/harp player Willis, a student and purveyor of the foundation and development of the blues and boogie piano.  Disc 1 is a studio production that Willis undertook after suffering from a major illness for over a year.  It mostly features his piano in tribute to the foundations of blues and boogie. In addition to singing, Willis plays harp and piano. His voice is not strong on this session, but his playing is a history lesson.  Disc 2 is a live session from 2011 featuring Elvin Bishop (g, vox), Bob Welsh (g), Ruth Davies (b), Bobby Cochran (d), Ed Earley (trombone), Nancy Wright (sax), and a few other guests. Most of the above supported Elvin Bishop on his last disc, “Can’t Even Do Wrong Right” so you know they’re right!  Taken together, this is a solid set featuring some great players and moments.  Click here for a recent live performance.

New Soul Adds:

Various Artists – Wilbe Records Greatest Hits (Wilbe):  Wilbe is the label that William Bell started in 1985.  In addition to his own recordings, Bell produces a number of other soul artists, including Jeff Floyd, Lola (Gulley), Hardaway Connection, and Fred Bolton, all of whom are included on this 2010 release. The songs are mostly smooth ballads in the polished urban style.  Jeff Floyd has four tracks, William Bell three and the two team up on two, leaving one apiece to Lola, Hardaway Connection (great female leads on the latter two), and a posthumous song from Fred Bolton. Click here for a song from the disc featuring Jeff Floyd and William Bell.


Copasetically, Bebop


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