New Blues News – 6/15/2021
Caroline Dahl – A Boogie Woogie State Of Mind (Self-produced): Pianist Caroline Dahl is a native of Kentucky but has made San Francisco her home for thirty years, playing both solo and in bands. On her latest disc she is joined by a slew of Bay Area stalwarts, including two rhythm sections: Steve Parks on electric bass (and vocals on three songs) plays with former Robert Cray drummer Kevin Hayes, Joe Kyle Jr’s acoustic bass is paired with Tommy Castro’s current drummer Bowen Bowen; Jeff Ervin plays saxes on all bar one cut. Caroline wrote six originals and arranged two medleys of standards and there are four diverse covers. The originals include the solo piano pieces “Devil Digits Boogie Woogie” and “River City Boogie Woogie” and Caroline also adapts a theme from Czech composer Smetana and combines it with a Russian feel on “Die Moldau/Moscow Nights Boogie”, the latter part of the tune very much like Kenny Ball’s Trad Jazz success “Midnight In Moscow” from 1961. All four of these solo pieces give ample demonstration of Caroline’s prowess at the piano and there are further reminders of the style we are in with the appropriately entitled opener “Call To Boogie” and the excellent “Bellingham Boogie” which might just be the standout track with some exuberant sax playing. There was an era when blues and jazz were very much part of the same spectrum and the bright “King Cobra Club” reminds us of how close the two genres can be while “Payday” sounds as happy as people are when that particular time comes around! (https://www.bluesblastmagazine.com/caroline-dahl-a-boogie-woogie-state-of-mind-album-review/ Dahl also plays several older songs to top things off. This release is mighty fine from end to end. Click here to listen to the opening song on this disc – a “Call to Boogie”!
Guy Davis – Be Ready When I Call You (M.C.): “M.C. Records is proud to announce the release of Be Ready When I Call You by The Ambassador of the Blues, Guy Davis. The 13 track release marks a creative high watermark for Guy. For the first time in over a dozen-album career, he wrote nearly everything on the disc, Howlin’ Wolf ‘s classic “Spoonful” being the sole exception. The first single/video from the record will be “God’s Gonna’ Make Things Over” which revisits a shameful corner in American history, the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 from May 31-June 1, 1921. It will be released on May 14. Guy describes the music on Be Ready When I Call You, “I call it Americana, but I slip a little world music in there too,” he says. “When you’re trying to create beautiful music, you don’t think too much about categories.” Guy Davis’ previous release for the label was the 2017 Grammy-nominated record with Fabrizio Poggi, Sonny & Brownie’s Last Train. Be Ready When I Call Youmarks the fourth record that Guy and M.C. Records have released together. The stories on this album range from tender to topical, with a little blues philosophy thrown in. The swampy title track revisits the Robert Johnson legend, about that mythical meeting with the Devil at the Crossroads. But Guy says the phrase also has a deeper meaning, about stepping up and delivering. “When you start going for something, you better be sure what you’re doing,” he explains. “If you went to the Crossroads, you signed that deal and you’ve got to be ready when you’re called.”Guy’s parallel careers as a musician, an author, a music teacher, and a film, television, and Broadway actor mark Davis as a Renaissance man, yet the blues remain his first and greatest love. Growing up in a family of artists (his parents were Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis), he fell under the spell of Blind Willie McTell and Fats Waller at an early age. Guy’s one-man play, The Adventures of Fishy Waters: In Bed With the Blues, premiered Off-Broadway in the ’90s and has since been released as a double CD. He went on to star Off-Broadway as the legendary Robert Johnson in Robert Johnson: Trick The Devil, winning the Blues Foundation’s “Keeping the Blues Alive” award. He followed the footsteps of another blues legend when he joined the Broadway production of Finian’s Rainbow, playing the part originally done in 1947 by Sonny Terry. Though he’s stayed busy writing and recording during the pandemic, he looks forward to playing live as soon as circumstances allow. “I love doing what I do and I’m aching to get back out there. Don’t get me wrong, the computer screen is OK. But I want to get back in front of people.” (https://www.propermusic.com/mccd88-be-ready-when-i-call-you.html) This is a certified Professor Bebop “Wax Devoid of Cracks”! Click here to listen to the title song on this release.
Robert Finley – Sharecropper’s Son (Easy Eye Sound): “Robert Finley (born February 13, 1954) is an American blues and soul singer-songwriter and guitarist. After decades of performing semi-professionally followed by time away from music, Finley made a comeback in 2016. He released his debut studio album, Age Don’t Mean a Thing, later in the year, which was met positively by critics. Finley was born and raised in Bernice, Louisiana, United States. At 11 years old he began practicing the guitar he had purchased from a thrift store. Gospel music played a crucial role in his early development: “I always went to gospel quartet groups and I always took the front row seat, and I just watched their fingers”, recollected Finley in an interview. …He was deemed legally blind and forced to retire from carpentry. In 2015, Music Maker Relief Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports aging blues musicians, discovered Finley busking before a gig in Arkansas. With their help, Finley made a musical comeback, featuring him in packaged tours with acts like Robert Lee Coleman and Alabama Slim. Finley released his debut studio album, Age Don’t Mean a Thing, on September 30, 2016, on Big Legal Mess Records. Although for the most part Finley was a bluesman, his record producer Bruce Watson keyed in on more of his soulful compositions. With production credits from Watson and Jimbo Mathus, Finley traveled to Memphis to record the album with members of the Bo-Keys. He penned all but two of the tracks, highlighted by an autobiographical title song, on Age Don’t Mean a Thing, evoking influences from Booker T. and the MGs, James Brown, and B. B. King. Music journalists were highly receptive to Finley’s comeback and album, particularly his revitalizing take on Southern soul. After Age Don’t Mean a Thing, Finley got connected with Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. Auerbach and Finley then released an original soundtrack for the graphic novel, Murder Ballads, published by z2 Comics. Shortly after the release of the Murder Ballads soundtrack, Billboard announced that Finley would be releasing a full-length album produced and co-written by Auerbach. The album, Goin’ Platinum! was released on Easy Eye Sound… on December 8, 2017. The following year Finley joined Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound Revue tour. Finley followed up the Easy Eye Sound Revue tour with a series of headline shows around the world…. In 2021, Finley announced the album Sharecropper’s Son, to be released May 21, 2021 on Easy Eye Sound. The album is autobiographical in nature, and centers around Finley’s upbringing on a crop share in Louisiana. The album is produced by Dan Auerbach. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Finley_(musician)) This is a certified Professor Bebop “Wax Devoid of Cracks”! Here here to listen to the songs on this release.
Crystal Thomas – Now Dig This! (Dialtone): “Following a couple of self-released recordings, singer Crystal Thomas was featured on several tracks on a recording by the Japanese band Bloodest Saxophone, entitled Texas Queens Five. And while Thomas is actually a native of the Shreveport, Louisiana area, she grew up listening to music that that originated in the Lone Star state, and for a brief period, was a member of the band backing the legendary Johnnie Taylor, based out of Dallas. On her latest full-length album on Ediie Stout’s Dialtone Records, Thomas quickly makes it clear that she is no stranger to the blues traditions that run deep through the legacy of Texas music…. Thomas definitely needed to at her best, as the band backing her included the late Lucky Peterson on keyboards, Johnny Moeller from the Fabulous Thunderbirds on guitar, his brother Jason manning the drum kit, James Fenner on congas, and veteran Chuck Rainey on bass guitar. They create a percolating, funky groove…. The second side of the album brings more of the same. Thomas delivers a standout rendition of Janis Joplin’s “One Good Man” that steers clear of overwrought vocalizing in favor of an approach fraught with searing emotional intensity. The band cranks up the energy level on “No Cure For The Blues,” and Thomas responds in kind, giving voice to a woman deep in the grip of the blues, passionately pleading for relief until Peterson finally jumps in to take listeners to church. Johnny Moeller is featured on “Can’t You See What You Doing To Me,” laying down stellar fretwork on the Albert King tune. Peterson on organ perfectly echoes the vocal, adding greater depth to the proceedings. Another highlight occurs on “The Blues Ain’t Nothing But Some Pain”. Thomas makes you feel every note, every bit of anguish with a performance that leaves no doubt as to her vocal skills. That fact is re-enforced on the closing number, a killer vocal duet with Peterson on “Let’s Go Get Stoned”. Thomas more than holds her own with her esteemed college, their soulful give-and-take a fitting conclusion for an outstanding release. Some singers would be intimidated working with a band of this caliber. Crystal Thomas has been singing all of her life. She may not have the name recognition yet, but she understands how to sing, a point driven home time and again on each of these ten tracks. As good as the band is, your attention will naturally gravitate to Thomas whenever she takes over. Don’t miss this highly recommended recording! https://www.bluesblastmagazine.com/crystal-thomas-now-dig-this-album-review/ Click here to listen to the songs on this disc.
Various Artists – Alligator Records: 50 Years Of Genuine Houserockin’ Music (Alligator): “Fifty years ago, 23-year-old blues fan Bruce Iglauer spent his meager savings to record an LP by his favorite Chicago blues band, Hound Dog Taylor & The HouseRockers, and founded Alligator Records to release it. Today, Alligator boasts a catalog of over 350 titles, many of which are renowned, award-winning, time-tested classics of the genre. Alligator Records’ artists and recordings have received a total of 48 Grammy Award nominations and three Grammy Awards, over 150 Blues Music Awards (the blues community’s highest honor) and over 70 Living Blues Awards (presented by Living Blues magazine). The label’s artists have appeared on radio, on television and in films. They’ve performed worldwide at clubs, concert halls and festivals, with Alligator’s support promoting and publicizing each and every gig. According to Shemekia Copeland, “Alligator Records has been a cornerstone of the blues world for five decades. As an Alligator artist, I am truly grateful for what Bruce and Alligator Records have done for me and this genre.”Since releasing that first Hound Dog Taylor record, Alligator Records — with the invaluable input and guidance from the 14-person staff (many of whom have been with the label for more than 25 years) — has become the most successful blues label in the world. And the Alligator story is still unfolding. From the early days of recording only Chicago talent, to attracting national and international musicians, to the label’s commitment to nurturing the new generations of blues and roots artists, Alligator, like the blues itself, continues to break new ground while staying true to its roots. Alligator Records — 50 Years Of Genuine Houserockin’ Music is a must-hear collection for lifelong fans as well as for those who have just discovered the endlessly uplifting, life-affirming, deeply soulful, roots-rocking, healing power of the Genuine Houserockin’ Music on Alligator Records.” (https://www.rockandbluesmuse.com/2021/04/13/alligator-records-to-release-50-years-of-genuine-houserockin-music-june-18-2021/) Click here to listen to the opening and first Alligator release – Hound Dog Taylor & The Houserockers with “Give Me Back My Wig”.