New Blues News – 9/8/2015

New Blues News – 9/8/2015

Dave & Phil Alvin – Lost Time (Yep Roc): Since the breakup of the Blasters (1985-ish), the Alvin Brothers have rarely performed or recorded together, but things have stared to warm up. They cut “What’s Up With You, Brother?” for Dave’s Eleven Eleven (2011) and last year cut an entire disc of Big Bill Broonzy songs (Common Ground). It must have been fun, because they’ve picked out a new dozen oldies to revive and share with us. Songs include Oscar Brown’s “Mr. Kicks”, Joe Turner/Pete Johnson songs “Cherry Red Blues“ , “Wee Baby Blues” and “Feeling Happy”, Otis Rush’s “Sit Down, Baby”, Blind Boy Fuller’s “Rattlesnakin’ Daddy”, even James Brown’s “Please Please Please”. The latter song comes off way better than I expected, but that’s the power of the Alvins, whose early days were all about playing the old songs and mostly being themselves. It’s not the Blasters, but it IS a treat. Click here to listen to a sample from the disc.

Shemekia Copeland – Outskirts Of Love (Alligator): Soul/blues singer Shemekia Copeland has been a genre jumper throughout her career and this disc is no exception. Of The twelve songs on this disc, one is a cover of Albert King’s “Wrapped Up In Love Again”, one is an original from her late father, Johnny Copeland (“Devil’s Hand”), one Mighty Mo Rodgers’ composition, “The Battle Is Over (But The War Goes On)”, one gospel tune, one cover each from John Fogerty, Jesse Winchester, and ZZ Top with Billy Gibbons on guitar, and even a couple of Country songs! The band includes Oliver Wood (guitar, co-writer of three songs), Jano Rix (drums, percussion, keys), and Lex Price (bass) with guest appearances by Billy Gibbons (guitar), Alvin Youngblood Hart (guitar, vocal), Robert Randolph (steel guitar), Will Kimbrough, Arthur Neilson and Guthrie Trapp (guitars), Pete Finney (steel guitar), Matt Glassmeyer (horns) and Eric Fritsch(organ).  Topically, the songs are as varied as their categories and description. Copeland’s wide tastes may actually be as much a blessing and as a curse when it comes to marketing, but she is a terrific live performer. There is something here for blues, soul, Americana, and even country fans. Check it out. Click here for a live performance from a year ago. Note: this song is not on the above disc.

The Robert Cray Band – 4 Nights of 40 Years Live (Provogue): Nearly 100 minutes of “live” Robert Cray and that is always a treat. Cray often rarely simply replays his recorded performances, sometimes by changing the arrangement and sometimes by shifting musicians. Most of these performances were recorded in December, 2014 as part of Cray’s “4 Nights of 40 Years” concerts. Band membership included long-time colleague Richard Cousins (bass), with newcomers (as of last year) Les Falconer (drums, vocals) and Dover Weinberg (keys), with cameos by Steve Jordan (drums), Kim Wilson (harmonica, vox), Lee Oskar (harmonica) and “The Cats” : Trevor Lawrence (sax) and Steve Madaio (trumpet). Songs range from “Bad Influence” (1985) to I’ll Always Remember You” and “Won’t Be Coming Home” (both from 2012) and touch on several discs in between. BUT hold on! There is a brief second disc which features 4 songs from 1987 (Dutch TV show “Countdown”) and 2 from the 1982 San Francisco Blues Festival! My only disappointment is that the latter are “post production” and feature overdubbed interviews during the performance. How nice it would have been to have heard both separately. Just as an added aspect which won’t help you unless you buy the set, there is also a DVD included which covers the same range of time. If you are even remotely a Robert Cray fan, you will need to spend some real time with this set!  Click here to listen to a sample of this disc.

Toni Lynn Washington – I Wanna Dance (Regina Royale): Could be that Toni Lynn Washington is  the only soul / blues singer who has surpassed Rufus Thomas in vibrant and smooth vocals at an age where that just doesn’t happen! She didn’t release her first disc as a leader until 1995, but she was 68 then and she sounds the best I’ve ever heard her on this disc! She gives a totally solid, smooth and sassy performance throughout and even composed two songs. The band is smooth, slinky and brings the “snaz” that will put a dip in your hip and a glide in your slide. Who are these cats? Bruce Bears (keys), Amadee Castenell (tenor sax), Sax Gordon (tenor and bari sax), Mark Teixiera (drums), Jesse Williams (bass), and Mike Williams (guitar), some of Boston’s finest. Righteous!  Click here to listen to samples from this disc.

The Word – Soul Food (Vanguard): The Word is back with another melange of gospel, rock and jazz that covers a wonderfully wide array of conviction, boogie and fun! The group includes Robert Randolph (pedal steel guitar), John Medeski (keyboards), Luther Dickinson (guitar), cody Dickinson (drums, percussion) and Chris Chew (bass, vocals) with Amy Helm and Ruthie Foster singing one song each and Jennifer Hartswick joining Chew, Medeski and Randolph on one song. This is foot stompin’, North Mississippi and deep South gospel. blues and rock that stands with the best soulful progressive jazz rock you can find anywhere. Listen to the Word and get the fever! Click here to listen to a sample from this disc.   


Professor Bebop


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