New Blues Review 1-16-23
Chris O’Leary – The Hard Line (Alligator) “Chris’s musical background includes duties as lead singer and front man for rock and roll hall of famer and Grammy award winner Levon Helm’s band, The Barnburners. During the 6 years that Chris and Levon played together they toured across the US and Canada lighting up stages everywhere they went. Chris has appeared on stage with: Legendary Rolling Stones sideman Bobby Keys, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Jimmy Vivino, Jeff Healy, Dan Akroyd, Albert Lee, Dave Edmunds, Dave Maxwell and the great James Cotton to name just a few. Chris has also recorded with Bill Perry and Hubert Sumlin, among others. The Chris O’Leary Band’s debut CD “Mr. Used to Be” won the 2011 Best New Artist Debut CD Blues Blast Award and was nominated for best new artist debut at the 2011 American Blues Music Awards”. Chris’s voice sounds like years of Smokin, Drinkin’ and Singin. Band is tight and the harp playing is strong. The Band’s regular players are Shiela Klinefelter on bass, Pete Kanaras on bass, Mike Lynch on guitar, Andy Stahl on tenor sax, Chuck Cotton on drums and Brooks Milgate on piano/organ. Standout songs for me are “No Rest”, the slow tune “Ain’t It A Crime” and “You Break It, You Bought It” I think my favorite on this CD is “I Cry At Night”, listen here. I will probably give this a 10 on Blues Content and a 10 on Music Content. Side Note, Chris will be at Madam’s Organ in DC on the 19th and 20th of this month if your up for a road trip.
Kevin Burt & Big Medicine – Thank You Brother Bill (Gulf Coast) This might be my favorite recording of 2024, incredible voice, amazing backing band and Bill Withers Covers! “Kevin is a self-taught musician (vocals, harmonica, and guitar) whose smooth, warm vocal presentation sets a mood of relaxed exhilaration, with a welcome mixture of serious music and infectious humor audiences of all ages seem to enjoy. His voice and presence are powerful. His unique delivery ranges from the sweetest, fullest, juiciest come-on to the most playful growl. Though he performs between 325 and 400 shows a year, he holds nothing back night after night and audiences leave knowing that. Kevin has had some stage acting experience in his short career. His role as “Papa Gee” in an off Broadway play called “Klub Ka, the Blues Legend” had a two week run at LaMama’s Experimental Theater in New York City was sold out each night. It ran originally in Iowa City, and then in Washington D.C.. Burt also arranged all of the blues music for this play. Kevin Burt has won many awards and played many festivals both solo and with his band, the Instigators. His awards include Best Entertainer in Iowa City (three times) Best Band in Iowa City (three times) Iowa Blues Challenge Champions, Named as one of the top 25 unsigned blues bands in the world by the International Blues Challenge Competition.” Kevin Burt does an amazing job on all of the well known Withers tunes including “Lean On Me”, “Just The Two Of Us” and “Ain’t No Sunshine”, but it is the coverage of some of the less known songs that breath new life into Bill’s work. “Grandma’s Hands” was done so perfectly and simple, classic. I think my favorite on this CD is “Who Is He, And What Is He To You ”, listen here. I will probably give this a 9 on Blues Content just because Bill really wasn’t a Bluesman , but will give a 10 ++ on Music Content.
Patti Parks – Come Sing With Me (Vizztone) “Multi-Award winning vocalist and performer Patti Parks , Music Hall of Fame inductee is releasing her new Album “Come Sing with Me,” which was produced by Multi-Blues Music Award winner Johnny Rawls. The album will be released on Vizztone Music label and distributed Redeye (Sony Records) – Rawls also performs vocal duets with Patti with guitar. Patti’s stunning, sensual and warm voice soars over tracks where blues, Memphis Soul, Gospel and Carolina Swag ( Beach Music) which simmer together creating an explosive recording with Rawls. “Come Sing with me ” has a target release date of January 2024. The Album features artist , Anthony Geraci performing an epic Boogie Woogie ( barrelhouse blues) which Ms Parks performs as a show stopping feel-good dance tune. Ms Parks is an extremely versatile artist who will engage your audience with story telling light-hearted songs with syncopated rhythms, and a touch of double entendre. Hamburger Man in- particiular is such a song , with featured artist Richard Rosenblatt on harmonica. The songs on this album, “Come Sing with Me” were carefully selected by Patti to create a combination of music with clever lyrics, memorable rythms, with uplifting vocals . Patti’s title tack “ Sing Around the World” has an impactful message of how music and song together will free you from “heartache and pain” This song is full of love , life and spirit captured by gospel recording artists, accompany vocalist Kamira Lattimore, and organist Aaron Blackmon” . I think my favorite on this CD is “A Lotta Man ”, listen here. I will probably give this a 9 on Blues Content and a 9 on Music Content.