New Blues Review 11-14-23
Sue Foley – Live in Austin, Vol 1 (Guitar Woman Records) Sue Foley is a Canadian guitarist, singer, songwriter and bandleader based in Austin, Texas. By age of 21, Foley was living in Austin, Texas, United States, and recording for Antone’s, the blues label and historic nightclub. Her first release was Young Girl Blues. Foley has toured steadily with her band, toting her signature pink paisley Fender Telecaster. In 2001, she won the Juno Award for her CD, Love Coming Down. Foley has also earned seventeen Maple Blues Awards and three Trophies de Blues de France. She has also garnered several nominations at the Blues Music Awards in Memphis, Tennessee. 2018 marked Foley’s return as a solo artist with her album, The Ice Queen, which featured guest appearances by Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top and Jimmie Vaughan. In May 2020, Foley won a Blues Music Award in the ‘Koko Taylor Award (Traditional Blues Female)’ category. In 2023, Foley won the Koko Taylor Award for the second time. I have been a huge Sue Foley fan since her first two albums, “Young Girl Blues” and “Without a Warning”, so I was excited to hear of this new Live album coming this month. Although I don’t think the sound quality is the best live album I have heard, Sue does not disappoint playing a lot of her successful songs off the first album with her unique voice and her amazing Telecaster skills. Staples like “Queen Been” and “Howling For My Darlin” shows Foley’s love for the blues. I think my long time favorite of hers and on this CD is “Me And My Chauffeur Blues ” the old Memphis Minnie Song, listen here. I will probably give this a 10 on Blues Content and a 10 on Music Content.
Emma Wilson – Memphis Calling (Select O Hits) Hailing from Teesside in the North of England, Emma Wilson with her fabulously dynamic voice moves effortlessly between heart-wrenching sweet soul licks & raw, real, powerful blues. Emma’s unique, tender vocals & gorgeous tone lend themselves beautifully to recordings with shades of early Aretha Franklin & hints of another of Emma’s all time favorite Ann Peebles. Live Emma Wilson Shows are vibrant & visceral delivered with true passion, heart & soul with Emma giving all of herself to her audience. Having performed with her band in blues bars and at festivals across the UK including the Ealing Blues Festival, The Crawdaddy Club Richmond, The legendary Ealing Club, Howzat Blues Festival & many of the wonderful blues & soul nights around the country it is fair to say that Emma has certainly paid her blues dues. Emma’s voice is very high class and pure, great for any genre that she would want to sing. Although the band is tight and wonderful, this CD left me wanting something and I think it was the lack of blistering guitar leads on these songs. There are a few sprinkled through out the CD, but just wanted a little more I guess. Her version of “Water” has a nice Motown feel with great vocals. “I’ll See You In The Morning” a slow ballad that really showcases her voice with some nice guitar leads in the middle. I think my favorite on this CD is the Willie Dixon tune “Hoochie Coochie Mama”, listen here. I will probably give this a 9 on Blues Content and a 9 on Music Content.
Dustin Arbuckle and the Damnations – Live At The Shamrock (Self Produced) Dustin Arbuckle and The Damnations are not a band you can easily associate with one specific genre, and that’s how they planned it. Arbuckle, a veteran of the progressive roots music scene whose singing and harmonica playing first came into prominence in Moreland & Arbuckle, has been kicking up fresh dust with The Damnations since 2017. A musician of vast appetites, he’s long held an appreciation for traditional American music in the vein of Charley Patton as well as the cross-pollinated sounds of The Band or Stax-style soul. The diverse musical sensibilities of The Damnations (Brandon Hudspeth on guitar, Caleb Drummond or Mark Foley on bass, and Colby Aiken on Drums) allow for all of that along with occasional forays into deep country and even jazz. “When we started playing together we all wanted the band to be a space where we could play anything we wanted to. I was also excited to hear that Arbuckle was putting this new CD out, I have always loved his voice and his Harmonica tone is the best. And he does not disappoint. Fat, super Fat Harmonica through out this CD makes this one of my top CDs for me this year. “Sioux City Strut” is a great instrumental, kind of Jump Blues, that trades licks between Harmonica and Guitar. Brandon Hudspeth is an amazing guitar player and keeps up with Dustin’s powerful harmonica skills. “Let Me Live Again” is a super slow tune that shows that Dustin is a true singer. Although this is a live album, the recording quality is top notch. I think my favorite on this CD is “Across The Desert” reminds me of the old Moreland and Arbuckle days, listen here. I will probably give this a 10 on Blues Content and a 10 on Music Content.
11 Guys Quartet – 11 x 11 (Vizztone) Nearly 40 years ago, four guys got together and had a great time playing the bars and clubs in and around Boston. They blended blues and rock and had as much of a great time playing together as the crowds did listening to them. They were called the 11th Hour Blues Band and featured Paul Lenart on guitar, Bill “Coach” Mather on bass, Chuck Purro on drums and Richard “Rosy” Rosenblatt on harp. They recorded an album in 1985 entitled Hot Time In The City Tonight on the then rather new Tone-Cool Records. They played with other musicians and bands over the years but always managed to get together as their original quartet from time to time because the chemistry and camaraderie were important and something they enjoyed. Now they’re back without ever having gone away. Currently calling themselves the 11 Guys Quartet they have new music and videos and plans for much more in the near future so stay tuned. I was unfamiliar with the 11 Guys Quartet and from the CD cover was not expecting much. But these guys were a very pleasant surprise to these old ears. Lots of Great instrumentals like “Texicali Mojo”, “Lightning Road” and “Black Cat Bone” for examples that really showcase the band’s talent. “Blues Beyond Midnight” is a crazy instrumental with musical progression of “House Of The Rising Sun”. Richard Rosenblatt is the Harmonica player in this band is super talented and sets the pace through the album. I think my favorite on this CD is “He Ain’t Got You”, this is the video version that really shows the fun that the band can bring, would love to see them live, listen here. I will probably give this a 10 on Blues Content and a 10 on Music Content.
Robin Trower – Joyful Sky (Provogue) Robin Trower was born in Catford, London, England, and grew up in Southend-on-Sea, Essex. In 1962, he formed a band that became the Paramounts, later including Westcliff High School pupil Gary Brooker. The Paramounts disbanded in 1966 to pursue individual projects. During this time, Trower created a local three-piece band called the Jam (not to be confused with the later group with Paul Weller). Trower then joined Brooker’s new band Procol Harum following the success of their debut single “A Whiter Shade of Pale” in 1967, remaining with them until 1971 and appearing on the group’s first five albums. Before launching his eponymous band, he joined singer Frankie Miller, ex-Stone the Crows bassist/singer James Dewar, and former Jethro Tull drummer Clive Bunker to form the short-lived combo Jude. This outfit did not record and soon split up. Robin’s best work can be found on the Bridge of Sighs album, where he really shows why he was compared to “Jimi Hendrix” and “Eric Clapton” over the years. Sari Beth Schorr is an American blues rock singer and songwriter. She has released three albums, with the most recent being a live recording issued in 2020. Schorr has worked with Mike Vernon, Walter Trout, Innes Sibun, Joe Louis Walker, Popa Chubby, Warren Haynes, Keb Mo’, Taj Mahal, Eric Burdon, Robin Trower and Carly Simon. I thought this would be a great CD when I saw it arrive on my desk. Sari has an amazing voice, so pure, and hey it’s Robin Trower!! His signature sound can be picked out with only a few notes played. At 78, Trower can definitely still play and it was fun hearing his overdrive Stratocaster licks sprinkled through this album. If it was any other unknown guitar player I would says this is a pretty good album, but man I was expecting so much more from Robin. I believe it would have been better mentally to be a Sari Schorr album with special guest Robin Trower as his contribution seems minimum. Even with this, there is some good music on this album such as “Burn”, “Need For You” and “Flatter To Deceive”. I think my favorite on this CD is “I’ll Be Moving On”, listen here. I will probably give this a 9 on Blues Content and a 7 on Music Content.