New Blues Review -12-12-23

Robert Finley – Black Bayou (Easy Eye Sound)  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.  In 1970, he joined the U.S. Army, originally to serve as a helicopter technician in Germany. Upon his arrival, however, Finley accommodated the army band’s need for a guitarist and bandleader by traveling with the group throughout Europe until he was discharged. After returning to Louisiana, Finley worked as a part-time street performer, leader of the gospel group Brother Finley and the Gospel Sisters, and as a carpenter. 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 including Robert Lee Coleman and Alabama Slim. Finley is the heritage of Blues from the South, a great blend of Blues and Soul that feels like you were back in the 50’s at a Mississippi Juke Joint. I think when you catch the attention of Music Maker and then Dan Auerbach, you really have something. So many great songs on this Cd and they all have that Finley feel, songs like “Miss Kitty” give you an almost rap and repetitive lyrics that is just an amazing jam. Band is super solid with Auerbach leading a band of some of the finest players around: drummers Patrick Carney (The Black Keys) and Jeffrey Clemens (G. Love & Special Sauce), bassist Eric Deaton, and legendary Hill Country blues guitarist Kenny Brown along with vocalists Christy Johnson and LaQuindrelyn McMahon—who just happen to be Finley’s daughter and granddaughter. “Nobody wants to be lonely” is a super slow sad song that really showcases Finley’s voice and his soul. So much great stuff, Robert’s Voice, Dan’s guitar playing, Kenny’s slide playing and Eric’s bass. I think my favorite on this CD is “You Got It ”, listen here. I will probably give this a 10+ on Blues Content and a 10+ on Music Content.

Cedar County Cobras – Homesick Blues (Self Produced)  Cedar County Cobras play American roots and blues music from the last century. The music takes on an “old time” blues feel that would most likely be found in a juke-joint down a gravel road in rural Iowa. Tom Spielbauer is behind the boot-stompin blues sound produced by the duo and has over twenty years of playing blues and rock across Iowa and the Midwest. The authentic sound of his music comes from a career of pouring concrete and working construction. In 2005, Tom was diagnosed with advanced macular degeneration at a young age and declared legally blind. Following in the footsteps of blind blues musicians such as Blind Willie McTell & Alan Wilson, he eventually traded his concrete tools for a guitar and a foot drum to play the blues full time. I really like this band, somewhere between Mississippi John Hurt and Johnny Cash and June Carter. Solid tradition tunes with some great lyrics and harmonies. “Long Time Gone” is a fast paced song with some great flat picking and mandolin and harmonies. Their covers of “Poor Boy” and “Walkin Blues” shows how based they are in the Blues while spinning their own feeling over the songs. I think my favorite on this CD “Voodoo Doll ”, listen here. I will probably give this a 7 on Blues Content and a 9 on Music Content.

The Pszenny Project- The Pszenny Project (Self Produced)  The Pszenny Project, hailing from the midlands of South Carolina, got their start in 2022 coming off the heels of a global pandemic that left much of the world starving for new music. Mark Pszenny, the band’s namesake, along with a few guys that were feeling the same itch to create, answered that call flawlessly! Pulling inspiration from favorites such as Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, Albert King, Robert Johnson, and Freddie King, Mark found his own creativity deeply ingrained into these roots. Blending that with funk and styles of contemporary artists, they offer a soulful but edgy rock blues show. The band is an average blues band, Mark’s voice is not my favorite, trying to be too gravelly. Music is very simplistic like “Chronic Blues Pain”, straight ahead blues tune without too much soul. A lot of the songs start out very strong and when the vocals start it falls apart like with “I Told You”. I think with a better voice this could be a good band, drummer is super solid (Ross Flemming III). I think my favorite on this CD is the slide tune “Knee Deep ”, listen here. I will probably give this a 9 on Blues Content and a 5 on Music Content.

Michael Mulvaney – The Legend Of Rhythm Man Luther Blue (Self Produced)  Charlottesville’s own Michael Mulvaney is a singer songwriter accompanying himself on acoustic guitar and harmonica. Mulvaney performs an eclectic collection of Rhythm and Blues, Classic Rock and Chicago Blues touched with Jazz, Folk and Country influences along with varied original compositions. Michael has performed from Van Buren, Maine to Key West, Florida, along the Atlantic coast, the Piedmont plateau, and from the mountains of New England south through Ohio, Kentucky and Georgia, to New Orleans, Louisiana, and beginning in 2007 in England and Ireland. Mulvaney has participated in concert opening acts for B.B. King, Willie Dixon, KoKo Taylor, Son Seals, John Hammond, David Bromberg, The Sun Rhythm Section, The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, Beatlemania, Junior Walker and The Allstars, Larry Garner, The Chicago Blues Allstars, Nils Lofgrin, Brian Bowers, Firefall, Townes Van Zandt, Billy Price, Bob Margolin, Grinderswitch, The Dreggs and Tracy Nelson. This is a collection of songs that Michael has played over a decades of time ranging from Jazz to beach music to Celtic Music, but not the Blues for sure. I think my favorite on this CD is “Women I Know”, listen here. I will probably give this a 5 on Blues Content and a 7 on Music Content.

Blues Mix 34 – Sensational Southern Soul (Ecko Records)  Not Blues, Not Blues. Well some Blues leanings but this is definitely a Playlist of some executive at Ecko of their favorite Soul Music that they thought would be good to put on a CD. I never understand these compilations in today’s world. As a Blues Enthusiast, I can’t find much here. Probably the only saving grace is of the CD is David Brinston’s “I Drinks My Whiskey” and my favorite, Ms Jody “The Best Cat Won”, listen here. I will probably give this a 5 on Blues Content and a 5 on Music Content.

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